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The Effect Of European Union Membership On The Political Parties In The Uk

857 words - 3 pages

The Effect of European Union Membership on the Political Parties in the UK

The issue of the European union has been one which has dramatically
shaped the course of British politics. Most significantly, it has
affected the political parties, in various ways. It might be assumed
that each party would be required to create firm and coherent policies
on Europe, to provide choices for the electorate. However, in Britain,
the issue of the European Union serves to divide the parties
internally and leads to fluctuating and irresolute policies.

Within both major parties, there has been intense division since the
establishment of even the most basic "European Union". Originally, the
Labour Party was divided on the issue bordering on the hostile, when
in opposition; their Euro-policies were erratic and were incoherent.
From 1983, they have pursued a far more pro-European stance which was
one of the most crucial elements in their landslide victory in both
1997 and 2001. It was in 1997 where we saw the party support a "loose
confederation of the states" and this was a particular ideal of Tony
Blair, and his victory was seen as a victory for the pro-Europeans in
the party, and not the more socialist, federal contingency. A good
example is the caution shown to the idea of the European Single
currency, which Blair has pledged to put to the nation in a
referendum, and his general 'wait and see' attitude which means he is
for the Euro in principle but wants to wait ten years before entering
into it, is really an excuse to avoid the issue and not hold a
specific 'for' or 'against' view which might tamper with his overall
popularity. In short, although sense would dictate that a party would
need to associate itself with a specific policy, it had been an issue
which has been avoided by British Political Parties. This exact
problem has lead to the major change within political parties, inner
division. For example, in the Labour Party, this very issue has seen
the Deputy PM, Roy Jenkins, in 1979, to resign, the party to split
into a fragment called the Social Democratic Party in 1981 taking up
an anti-European agenda, and even the exact issue was...

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