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Policy Processes in a Changing World

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Abstract

The formulation of British policy in relation to the outside world is subject to all the contradictory and conflicting trends we have identified in the previous chapters. The policy process is a mixture of unchanging realities and new developments. The unchanging realities are important, for they express some of the simplicities of impressive political power: the nature of foreign policy in the British constitution, or the role of the civil service in the workings of cabinet government. In this respect a general understanding of the nature of British government constitutes at least a partial understanding of how the foreign policy process works. In this sense, none of the major books that have been written on the policy process over the last 25 years are actually out of date. What Vital, Frankel, Barber and Wallace — indeed what even Strang and Morrison — said about British foreign policy-making is still essentially true.1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    David Vital, The Making of British Foreign Policy (London: Allen & Unwin, 1968);Google Scholar
  2. 1a.
    Joseph Frankel, British Foreign Policy 1945–1973 (London: Oxford University Press, 1975);Google Scholar
  3. 1b.
    James Barber, Who Makes British Foreign Policy? (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1976);Google Scholar
  4. 1c.
    William Wallace, The Foreign Policy Process in Britain (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1975);Google Scholar
  5. 1d.
    Lord Strang, The Foreign Office (London: George Allen, 1955);Google Scholar
  6. 1e.
    Lord Morrison, Government and Parliament, (London: Oxford University Press, 1954).Google Scholar
  7. 1f.
    See also the older, but still useful collection of papers by Robert Boardman and A.J.R. Groom. The Management of Britain’s External Relations (London: Macmillan, 1973).Google Scholar
  8. 2.
    Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Diplomats: The Foreign Office Today, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1977), pp. 242–5.Google Scholar
  9. 3.
    James Cable, Political Institutions and Issues in Britain, (London: Macmillan, 1987), pp. 35–6.Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    J. Harvey and L. Bather, The British Constitution, 4th edn (London, Macmillan, 1977), pp. 231, 234.Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    Quoted in Peter Hennessy, ‘Does the Elderly Cabinet Machine Need Oiling?’, The Listener, 27 June 1985, p. 8.Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    Report of the Review Committee on Overseas Representation (1968— 69) (Duncan Report), Cmnd 4107 (London: HMSO, 1969); Central Policy Review Staff, Review of Overseas Representation (London: HMSO, 1977).Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Basic Facts and Figures (London: HMSO, 1977).Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    Fourth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, 1987–88, FCO/ODA Expenditure 1988–89, HC 429 (London: HMSO, 1988), p. 2; financial provision includes expenditure for the British Council, the BBC, grants in aid and subscriptions to international organisations.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    For an outline of the work of the British Council, see Fourth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, 1986–87, Cultural Diplomacy, HC 24 (London: HMSO, 1987), pp. 1–8;Google Scholar
  16. 13a.
    Second Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, 1979–80, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Organization, HC 511 (London: HMSO, 1980), pp. 79–80, 83.Google Scholar
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    Martin Edmonds, ‘Central Organizations of Defence in Great Britain’, in Martin Edmonds, (ed.) Central Organizations of Defense (London: Frances Pinter, 1985), pp. 85–107.Google Scholar
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    See Michael Dillon, ‘Britain’, in G.M. Dillon, (ed.) Defence Policy-making: A Comparative Analysis (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1988), pp. 9–52.Google Scholar
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    See Peter Hennessy, Whitehall (London: Secker & Warburg, 1989), pp. 394–8.Google Scholar
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    Harold Wilson, The Governance of Britain (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976), p. 87.Google Scholar
  22. 30.
    Anthony Sampson, The Money Lenders (London: Coronet Books, 1981), p. 118.Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    The best example is undoubtedly Peter Hennessy, Cabinet (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), which is acknowledged by insiders and outsiders as being highly accurate.Google Scholar
  24. 34.
    Wallace, op. cit., p. 48; Hugh Heclo and Aaron Wildavsky, The Private Government of Public Money (London: Macmillan, 1974), p. 187.Google Scholar
  25. 37.
    See Charles Miller, Lobbying Government (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987), pp. 3–7.Google Scholar
  26. 40.
    See Françoise De La Serre, Jacques Leruez and Helen Wallace, (eds), French and British Foreign Policies in Transition, (Oxford: Berg Publishers for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1990).Google Scholar
  27. 42.
    The best expression of the ‘overload’ thesis is still probably that contained in A. King, (ed.), Why is Britain Becoming Harder to Govern? (London: BBC Publications, 1976).Google Scholar
  28. 46.
    First Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, 1984–85, The Abuse of Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges, HC 127 (London: HMSO, 1985), pp. XXX, XXXVII–XXXVIII.Google Scholar
  29. 48.
    William Wallace, ‘Public Expenditure: The International Dimension’, in M.S. Levitt, (ed.), New Priorities in Public Spending, Joint Studies in Public Policy, No. 13 (London: National Institute for Economic and Social Research, 1987).Google Scholar
  30. 50.
    Robert Harris, ‘Taming the Whitehall Machine’, The Observer, 21 February 1988.Google Scholar
  31. 51.
    Les Metcalf, ‘Institutional Inertia vs. Organisational Design’, European Consortium for Political Research, Annual Conference, 1992.Google Scholar
  32. 54.
    International Freedom Foundation (UK), Freedom Bulletin 8 (1989), pp. 2–3. The IFF is generally regarded as a right-wing organisation but quotes Tony Benn approvingly on this matter. There was an extensive correspondence about this in the columns and letters of The Times during November 1988, revolving mainly around articles by David Hart, ‘The FO: Road to Reform’, 5 November 1988, and Patrick Cosgrave, ‘A Too-Exclusive Club’, 18 November 1988.Google Scholar
  33. 60.
    John Nott, ‘Our Defences All At Sea’, The Times, 5 October 1987, p. 16.Google Scholar
  34. 61.
    Sir Burke Trend, ‘Policy and the Public Purse’, Times Literary Supplement, 16 July 1982, pp. 755–7.Google Scholar
  35. 62.
    See the conclusions in Christopher Tugendhat, and William Wallace, Options for British Foreign Policy in the 1990s (London: Routledge/RIIA, 1988), Chapter 7.Google Scholar

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© Royal Institute of International Affairs 1992

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