British Policy Style? As One


This assures that they learn the proper attitudes and positions and gives traditionalist some security that the next administration will not undo what has already been done. This system assures that continuity and tradition prevails.

A prime example of a change in policy is the recent policies regarding the Coal and Steel industries. The 1951 Treaty of Paris establishes the market structure of this industry. This treaty formed a basis for maintaining market stability among the treaty countries (Dudley and Richardson 1999). The Treaty of Paris provided a frame work for outside intervention into the industry by the concerned parties in order to regulate prices and assure stability of supply and demand. Recently there has been a shift from this conservative prospective and a trend towards a more open market environment. As a result there is now a movement to move away from the ideals in the Treaty of Paris. This reflects a trend in the world at large, but in this same respect, Britain must now make a decision of whether to abandon its rigid traditional rules, in which it may distance itself from other countries, or whether to re-examine its own policies and gain the benefits afforded by the global marketplace. This has been an ensuing debate and reflects the conflicts faced by the British on many other issues as well.

Richardson, (1982) identifies several categories of policy styles and makes a convincing argument that it is difficult to define the policy style of a particular country. In light of the conflicts between traditional policy styles in Britain and the more modern approach, it would certainly seem as if one would agree with this statement. Richardson used several characteristics and ideals in the construction of his policy categories including the issue style, decision technique, type of decision, and type of resolution, among others (Richardson, 1982 p. 11). The categories range from a participatory, problem resolving approach to a consensus approach to a proposed policy.

As far as British policy is concerned, it would seem as if the policy making style, as defined by Richardson, et. al. (1982) would be in the process of transition from a strict traditional consensus approach, base on past case studies and policies to a more participatory approach. When one examines the categories and elements in policy analysis, it is easy to realize that a shift in policy style is in-deed beginning to take shape in Britain. The is an efficient way to define policy and it would seem as it by definition alone, the hypothesis is supported that British policy-making is undergoing a definitive shift in ideology.

It is feared by many British traditionalists that British policy making will move towards the model of American Politics discussed in Baumgartner and Jones (1993). This book paints a picture of American politics as being driven by the agendas of special interest groups and influenced by the advertising campaigns of mass media. Baumgartner and Jones do paint a compelling picture for this vision of American politics. This is a stark contrast to traditional British Policy making. This is the other end of the spectrum as far as they are concerned and it is this extreme that they fear.

More liberal policy makers, do not see a problem with incorporating some more of these ideals into their own policy-making strategies. They are moving towards a more public participation model. Many do not see this trend going as far a the picture painted in Baumgartner and Jones (1993), but they do see a need to adopt a less rigid policy making style. The two sides are at odds, and the traditionalists fear that the liberals will take this idea to an extreme. However, in reality, many of the liberalists do not want this extreme, but just a slight loosening of the neck ties.

British policy has always prided itself in the equality of the parties and their ability to have equal access to the expression of their ideals. Baumgartner and Jones (1993) discuss seven examples in America where access to policy was denied certain groups by the over-riding influence of another group. The most extraordinary examples involved the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Traditionalists fear that this type of inequality of the ministries and control by special interest groups will begin to occur there as well. However, they forget, that there already been cases of this when the leaders of Ministries involving the debate in the steel industry blatantly ignored arguments by others in lieu of their own interests. They fail to see that in some cases, that which they feared the most has already occurred.

Kjellberg (1995) developed a case study in Sweden in which a governmental policy change had an undesirable effect. Instead of the projected economic growth, it instead created a welfare state. This brings up the idea that a when a change in the policy making process is being considered, the involved parties must be certain that the new policy change will be sustainable in the future. It does little good to make a change that later must be revoked due to unforeseen results, as in the case of Sweden, presented by Kjellberg.

The case presented by Sweden may be a key argument for traditionalists who fear the changes proposed by the more liberal British factions. Currently, traditionalists feel that the current status quo is comfortable and that consistency is the key to effective policy. They fear that a change to more liberal, publicly oriented policy making model could lead to instability and that they could experience the same scenario as Sweden (Kjellberg 1995).

Liberals, on the other hand, feel that al policy making style change is necessary if Britain is to be able to make the adjustments necessary to enter into the EU and the Global market. They feel that more flexibility will be needed and that a failure to do so will leave Britain trailing in the dust of the new economy. The inception of the EU has caused many countries to have to reconsider their policies and make compromises. Britain's staunch adherence to tradition may make it difficult to enter into this new and expanding market. Let us examine this issue more closely.

The Effects of the EU on Individual Policies

In the past, European countries have consisted of a group of individual countries, steeped in rich cultural traditions. This cultural tradition not only effected the mannerisms and culture of the country, but was also inherent in the mode and method of governance. Europeans, proud of their individual cultures, were reluctant to change and held firm to their individualistic ideals. British governance is perhaps one countries with the most rigid traditions of any of the current members of the EU. These traditions are not malleable and, as expected, when asked to respond to a new situation, be it domestic, or foreign in nature, the British parliament first looks to the past to determine if there is any existing precedence for that particular situation. They have been known for the steadfast adherence to tradition in all matters, both foreign and domestic.

Other countries, such as France and Germany are also known for their strict adherence to long-standing traditions. Benz and Eberlein (1999) explore the formation of the European Unions and how it is possible for countries, so rich in tradition, to form a regional government. There are many differences in how the countries that make up the EU handle foreign policy. The formation of the EU required individual countries to make concessions and reach compromises, the study of how these richly traditional countries accomplished this task has been the subject of many studies in foreign policy.

The formation of the EU required a paradigm shift in the ideology of many governing entities. The EU previously consisted of a group of countries competing for a finite set of resources. The formation of the EU required that these countries adopt policies of cooperation and sharing, rather than that of competition (Benz and Eberlein 1999 p. 329).

Benz and Eberlein (1999) disagree with many previous studies on the development of the cooperation of governments on a 'multi-level' governing system. Many researcher felt that the formation of a cooperative effort was the result of "Vertical activities" (Benz and Eberlein 1999, p. 332). This would make it sound as if everyone automatically just "played nicely in the sandbox." Benz and Eberlein feel that this is not the case and that the regional government that exists now is a result of conflict resolution between the individual governing entities.

Benz and Eberlein support their argument by pointing out the differences in needs between developed regions and underdeveloped regions. They use France and Germany as examples. However, this same argument holds true for all countries in the EU. This would seem to support their argument and would hold true for the differences between every country in the EU. The needs of individual countries in the EU are not homogeneous and…