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These are A2 notes from Joker13na from TSR. They're very good. A big thanks to her!

Contents:
Differences in Foreign Policy between UK Political Parties
Ethics in Foreign Policy
Globalisation's Effect on the UK
Impact of the EU on UK Politics
Relations with the US

Differences in Foreign Policy between UK Political Parties

Is there a consensus amongst major UK parties about foreign policy?
2005 election
War on Terror
Conservative FP
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Backed military action in Iraq
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Does not support an early withdrawal of troops agrees with Labour
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Support Labour’s diplomatic approach to Iran, Syria and North Korea
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Supports six-nation talks
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Want higher standards of proof before terrorists can be caught and held
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Want terrorists to be prosecuted before attack
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Support the introduction of ID cards
Labour FP
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Right to go to war with Iraq
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Will pull out when the insurgency has been put down and the government asks them to leave
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Advocates a diplomatic approach to Iran, Syria and North Korea and rejects suggestion of further military action
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Supports six-nation talks
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Terrorists can be house arrested and restrictions put on their movements without trial
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Can be prosecuted before they commit an attack
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Proposes introduction of ID cards
Aid and Trade
Conservative FP
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Want to double international contributions to the world’s poorest countries
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Support the cancellation of debts
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Wants to give less aid through international bodies like the EU and more through NGOs
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Support IFF plan
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Press for reform of CAP
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Want to protest poor countries using an advocacy fund before completely opening markets to exports from them
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Want Europe to allow poor countries free access to European markets
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Support Labour over Africa and AIDS
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Would pledge to spend £5.3 billion on aid by 2007/2008
Labour FP
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Want money from IFF (International finance facility) to help the world’s poorest countries
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Gives 100% dept relief to countries committed to using proceeds to benefit poor
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Want to address multilateral dept by paying back the UK’s share of the dept owed to the World Bank and AfDB
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Press for reform of the CAP
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Wants to completely open markets to exports from poorer countries
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Committed to increasing aid and governance to Africa
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Pledged £1.5 billion to tackling AIDS
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Pledges to spend £6.5 billion on aid by 2007/2008
Europe
Conservative FP
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No vote on EU constitution
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Want to renegotiate UK membership
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Opposed to membership of EURO
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Oppose separate EU defence structure wants to work purely with NATO
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Want to opt out of CFP
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Want to abolish CAP
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Want to opt out of EU’s social chapter
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Support enlargement of EU

Labour FP
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Yes vote on the EU constitution
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Remains committed to joining the EURO
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Backs plans to strengthen the EU’s defence role so EU can act without NATO
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Wants to continue with reform of CAP and CFP
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Committed to retaining national veto not renegotiate

Why are both major parties in the UK still divided over European Integration?
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Conservatives are opposed to the idea of having an EU Constitution: the EU doesn’t need one. Countries have constitutions; nation-states make treaties between themselves. The EU needs to become more flexible to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. The EU Constitution would be bad for Britain and bad for Europe.
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The Prime Minister claims that there is no alternative to the Constitution. But this is simply not the case. In fact, by saying “no” the British people would be doing Europe and Britain a huge favour. Europe would be forced to confront its failings and Britain could take the lead in developing a coherent plan to modernise the EU.
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Labour support the constitution because they believe it “is essential to avoid gridlock in an enlarged union of 25 member states” (The Guardian)
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In 1997, Blair said in his manifesto that ‘we oppose a European federal superstate’ (Labour Manifesto 1997). The Belgian Prime Minister has described the EU Constitution as the ‘capstone’ of a ‘federal state’ (Wall Street Journal Europe, 26 November 2003).
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The conservatives believe:
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The EU Constitution would increasingly transfer power over our asylum system to Brussels. European judges would decide how we deal with asylum seekers and it would become impossible for us to change international treaties to adapt international asylum rules to modern circumstances.
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The EU Constitution would mean that the EU would decide what people’s rights were on arrest. At present it is our Parliament and judicial system which sets these rights and laws. Our rights on arrest, how much time some prisoners serve and some criminal laws (such as those on fraud or trafficking and or any cross border organized crime) will be decided in Brussels, not Britain.
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The EU Constitution would increasingly give powers to unelected European judges under the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights. European judges could tear down our Trade Union laws, replacing our industrial relations framework with a more European one, such as in France – taking us back to the bad old days of the seventies.
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The EU Constitution would establish an EU President and EU Foreign Minister (with his own diplomatic corps). He or she would represent the EU to the rest of the world. That would mean the Prime Minister and Government, which we elect, would increasingly take a back seat and Britain’s interests would be lumped in with every member state’s.
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The EU Constitution would give the EU a new status – making it all but a European federal state. Under these arrangements Britain’s place in the EU would be on the verge of becoming akin to California’s place in the US. The ultimate authority over our lives would be Brussels and not be Parliament answerable to the British people.
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Because there is a split opinion throughout the nation and the parties reflect this, not just between each other but within themselves too.
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Labour is now pro-European and signed the social chapter
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“In Europe but not run by Europe” Conservative slogan
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“stop the slide to a European super-state” Conservative John Maples

Is it true to say that Labour foreign policy is more based on idealism whereas the Conservatives base theirs on the national interest?

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No maybe previously but now due to globalisation both have moved to the centre ground. Labour has moved the most embracing privatisation and to some extent capitalisation

Ethics in foreign policy

To what extent has Britain developed an ethical foreign policy?

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They did sign up to ICC and are committed to it. Also attempted to encourage the US to sign
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Development – advancement of cause of debt relief etc, esp. Gordon Brown.
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Tony Blair – “Africa is a scar on the face of humanity.” Also the creation of the development portfolio in Cabinet (Claire Short was the first one)
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Roadmap in Israel - Tony Blair especially is extremely involved and keen to push a two-state solution
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Environment – Kyoto
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Blair’s interventionist tendencies
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Ottawa agreement banning import and export of landmines
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However, the War in Iraq goes against ALL of Robin Cook’s ideas on the ethical dimension and Cook resigned over the War. (Cook's ideas were about promoting security through liberal internationalist values (e.g. IGOs), promoting respect through human rights etc)
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Furthermore, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are hardly ethical
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Africa Commission could be seen as being a merely cynical use of power and development agenda does not go anywhere near far enough
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Still no intervention in various places e.g. Darfur, Zimbabwe, Chechnya
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Lack of respect domestically for human rights (the anti-terrorism legislation, religious hatred bill, id cards etc)
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Cutting off aid to Palestinians through EU – not an honest broker in conflict (which Blair likes to believe he is)
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“Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must support the demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist for ourselves” Robin Cook, May 1997
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The former Conservative Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, predicted the phrase would land Robin Cook in trouble: “We’ve always had an ethical foreign policy, but he will run into quite a lot of difficulty about exports and retaliation. It’s much better to do these things without a great fanfare”
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During Cook’s four year term as Foreign Secretary the phrase did come back to haunt him:
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Over Britain’s decision to honour a contract supplying hawk jets to Indonesia
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Over military action in Kosovo – the aim was humanitarian, to get President Milosevic to stop the repression in Kosovo so that the refugees could return, but the immediate effect was actually to increase the number of refugees, threatening to destabilise neighbouring Balkan states.
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Over the Sandline affair in Sierra Leone, when mercenary soldiers who helped restore the elected government there claimed they had backing from the British government
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At the 2001 Labour Party Conference Tony Blair proclaimed a moral duty to intervene across the world whenever necessary: “If Rwanda happened again today, as it did in 1993, when a million people were slaughtered in cold blood, we would have a moral duty to act there also”
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According to former foreign secretary Lord Owen “sometimes unpalatable decisions have to be taken, in the national interest” (BBC)
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The Blair approach is that globalisation means that no country can afford to ignore famine, war or human rights abuse anywhere in the world
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“To fight terrorism and weapons of mass destruction effectively over the long term, we must actively promote the rule of law, good governance and human rights” (Jack Straw, March 2004)
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“There’s always been a moral dimension to foreign policy. Take, for instance, Gladstone and the Bulgarian Atrocities.” (Victor Bulmer-Thomas)
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“The Prime Minister has a strong moral streak” (Victor Bulmer-Thomas)
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Britain has championed the UN’s ICC
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“In East Timor, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe Britain’s actions have gone well beyond narrowly defined national interest. Its position was all the stronger for being morally just” (The Guardian 2001)
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According to the Guardian, “Mr Cook’s words have not been reflected in policy in Iraq, in Kurdish areas of Turkey and in respect of Israel’s conduct in Palestine. Draft arms exports regulations have been slow in coming and contain serious loopholes. And Britain is still reluctant to criticise Saudi Arabia and the US over such matters as the death penalty”
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Economic interests of UK still came first. Arms export is a large industry in UK and so government is somewhat reluctant to limit that area. E.g.
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Manufacture and exporting of parts that will be used to make F16s for Israel
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The decision not to completely halt all arms exports to India and Pakistan
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Arms-to-Africa affair
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If arms deals don’t go ahead, British jobs will be threatened
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“It is a choice between British jobs and relations with allies against the possible loss of Palestinian lives” (BBC)
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According to Dunne and Wheeler “The government has no choice but to have an ethical foreign policy. Despite the criticism heaped upon it for proclaiming an ethical foreign policy, the government was right to do so. At the most basic level, it is hard to conceive of a democratic state having an unethical foreign policy”
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According to Dunne and Wheeler “Any government that regularly deploys moral arguments will inevitably be charged with double standards. The Labour government could rebut this charge by claiming that the best that can be achieved is coherence and not consistency”
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The Department for International Development (DFID) set up by New Labour is a United Kingdom government department, the function of which is "to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty".
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Iraq has seriously weakened UK credibility as ethical FP maker as they misled people, invaded for false reasons, created a mess, and possibly broke international law. All this led to the resignation of Robin Cook
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According to Dunne and Wheeler “In the aftermath of the Iraq war, the UK government lacks credibility internationally for its claim to uphold ethical commitments to internationalism and multilateralism”
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“make Britain once again a force for good in the worlds” Cook 1997
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The arms industry according to some estimates is worth around £5 billion a year for the UK economy
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Set up the Foreign Policy Centre
Globalisations effect on UK?

How does globalisation impact on UK politics?

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Globalisation is the growing “complex web of interconnectedness”. It is the process which many claim to be happening to the world, in which decisions in one place can effect the rest of the world
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International trade is more common and markets are free
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Many claim that this process adversely affects LEDCs whilst benefiting those who already control large proportions of the world’s power and economy.
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It is hard to determine tangible effects of this process, but events and changes are often attributed to it
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Tony Blair believes strongly in the idea of globalisation, saying that it is something we can’t ignore and thus we must “embrace globalisation and not retreat from it”
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He claims that we benefit from the process as a nation as we are able to buy things cheaper, travel easier and also become more aware of the world, but politically the effects are much m ore diverse
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Positively it can be asserted that this process has led to our increased membership of IGOs and this gives us more power throughout the world.
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Membership of the WTO and the G8 gives us increased say on the world’s markets, policies and aims
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However membership of such IGOs as the EU also decreases our sovereignty within our own country.
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Laws passed, in certain areas, in the EU are sovereign over UK law and thus we have politically lost a significant part of our power over domestic policy
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Receiving a loan from the IMF reduced our power over economic policy as we had to follow their guidelines in order to obtain the loan
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Thus in terms of IGOs globalisation could be said to have increased our power over international politics whilst decreasing our power over domestic politics
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Another area of politics that is affected by globalisation are the political parties, a fundamental part of our political system
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Post-Cold War it has been said that liberal capitalism is the only way left
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As a result there has been a noticeable shift of the ideology of our political parties
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The 2 main UK parties, the Conservatives and Labour, have since then been accused of moving to the centre ground away from their traditional right and left wing stances
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It is claimed that Labour has sacrificed the most ideologically speaking, as since coming to power in 1997 they have apparently embraced capitalism.
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They now support privatisation and have seeming moved away from the trade unions
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Good examples of this move are the recent outsourcings or closing downs of various car manufacturing plants
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Companies are moving abroad due to cheaper costs and are able to do this because of globalisation
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This means loss of jobs within the UK, and whereas before Labour would have fought or tried to find a way to keep these companies by introducing schemes or incentives they have merely said that there is nothing we can do about it
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Not only does this lack of action signify a significant shift in ideology but also a decreased control of the economy as companies, like BT, are continuously moving outsourcing to India or such, and the British face more unemployment
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However if faced with this point Blair or Brown would no doubt point out that our unemployment record is much better than France and Germany who are currently facing unemployment rates of over 10%
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Economic globalisation has also contributes to the recent growth of the UK economy. Economic liberals would argue that cheap labour in Britain, the result of immigration, has kept inflation low, boosting the economy.
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They could argue that this is the reason why the British economy has seen substantial growth, whereas the French economy has not
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The perceived strength of the British economy is seen as a reason for the electoral dominance of the Labour party in recent times
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Many see the growth of international terrorism as a backlash against cultural globalisation.
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Organisations such as Al-Qaeda attract the support of many who are angered by the effects of McDonaldization and this has had an impact on UK politics.
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The terrorist attacks on the 11th September 2001 on the USA and the attacks on the 7th July 2005 on the UK has affected British economy and politics considerably
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On and after these dates trade stopped for a short period of time and especially in America this had a terrible effect on the Stock Market as the Dow-Hones fell by the most in one day and in one week, affecting all countries including the UK due to globalisation.
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Fundamental elements of the British constitution such as Habeas Corpus have been ignored for the first time ever in peace time, and many see the proposed introduction of identity cards, caused by fear of terrorism, as an attack on civil liberties
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In recent years there has been a conspicuous increase in voter apathy
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This has been chalked up to various things, including the seemingly sameness of the political parties and the loss of control over policy that Britain appears to suffer from.
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Both things which have been discussed above can be attributed to globalisation.
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An increase of voter apathy means a decrease of political mandate for the government and hence a loss of support form its citizens and power over them
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The movement of many pressure groups headquarters to places like Brussels signifies this loss as they feel that in order to achieve their objectives they must target IGOs like the EU which they view to have more power over British politics than our own government
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Globalisation has also led to a greater awareness of the outside world, and a development of Labour’s questionable ethical foreign policy
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This external awareness brought to us by increased access of the media, means that foreign policy made by our government is not merely driven by national interest but also global interest
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More money and more concentration is spent on those in LEDCs than in previous years and one reason that Blair and his foreign secretaries have used is the extended awareness that globalisation brings
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This concentration of our government on external affairs, whilst seen by the majority as a positive thing, has dramatic effects in Britain as shown by the recent local elections and the increased support of the BNP, who claim that their purpose it to look after British nationals first.
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This increase support of the BNP is a harsh blow to the government, as the BNP is largely seen as a racist party, meaning that any increase of support of the BNP is a step in the wrong direction
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Overall it is clear that although these occurrences may not be purely the result of globalisation, the process does have a significant effect on British politics
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It seems that we have increased control over foreign policy or at least awareness there of, but our sovereignty over domestic policy has diminished
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Globalisation is supported strongly by our government, yet according to recent figures, since 2003 we have dropped 3 places in the index of the world’s globalized countries.
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We can’t deny the benefits but we must also not ignore the disadvantages


What is the anti-globalisation movement?

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The term anti-globalization is allocated as a unified name to the movement by the media. It refers not to the opposition of globalization per se, but the opposition of different aspects of globalization. There is a wide variety of different kinds of "anti-globalization".
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In general, critics claim that the results of globalization have not been what was predicted when the attempt to increase free trade began, and that many institutions involved in the system of globalization have not taken the interests of poorer nations and the working class into account. This has resulted in a number of negative effects of cultural, political, and economic globalization.
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Many claim that it is simply a "buzz-word to denote the latest phase of capitalism", whereas others believe that globalization maybe "the latest stage of Western imperialism".
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The anti-globalisation movement developed in the late twentieth century to combat the globalisation of corporate economic activity and the free trade with developing nations that might ensue
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Members of the anti-globalisation movement generally support anarchist, socialist or social democratic alternatives to capitalist economics, and seek to protest the world’s population and ecosystem from what they believe to be the damaging effects of globalisation
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Although adherents of the movement often work together, the movement itself is heterogeneous.
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It includes diverse and sometimes opposing understanding of the globalisation process, and incorporates alternative visions, strategies and tactics
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Many of the groups and organisations that are considered part of the movement were not founded as antiglobalist, but have their roots in various pre-existing social and political movements

Impact of EU on British Politics

Is the UK still an awkward partner in relation to the EU? Is Euroscepticism becoming more prominent in UK politics?

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The findings of the Eurobarometer survey published in September 2000 appear to give heart to those politicians from all the major UK political parties who advance a Eurosceptic position
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In comparison with those of most of the other member states the UK population seems to perceive fewer benefits from membership and seems markedly more reluctant to extend EU competence further into areas thus far reserved for nation-states
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Only 25% of UK respondents felt that EU membership was ‘a good thing’ and that the country has benefited from membership, in both cases the least positive of all the 15 member states at that time
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Whilst this points to scepticism a fuller interrogation of the findings suggests a more complex position
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The UK public is more split on the EU than most of its partners and a much larger proportion claims to view membership as neither good nor bad.
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Of all the 15 states only UK had an ‘undecided’ majority
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The UK had the smallest proportion in favour of the single currency and a clear majority of 61% against it
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The average for all 15 countries was 33% against almost half that of Britain
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Britain’s role in the EU is a major issue in contemporary politics, but one that political parties have found difficult to manage
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The two main parties have changed their policies on Europe, suffered internal divisions and faced problems exploiting the issue for electoral advantage
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The Conservatives and Labour parties seem to have swapped positions on Europe in the last 3 decades - Labour used to be hostile to European integration but is
now broadly supportive
- The Conservatives were generally pro-European but are now predominantly Eurosceptic
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We can summarize the “awkward theory” historical arguments in 5 points:
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UK insular position and geographical detachment;
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its mainly naval power rather than a power focused on land, making it see itself as a global and mobile force that went beyond the regional land interconnectivity that Europe offered;
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the fact that it has never been invaded or occupied;
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the idea that it is institutionally different from Europe (unbroken democratic tradition; different system of law - British common law vs. European Union (EU) codified legal law -; the absence of a written constitution tradition and its “conception of democracy that favours strong, majority government without mediation”4 colliding with EU conceptions);
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Both Labour and the Conservatives usually reached a certain consensus and strongly embodied national concerns while remaining divided over European issues.
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Ever since the EEC (now EU) was founded in 1957 it has been a controversial issue in UK politics.
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Back in 1957, Britain refused to join the club because it feared losing sovereignty and its world influence with the Commonwealth and the USA.
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But by the early 1960s many in the UK had come to realise that EU membership was inevitable if the UK was to preserve a role for itself. After two failed attempts to join in 1961 and 1967, the Conservative government of Edward Heath took the UK into the EU in 1973.
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This move was opposed by the Labour Party, who, when they returned to office in 1974, proposed a referendum on UK membership.
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To avoid splitting the party, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, took the unusual step of suspending collective responsibility. The British people supported staying in the EU by 67.2% to 32.8%.
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As a free marketeer, when Mrs Thatcher came to power in 1979 she was opposed to the further development of political union.
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She feared the imposition of the types of policies she had fought to remove from British life: characterised as, "socialism via the back door".
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In contrast she actively promoted the Single European Act, which she saw as crucial to complete the European free market that she supported.
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However, she strongly opposed any attempts to get the UK to join the single currency and it was this issue that proved to be her downfall.
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The issue of European integration was also divisive during John Major's Government (1990-1997).
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Hampered by a small majority, he tried to ensure a balance between the pro-European wing of the Conservative Party and the increasingly vocal Eurosceptic wing.
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By 1997, the Labour Party had shifted from its 1983 election manifesto promise to leave the EU to stating that the UK would display a more positive approach to the EU.
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The UK has attempted to shake off its "awkward partner" tag by signing up to the Social Chapter and also by proposing developments in line with the present government's economic thinking.
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But the Labour Government has been reluctant to publicly support Euro membership, preferring to stick to its "wait and see" policy based upon Gordon Brown's Five Economic Tests.
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In the 2001 election, William Hague attempted to make opposition to the Euro a central plank of the Conservative Party's campaign.
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According to the majority of commentators, the fact this campaign did not succeed shows that whilst Europe is an important issue it is not central to most voters.
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This is also borne out by the relative lack of success of the anti-EU Referendum Party in the 1997 election.
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However it is clear that, although often disguised, divisions exist in all the UK's main political parties between those pro-Europeans who want the UK to become more actively engaged with the EU and those Eurosceptics who want the UK to disengage, some even to the point of withdrawing from the EU completely.
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These divisions are then compounded by differing ideological views of how the European project should develop. Should it be just an economic club or should the EU involve itself more fully in issues such as social and employment legislation?


How has membership of the EU affected Britain?

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Since the Treaty of Accession in 1972, Britain accepted the Treaty of Rome and subsequently the SEA as well as the Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties, and so it can be argued that Britain has accepted a diminution in its legal sovereignty for the following 3 reasons:
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Laws enacted by the EU are directly applicable to the UK
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The British Parliament can’t pass laws in areas where Community Law already exists
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British courts must accept and enforce decisions made by the ECJ

Quote from Community law: “On the basis of the powers conferred on them the community institutions can act independently of the member states and are binding on the member states and on all their citizens”

David Walker Smith argued that parliamentary sovereignty was incompatible with the Treaty of Accession because it made Community law supreme, over parliamentary statute.

This surrender of sovereignty is not however all embracing.

The Community works according to the principle of the specific attribution of powers. This means that the scope of community competences are limited and vary according to the task at hand e.g.:
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There are some areas where there is no Community law
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There are areas where community law give general principles but where national governments have latitude as to how the laws are applied

However in a book entitled The ABC of Community Law, the author argues that members have pooled certain parts of their legislative powers and placed them in the hands of community institutions, but in return they have substantial rights of participation.

Enoch Powell emphasises that he feels that sovereignty cannot be pooled.

Enoch Powell went on to say that sovereignty was “the final and absolute authority within the political community.” Therefore sovereignty according to Powell was incompatible with membership because community law would take precedent over any parliamentary law.

The New Statesman argued that sovereignty had already been conceded to international business, and thus “to enter into collective social and economic arrangements is to retrieve sovereignty, not to surrender it”

Another argument held by Tony Benn is that EU has not taken sovereignty from Parliament because “in practice political sovereignty has long rested with the executive”

The Factortame case in 1990 demonstrates the supremacy of Community law. The ECJ ruled that the UK Merchant Shipping Act of 1988 was invalid, as it clashed with Community law.

In the words of The New Statesman in June 1990 “This is a historic judgement…it overturns the English ruling that no injunction can be granted against the Crown…the Europeans are rewriting [the British] constitution.

In the Factortame case it became clear that it was the duty of any UK court to overrule any law that was in conflict with European law.

The Economist at the time of the Factortame case argued “The Europeans are rewriting our constitution”

However Norton argues that the defining moment was the preceding SEA of 1986 where Britain accepted QMV, which meant that Britain law could be changed by directives even if Britain voted against the change i.e. what had traditionally been a national veto was in certain areas removed

Joining of the European Union led to a national referendum on membership in June 1975. A referendum would supposedly result in the matter being decided outside of Parliament and so it would “impinge on the power of Parliament (Alan Davis)

However the result was not binding, and thus Parliament maintained its sovereignty as the final decision was still theoretically theirs.

Some commentators, such as Norman Lamont, have pointed out that “membership of the EU has not been settled for all time; it is provisional, not unconditional.” Hence any changes that have occurred, as a result of membership of the EU can be undone by leaving the EU, and thus sovereignty is ultimately not surrendered.

However the body of commentators view this argument as a delusion. Due to the level of involvement and the obvious benefits of membership, it is very unlikely that Britain would remove themselves from the EU

The British constitution is uncodified and as such has evolved over the centuries from several sources: statute law; common law; conventions; important historical documents; and works of authority such as those by AV Dicey

Many commentators on British politics claim that it is the flexibility of the constitution that makes it strong

Britain join the European Community in 1973

Margaret Thatcher argued that Britain is a representative democracy and so introducing referendums would undermine the most fundamental of principles in British politics – it would “undermine the role of MPs” (Alan Davis) and by doing so would erode parliamentary sovereignty

In recent years the British government had had to amend pensions, social security and equal opportunities “ to bring British law into line with European law” (Alan Davis)

A number of commentators including Thatcher agree that powers have been ‘surrendered’ to the EU

Enoch Powell argued that sovereignty by its very nature can’t be pooled and therefore “entry into the community was a surrender of sovereignty because for the first time an external body could overrule parliament”

Philip Norton believes that there has been “a shift of power within the institutions of the UK” as a result of membership of the EU, which accompanies a shift of power to the institutions of the EU

The “EU is pushing the British into reforming their constitution” (Alan Davis)

Relations with US

Does Britain have a “special relationship” with USA? Does this conflict with relations with Europe?**

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The term ‘special relationship’ was coined by Winston Churchill during his iron curtain speech of March 1946, to describe the “fraternal association of the English-speaking people’s”
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Since then Anglo-American relations have often been characterised as ‘special’
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The shared cultural and historical inheritance of the two countries is seen as underpinning their close diplomatic and military ties
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Critics, including Romano Prodi (former President of the European Commission) have argues that Britain has cherished the special relationship at the expense of European integration
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Blair argues that Britain is a bridge between the United States and Europe, and, as such, it gains the best of both worlds
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Recent events have served to highlight the increasing importance of this special relationship
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Following the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in Washington Tony Blair flew out to the USA to show his support for the US during this time of crisis
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Following this meeting Blair embarked on a two month diplomatic tour with the aim of gathering international support for military action
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Originally it was assumed that Clintonesque Blair and Republican George W. Bush would have little common ground between them and as such the relationship that was strong between Bush and Clinton would weaken, as it tends to do when the leaders of these two counties don’t share “a commonality of purpose” (Wikipedia).
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The special relationship was weak between Harold Wilson and Lindon Johnson
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However Blair and Bush were found to share beliefs and responses to the international situation post 9/11, although many commentators observe that meetings prior to these attacks were stiff and awkward
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The strength of the relationship was again shown when the United States and Britain went to war with Iraq over claims of the existence of illegal weapons of mass destruction
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Unfortunately for Blair and Bush this assertion seems to have been inaccurate and the decision largely ill-advised, not only because of the repercussions from a global political and military point of view but also for the international reputation of the US and UK
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Tony Blair’s involvement in the war in Iraq damaged his standing at home, both with the electorate, as shown by the large decrease of government majority in the House of Commons after the last general elections, and especially within the New Labour party itself, which has since seen intra-party rebellions over many issues, most recently including educational reforms
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It has strained Britain’s relationship with Europe, especially with France and Germany (termed old Europe by Donald Rumsfeld) who were strongly opposed to the war
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This is a classic example of an event which many claim proves that the United Kingdom values its special relationship with Europe higher than its relationship with its closer neighbours on the continent
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Britain is often seen as the weaker half of the Anglo-American partnership
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Britain has not always followed complacently in the footsteps of the US
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The relationship has not always been harmonious and was severely strained when Britain resisted pressure from the US to send troops in during the Suez crisis and the Vietnam War
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According to Ben Wright of the BBC Britain has often sought to “restrain and dampen the action of the US” for example during the Korean War. He continues to say that this has particularly been the case during the post-Cold War period
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Washington has long valued Britain’s role in mediating relations between Europe and America
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However post-Cold War it appears that the US interests are drifting further apart from those that Britain shares with Europe
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On the issues of trade, the Middle-East and the Kyoto agreement on climate change the paths of Europe and Britain diverge away from that of the US
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There is a strong possibility now more than ever that Britain will get back to “pursuing its proper objective of a leadership role in Europe” (John Holmes)
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Critics including Will Hutton have long claimed that the US-UK special relationship is harmful to Britain and that “the effort ant attention that Britain puts into preserving the relationship has distracted it” (John Holmes) from its role in Europe
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This is “a pivotal moment” that may make us realise “that the special relationship should be consigned to history along with our empire” (Robin Cook)
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“The suspicion also remains that it means slightly more to Britain than it odes to the US” (BBC)
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Not only does the US dwarf its British ally both economically and militarily, but it also has ‘special’ relationships with other countries including Mexico, Canada and Israel
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“Throughout the Cold War, Britain was a key bridge between the US and Europe and Washington has longed value in Britain’s role in mediating relations between the two continents” (BBC)
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It is “an unequal partnership, dogged with infidelity, and unbalanced in its power” (Ben Wright)
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The George W. Bush told Congress that the US had “no truer friend” than the UK
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Robert Cecil claimed that there has been no occasion when Whitehall has ever changed Washington’s mind on any issue of substance
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Kingdom argues that “the idea that [Blair] could influence US policy was a delusion. As the US train moved to war, Britain was merely a passenger”
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“The relationship seemed stronger when there was ideological convergence between leaders” (Kingdom)
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Charles de Gaulle believed that it was “difficult [for Britain to] be with both the Americans and the Europeans”
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Blair follows Macmillan’s view that Britain should seek the best of both worlds and be a bridge between Europe and the US.
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According to Peter Mangold there are good practical reasons why the UK continuously looks to the US. They continue to share a significantly greater community of interest in what happens in the wider world than Britain does with the majority of Europe
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“The gap between Europeans and American is becoming wider and harder for Britain to straddle” (The World Today)
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Tony Blair said when elected that we should aim to be “strong in Europe and strong with the US. There is no choice between the two. Stronger with one means stronger with the other”
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“Diverging attitudes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, to relations with Iran and to oil consumption and energy conservation pull Europeans and Americans further apart” (William Wallace)
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“The special relationship is dead” (William Wallace)
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According to Caroline Kennedy Pipe “Tony Blair is perceived in Washington as being a central actor shaping the international political agenda”