This book seeks to review the state of political issues early in the twenty-first century, when New Labour is in its second term of office. As part of the updating process it became necessary to choose which political issues are important. The book includes the main issues which appear in current Advanced Level Politics syllabuses. In the case of Edexcel, which offers a specific political issues option in its A2 specification, all the specified issues have been included. The book deals with the process of constitutional and political change which are issues in themselves. It also includes material on constitutional reform (incorporating the recent development of human rights in Britain), and devolution. The book includes the global recession and other recent political developments and looks at the important issues in British politics since 1945. It examines the key issues of British politics today: economic policy, the Welfare State, law and order, environment policy, Northern Ireland, issues concerning women, European integration and the European Union, and the impact of the European Union on Britain. The book also deals with the European Union and Britain's relationship to it. Finally, it must be emphasised that Britain's relationship to the European Union is in itself a political issue which has fundamentally changed the party system.
.P65 2 10/10/03, 12:30 3 Introduction The ‘Golden Age’ The 1960s fall within what Eric Hobsbawm has termed ‘a sort of Golden Age’, which began with Western Europe’s recovery from the Second World War in the early 1950s and ended with the onset of global recession two decades later. Hobsbawm saw this as a time of ‘extraordinary economic growth and social transformation’ within advanced capitalist societies, ‘which probably changed human society more profoundly than any other period of comparable brevity’.3 That which Arthur Marwick called a ‘cultural revolution