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.
termed the ‘new political science of Britishpolitics’.
Each serves to highlight a distinctive aspect of the issue of causality; and each has
a special relevance to labour studies in general and to the political science and the
political economy of Labour in particular. They are:
the relationship between structure and agency, context and conduct;
the relationship between the discursive and the material, between the ideas
held about the world and that world itself;
the relative significance of political, economic and cultural factors; and
might lead to alterations of policy.
That argument cannot be pushed further. The Britishpolitical scene
between the accession of George III and the outbreak of the American
War was a time when the two sides in Parliament were ‘administration’
and ‘opposition’. That terminology was the usual language of debate.4
Within that simple political context there existed distinct factions, but
the political scene was in detail far more complex than that depicted
in the broad strokes of this study. Some individual politicians, conspicuously Charles Townshend, occasionally
Labour’s mid-term election losses in 1999 and the
2001 election campaign, in which the unions played a crucial role. After the 2001
campaign, though, bitter conflict erupted over the Government’s drive to place
more public services under private sector management, and discontent over New
Labour’s stance on EU labour market policy became more intense. To younger students of Britishpolitics, this public conflict may have appeared novel. Since the
mid-1980s most unions had supported Labour’s organisational and policy modernisation under Neil Kinnock and John Smith. Only
The Labour Party is habitually considered the most ideologically inclined of all
Britishpolitical parties, and ideological struggle has been endemic within the party
since its foundation. It is no surprise, therefore, that studies of the party have
endeavoured to understand why Labour’s ideology has shifted repeatedly throughout its history. This chapter considers those efforts.
A large and varied literature is available to explain Labour’s ideological movements
Debates about potential and ambition in British socialist thought
Gordon Brown’s party conference speech in 2007
represents something of a landmark in Britishpolitical history in the extent
to which it placed the idea of encouraging people’s talents and ambitions
at the centre of his political vision. It also points to some ways in which an
emphasis on encouraging the development of people’s potential, talents
and ambitions has been, and can continue to be, of substantial benefit to
socialists, in terms both of helping them to win elections and achieving
some of their deepest objectives of equality and empowerment.
Two brief points
a ‘good thing’, while Labour enjoyed a healthy
56–27 per cent lead over the Conservatives on race relations. This, together
with Conservative divisions on race and the limited impact of its asylum
message, allowed Labour to promote a positive message on race without
suffering an electoral backlash.43
Two broad visions of British identity are evident in contemporary Britishpolitical discourse. The first is a pluralist perspective on Britishness that
emphasises the multinational character of the UK state and seeks an updated
political science apparently has this character. (Aristotle,
Nicomachean Ethics , Book 1:2)
A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an
honest burglar. (H. L. Mencken, Prejudices , 1925)
Readers will peruse this book in vain if
they seek an outline of the Britishpolitical system
professions had a more immediate impact.
Nevertheless, progress in the early part of the twentieth century remained
slow. Between 1928 and the 1960s, therefore, the women’s movement
retreated into the background of Britishpolitics. When it re-emerged in the
1960s, the impetus came from the USA.
Radical feminism and the New Left
A crucial event in the development of the modern women’s movement was the
publication of an American book – The Feminine Mystique – written by Betty
Friedan in 1963. Friedan’s work was a devastating criticism on a culture which
had come to be
Martin Bell since 1997, but in which Bell was not standing in 2001 – the
net Conservative gain from other political parties was effectively nil.
Just as four years before, their first task was the choosing of a new leader.
William Hague’s reforms may have ended the parliamentary party’s monopoly in leadership selection, but the parliamentarians remained extremely
important, far more so than in other Britishpolitical parties. The new rules
involved the party’s wider membership in the country (see Chapter 5), but
only once the incumbent leader has resigned