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Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Happy New Year to all politics students and teachers! 2014 is a big political year with it not only being the last full year before the General Election but it is also a year of elections, referendums, ideological battlegrounds and the start of the 2015 Election campaign. By the time the year is out we will know the future of Scotland, the hopes for Obama's last two years, and we shall all be well and truly getting in gear for the Election 2015! Read on for the political excitement that awaits this year!

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David Cameron’s Bloomberg Europe Speech

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

David Cameron's Speech on Europe at The Bloomberg building, promises an In Out Referendum (BBC coverage here), but firstly can he keep his Coalition together, avoid more splits in The Conservative Party then win a General Election, all of which are big assumptions. Labour have to work out if their General Election campaign can really oppose a popular vote on Europe. Does it kill the UKIP fox, wait and see. If Labour won The next General Election, would Ed Miliband make sure that there is no return to Bloomberg and bust?

Do we want more EU?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The EU topic has been slimmed down since new AS specs came in a few years ago. Opinion was divided among teachers on whether this was desirable. In the edexcel course for instance it is subsumed within discussion of the extent to which the UK Parliament is sovereign.

But comments today from the Commission President are sure to reopen serious debate. According to today’s Indy:

“The economic crisis has turned into a “fight for European integration”, the president of the European Commission warned today.

Jose Manuel Barroso insisted that the answer to the growing threat to the euro was a more, and not less, integrated European Union.”

Essentially the question is whether we want to move to something closer to the USA, where Washington DC exerts far greater power as a central authority than most people can imagine Brussels doing.

I have included some notes below that go far beyond the demands of the current AS level (since they were written with the old one in mind, though I have tried to update them) but should provide some help in supporting your arguments about what future direction the EU should take

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A deepening democratic deficit?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Here’s a really well written comment piece by Gary Younge. It doesn’t say much about the power of big business as the byline would suggest, but does rather convincingly argue that national politicians are fairly powerless in the face of overriding global economic conditions.

Follow me on Twitter

Thursday, June 23, 2011


On Twitter I have been posting links to news stories that are an essential daily read for students of Politics that I have come across as part of my personal reading on the web.

This type of heads up on what is in the news is not a substitute for students doing their own reading, but I know that for many students it is the case that there is so much information freely available on the web that it is not always easy to discriminate between items in terms of their direct relevance to the syllabus. This is where the posts are supposed to fill the gap. Just a couple of links each day, and if students have time to read more then they can use these stories as a starting point for further browsing.

My students have already said they find it useful, and I hope more can.

Follow me on @bgsmacca

The Euro courts

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If you are doing OCR’s comparative paper, answers on the role of judges in different political systems can be developed impressively with reference to the ECJ and ECHR. These are frequently confused and assessment of their role can lack depth.

The Charlemagne column in the Economist provides a handy overview of their place in Europe, with excellent examples and analysis.

Here is the link

Excellent EU 2011 overview

Thursday, January 06, 2011

BBC Parliament broadcasted an excellent “The Record Europe” programme over the Christmas period. It is something of s shame that the EU has been trimmed from the AS course since I think it is a fascinating political project and in the UK there is a great deal of myth and propaganda about it.

This recording is on iplayer and features the normally controversial Nigel Farage.

If there isn’t time to squeeze it into lesson delivery then I think it is worth considering as an off syllabus project as part of a Politics Society feature. It might also interest Route D followers.

Watch it here.

Politics Classroom Posters - Europe

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tbe latest in our new series of classroom posters for politics, written by Rachel Fairhead, looks at Europe:

- The Role of The EU
- The Developmentof the EU
- Main Institutions of the EU
- Main Treaties of the EU
- The UK and the EU
- Impact of Membership on the UK
- The Future of the EU

Order the classroom poster collection on Europe here

The Decade of Terror - Reuters Pictures of the Decade

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A stunning online slideshow here from Reuters tells the story of a decade of global terror and violence.  Many of the images are hard-hitting.  All are thought-provoking. An amazing resource to use as stimulus material for Politics units covering global issues.

Launch Reuters Images of the Decade

UKIP leader takes time out from campaigning

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party was kind enough to give up some of his time and share some of his ideas on Britain’s relations with the European Union by coming to speak to my school’s Politics Society.

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PR in Israel

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Little did I know when I asked my group on Monday morning -as part of a general reflection on recent domestic and international political issues - to research the Israeli election, how extremely close the result would be, and how it could be held up as a prime example of why PR can lead to the disproportionate influence of a minor party (in this case Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Is Our Home) party) over the policies of two established, and larger, parties.

James Hider, in the Times, talks about the deals that will have to be struck in order that a government can be formed

Is this really symptomatic of the problems that PR can lead us all in to, or is this just the continuation of the political weaknesses that have dogged Israel since its inception in 1948 and even First-Past-the-Post won’t be able to cure?

As someone who believes that electoral reform is well overdue in our general election, sometimes I have to wonder whether it’s all too much bother to change to something that could have far-reaching, and possibly disastrous, consequences for our stable system.

I think I’d still like to give it a try though!

First past the post

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


The new edition of first past the post, tutor2u’s digital Politics magazine, has been posted on the site. 

Given the importance of the recent American elections, there is a bit of a US slant, but there are great articles covering UK politics, the EU, UK issues, as well as political ideologies.

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Violent cheesemakers

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Apparently a million people marched (some say went for a walk in a park on a Sunday) against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  This event was said to be the biggest single demo on British soil in living memory. It seems that a protest in France that doesn’t attract seven figures is a disappointment.


Today ‘Black Thursday’ saw violent clashes on the streets of Paris.  Perhaps rightly so.  Why should the engineers of the economic crisis be the ones that government money is thrown at?  Would it make more economic sense to pay every man, woman and child a few thousand in cash to get the economy going?  And why is it the French are more bothered about letting their dissatisfaction be known than the British?  On the last question it is probably because the British now believe that someone else should make the effort. 


But the events across la manche raise more general questions about whether direct action actually has any effect.  Marches probably don’t.  Publicity stunts, are just stunts.  But any event that causes economic damage may make those who control the levers of power take note. 

Will the current economic crisis see many more countries follow the pattern evident in central and eastern Europe?

More conflict in the pipeline?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

According to a feature in the T2 section of today’s Times, key to understanding the conflict in the caucuses is the existence of 155 miles of pipeline snaking through Georgia.  The authors argue that the conflict between Russia and its neighbour is not solely due to oil (true also of America’s invasion or Iraq, remember), but the geo-political relationships in the region are heavily influenced by black gold

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Sad death of the straight banana story?

Monday, July 21, 2008

After discussion with my teaching colleagues I came to the conclusion that stories of straight bananas juxtaposed with details of food mountains was a great way to get started on teaching the EU topic.  So it was with a heavy heart that I read this story in the Sunday Times about EU plans to relax rules on what vegetables look like.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

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