Background Paper Due in class March 3 (Hand in on paper)

The background paper is an individual research project which you are to complete based on your own investigation of one of the important issues in UK politics described below. You should write a brief (3-4 page) position paper which:
  1. identifies the important aspects of this issue (why is this an important topic?),
  2. provides some background and context for this issue (what is current UK policy, how does it compare to other nations, etc.), and
  3. describes the action (or inaction) on this issue which your party would probably support.
To minimize your workload over the course of the semester, it would be wise to coordinate your work with other members of our party to ensure that each of these issues are covered by someone in the party.

The course website will soon feature a section with useful links to get you started on these topics. But your research will need to range more widely than the sources I list on the webpage.

Iranian nuclear proliferation

What, if anything, should the UK be doing to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran? To what extent should the UK policy be coordinated with the EU? With the USA? Is a military strike on Iran out of the question?

Immigration and Asylum

What levels of immigration into the UK are acceptable, and how should immigrants be selected for admission into the UK? How lenient should the UK be in the processing of claims for political asylum?

Pension reform

In the 1980's the UK introduced private savings accounts as a possible replacement for the "Additional State Pension" and indexed basic (State) pensions on inflation rather than on wage growth. The private accounts (referred to as Contracting Out for a Occupation, Personal, or Stakeholder Pension) have not produced terribly good returns since their introduction in the 1980's. Should the government chip in to increase the pension benefits of retirees who opted for private accounts, and find their pensions smaller than expected? The gradual decrease in the relative value of the basic pension has prompted calls to restore the link with wage growth rather than inflation. Is that a good idea?

The Single Currency (EURO)

Simply put, when if ever, should the UK adopt the EURO (the common currency of the EU). Possible policy positions include joining immediately, never, only under certain circumstances, or after a referendum.

Gasoline Tax

What should the tax on gasoline be? A higher tax on gasoline would help save the environment (reducing greenhouse gases) and reduce traffic and congestion (more public transportation.) It also takes money away from taxpayers and limits their transportation choices. The current tax- approximately 300%- is the highest rate in Europe, and about 75% of the cost of a liter of gasoline (petrol) is tax. The European average is closer to 150%.

Gay Marriage

This is not a headline issue in the UK at the moment, but some European countries (France, Netherlands) have adopted some type of legislation to provide a legal framework for homosexual relationships. Some possible policy positions on this issue are 1. no legal framework for homosexual relationships, 2, applying the existing marriage laws to homosexuals, and 3, some sort of "civil union" granting limited legal protections to relationships.