Socialism, along with liberalism and conservatism, make up the three mainstream political ideologies that are widely compared and contrasted. All three contain significant internal tensions and divisions. If there are hotly contested rival claims over true conservatism or liberalism, the arguments among those who call themselves socialist are long standing and fundamental. The British experience of socialism is particularly distinctive. While in many other countries variants of socialism are represented in contend ing political parties communists, anarchists, socialists, social democ rats in Britain there has never been a significant left wing or socialist rival to the Labour Party. Yet Labour’s socialist credentials are contested. Some critics argue that Labour has never been a socialist party and use the term ‘labourist’ to describe it (Miliband, 1972; Saville, 1988). Others have criticized Labour for ‘abandoning’ socialism. Parties described as socialist, or social democrat in many other countries have faced similar accusations.
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