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    Unit 3 revision handbook Unit 3 revision handbook Document Transcript

    • A2 Politics Unit 3: UK Political Issues Revision Guide 2011/2012 www.alevelpolitics.com Woodhouse College Department of Politics Mrs J Grice jgrice@woodhouse.ac.uk Mr J Patel jpatel@woodhouse.ac.uk Consult Woodle for past papers and mark-schemes Twitter: @Patelshop 1
    • Overview Unit 3: Topic A, UK Political Issues Unit 3, Topic A is designed to be a general review of the main areas of public policy, largely since 1979. Some knowledge of policy making before 1979 may be studied as deeper background but detailed knowledge before 1979 is certainly not required. In general, pre-1979 knowledge is likely to be useful when demonstrating basic principles (such as of the welfare state or of Keynesian economic management) or when illustrating the principal ways in which modern policies have developed. More detailed knowledge of issues and policy is required for the post-1997 era, ie when New Labour came to power, though in some cases earlier landmark events may be significant, such as the Education Reform Act of 1988, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, or the change in the index linking of the old age pension and the ‘right to buy’ policy in housing in the early 1980s. The various events and the level of detail which these issues should be studied is indicated in the clarification of content below. This is not a current affairs course, although it will be expected that students are as up to date as possible with developments in policy making and issues. Where important developments have occurred between production of the examination and students sitting it, it is expected that students will modify responses accordingly. Students will be expected to have appropriate knowledge from throughout the recent historical period. Questions will be based largely upon the following main themes. • Explanations and analysis of some issues which have caused political controversy. Such controversies might concern inter-party conflict or ideological differences. This will include the reasons why controversies have arisen as well as the nature of those controversies. • Assessments of the degree to which there has been and/or is political consensus or conflict over certain issues. • Evaluations of the degree to which parties and/or governments have achieved their stated objectives in a specific policy area. • The degree to which the principles underpinning political issues have changed and been challenged in recent times. • The nature of the political landscape and context within which policies have been developed and issues have been resolved. 2
    • Assessment Structure of the unit 3 & 4 examinations: • Written examination: 1 hour 30 minutes • Answer three short-answer questions from a choice of five • Answer one essay question from a choice of three • Short answer questions are marked out of 15 (15 minutes each) • Essay questions are marked out of 45 (45 minutes) • Total marks for paper = 90 marks. 3
    • Unit 3 Specific Content Economic Policy Key themes: • Monetary and Fiscal policy, and how they impact on economic policy-making. • How and why governments use micro and macroeconomic policy. • The factors that determine government’s economic policies, including party ideology, globalisation, political & economic climate etc and their relative importance. • Governments and economic policy in practice: although the Thatcher and Major eras are useful to demonstrate the ways in which economic policy has been formed by comparatively recent governments, no specific questions will be asked on these historical eras. The Labour era is a good starting point for how economic policy is formed and how it can be determined by party ideology, particularly with the ‘Third Way’ approach to the economy. • The economic recession: its causes, consequences and the political and economic divisions it has caused both within and between parties. This should include the debate over the extent to which the recession was caused/could have been prevented by the Labour government, and the extent to which the major parties disagree on how to tackle the subsequent economic problems facing the UK. • Political party stances on the economy: changing ideologies and policies and the factors that have caused changes - this includes knowing specific and, where possible, recent party or government proposals and policies. • The impact of such party policies in key areas of the economy such as economic growth, inflation, taxation, employment, distribution of income, the free market, the financial sector (including the banking system) etc. • Theories of economic policy and how these impact on party/government economic policy- making, including: the ‘Third Way’, monetarism, Keynesianism, supply-side economics, neo-liberalism and globalisation. Key Debates: • Who controls economic policy-making in the UK? • How far are the main UK political parties divided over economic policy? • Have governments’ economic policies been successful? 4
    • Key policies: • Labour: Awareness of Labour’s model of spending restraint based upon lower taxation (as opposed to Old Labour’s ‘Tax and Spend’, Brown’s ‘prudent’ approach to fiscal management. Over-reliance on financial sector. The 2008 bank bailouts and response to the economic crisis. Handling of recession, 50p tax, limits of Keynesian approach. Intention to cut pubic spending in 2010. • Coalition government: Fixated on balancing the budget and saving the ‘AAA’ status. Critique of Labour’s approach to ‘reckless’ spending. Approach based on rebalancing and restructuring economy in theory but in practice? Awareness of the key points of the 2010 and 2011 budget. The problem of stagnant growth. Project Merlin, bankers bonuses and quantitative easing. Possible Economics Questions: How similar are Labour and Conservative tax policies? (15) Why has the issue of pensions become a major political issue? (15) Explain how governments since 1997 have used tax and welfare policies to relieve poverty. (15) Why have governments made limited progress in reforming the banking system and how it operates? (15) What are the main differences on Economic policy between the Coalition and the opposition? (15) What are the challenges facing the government to create ‘growth.’ (15) ‘The Labour government’s response to the economic crisis of 2008 was reckless and irresponsible.’ Discuss. (45) How ‘successful’ has UK economic policy been since 1997? (45) How ‘successful’ has coalition economic policy been since 2010? (45) ‘The Coalition’s response to the economy has led to deeper economic stagnation.’ Discuss. (45) ‘The Coalition’s economic policies are driven more by ideology than practicality.’ Discuss. (45) ‘The coalition government’s deficit reduction programme goes too far, too fast.’ Discuss. (45) ‘There is more rhetoric than substance in the disagreements between the major UK parties over the budget deficit.’ Discuss. (45) 5
    • Environmental Policy Key Themes: •As a comparatively new political issue, an historical background on why the environment has become a political issue is necessary for this topic - there will not, however, be a specific question on this area. •The main areas on this topic include: climate change, pollution, renewable energy (including solar, wind and tidal power), resource depletion and sustainability, transport, food planning, rural affairs, global agreements, the issue of ‘green’ taxes. Recent issues that have arisen include the nuclear energy debate, the proposed Green Investment Bank and the high- speed rail network. • Unlike previous topics, an overview of the Thatcher and Major eras are essential here for understanding the change in party ideologies and stances on certain issues. The main bulk of study, however, should still focus on post-1997 governments and party policies. • The Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party traditional and current approaches to environmental issues, including why and how attitudes may have changed over time (particularly the Conservative Party); specific policies, their aims, consequences and the extent of their perceived success/ failure. This should include opposition party attitudes towards government policies, and any alternative proposals that have been made. • The coalition government’s approach to the environment; specific proposals/ policies, their aims and criticisms of the proposals/reforms. This should include the parties pre-coalition stances, and current divisions both within and between the governing and opposition parties in terms of their attitudes towards the environment, and any policies that have been made/proposed. • Divisions within and between the major political parties and also the green movement (including light/dark Greens and pressure groups) on environmental issues. • The impact of globalisation on environmental policy-making in the UK, with specific reference to the impact of international agreements and treaties. The impact of EU membership is of particular significance to this topic. There will not be specific questions set on devolution and/or local government but awareness of it is good. Key Debates: • How far are the main UK political parties divided over environmental policy? • Do UK political parties treat the issue of the environment as seriously as more ‘traditional’ political issues such as the economy? • What factors impact on environmental policy-making? 6
    • • How successful have government policies been in tackling environmental issues? Key Policies: Coalition: Rural planning reforms, allowing default access to planners in rural areas. Green Investment Bank (will only be allowed to borrow from 2015). Gagging the Environment Agency from commenting on policies. 80 Mph speed limit proposal. Forest sell-off (abandoned after public outrage). Clegg "Our party is the green party of government." Ending of subsidies for solar power (feed-in tariffs). Entertaining idea of building homes on fields and ignoring environmental advice. Climate change policy - meeting the Climate Change Act of Brown (80% target by 2050 - 34% by 2020). Osbornes hostility to “piling costs on the energy bills of households and companies” and impact on growth. Possible Environment Questions: Why has the expansion of wind power been politically controversial? (15) To what extent has the Conservative Party become a ‘green’ party? (15) Why are ‘environmental taxes’ controversial? (15) How realistic is it for the government to meet it’s carbon reduction targets? (15) To what extent has the ‘green’ movement shaped public debate and policies on the environment? (45) ‘The coalition government has reneged on it’s green policies.’ Discuss (45) To what extent have the environmental policies of recent governments been ‘all talk and no action’? (45) ‘The UK government has failed to meet the challenge of climate change.’ Discuss. (45) 7
    • Law, Order and Criminal Justice Key themes: • The main areas in this topic include: punishment/ deterrence versus rehabilitation, the prison and probation system, criminal law and sentencing, policing, youth crime, public order, anti-terrorism, public security versus civil liberties, the causes of crime and the use of crime statistics. • Unlike previous topics, an overview of the Thatcher and Major eras are essential here for understanding the change in party ideologies and stances on certain issues. The main bulk of study, however, should still focus on post-1997 governments and party policies. • The change in the Labour and Conservative Party traditional approaches to law and order under Blair and Cameron respectively; specific policies, their aims, consequences and the extent of their perceived success/failure. This should include opposition party attitudes towards policies, and any alternative proposals that have been made. • The Liberal Democrat Party approach to law and order, and specific policies proposed. • The coalition government’s approach to law and order; specific proposals/policies such as the DNA database, ID cards, prison sentencing and directly elected police commissioners; the aims and criticisms of the proposals/reforms. This should include the pre-coalition and current divisions both within and between the governing and opposition parties in terms of their attitudes towards policies made/proposed, and any alternative proposals that have been made. Key Debates: •How far are the main UK political parties divided over law and order policy? •How successful have governments been at tackling law and order issues? •Are law and order policies increasingly encroaching on civil liberties? Key Policies: • Coalition: Freedom Bill, Green Paper on ‘secret courts’, Legal aid changes, scraping DNA database, reversal of 28 days, restrictions on CCTV, the HRA and a Bill of Rights commission, policing reforms, sentencing reforms, community sentences, rehabilitation and repeat offenders. Response to riots. Consider how economic policies impacts on crime. Stop and search powers new guidance. 8
    • Possible Law and Order Questions: Explain the arguments for and against the wider use of custodial sentences and longer prison terms. (15) Why has the prison population risen so much in recent years? (15) Why have anti-terrorism measures, adopted in the UK since 2001, been criticised? (15) Why has the use of crime statistics been politically controversial? (15) Explain how the ‘Freedom bill’ seeks to reverse the erosion of civil liberties? (15) How have Ken Clarke’s Legal Aid reforms affected access to justice? (15) ‘Prison doesn’t work!’ Discuss. (45) ‘The Coalition Government has reversed the “authoritarian state.”’ Discuss. (45) ‘Since 1997, there has been a growing consensus on law and order policy across the political spectrum.’ Discuss. (45) ‘Since 1997 government law and order policies have been more about appeasing the ‘baying mob’ than common sense.’ Discuss (45) 9
    • Social Welfare, Health and Education Key themes: •The founding principles of the Welfare State, and to what extent reforms or proposed reforms of the component arms of the Welfare State have eroded these principles. •Traditional political party perspectives on the component arms of the Welfare State, and how and to what extent these perspectives have changed. • The scale of conflict and consensus amongst the main political parties on the issue of the Welfare State - this includes a working knowledge of specific policies and proposals. • The reasons why reform is sought in all areas, and the extent to which it is considered necessary by both political parties, pressure groups and other organisations/groups involved in the Welfare State. • The issue of spending versus quality: is the Welfare State offering value for money? • The extent to which privatisation of the Welfare State is a controversial political issue. • The Labour era - the Thatcher and Major eras are useful for comparison in terms of how party ideology has changed, the main focus on a Key Issues paper should be on comparatively recently issues. Education • What governments have done to reform education at all levels: the motivation behind such reforms, the reforms themselves and the comparative success of such reforms. This should include opposition party attitudes towards the reforms, and any alternative proposals that have been made. This should include the tuition fees debate, the reform of the EMA system, the academies system and the recent ‘free schools’ initiative. Health • What governments have done to reform the health system: the motivation behind such reforms, the reforms themselves and the comparative success of such reforms. This should include opposition party attitudes towards the reforms, and any alternative proposals that have been made. This should include an examination of the coalition’s proposed reforms, the reaction to these proposals and the subsequent proposed amendments. Social Security • What governments have done to reform social security: the motivation behind such reforms, the reforms themselves and the comparative success of such reforms. This should include opposition party attitudes towards the reforms, and any alternative proposals that have been made. 10
    • • Social security includes pensions, the benefit system and housing (although no specific question will be set on housing). Studies should include the coalition’s proposals for reforming retirement pensions, the Universal Credit system, and reforms to housing benefit. Key Debates: • How far are the main UK political parties divided over welfare policy/the Welfare State? • Has the Welfare State been privatised? • Does the Welfare State offer ‘value for money’, or is it a case of spending versus quality? • How far have the original principles of the Welfare State been eroded? Key Policies: Coalition: Social security reform including the universal credit system. Academies Act. Free Schools. Expansion of Grammar Schools. Health and Social Care Act 2012. Welfare Reform Act 2012. The Welfare Budget. The ‘welfare to work’ schemes and controversies over ‘free labour’. The use of private funding in public services. Higher education tuition fees. Possible Welfare State Questions: Analyse the advantages and disadvantages of increasing the numbers of students in higher education. (15) Outline and analyse the arguments advanced for the reform the Welfare state. (15). How have Gove’s education reforms been criticised? (15) ‘Despite substantial increases in public expenditure since 1999, the quality of state health and education provision has declined.’ Discuss. (45) ‘The Welfare Reform Bill will lead to a return to high level child poverty.’ Discuss (45) ‘The Coalition Government’s Health and Social Care Bill will improve the delivery of health care for all.’ Discuss. (45) 11
    • Exam Tips The 15 mark question •An introduction is not always necessary - may be useful when tackling a question that has 2 parts to it so to show you understand the demands of the question. • Each new point should have a new paragraph • Look carefully at the question. It may have 2 parts to it. If so address both parts, e.g. Outline the provisions of the Health and Social Care Bill and why has it been criticised?’ •Short answer questions should have at least 3 points of substance (so 3 paragraphs). • Contemporary examples are essential to lift it to level 3 (11 - 15 marks). Examples can be actual policies or current figures. • Level 3 answers should contain some evaluation of each point not just a description. •In summary 3 paragraphs each with point, explanation, contemporary example/stat and some evaluation of the point. The 45 mark question • Should have a strong introduction that establishes your understanding of the question. Ideally set out the argument (give your view to the question). Clarify key terms laid out in the question. Outline the key issues raised by the question. • Contemporary evidence/examples will always be rewarded. •Numbers of paragraphs/points are not prescriptive, examiners want to know you have engaged with the demands of the question. In 45 minutes you are expected to have at least 5 points altogether well argued. But this is not a magic number! • You have to have a balanced argument. You can do this by either outlining one side and the the other (there may be 3 perspectives) or by doing it within your points. • It is important to address political party viewpoints. So a critique should be ascribed to a party or a political viewpoint e.g. traditional conservatives or traditional labour etc. • Arguments: You can argue by looking at two sides and then concluding with your view. A more sophisticated way is to argue from the beginning a point and use counter arguments. Also known as a ‘sustained argument’. •Try to outline similarities and differences between policies, show overlaps between parties, address ‘apparent’ rather than ‘real’ differences where applicable. 12
    • • Show alternative viewpoints or ideological concepts or foundations. E.g. ‘this accords with the radical Thatcherite economic theory...’ • Conclusion should give your view. Don’t summarise the essay, give your view to the question and how you came to the view (i.e. the strength of this view). Contemporary Examples Have to watch/listen to the following for current perspectives: The Today Programme (specifically 7:50 to 8:25 am), PM (weekdays 5pm), The Westminster Hour (Sun 10pm), The Week in Westminster (Sat 11am) these are all on Radio 4 93.5 FM). Also Newsnight (weekdays 1035 BBC2), Andrew Marr Show (Sun 9am) and Politics Show (Sun 12pm). 13