Politics Revision Notes - The Effect of the International System on Britain

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Politics Revision Notes
Green = Good/Advantages
Red = Bad/Disadvantages
Blue = Neutral
Effect of UK in international politics on the power of the PM
Domestic Reasons increasing his power
Policy success
Parliamentary majority
Leadership style & relations with colleagues
* Blair had great power with a large majority & a compliant cabinet ­ led to
"Presidential Premiership"
The PM's dominance over the core executive cabinet.
Party Leadership
Leaders elected by their MP's, gives them great authority within the party &
legitimacy in putting forward their programme.
Can't take party for granted though
Blair won 2 elections yet 139 MP's rebelled over the Iraq War, further rebellions
after 05 election.
Also intense opposition to Schools Bill in 2006, exploited by Cameron who said
he could rely on Tory support ­the fact this was needed to get the Bill through
badly undermined Blair.
His ability to dominate Parliament
The legislature acts as a check on the executive in theory.
A PM with a working majority is in a strong position to get his programme
through Parliament.
Party discipline is reinforced by his wide powers of patronage (deciding who
gets ministerial jobs, peerages, knighthoods). Ambitious MP's = govt
ministers. Older MP's = peerage or Knighthood.
Whipping System
Makes it easy for PM's to pass unpopular legislation e.g. poll tax,
privatisation of railways & air traffic control ­ MP's had to vote for whips.
His dominance is not guaranteed
A PM who is weak due to a narrow majority may suffer rebellions e.g. Major.
Even with a majority, if legislation is unpopular there can still be rebellions,
2005, Blair defeated when 49 Labour MP's, rebels, voted against detaining
terrorists for 90 days.
His public support

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A PM who is skilful at winning public support by appearing authoritative, adopting
popular policies & manipulating the media, as Blair did. This enables the PM to
ride out opposition in his own party.
However a PM who is seen as out of touch with public opinion loses these
Thatcher poll tax led to her resignation.
Her MP's voted against her to save the party & their jobs.
She couldn't communicate with the public anymore.…read more

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Differences between Blair & Brown regarding the USA (Bush)
BLAIR pro BROWN anti
Blair followed Bush into War 1 Summit with Bush he made
despite the refusal of other leading clear that UK prepared to go its own
EU countries & the opt out given by way in Iraq.
the US. Focusing more on improving
Both support the use of military economic conditions.
power, hard power, as main source Doesn't use the term "War on
of influence.…read more

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Conveyed his strong belief in "Special Relationship" & need for UK to keep
close to US in order to exert influence on it.
Blair sought a leading role in Europe, attempting to combine the 2 & act as a
bridge between the US & EU.
The power of the PM over foreign policy is illustrated most clearly in the
decision making in the lead up to the Iraq War.
Decision making taken by Blair advised by his team at No: 10.…read more

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Constitutionally, govt can take the country to war without Parls approval
however, due to political necessity Blair still sought Parliamentary support for
war in advance.
This precedent could make it politically impossible for future govts to use their
prerogative power & take large scale military action without Parls approval.
Brown set agenda for constitutional reform in 07.…read more

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Less tangible factors that affect our influence abroad:
The UK is a key member of ALL leading international organisations.
Permanent member of the UNSC.
NATO, the UK is no: 2 to the USA as France is not in the military structure of
NATO (but political) & refuse to play 2nd fiddle to the USA.
G8 has a rotating presidency ­ the UK in 2005.
The UK Foreign Office has an experienced diplomatic service.…read more

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Northern Rock.
Political System
Loss of economic sovereignty large industries buying here e.g. Indian
company Tata taking Jaguar.
BLACK WEDNESDAY ­ the pound got so bad we were forced out of the
ERM. Private currency dealers were selling the pound at such a rate that British
banks couldn't buy all the pounds back. There was a huge backlash for the
Tories in 1997 & 2001.
Possibility that the Northern Rock crisis will undermine Labours
economic competence.…read more

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If govt raises taxes then skilled & talented workers will go elsewhere as the
large firms move also. Nondomiciled = work here but don't live here to avoid
tax, so they pay tax on little earning but not the whole package.
If British companies are now owned abroad e.g. Jaguar, these companies
maybe subject to political pressure, but NOT from the UK e.g. Peugeot ­
French closed factories & cut many jobs but from the UK based factories
only.…read more

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Europe: European Security & trade affairs. We play a leading role in UN,
NATO, EU e.g. preventing further integration by opting out of Euro but
supporting enlargement.
4) "Special Relations" the USA can guarantee are security. "Ride on the tiger
& whisper in its ear" we can exert more influence if we are friends.
5) Stable international order: promoting British/Western values e.g. China &
Tibet or Burma.
6) Environment: also for stability & trying to influence China & the USA.…read more

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This was a 6 day inquiry into just the "45 minute claim"
They weren't allowed to speak to any key people. Powell (Congress) would never
have allowed this. Congress have their own barristers to attack & find the truth.
It was decided that Alistair Campbell did not deliberately exaggerate the claim so
govt was off the hook.
2) Intelligence & Security Committee ­ a body chosen by the PM so BIASED!
This scrutinised the govt's case for war.…read more


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