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These essays are good introductions (as are the AS ones). The BBC obvious found that there is considerable overlap in Route D, so it divided these essays into Units 5 and 6 (they did not produce a Unit 4 set). If you can't find what you are looking for here try the Unit 5 link above.

International Organisations and the UK
Unit 6D: International Politics and the UK Simon Lightfoot Lecturer in European Studies at Liverpool John Moores University writes for BBC Parliament

Despite a decline in its power during the post-war period, the UK is a member of a number of major international organisations.
This membership plays a role in shaping foreign, defence and economic policy in the UK, as well as clearly having an impact upon its national sovereignty. The UK is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, which means it has a veto over UN action.

The United Nations
UN support for military action is seen as crucial by many for the action to gain international legitimacy. This was very clear during the debate in 2002 about attacking Iraq.
Opinion polls suggest that many Labour MPs and members of the public would only support military action if it were backed up by a UN resolution.
This support for 'supranational' action is not just confined to military action.
Many within the parties of the 'left' (Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Greens) see the UN as the most appropriate lever to regulate industry, protect the environment and promote human rights.
For example, the Kyoto Treaty on climate change was negotiated under the auspices of the UN.
Nato
The UK was a founder member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), which was created at the start of the Cold War.
Nato is important in shaping UK defence policy as Article 5 states that an attack on one member is an attack on all.
However, to get a complete picture of the UK's foreign and defence policy, it is also crucial to examine the commitments it has entered into as part of the European Union's (EU) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
It is the future of the CFSP that causes most controversy in the UK, especially as it is tied up with the debate about the future role of Nato.
It is argued that Nato is now redundant since the collapse of its principal raison d'être, the Soviet Union, and that, for example, a European force may be more appropriate.
The UK however is keen for the defence link with the USA to remain and therefore only supports the development of an EU defence capability that does not damage Nato.
The WTO
In economic terms, the UK is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a body charged with promoting global free trade.
The WTO situation is complicated by the fact that on many trade issues the EU has sole competence to negotiate for the fifteen member states.
The UK's economic power also means it is a member of the Group of 8 countries (G8), originally a grouping of the world's seven richest industrial democracies.
The UK is also involved in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of industrialized countries, which seeks to promote co-ordination of economic and social policies among members.
Finally, it is also a member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), both of which are specialized agencies of the United Nations Organization.
This shows that, via membership of international organisations, the UK government voluntarily shares sovereignty in the crucial spheres of economic, defence and foreign policy.
© Dr Simon Lightfoot 2004 Liverpool John Moores University

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2638425.stm
Published: 2004/11/22 16:13:34 GMT
© BBC MMVII

International Events and the UK
Unit 6D: International Politics and the UK Simon Lightfoot Lecturer in European Studies at Liverpool John Moores University writes for BBC Parliament

According to the unwritten British constitution, the prime minister, acting via Royal Prerogative, has the power to declare war without consulting Parliament or even the cabinet.
Often, due to the need for quick decision making and the sensitivity of the topic, consultation may be restricted to a very few senior ministers, whilst the full cabinet is just informed what action is planned or indeed has taken place.
In practice, political pressure usually means that Parliament is allowed a vote. This was true during the Gulf War in 1991, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and action in Kosovo in 1998, but not before UK military action in Afghanistan.

The inclusion of opposition leaders in decisions is also common, as there is an unwritten rule not to publicly criticise policy if "our boys and girls" are on active duty.
War in Iraq
In 2002, there was an increasing debate as to whether military action should be taken against Iraq. The government presented a dossier it claimed showed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
However, it was only mounting pressure from some of its own backbenchers, the media and pressure groups, like Stop the War, that appeared to force the government into having a debate, but no formal vote, on the issue.
Three main departments are involved in the creation of UK foreign policy. They are:-
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • The Ministry of Defence
  • The Department for International Development.
The last department was created in 1997 by the new Labour Government as part of its attempt to insert morality into the UK's foreign policy.
There was the attempt to create an "ethical" foreign policy which was questioned by the decision early on in Labour's first term of office to grant export licences for Hawk jets to Indonesia.
These jets, it was claimed, would be used to stifle internal dissent within East Timor.
In this case it was clear that ethics could damage valuable contracts worth millions to UK firms and crucially UK jobs.
Pressure from companies like British Aerospace can be significant in shaping foreign policy decisions.
Key allies
The UK's international obligations and strategic national interests shape its foreign policy decisions.
The UK sees itself as having a special relationship with the United States of America.
Examples of this relationship became very clear when the UK stood "shoulder to shoulder" with the US in the post-September 11 attacks on Afghanistan and the subsequent discussions of a war on Iraq.
The UK also has links with former colonies via the Commonwealth. The UK tried to use this organisation to put pressure on the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.
In May 2000, British Marines helped support the elected government of Sierra Leone against an attack from opposition forces, overcoming a long standing reluctance to become involved in armed conflict in Africa.
Finally, the UK has a commitment to EU action, as shown in 1999 when accusations of ethnic cleansing of Kosovan Albanians were made against Serbia.
Blair called for a "just war" involving air strikes and ground troops.
Clearly the UK still plays a role in international politics and policy decisions taken rely upon an evaluation of the UK's national security and national interest.
© Dr Simon Lightfoot 2004 Liverpool John Moores University
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Story from BBC NEWS:
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2638461.stm
Published: 2004/11/22 16:27:42 GMT
© BBC MMVII

EU Membership and the UK
Unit 6D: International Politics and the UK Simon Lightfoot Lecturer in European Studies at Liverpool John Moores University writes for BBC Parliament

UK membership of the EU since 1973 has had a significant impact on the UK political system.
Most importantly, EU law takes precedence over UK law.
Therefore laws passed by Parliament, including most famously the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act, which conflict with EU law, are illegal.
This situation clearly contradicts the main principle of the UK constitution that Parliament is sovereign.

National judges therefore, have a higher court, the European Court of Justice, to whom they can refer suspected infringements of EU law.
Finally, under the constitution, ratification of a Treaty falls under the Royal Prerogative. This means that an Act of Parliament is only needed where the provisions of the Treaty are intended to have the force of law in the UK.
Europeanization of the British politics
EU membership has had a significant impact upon the work of government. The prime minister is regularly involved in European Council or Summit meetings with other EU leaders.
Members of cabinet take part in monthly Council of Ministers meetings.
For example, Margaret Beckett, as the minister with responsibility for agricultural issues, via Defra, represents the UK on the Agricultural Council.
The importance of the EU created a need to establish permanent UK representation in Brussels to assist with the monitoring and formulation of EU law.
These civil servants work closely with their colleagues back in London to ensure the views of the UK Government are heard.
Finally, the Civil Service, along with Local Government, is responsible for implementing EU directives.
Democratic deficit
Critics argue that the fact that the PM or cabinet ministers make EU law in secret in these meeting weakens the scrutiny function of Parliament as it only has the power to approve or reject EU legislation coming into force in the UK.
However, since the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) all national parliaments must now receive all Council documents six weeks before discussion in the Council. This provides Parliament with the option, via its committees to properly scrutinise and hold the executive to account.
The UK Government retains sovereignty over most areas of public expenditure-social security, health, housing and transport.
But in areas of single market regulation and even macroeconomic policy it is severely constrained by EU membership.
Struggle over the Euro
Both main political parties have internal divisions over the future direction of European integration, especially over the question of whether or not the UK should join the Euro.
This division also affects pressure groups.
For example, some business groups, such as the Confederation of British Industry, generally support the UK joining the Euro whilst others, such as the Institute for Directors, generally oppose membership.
Trade Unions are similarly divided on the issue.
EU membership is one of the main reserved powers of Westminster. This means that the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies have had a limited engagement with the EU.
The main impact is that these assemblies are now responsible for implementing EU law where they have competence.
The impact of the EU on British politics and government is huge.
© Dr Simon Lightfoot 2003

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2638485.stm
Published: 2004/11/22 16:37:38 GMT
© BBC MMVII

European Integration and the UK
Unit 6D: International Politics and the UK Simon Lightfoot Lecturer in European Studies at Liverpool John Moores University writes for BBC Parliament

Ever since the EEC (now EU) was founded in 1957 it has been a controversial issue in UK politics.
Back in 1957, Britain refused to join the club because it feared losing sovereignty and its world influence with the Commonwealth and the USA.
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.
This move was opposed by the Labour Party, who, when they returned to office in 1974, proposed a referendum on UK membership.
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%.
Thatcher's euroscepticism
As a free marketeer, when Mrs Thatcher came to power in 1979 she was opposed to the further development of political union.
She feared the imposition of the types of policies she had fought to remove from British life: characterised as, "socialism via the back door".
In contrast she actively promoted the Single European Act, which she saw as crucial to complete the European free market that she supported.
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.
The issue of European integration was also divisive during John Major's Government (1990-1997).
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.
New Labour, new approach to the EU?
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.
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.
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.
In the 2001 election, William Hague attempted to make opposition to the Euro a central plank of the Conservative Party's campaign.
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.
This is also borne out by the relative lack of success of the anti-EU Referendum Party in the 1997 election.
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.
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?
© Dr Simon Lightfoot 2003 Liverpool John Moores University

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2638513.stm
Published: 2004/11/22 16:47:35 GMT
© BBC MMVII

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