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A Study On The British Labour Party's European Integration Policy(1945-1975)

Posted on:2015-01-11Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:F K ShiFull Text:PDF
GTID:1316330428469805Subject:History of international relations
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The relationship between Britain and the European continent countries is an important and complicated realm of the British foreign policy. The start of the European integration process after World War ? enhanced the complexity of this relationship further. As a post-war mainstream party be in power in turn with the Conservative Party, the British Labour Party's unique ideological factor and complex structural and factional factors have important influence on its European integration policy.1945-1975is a period in which the British foreign policy changed greatly, it is a stage in which Britain transformed from a world power to a regional power as well. The Labour Party's European integration policy experienced zigzag fluctuation and evolution during this period, this reflects the complexity of the UK-EC relationship and the specificity of the Labour Party's European integration policy fully.After the World War II, with the rise of the two powers of the Soviet Union and the United States and the relative decline of Britain, Bevin, the Foreign Minister of the Labour government, and some lefties of the Labour Party, conceive two kinds of European "Third Force" policies respectively, which are different in nature and content. However, the outbreak of the Cold War made the two ideas lose the actual possibility of implementation, because they move to the US-led western camp inevitably. After the outbreak of the Cold War, the United States urged the realization of the Western European integration, the nongovernmental movements of the European Union developed rapidly as well. However, the Labour government maintained its existed policy of intergovernmental cooperation painstakingly, adopted the policy of "support but not to take part in" to the European integration process which started in the early1950s, and kept this policy to the end of this decade.In the1950s, the Labour party's revisionism developed rapidly, it changed the traditional understanding of socialism and capitalism, so it laid the foundation of the amendments for the Labour Party's European integration policy. However, the failure of Gaitskell's modification of the Party constitution suggests that revisionism has not become the consensus of the majority of party members yet. Because the Labour Party's primary aim was to win the next general election, avoiding the Labour Party's division on any issue became the top priority, so the European integration issues failed to enter the Labour Party's agenda. As the changes of the situation at home and abroad, the Labour Party reappraised its European integration policy in the early1960s. Although the Labour Party leadership which was dominated by the rights tended to support the UK joined the EC, out of the needs of maintaining the unity of the Labour Party and and the victory of general election, they expressed the principle of "pending" and the attitude of sitting on the fence all the time. However, this attitude in fact has changed the Labour Party's original policy which opposed to participate in European integration in principle.After came to power in1964, under the joint impact of a variety of factors, the Labour Party's European integration policy turned to positive direction. During Wilson's first administration, the Labour Party's ruling status is fragile, so the adjustment range of its European integration policy is limited, but it had laid a solid foundation for the leap of the Labour Party's European integration policy during Wilson's second administration. The1966general election consolidated the Labour Party's ruling status, so its European integration policy became more positive, and Wilson's Labour government put forward the second application for accessing to the EC. Although the second application was rejected again, the Labour Party did not give up the goal and efforts for seeking to join the EC. The Labour Party's persistence ushered the dawn of hope finally after Charles de Gaulle resigned, but it lost power accidentally in the general election at this point.Although the Labour party did not turn against to join the EC immediately after lost power, its left turn in this period has a serious negative effect on its European integration policy. In order to deal with the increasingly serious divergences of the Labour Party, the Labour Party leadership which was dominated by the rights put forward and accepted following policies successively, they are "against the joining terms which negotiated by the Conservative government", renegotiating the joining terms, and consulting the opinions of the people about the issue of Britain's EC membership, these policies not only show the image of the Labour Party more patriotic and democratic, but also maintain the unity of the Labour Party effectively. After came to power again in1974, the Labour government met the commitments of the general election, launched a renegotiation with the EC on Britain's joining terms, and held a referendum on the relationship between the UK and the EC. Through this referendum, the Labour Party achieved following goals:maintained the unity of the Labour party, maintained the Labour Party be in power and maintained Britain in the EC.The influencing factors of the British Labour Party's European integration policy mainly contain: the British Labour Party's socialistic ideology, the complicated and severe factional divergences in the Labour Party, the British Trade Union's European integration attitude, Britain's competitive two-party political system, statesmen's considerations to the British realistic interests, the historical traditions and views and values of the British; The basic characteristics of the British Labour Party's European integration policy are:there is similarity between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party on the path choice of European integration, the Labour Party's European integration policy is the result of joint action of many factors, there are serious divergences on the European integration policy between different factions in the Labour Party, the Labour Party's European integration policy are often contradictory in its actual implementation, there are differences in the European integration policy sometimes between the Labour party elites and the ordinary members.The political need of seeking power or maintaining ruling is the decisive factor of the British Labour party's European integration policy, it is the core red line throughout the entire process.
Keywords/Search Tags:Britain, the Labour Party, European integration, European Community
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