Category Archives: Streams of Consciousness


On Tuesday 17th May, as part of the Brighton Fringe, the University of Brighton held a debate about TTIP.  On the panel were Jacqueline Minor, David Schneiderman and John Hilary.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is being negotiated between the EU and the US.  The EU says that this will

  • reduce the cost of importing and exporting goods across the Atlantic
  • encourage US investment in Europe
This will benefit small businesses as well as large.
Furthermore, the EU promises not to compromise
  • the precautionary principle
  • food standards
  • environmental standards
Here’s a useful EU TTIP Myth-Buster.

Minor pointed out that one’s view of TTIP ‘depends on whether you believe business to be malign’.

Hilary argued that TTIP would compromise food and environmental standards, and would see certain sectors, like the Irish beef industry, go to the wall.  Even Minor agreed that there would be some losers, and therefore unemployment.  Hilary also asked whether we should be encouraging more international trade at all, when we’re supposed to be reducing CO2 emissions.
Schneiderman focused on the ability for US multinationals to sue EU member states.  He cited cases already happening in Canada as a result of NAFTA.  TTIP would increase the power of US multinationals to sue governments against environmental or other laws.  He also pointed out the dangers of CETA, which is nearly signed-and-sealed.
It has to be said that there are already ISDSs against European governments:  TTIP wouldn’t start this, and EU bods argue that TTIP would help clarify the companies-suing-governments process.  But it would open up the process to a heck of a lot more companies.
While I agreed with a lot that John Hilary said, I found his implication that Brexit would be a good idea – because then the UK could negotiate an ethical trade deal with the US – unrealistic; I am heartened that at least one other person fears Brexit on a trade-deal basis, too.  We are actually better in Europe, because Europe has economic parity with the US:  Britain doesn’t.
The full TTIP report is here.

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The EU

Questions for which the EU is an example.

15 markers:
3. Define the concept of supranationalism, and explain why it has been controversial.
4. Distinguish, using examples, between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism.
5. Why have there been calls for the reform of the UN Security Council?
6. In what ways is the EU an example of supranational governance?

1. Explain the driving forces behind regional integration and cooperation.
2. Why has it been difficult to develop an effective EU Foreign and Security Policy?
3. What have been the implications of the enlargement of the EU since 2004?
4. Define the concept of supranationalism, and explain why it has been controversial.
5. Explain the relationship between regionalism and globalisation.
6. Distinguish, using examples, between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism.
7. In what ways is the EU an example of supranational governance?
8. Distinguish, using examples, between economic regionalism and political regionalism.
9. Define subsidiarity, and explain its significance for the process of European integration.
10. Explain the key driving forces behind the expansion of the EU.
11. In what ways has enlargement since 2004 been problematic for the EU?

45 markers
3. To what extent is global economic governance effective?
1. To what extent has the EU established a ‘federal’ Europe?
2. The EU is a unique example of regional integration.’ Discuss.
3. ‘The EU has developed into a major global actor.’ Discuss.
4. ‘Economic integration within regions inevitably leads to political integration’. Discuss
5. ‘The EU lacks global significance and influence.’ Discuss.

Podcast: Is the EU Broken?

How does the EU work?
What is subsidiarity, what does it cover, and how does it work?
Why did the EU get bigger, and what impact has that had?

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The World Bank

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
International Development Association (IDA)

Based in Washington DC. The president by tradition is American

World Bank concentrated on loans to developing countries in 1970s and 1980s: while this helped build economies, it also helped build debt.

1980s, WB (with the IMF) concentrated on ‘structural readjustments’, i.e. imposing conditions on countries in return for loans. These were to persuade countries to become more free-market capitalist, but they caused some countries, e.g. Kenya, massive social problems.

In the 1990s, the World Bank was criticised for the environmental damage caused by its free-market policies. It subsequently turned greener, putting environmental issues into its conditions. It laid down 8 ‘Millennium Development Goals’.

Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Achieve Universal Primary Education
Promote Gender Equality
Reduce Child Mortality
Improve Maternal Health
Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Develop a Global Partnership for Development

good things:
repository of information which is open to all

run by economically powerful countries
run by people with libertal, free market mentality

World Bank Group
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
International Development Association (IDA)
International Finance Corporation
Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes

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Pressure Groups – some examples

Here’s a very good set of slides from the LSE.  And another article here.  And here’s a chapter, which is quite a read, but worth it. I’ll paraphrase it soon.

Here’s a list of environmental pressure groups.  It shows you the huge range of them.  One of them is actually a party (the Green Party), but we’ll forgive them that category error!  Carbon Neutral (on the last page) is a carbon offsetting company.  If it is to be  classed as a pressure group, it would be influencing business, rather than the government; however, its success may one day change government behaviour – and CN may well lobby the government.

PGs in the news.

UK Uncut started accidentally, but still campaigns vigorously.  This covers various sectors of society; it is an issue group, but its issue is quite broad (government cuts – this includes lots of different things/ areas).
The BMA has gone from being an insider group to being an outsider one. This shows a) the transient/ informal/ personal nature of politics, and b) that even ‘establishment’ pressure groups can’t influence a stubborn government.
Hacked Off, formed in response to media intrusion, is campaigning for the full implementation of the Leveson Report.
Age UK, a merger of several charities, gives advice and briefings to the government.  It is influential partly because the age group it represents is increasingly large (and influential).  It has come under fire recently for its partnership with nPower.
Frack Off is an umbrella organisation for local anti-fracking groups.

ASH, set up in 1971, has had significant influence on the government, which eventually (2005) introduced a smoking ban on the workplace.  Opposed to ASH, of course, are the big tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris. Part of the work of ASH is to expose how much lobbying influence these have over health policies in Britain and the EU.

The Autism Act 2009 was a private member’s bill in response to the National Autistic Society’s I exist campaign.

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Viscount Sankey

There’s a portrait in Cambridge University Library which I’ve always had a fondness for.  It’s of a chap called Viscount Sankey, and he smiles down on you as you walk down the music corridor.

He was actually quite an interesting fellow.  He was, of course, from a public school (Lancing) and Cambridge, but he was affiliated to the Labour Party.  Lord Chancellor 1929-1935, he was famous for his judgment that

‘Throughout the web of the English criminal law one golden thread is always to be seen – that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner’s guilt…’

(This ‘golden thread’ is a favourite phrase of Rumpole of the Bailey.  Do watch some.)
Sankey also chaired the National Peace Council and gave his name to the Sankey Declaration of the Rights of Man (drafted by, among others, H. G. Wells).  This was forgotten when the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights came out in 1948, but given that the Sankey Declaration was from 1940, it’s hard not to think that it must have had some influence on the UDHR.
But what really made me think of him was Neil McNaughton’s statement that 
‘While the developments described above have been going on, Britain has also seen the appointment of a number of senior judges with distinctly liberal leanings. Among them have been Lords Woolf, Phillips, Bingham and Hoffman.’
This is, of course, true, but he implies that this is a recent phenomenon.  It isn’t.  Senior judges have been liberal, and sticklers for the rule of law, for a long time.  Sankey is a good example.
Perhaps judges are more outspoken because the government is behaving more outrageously:  it’s not that judges have become more liberal, but that politicians have become more illiberal.

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Why the Government’s leaflet is glossy pap, and what you actually need to know about the EU.

No writing about the EU can be completely neutral.  I’ll show you now the Europe-shaped heart on my sleeve, but I hope that the first part of this post is as neutral as it can be.  The second part isn’t.

Part the First
The EU is huge. It’s expensive. It’s largely unelected. It wastes money. It supports big business. But it’s also helped the British environment and economy, and arts and education.

What does the EU cost?
Britain nominally pays £18 billions, but we get a rebate of about £5bn and then another £5bn is spent by the EU on Britain, so we probably pay around £8 billions every year to the EU (people aren’t quite agreed on the exact figures).  If you split that by 64 millions, the population of the UK, that’s about £2.40 per person per week.  The cost of a pint (sorry, 560ml) of beer.  It’s generally agreed that Europe has contributed to our economy by buying our stuff, and so on; if you want to know more about this, grab a passing Economics teacher.

Would the British economy be better if we left?
No-one knows. The Government says no. The Brexiteers say it would – that we’d be able to trade with whom we like much more easily, and that we’d have a single market deal with the EU, like Norway. But Norway reminds us that they still have to comply with all sorts of EU regulations, so they’re sort of in the EU themselves. Europe’s our biggest market.  To know more about this, grab a passing Economics teacher.

Doesn’t the EU make all our bananas straight?
It has passed some silly things (it did repeal the bendy bananas law). And it did try to get rid of the pint and the dozen eggs. But it’s also made laws giving people the rights to decent working days, holidays and equal rights.

It won’t make any difference whether we’re in or out.  EU migrants aren’t the problem.  They, in fact, make a net contribution to the British economy (they put into the economy more than they take out).  It’s non-EU migrants who, to paraphrase the tabloids, surf our NHS, milk benefits, and so on.  Since Blair’s government, the UK has taken in more and more migrants.  This isn’t the EU’s fault – not even when the EU expanded to include Romania and Bulgaria.  Under the EU, the British government didn’t need to let all these Eastern Europeans in.  The immigration crisis is the British government’s fault, not the EU’s.

This is a big issue for Brexiteers – how our power has been taken away, and we can’t control our own destiny.  Without going into all the other areas in which we’re powerless (the TTIP deal, for example, will take away a whole stack of power, but people aren’t complaining enough about this), the EU has not removed the sovereignty of Parliament.
1) Sovereignty is the ultimate power over an area or political entity.
2) Parliament is sovereign in the UK.
3) Parliament has, by an Act, given some power to the EU.
4) Parliament has the sovereign power to take that power back if it likes.  At any time.  Just by passing another act.
5) The EU abides by a principle called ‘subsidiarity’.  Subsidiarity means that all laws should be made by national governments wherever possible, and by the EU when necessary.  So, for example, the EU makes laws about fishing, because fish don’t have borders:  there are no Spanish fish, French fish or British fish.  It makes sense, therefore, that we all club together and share our fish.  However, Britain can make laws about freshwater fish, because they definitely live in Britain.
6)  There are many areas where British law needs to abide by European law.  Parliament needs to make sure that bills it passes conform to EU law.  The government can be hauled up in European courts if EU law isn’t being followed.  You’ll find cases where this is a bit crazy, but equally, if not more, cases that this is a sensible way of doing things.  For more information on this aspect, grab a 6.1 Politics student (but not too hard.  You don’t want it showing up on your DBS).

How does the EU work?
The European Council is the top dog kennel.  It’s full of Prime Ministers and other useful people.  They have the ultimate say.  There’s also a Council of Ministers, which has a changing composition depending on what is being discussed.

Then there’s the European Commission.  This is the bureaucracy.  They make a lot of directives and do a lot of things that we moan about.  Lots of these people are really rather well paid.

The European Parliament is elected by us.  It passes laws; these laws have to be agreed to by the Council (which comprises politicians we’ve also elected).  It’s full of dogs far smaller than those in the European Council, and they bark more than they bite.

Part the Second:  Why I’ll be voting to stay in.
First, it’s not really about my gut feeling.  I don’t believe in voting on my gut feeling.  Unfortunately, a lot of people do – even when they say they don’t.  Almost all Brexiteers I’ve spoken to feel that we’re not part of Europe.  This is just silly.  Our language is a bastard of French and German; our land mass used to be part of Europe.  Our culture is European.  Our greatest composer was… German.  Some of our greatest philosophers and historians were German.  The inventor of our beloved radio, and founder of our first radio company – Britain, after all, rules the radio waves – was Italian.  Our Queen is German!  (In fact, imagine being George V on the eve of the First World War – having to choose just which cousin to go to war with!)  My gut feeling is that we are European.  But I also have a gut feeling that Big Government and Big Business, and corporativism in general, is a Bad Thing- and the EU’s full of this.  So my guts are all upset.  That’s enough of them, then.

I think that the EU needs radical reform.  I think that economic union cannot work, and that ‘ever-closer union’ needs to be seen in its historical context:  it was a Italian-Franco-German idea during the Cold War; it doesn’t sit well with welcoming more states into the Union.  The Common Agricultural Policy is unwieldy; the Fisheries Policy hasn’t stopped overfishing, although it looks more promising now.

On the other hand, the EU has ensured a certain quality of life and liberty for all EU citizens.  In order to join the EU, countries have to promise to be nice to their people (something called the Copenhagen Criteria).  The EU has meant that Britain’s environmental policies have improved – there’s a Friends of the Earth report on this, so it must be true.  Working life under the EU has improved, too.  And the European Convention on Human Rights, on which our Human Rights Act of 1998 is based, is a thoroughly sensible thing, and it’s frightening that our government is so opposed to it.

I think that the overwhelming issue is the environment.  I’m thoroughly pessimistic about it:  we’re too selfish to do the right thing, and we’ll have to face various catastrophes (the least of which will be much more immigration).  We can’t do that on our own.  At the moment Italy’s olive groves are being devastated by some bacterium we’ve imported from the Americas (start stock-piling olive oil); I would be willing to bet that the money that is funding plant science research and emergency action is EU money, and not just Italian.  Renewable energy would be so much more effective if the European Grid, being worked on now, came into being:  this would mean that the electricity produced by solar panels in Spain could be enjoyed by, well, us; we could also enjoy the wind and water power produced by Sweden.  I can’t wait for this!

As educators, it would be hypocritical to wish to leave the EU, whose policies have had so many benefits for education (and, dear to my heart, the arts and especially the many freelance musicians who enrich my life).  There much evidence that Brexit would have bad consequences for universities.

Whatever your feelings about Jeremy Corbyn, I think he makes some excellent points about the EU in his speech of 14/4/16.  (He makes some swipes at the Tories, which you can take or leave depending on your viewpoint.)

Some good websites on the EU question.
The BBC.
Debating the EU
The EU for the easily bored
Channel 4 Fact Checker

And here’s the best of the lot.

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World Order

The focus of this is how world order has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

image from Wikipedia

Define, with examples:

Balance of power

‘Soft’ power/ ‘hard’ power

Superpower/ great power/ emerging power



Short Questions (15 marks each): 1. What is ‘soft’ power, and why has it become more important in recent years?
2. Define hegemony, and explain its significance for global order.
3. What is the balance of power, and how effective is it in preventing war?
4. Is China a superpower?
5. What are the implications of bipolarity for global order?
6. Distinguish, using examples, between ‘hard’ power and ‘soft’ power.
7. Distinguish between great powers and superpowers.
8. Explain the implications of bipolarity for peace and international order.
9. Does the USA remain a global hegemon?

Essay Questions (45 marks each):
1. ‘The USA is a power in decline.’ Discuss.
2. To what extent is the global system now multipolar?
3. ‘The EU has developed into a major global actor.’ Discuss.
4. ‘Military power is now largely obsolete in global politics.’ Discuss.
5. To what extent has the rise of emerging powers altered the nature of world order?
6. To what extent does multipolarity result in conflict and instability?

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