The Blair government and Europe: the policy of containing the salience of European integration

Oppermann, Kai (2008) The Blair government and Europe: the policy of containing the salience of European integration. British Politics, 3 (2). pp. 156-182. ISSN 1746-918X

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Abstract

One of the most conspicuous European policy legacies of the Blair premiership pertains to its public salience: whereas European integration featured as a high-salience issue at the beginning of New Labour's tenure, it was transformed into a low-salience issue at the end of Tony Blair's period in office. Given the British public's euroscepticism and New Labour's relatively pro-European outlook, the decline in the salience of European policy accorded to the Blair government's electoral interests. As European policy could be expected to figure as an electoral liability for New Labour insofar as it was salient enough to become a significant dimension of issue voting, the Blair government faced strong electoral incentives to contain the public salience of European integration. New Labour responded to this incentive by pursuing a mix of different governing strategies that were suited to contribute to the pronounced downward trend in the salience of European integration. Specifically, the Blair government sought (1) to defuse the European policy cleavage between the two main British parties, (2) to depoliticise European policy decisions, (3) to delegate veto power to the general public, and (4) to defer the making of conclusive decisions on contentious European issues.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science
Depositing User: Kai Oppermann
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2013 14:02
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2013 14:02
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/46544
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