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Embed code for: Civi AMT GB student worksheets 2016-2017 weeks 2 to 12
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Nation and State
National identity in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Think of self as
Other / mixed / don’t know
Sources : Scottish Election Survey 1979 (University of Strathclyde), Welsh Election Survey 1979 (University of Wales), Northern Ireland Attitude Survey : an Initial Report (Queen’s University, 1979), Gallup Poll.
Table printed in Bernas, Gaudin, Poirier, The Document in British Civilisation Studies, Ophrys, 1992.
1. What observations can be drawn from the table above?
2. Study the sources: what conclusions can you draw about how this table was compiled? How does this affect what it can tell us?
Nation and State cont. / England and Political Union
Speech delivered by Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary, 2001 to the Social Market Foundation (abridged extract)
§1 Tonight I want to celebrate Britishness. […] Sadly, it has become fashionable for some to argue that British identity is under siege, perhaps even in a state of terminal decline. The threat is said to come in three forms.
§2 First, the arrival of immigrants who, allegedly, do not share our cultural values and who fail to support the England cricket team. Few dare to state this case explicitly, but it is the unmistakable subliminal message. Second, our continued membership of the European Union, which is said to be absorbing member states into a country called Europe. Third, the devolution of power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which is seen as a step to the break-up of the UK. […]
§3 The first element in the debate about the future of Britishness is the changing ethnic composition of the British people themselves. The British are not a race, but a gathering of countless different races and communities, the vast majority of which were not indigenous to these islands. […]
§4 In our thousand years of history, the homogeneity of British identity that some people assume to be the norm was confined to a relatively brief period. It lasted from the Victorian era of imperial expansion to the aftermath of the Second World War and depended on the unifying force of those two extraordinary experiences. The diversity of modern Britain expressed through devolution and multiculturalism is more consistent with the historical experience of our islands.
§5 Far from making Britishness redundant, it makes the need for a shared framework of values and institutions all the more relevant. To act as a unifying force, that framework must be one that reflects the realities of contemporary Britain. It is natural for every nation to be proud of its identity. We should be proud to be British. But we should be proud of the real Britain of the modern age. Proud that the strength of the British character reflects the influences of the many different communities who have made their home here over the centuries. Proud that openness, mutual respect and generosity of spirit are essential British values. We should be proud that those British values have made Britain a successful multi-ethnic society.
1. Does Cook take a neutral position in §1? Identify and comment on the words which show his viewpoint.
2. Identify and comment on the words in §1 that Cook attributes to his ideological opponents.
3. Why might some criticise immigrants who “fail to support the England cricket team” (§2)? Why is this ironic?
4. "The British are not a race…" (§3) Explain this with reference to the historical and political formation of the UK.
5. What is the origin of the "multiculturalism" (§4) that characterises "the diversity of modern Britain"?
6. In §5 explain why the UK needs “a shared framework of values and institutions”.
7. What does the author reject in paragraph §5?
1. Study these flags. Do they help us understand why Britishness is a problematic notion in the UK?
Devolution in Scotland and Wales
Fifteenth anniversary of devolution referendum
'Scotland can be well governed in all areas by completing home rule journey'
§1 The SNP’s Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Scottish Parliament referendum on 11 September 1997 by outlining what has been achieved in the years since the parliament was reconvened in 1999 - and the more that Scotland can achieve by completing the home rule journey to independence in the 2014 referendum.
§2 Commenting, Ms Sturgeon said: “Fifteen years ago today, the people of Scotland made the historic decision to reconvene the Scottish Parliament, meaning that some key decisions affecting our daily lives would be made in Scotland for the first time in three hundred years. […]
§3 "Scotland has led the way in the UK by introducing the smoking ban, we passed world-leading climate change legislation, we reintroduced free higher education in Scotland and have a record number of Scottish students at Scottish universities for the coming year, we have delivered 1,000 additional police officers, and our National Health Service is being protected and promoted.
§4 "If Scotland had voted No in 1997, none of these things would have been achieved. […] "Scotland is governed well in devolved areas thanks to the Yes vote 15 years ago - and we can only make sure that we are governed well in all areas by completing our home rule journey and voting Yes to independence in autumn 2014.”
11 September 2012, Glasgow SNP website: www.glasgowsnp.org
1. Explain the term “devolution referendum”. Which parts of the UK are affected by devolution today?
2. Who are the SNP and what do they mean by “completing the home rule journey”?
3. Who are Plaid Cymru? Why can they be considered to be similar to the SNP?
4. What does §3 suggest about A) the UK Parliament and B) laws in England concerning health, education etc.?
5. What was the result of the referendum that took place in autumn 2014?
1. Watch the following video from the ‘Better Together’ campaign: http://tinyurl.com/made-up-my-mind
Why did SNP supporters criticise the ‘Better Together’ campaign as ‘Project Fear’?
2. How did the 2014 referendum affect:
Alex Salmond: SNP leader, Scottish First Minister A. the issue of devolution? B. the popularity of the SNP?
1. Reread §1 and §2 of “ Speech delivered by Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary, 2001 to the Social Market Foundation”. Identify the party of Robin Cook. Comment on how devolution is mentioned in his speech.
2. Read this quote from the “Better Together” all-party group which campaigned for a No vote in the 2014 referendum. What sort of advantage does it suggest Scotland has in remaining in the UK?
“We think that the case for staying a part of the UK is a compelling one – and it is based around a simple notion: We have the best of both worlds in Scotland.
What this means in practice is that we have all the amazing things that makes us Scotland and we also have the safety and security of being part of one of the biggest economies in the world. We have our own Scottish Parliament making decisions about our health, education and emergency services and we get to share risks and rewards with the rest of the UK when it makes sense to do so.”
IRA Statement on Decommissioning, 28 July 2005 (extracts)
The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign. This will take effect from 4pm [1600 BST] this afternoon.
All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever. […]
There is also widespread concern about the failure of the two governments and the unionists to fully engage in the peace process.
This has created real difficulties. The overwhelming majority of people in Ireland fully support this process. They and friends of Irish unity throughout the world want to see the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
Notwithstanding these difficulties our decisions have been taken to advance our republican and democratic objectives, including our goal of a united Ireland. We believe there is now an alternative way to achieve this and to end British rule in our country. It is the responsibility of all Volunteers to show leadership, determination and courage.
We are very mindful of the sacrifices of our patriot dead, those who went to jail, Volunteers, their families and the wider republican base. We reiterate our view that the armed struggle was entirely legitimate. We are conscious that many people suffered in the conflict. […]
The IRA is fully committed to the goals of Irish unity and independence and to building the Republic outlined in the 1916 Proclamation. We call for maximum unity and effort by Irish republicans everywhere. We are confident that by working together Irish republicans can achieve our objectives.
Every Volunteer is aware of the import of the decisions we have taken and all Oglaigh are compelled to fully comply with these orders. There is now an unprecedented opportunity to utilise the considerable energy and goodwill which there is for the peace process.
This comprehensive series of unparalleled initiatives is our contribution to this and to the continued endeavours to bring about independence and unity for the people of Ireland.
1. Underline the vocabulary used to refer to A) violence and warfare B) Ireland.
2. What vision is given of the “troubles” in Northern Ireland?
3. How many times is “Northern Ireland” mentioned? Comment.
4. Contrast this vision of the IRA with the imagery used in the DUP’s 2003 election manifesto (see opposite):
Speech delivered by Ian Paisley (DUP), Stormont, Belfast, 8 May 2007 (extracts)
§1 I have not changed my unionism, the union of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom which I believe is today stronger than ever, but we are making together a declaration, we're all aiming to build a Northern Ireland in which all can live together in peace, being equal under the law and equally subject to the law. […]
§2 From the depths of my heart I can say to you today that I believe Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace.
source : http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/politics/docs/dup/ip080507.htm
1. Comment on the position of Ian Paisley in Northern Ireland politics.
2. What is the “Belfast Agreement” (referred to as the “Good Friday Agreement” in the IRA Statement)? How did the DUP react to it?
3. Comment on the following phrase: “I have not changed my unionism” (§1).
Research question: What important political event took place in Northern Ireland in 2007?
Revision: Watch the following short video on the Troubles: http://tinyurl.com/troubles-in-ni
The Monarchy and the Constitution
1. What is the UK constitution? (extract)
It has been suggested that the British Constitution can be summed up in eight words: What the Queen in Parliament enacts is law. This means that Parliament, using the power of
http://www.royal.gov.uk/the Crown, enacts law which no other body can challenge. Parliamentary sovereignty is commonly regarded as the defining principle of the British Constitution. This is the ultimate lawmaking power vested in a democratically elected Parliament to create or abolish any law. […]
An uncodified constitution creates two problems. First, it makes it difficult to know what the state of the constitution actually is. Second, it suggests that it is easier to make changes to the UK Constitution than in countries with written constitutions, because the latter have documents with a ‘higher law’ status against which ordinary statute law and government action can be tested, and are only amendable via elaborate procedures. The flexibility of the UK constitution is evident from the large number of constitutional reforms since 1997, including the abolition of the majority of hereditary peers in the House of Lords, the introduction of codified rights of individuals for the first time in the Human Rights Act 1998, and devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Arguably, however, these recent constitutional reforms may have made the constitution less flexible in some respects: it is debatable, for instance, whether the
http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/devolution.aspxdevolution settlements could ever be repealed.
source: University College London Constitution Unit,
2. Is there a case for establishing a constitutional convention for the UK?
Yes. Unlock Democracy and in particular its predecessor organisation Charter 88 has campaigned consistently for a constitutional convention for the UK. In part this is because we believe that our fundamental political, civil and human rights should be enshrined in a written constitution. However this is not just about abstract principle-there are particular reasons why it is important for the UK at this particular juncture to hold a constitutional convention.
The period since 1997 has seen a rapid period of constitutional change and has made the need for a constitutional convention even more urgent. There has been radical change, but with no overall sense of the kind of country that these reforms were designed to help build. Each reform seems to have been enacted in isolation without a real idea of how it would impact on the others.
source: written evidence supplied by Unlock Democracy to Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (UK Parliament), June 2012,
3. The British constitution is not, as it is in many countries, codified in a single document, although much of it is already written. It is made up of a complex web of statutes, conventions, and a corpus of common and other law. It is also informed by an interweaving of history and more modern democratic principles. There are no current plans to bring forward proposals for the adoption of a codified constitution for the United Kingdom.
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/?m=40263source : Mark Harper MP, House of Commons statement as Parliamentary Secretary - Political and Constitutional Reform, 17 June 2010,
1. What is a constitution? Find several definitions and then rewrite a summary definition in your own words.
2. Does text 1 suggest the Queen is responsible for making laws in the UK? Clarify with relation to “the defining principle of the British Constitution”
3. How does text 3 describe an “uncodified constitution” and what problems are associated with this in text 1?
4. What does text 2 suggest as an alternative to an uncodified constitution? What advantages would this bring?
5. What advantage is associated with Britain’s unwritten constitution in text 1?
6. What examples of recent constitutional change are mentioned in text 1?
7. Does the current government have any plans to introduce a written constitution?
Parliament and Government
Blair bids to win over MPs (abridged version)
The Guardian, November 14, 2005
§1 In a bid to avert further rebellions after last week's terror bill defeat, the prime minister plans to meet Labour MPs in small groups this week to discuss the government's reform agenda.
§2 The government has reportedly bought itself more time to win over sceptical MPs by delaying both the welfare reform bill and the education bill, which has been widely criticised by Labour MPs for favouring only middle-class children in better schools. Speaking in Downing Street today, Mr Blair stressed that the "vast majority" of Labour MPs backed the reforms.
§3 But Mr Blair faces a high-profile struggle with peers this week, as identity card legislation arrives in the House of Lords. The Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy last night made clear that his peers would oppose the bill, despite the convention that the upper house should not block legislation implementing manifesto commitments. "When you've got a government which is elected on 36%-37% of the popular vote and it can't carry its own backbenchers to a sufficient extent, that's a government that needs to think twice about the way in which it goes about public policy," he said.
1. What situation is being described in the article?
2. Explain the following terms: "MP" (§1), "backbencher" (§3).
3. Find two other terms used in the text which relate to the "House of Lords".
4. Explain what is meant by the term "convention" (§3) in the UK constitution. What example of a convention is given?
5. Why is it important here for the Blair government to obtain the support of a "“vast majority” of Labour MPs" (§2)? Use the terms “bill”, “Act”, “House of Commons”, “to pass a law”, “majority” in your answer.
6. If the House of Lords doesn't agree with a bill what action can it take?
1. Explain the following terms: “peer”, “Downing St”
2. What is the current position of Labour in the UK Parliament?
3. What relationship is suggested in the text between Prime Minister Blair and his backbenchers?
4. What is the role of the “whips” as regards the government?
5. What problem is raised by the fact that the Blair government came to power “on 36-37% of the popular vote?”
Research questions: What was uncharacteristic about the UK government formed in 2010? (see photo below)
1. Give a short definition for the following terms “constituency”, “general election”, “turnout”, “relative majority”, “absolute majority”, “Westminster”, “hung parliament”, “coalition”.
2. Referring to the results from constituency below, explain how the “First past the post” electoral system works. Explain the position of David Cameron in the list of results.
Constituency: Witney, General Election 2015
Candidate Party votes %
David Cameron Conservative 35,201 60.2
Duncan Enright Labour 10,046 17.2
Simon Strutt UKIP 5,352 9.2
Andy Graham Liberal Democrat 3,953 6.8
Stuart Sutherland MacDonald Green 2,970 5.1
Clive Peedell National Health Action 616 1.1
Colin Roland Bex Wessex Regionalist 110 0.2
Christopher Tompson Independent 94 0.2
Vivien Inez Saunders Reduce VAT in Sport 56 0.1
Bobby Smith Give Me Back Elmo 37 0.1
Deek Jackson Land Party 35 0.1
Nathan Paul Handley Independent 12 0.0
3. Look at table 1 below. Explain why a coalition government was formed following the 2010 election results. Was such a result common with FPTP before 2010?
Table 1: UK General Election Results 2010
% of votes 2010
% of seats 2010
Lib - Dem
4. Look at the share of votes in table 2. What were the main changes in voting between 2010 and 2015? How do you explain the difference between the % of seats and the % of votes in 2015 for the various parties?
Table 2: UK General Election Results 2015
5. Who benefited and who lost out from FPTP in 2015?
Research question: Compare FPTP with Proportional Representation. What advantages / disadvantages does each system present?
Class and education
The Educational Backgrounds of Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords
Report published by The Sutton Trust, December 2005 (abridged extracts)
§1 Overall, almost one third (32%) of current MPs attended independent schools, which educate just 7% of the population. Broken down by party, Conservative MPs were most likely to have attended private schools (59% having done so) while Labour MPs were the least likely (18%). Conservative MPs were also more likely to have been educated at a leading university: almost two-thirds (63%) attended one of the ‘Sutton 13’ (these are the 13 leading universities identified as having the highest average rankings in surveys published by The Times, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times and Financial Times in 2000), including 46% at Oxford or Cambridge. Those MPs holding offices within the three main parties (including all Ministers, Secretaries of State and Whips in Government and their equivalents in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties) are more likely to have been to independent schools (42%) than MPs on the backbenches (29%), and are also more likely to have attended Oxbridge (34% compared to 24%).
§2 The Lords were almost twice as likely as their Commons counterparts to have been to independent school (62%), and the private school attendance was more pronounced on the Conservative (79%) than the Labour (34%) benches. Ninety-eight percent of the remaining hereditary Lords were privately-educated, compared to 56% of appointed peers.
1. Where might most Labour MPs have been educated if not at a "private school"? Give at least two suggestions. (4 pts)
2. What (somewhat confusing) term can be used as a synonym for “independent school”?
3. What is “Oxbridge”?
4. What differences are shown between the schooling of Labour MPs and Conservative MPs? What might this suggest about the two parties?
1. Comment on the fact that 98% of hereditary Lords went to an independent school (such as Eton, see opposite), compared to 7% of the overall population.
2. Since 2010 universities in England have been able to charge tuition fees of up to £9000 a year. These fees are now to be repaid after graduation. Poorer students can receive grants in addition to their student loans. Compare this with the French system.
1. Watch the video: http://tinyurl.com/lib-dem2015
How can the popularity of the Liberal Democrats in the 2015 general election be connected to the question of tuition fees?
Schoolboy at Eton, 2004.
Annual fees: 33,000 euros. 2. The photograph below depicts the Bullingdon Club in 1987. Explain why this elite dining club attracted controversy following the 2010 election.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardianThe Guardian, Monday 20 October 2003
Look at newspaper circulation statistics and weep. All is gloom. The sales decline, a long-term phenomenon stretching back some 30 years, appears to be accelerating. Broadsheets, once in the ascendant, have succumbed to the downward trend too. If one listens to Fleet Street's bar-room historians, the reason is simple: people are turning their backs on what used to be known as the quality papers because they have dumbed down.
According to this myth, there is less to read, they no longer stick to the serious agenda, there are too many features, too little foreign news, too much emphasis on sport. These critics talk windily, even if sincerely, about the tabloidisation of the broadsheet[...].
[...] competition lies at the heart of all that has happened to Britain's national press, and much of the reasoning behind the dumbing-down indictments can be traced back to the transformation in broadsheets after the 1986 Wapping revolution. Most significantly, we should note the dramatically heightened competition after the launch of the Independent that year. Over the following five years there were huge increases in pagination, extra sections and magazines, more elegant designs and the liberal use of colour. No longer was it feasible to make comparisons with the papers that existed in the 1970s, let alone years before. By 1991 every title, broadsheet and tabloid, had enlarged far beyond the imaginations of the proprietors and journalists of earlier generations.
Newspapers became packages: the old corner shop of eight poorly-printed, monochrome pages with its restricted editorial diet had been transmuted into a new supermarket offering scores of well-illustrated pages and a seemingly limitless range of content.
1. What do “dumb down” and “Fleet Street” (§ 1) mean?
2. What is known as the “Wapping revolution” (paragraph 3)?
3. How many copies does the Sun sell daily? How does this contrast with France’s biggest-selling newspaper? 4. Define “tabloid” and “broadsheet”. Give some examples of each. Go online and find examples of stories or headlines displayed prominently this week in the following newspapers: Daily Mail, The Sun, The Independent
1. Study the following headlines. Which social / political attitudes might be encouraged by The Sun?
2. Which parties have benefited from the Sun’s political influence (see below)?
3. Why was the Sun’s sister-newspaper, The News of the World, closed down in 2011?
Analyse de documents 'Civilisation Britannique' L1 -- Texts & Exercises, 2016-2017
11 more pronounced on the Conservative (79%) than the Labour (34%) benches. Ninety-eight percent of the remaining hereditary Lords were privately-educated, compared to 56% of appointed peers.
3. How many copies does the Sun sell daily? How does this contrast with France’s biggest-selling newspaper? 4. Define “ta