The BIHG Thesis Prize was established in 1996, and later posthumously named after famed international historian Michael Dockrill. It is awarded annually to the best doctoral thesis on any aspect and any period of International History, which has been awarded a degree by a British University or a British University College or College of Higher Education during the calendar year. The thesis is judged by a Panel drawn from members of the BIHG Committee. In judging the competition the Panel pay particular attention to originality of approach, thoroughness of research, style of writing and presentation, and contribution to historical scholarship.
Below is the thesis abstract for this year's winner, congratulations again to Hamish McDougall, whose thesis can be read in full at: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/4367/ He is now Executive Director of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.
The thesis examines the Anglo-New Zealand political relationship as Britain joined the European Community in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. It assesses and explains New Zealand’s influence in Britain and Europe during the negotiations and the effect this had on the terms of Britain’s entry. It also looks at the extent that Britain’s entry into the European Community accelerated New Zealand’s decolonisation, using New Zealand as a case study to better understand the relationship between Britain and its former colonies in the second half of the twentieth century. The study is placed in the broader context of the Cold War, European integration, economic and social change. For the first time in relation to this topic, the research uses official and political sources from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the European Community, as well as multilateral institutions such as GATT. The thesis concludes that, using New Zealand as a political case study, the ‘shock and betrayal’ narrative, with European enlargement accelerating decolonisation, is overstated. Despite being a small country as far from Western Europe as it is possible to be, the New Zealand Government exerted disproportionate influence over Britain’s two failed entry attempts in 1960-63 and 1967 and won important trade concessions during eventual accession in 1973. This influence continued through the renegotiation of British membership terms and the referendum in 1975, adding sheep meat to the Common Agricultural Policy in 1980 and beyond. New Zealand’s influence materiality altered the terms of European Community enlargement and was derived in large part from the political situation in the United Kingdom and the European Community, as well as broader geo-political processes and events. Far from an irreconcilable rupture, British accession arguably strengthened pan-partisan political and diplomatic links between Britain and New Zealand (and the Community and New Zealand), at least in the short to medium term.