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POLI 212 Lecture Notes - Incrementalism, Welsh Nationalism, Majoritarianism

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 212
Hudson Meadwell

of 3
APRIL 4, 2012:
The United Kingdom: key dates of change in the post-war settlement. The post war
settlement is built around class compromise, it is how the left will be incorporated
and excluded from politics.
1964- the breaking point between the old and the new. The issue of the power of
the trade union movement become significant. The issue emerges under a labour
government, which is paradoxical. When the labour party came to power in this
year, it campaigned in a platform that suggested they had a special connection to the
trade unions. The trade union movement, after the election, has very high
expectations about what the party will deliver for it. Labour party wants to present
itself as a party of nation, or a party of credible government, not just a party of class
(workers). The campaigned on the idea of running government and the economy
with the trade unions, and the conservatives did not have this special connection.
1966- The labour party in power (under Wilson) begins to discipline the trade
unions. In part, this is because there are strikes and work stoppages, and the labour
party puts out a series of regulations to restrain workers whose wage demands are
1970s- characterized by strikes and it becomes increasingly difficult for the labour
party as a party that can effectively govern because they can control the trade
unions. This allows Thatcher to take the opportunity to challenge the welfare state,
them mixed economy, an interest in privatization, and a challenge to labour
1979- the beginning of the real challenge to the collectivism consensus. A
conservative party led by Margaret Thatcher wants to roll back what we take to
characteristic of British post war settlement (last class commitment to the mixed
economy). Her political campaign in the run up to the election and her agenda is
posed around the question “Who Governs?” (The party in question or the trade
union). She wants to weaken trade union power. Her success creates problems for
the labour party, and they have to realign. Her party governs for 3 excessive
elections, which moved British politics permanently towards the right. The
emergence of a new centre left party (Social Democrats) is a key outcome of this.
The social democrats support British deeper British EU integration and want to
distance themselves from the trade union movement.
After three successive defeats, the labour party realizes what they need to do to
avoid permanent exclusion from government because Thatcher has moved the
median voter. They begin to think about how to modernize politically and ways in
which it can move towards the political middle in response to ways in which the
median voter has shifted. It is a search for cross-class support that will change the
way the party and the trade unions are connected. The trade union movement loses
much of its input into the labour party’s policy. They gave up their “party of nation”
claim because they want to avoid the connection with the labour party.
1981- a dissatisfied group in the labour party leave and form a Social Democratic
Party, who will work in a coalition with the liberal party in the next election.
1983- the Liberal party and the Social Democrats begin to work together
1995- the labour party gives up its formal constitutional commitment to the
nationalization of production, which finally expresses how far they’ve moved from
their socialist commitments. This represents the transition from old labour to new
labour- Harold Wilson to Tony Blair. The new labour is a much paler version of old
labour (b/c of the distance with the trade unions).
1999- the territorial structure of British politics changes. Until then, the boundaries
and the territorial structure had been organized around trying to gain access to the
parliament in Westminster. In 1999, legislatures are created in Scotland and Wales.
This is an important change separate to the class question.
British political in terms of territory: Britain is a composite state.
1977- Referendum in Scotland and Wales called by the central government. The
referendum has two parts. The first is “Do you want an elected local legislature,”
and the second question is about what kinds of competence and capacity this
legislature will have. This are called as a counter measure against the mobilization
of sub state nationalist identities. Parties in Scotland and Wales elect people to the
House of Commons, “The Scotland National Party (SNP)” and the “Plaid Cyrmu.”
They are niche, single issue parties located around local issues. Their first
breakthrough was in the late 1960s when a member was elected to parliament.
These emerging political organization and mobilization around culture and
nationalism. In Wales the big issue is language and culture. The Welsh nationalist
movement is not as politically motivated as the Scottish movement. The SNP is not
interested in language protection; the issue is about being able to manage the
Scottish economy from their capital. They need this to complete Scottish society.
The retained institutions in religion, education and law when they were integrated,
and those institutions help maintain their culture.
In the late 1990s, they held a referendum. They wanted a local legislature. It is
expected that this will have partisan consequences. This produces a very different
UK, as there is local legislatures connected to proportional representation, even
though Westminster is arranged around majoritarianism. This was designed in the
local legislature to have coalitions, which would limit the power and consequences
of any bills they try to push through.
2012: the SNP governs as a majority government. The local legislature has become
a stepping-stone for further demands. They are not part of a now federal Britain;
the legislatures exist at the behest of the British state (they can eliminate them at
any time). The demands post-1999 are important challenges to the territorial
integrity of the UK.
1. The first demand that emerged is a demand that the legislature be given
increased power/competence (ex. A bigger tax base, more policy areas). This
could create a situation in the future where Britain becomes a fully federal
state (they would need to have a written constitution).
2. The second demand takes the argument further- they want independence.
The SNP plans to hold a referendum on independence in 2014. The SNP must
have a lot of leverage for this to work. Who gets to call the referendum?
Because it is not a fully federal state, the British government must be the ones
to call the referendum. It will be run by the central government. They can set
how the question is written and the wording of the question.
The SNP are built around a radical option, which would induce dramatic changes to
the status quo. The SNP is committed to the goal of British independence, and it is
the division between “fundamentalists (want independence as soon as possible) and
gradualists (with a long time horizon, who are willing to delay independence if it can
be done more effectively bit by bit).
Rhetoric like “Scotland and Europe- what Europe provides is a larger market for
Scotland if they are a member of the European Union. This way they can substitute
the trade ties by drawing on access to the economic market that is the European
Wales has been the lager in the politicization of interest in deep devolution or
independence. Nationalism has been more cultural.
This is now the rhetoric beginning to emerge in Wales since they got their
It seems as if these local legislatures have encouraged actors in Welsh civil societies
to imagine what life would be if independent.
To be independent is to have a state of your own.
Historically, the labour party has always depended on support from Scotland, which
tended to be a stable source of support for the labour party. Thatcher was hated in
Scotland. The party that has benefitted the most from Thatcher conservatism was
the SNP, not the labour party. Some think the conservative party would be fine
without Scotland because the conservatives are dominant in England.
Soviet and Post-Soviet
Eastern pattern of political development: the first important pattern is the pattern
of change- long periods of stasis and punctuates by abrupt changes. It is not
incrementalism, as in the West. The enduring importance of the imperial structure
is another key factor. The Soviet Union and Soviet bloc can be through of as an
imperial structure, and this has consequences for the sovereignty of states in the
Soviet bloc.
Important features of the way transition to democracy occurred in the USSR.
Transitions to democracy are ubiquitous.
1. Dual transitions- a transition in terms of political regimes and type of
economy together. The economic transition isn’t always necessary in the
transition to democracy, so this means in the USSR that there are more
problems to deal with in the transition. Politics and economics are closely
2. Civil-military relations- in effect, with one minor qualification, the military
accepts the transition, perhaps because in the soviet model, the military
tends to be subordinated to the civil authority of the party state.
3. Democratic transitions occur at the same time as particular states begin to
fragment, even though you can have democratic transition while holding
borders constant. They USSR changes are changes to regime, and state.
ex) USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia