Points for consideration:

  • Give a brief account of British economic history (from agriculture to a post-industrial economy)
  • Give an account of the development of Britain’s economic policies since 1945. Explain the section title (p. 160) ‘From Hands-off to Hands-on and Back again’. Briefly explain the difference between ‘Keynesianism’ and ‘Monetarism’ and relate their theories to government policies in Britain (post WWII)
  • Trace Britain’s economic performance since 1945.
  • From the 1960s to the 1990s many people worried about the ‘decline of Britain’ and about Britain being the ‘sick man of Europe’. What were the reasons (political and economic) for this decline?
  • What is meant by Thatcherism? Did she manage to ‘cure the patient’?
  • Give an account of New Labour’s economic policies. How do they differ from those of Thatcher? Is it fair to refer to Tony Blair as ‘the son of Maggie’?
  • McCormick points to the ‘declining quality of public services’ (p. 166). What are the main problems and how does the coalition government address them?
  • What is the importance of the finance sector (the City) for the British economy?
  • How did the global financial crises affect the British economy?
  • Describe Britain’s position in the Global Economy.
    1. Previously Britain played an import role because it was an empire. They are still powerful.
    2. Major actor on import/export
    3. <1 % of population, but accounts for 7 % of world’s export of services and 3 % of the world’s export of merchandise
    4. Leading member of main international trading organizations
      1. EU
      2. G8 Group
  • The World Trade Organization
  1. OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)
  1. The economy is very active when it comes to investments. There is a great volume of investment going on, even though the financial crisis has had a negative effect.
  • What have been the economic implications of Britain’s membership of the EC/EU?
    1. Britain has always traded with the European countries – this trade was the heart of the development of the British empire.
    2. EU removed barriers and tariffs on trade and legalized “the free market” that has just a few barriers.
    3. The single market makes it easier for British companies to reach more consumers.
    4. Britain does more than half its trades with EU partners
    5. The EU laws has more power than the domestic laws when it comes to industry and trade (and probably everywhere else too)
    6. EU has a Common Commercial Policy where key decisions are taken collectively.
    7. British people can live and work in any EU member state (open bank accounts, take up mortgages). This also means that more people immigrate to Britain (typically from Eastern Europe)
    8. The infrastructure has improved and made the tourism grow. Britain is in the top 4 for tourists’ destinations.
      1. For example high-speed train links
      2. The channel tunnel
  • Membership of the Eurozone is a very sensitive issue in Britain. Sum up the main arguments for and against joining the single currency.
    1. For
      1. The Euro can be a so-called “job creater”, because it improves the business and makes it easier to trade across countries. And it will give some new business opportunities.
  1. A tool to control inflation, and thereby create a more stabile economy.
  1. Against
    1. If Britain joins the Euro, it would as I said before be a tool to control inflation. But then the British loose the opportunity to devaluate the pound. So they loose some of the control over their economy.
  1. A loss of nationalism and their national identity. The British people want the pound and most of them don’t want to be Europeans but British, and that is very important to them.

What is Ulster unionism?

In Ireland, unionism, also called Ulster unionism in the context of Northern Ireland or – chiefly historically – Ulster specifically, refers to an ideology which favours the continuation of some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Since the separation of the Irish Free State from the United Kingdom as a Dominion and its subsequent emergence as an independent state, unionism in Ireland has focused primarily on maintaining and preserving the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom

Unionism and its opposing ideology, Irish nationalism, are associated with particular ethnic and/or religious communities. Most, but not all, unionists are of one of various Protestant backgrounds. Nationalists are mostly of a Catholic background. However, these are generalisations, because there are both Protestant Nationalists and Catholic Unionists,[1] as well as more recent immigrants, and their descendants, some of whom are neither Catholic nor Protestant.

How does the Northern Irish power-sharing agreement work?

There were Conflicts until 1998 in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics. Good Friday/Belfast agreement. 1969 IRA

A copy of the Good Friday Agreement was delivered to every home in Northern Ireland in April 1998. It had five main constitutional provisions. First, Northern Ireland’s future constitutional status was to be in the hands of its citizens. Second, if the people of Ireland, north and south, wanted a united Ireland, they could have one by voting for it. Third, Northern Ireland’s current constitutional position would remain within the United Kingdom. Fourth, Northern Ireland’s citizens would have the right to ‘identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both.’ Fifth, the Irish state would drop its territorial claim on Northern Ireland and instead define the Irish nation in terms of people rather than land. The consent principle would be built into the Irish constitution.

Three new interlocking institutions were set up. Relations within Northern Ireland were to be addressed by a power-sharing assembly that would operate on an inclusive basis. All of the main parties would be members of a permanent coalition government. Key decisions would be taken on a cross-community basis. Relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were to be dealt with through the creation of a North-South Ministerial Council which would allow co-operation between the Northern Ireland Assembly and Irish Parliament on certain functional issues. As a safeguard, the Northern Ireland Assembly could only operate if the North-South Ministerial Council was also functioning. Under Strand Three, a British-Irish Council was to be established. This would draw members from the British and Irish governments, as well as the devolved parliament in Scotland and assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Research. Has the decommissioning of the IRA’s weapons put a complete stop to sectarian violence?

The IRA, Irish Republican Army, no longer describes itself as an armed force and officially ended its armed campaign to reunify Ireland in July 2005. The IRA has decommissioned its weapons. This announcement was greeted with praise and hope by both the British and Irish governments. It was a great step towards permanent peace. However, the IRA and its political wing still oppose what it calls an illegal foreign occupation of its country. Meanwhile, two IRA splinter groups, Real IRA and Continuity IRA, still practice terrorism and armed campaigns.

So the decommissioning of the IRA’s weapons has not put a complete stop to sectarian violence but almost.


Speculate. Has Ireland’s economic downturn increased or lessened pressure for a united Ireland?

Ireland yes and Northern Ireland no.

Nord Irland har bedre økonomi og er derfor nok ikke interesseret i at blive forenet med Irland, hvor Irland derimod måske godt vil forenes med Nord Irland for at få en bedre økonomi.

Labour’s eight policy commissions

The Labour Party has eight policy commissions, which are divided into four main areas.

Economy, Politics, Society and International

In Labour’s policy commissions there are members from The National Policy Forum, the Shadow Cabinet and the National Executive Committee. So it reflects all parts of the movement

I would like to start talking about the commissions dealing with Economy and Politics.


Stability and Prosperity Policy Commission

The Stability and Prosperity Policy Commission works on current issues such as the economic recovery to public spending and taxation, and how they can reduce the deficit in a fair way.

The commission will shortly be publishing a new policy consultation document. It includes for example how to tackle the cost of living crisis, and the role of small businesses in the economy.

Work and Business Policy Commission

The Work and Business Policy Commission considers how Labour can ensure the UK is able to compete in the global economy. This includes for example support for rights at work and the future of pensions.

This commission will also shortly be publishing a new policy consultation document, that includes things such as the role of an active industrial strategy, and how to improve fairness in the workplace by working with job insecurity and underemployment. 

Living Standards and Sustainability Policy Commission

The Living Standards and Sustainability Policy Commission looks at issues affecting quality of life, the cost of living, and the environment.  Its role is among other things to consider low carbon energy mix while improving living standards for families and individuals.

The commission will shortly be publishing a new policy consultation document

The document will explore issues such as how to promote and support energy efficiency and low carbon energy generation.


Better Politics Policy Commission

The Better Politics Policy Commission considers how Labour in opposition can work to build a One Nation politics – with a focus on constitutional and democratic reform.

The Commission is particularly interested in looking at how you can build engagement and participation in politics – for example through greater diversity of representation and political education. Group 2 – The McCormick book has been used as source

The Constitution

Nobody knows how old the British democracy is because the Constitution is so called unwritten. However, everybody knows what the Constitution stands for. It is an instrument that outlines the rules by which a government functions (McCormick 98). Some also say that instead of being just a simple set of rules, the Constitution is regarded as a summary of how a society is politically constituted and how its political order fits together (McCormick).

The British Constitution is concerned with the following:

  • Common laws
  • Statute laws
  • European laws
  • Tradition and conventions
  • Scholarly commentaries

Because the Constitution is unwritten the society has a wide range of flexibility and this of course has it advantages. On the other hand, there are also disadvantages and therefore some people wish that the Constitution would be written down.

The Monarchy

Britain has been a monarchy for decades but the Crown as it is called does no longer rule and reign as early in the history, where Britain was an absolute monarchy. Britain is now a constitutional monarchy and the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is said to reign but not to rule. She is expected to be a neutral symbol of the state but she has some political duties for example to sign the laws. The queen can dissolve parliament and call new elections although in practice she does this only when asked to do so by the prime minister (McCormick 101). The queen can also call war and peace but only does this on the advice of her ministers. In short, the power officially lies with the monarch, but she never does anything without having had politicians advising her first.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet

The Prime Minister is the head of government and he/she provides policy leadership and oversees the implementation of law through a Cabinet of senior ministers (McCormick 104). The Prime Minister is the leader of a political party with the most seats in the lower chamber of Parliament. The Cabinet varies in size decided by the Prime Minister’s wishes. The members of the Cabinet meet once a week to discuss policy and once the Cabinet makes a decision, all members are expected to support it in public, regardless of their own personal feelings.


The Parliament is according to McCormick “the sentimental heart of the Westminster model”. Parliament is the British legislature. Here proposals for new laws are presented, discussed and then either rejected or accepted. It is said to be a link between citizens and the excecutive (because the members are voted in), and furthermore it has 3 critical functions:

  • It both recruits and maintains the government
  • It scrutinizes the government
  • It acts as a forum for national debate

In practice the Parliament consists of three elements; House of Lords (the upper house), House of Commons ((the lower house) and the Monarch. Previously, The House of Lords was once the more powerful institution but the roles have changed and the lower House now has the power since it is focusing on real law-making.

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