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Tutor profile: Francis W.

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Francis W.
Recent first class Politics and History graduate
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Questions

Subject: Political Science

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Question:

‘A robust, functioning democracy requires public deliberation.’ Evaluate this assertion

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Francis W.
Answer:

The argument in this statement arises from conflicting definitions of democracy. If you take Abraham Lincoln's definition, a government “of the people by the people for the people” (Heywood, 2015, p143) then both sides claim allegiance. Those stating public deliberation -where people can develop, change or create their opinions through public discussion- is required in a robust, functioning democracy would say that through the public discussion of ideas the government learns what the people want and they play a much more active role in the democracy. This could even be a necessity to a democracy because through the deliberation people discover their own political ideas, democracy is after all not just the vote but the compromise and understanding which deliberation can supply. Those who suggest an aggregative model where representatives make the decisions focus on the greater efficiency it supplies and claim representatives are far more qualified to understand the will and best interests of the people. It is often held up as a tool to stop mob rule or tyranny of the majority. Deliberative democracy does have flaws, being perhaps too idealistic, but it creates a more inclusive and involved society which can clearly be seen as more democratically robust. Supporters of representative democracy also seem to think that also seem to think that limiting public involvement in the democratic process will shut out extremist views. In reality these get only stronger when they are denied a voice The only way to combat them is through discussion and debate inside the political system.

Subject: World History

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Question:

Why did Britain and France engage in the Opium Wars?

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Francis W.
Answer:

Britain and France engaged in the Opium wars for a number of reason. For Britain, involved in both conflicts, economics reasons such as the expansion of trade were clearly the main causes, supplemented by cultural issues like failures of diplomacy and resentment for the way they were treated. The French, only involved in the Second Opium War, were very likeminded. Being a strong empire similar to Britain it also wished to increase its treasury. Tea, silk and porcelain were extremely valuable in the West and with both countries struggling with a trade deficit as well their own uprisings they needed economic support. So called trigger events also played a role but it is clear they were only an excuse for the empires to take the resources they really wanted. When General Lin Zexu started evicting Europeans from Maccau he was simply providing the excuse Britain needed to declare war. Similarly, the supposed murder of French missionary Auguste Chapdelaine provided the excuse for the French empire to gain access to Chinese ports in the second Opium War.

Subject: European History

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Question:

Was the reason for Margaret Thatcher's electoral appeal to be found in her economic and political policies or in cultural and social change that took place in 1960s and 1970s Britain?

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Francis W.
Answer:

Despite her polarisation of British politics, Margaret Thatcher, aka ‘That Bloody Women’, the ‘Milk Snatcher’, the ‘Iron Lady’ and ‘The Grocer’s Daughter’ was electorally remarkably successful. Her three election victories and governance from 1979 till 1990 represent a longer continuous period than any other Prime Minister since 1812. Clearly she required significant electoral appeal. The many societal and cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s, such as increasing racism, hostility towards unions and a burgeoning middle class changed the national landscape and played a large role in Thatcher’s appeal. It pushed people away from Labour and towards more conservative politics. Despite this, it was Thatcher’s ability to tap into national angst that lead to her electoral support. In creating political and economic policies that resonated with a wide spectrum of the electorate she ensured her victories. People were experiencing greater levels of wealth and prosperity which her individualistic neo-liberal policies successfully engaged with, promising tax reductions and the ability to buy your own home. Furthermore she used the winter of discontent and her battles against the strong unions to forge her iron persona, galvanising support from those who had grown tired of strikes and protests. Whilst other aspects such as a fractured Labour party will have aided this, it was the adaptive policies that cemented her position in history.

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