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The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland


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Title: The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom of Great Britain Northern
The UK Whats in a Name?
  • U.K. United Kingdom of Great Britain and
    Northern Ireland
  • Jan 1, 1800 United Kingdom of Great Britain and
  • Irish Republic gains independence, 1922
  • 6 northern counties of N. Ireland (a.k.a. Ulster)
    remain with UK
  • Other regions Scotland, Wales.
  • British possess Jersey, Guernsey, and Isle of
    Man. Hong Kong given back 7/1/1999. Also own
    Diego Garcia in Indian Ocean and Gibraltar

The UK Demographics
  • Size of Oregon but very urban (90 urbanized)
  • Population 61.1 million (2009 est.)--Growth rate
  • England most prosperous, others Celtic and
    poorer. Median age40.2
  • Ethnicity White 92.1 (English 83.6, Scottish
    8.6, Welsh 4.9, N. Irish 2.9) Black 2, Indian
    1.8, Pakistani 1.3, mixed 1.2, other 1.6
    (2001 census)
  • Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic,
    Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6, Muslim 2.7,
    Hindu 1, other 1.6, unspecified or none 23.1
    (2001 census)
  • Unitary form of government with Parliamentary
  • Life Expectancy 76.5/81.3/79 overall. 1.66
  • 99 literacy rate
  • Highest HS dropout rate in Europe only 10 aged
    18-24 attend college/university
  • GNP 35,200, 2.2 Trillion economy, 80 in
  • Pax Britannica 17th-18th Cty, fell behind after
    WW I

Brief UK History
  • 1215 Magna Carta
  • 1532-36 Henry VIII breaks from Rome, Church of
    England, reformation
  • 1642 Civil War (1649 Charles I beheaded)
  • 1649-1658 Cromwell, disputes 1660 Charles II
  • 1688 Glorious Revolution of William and Mary
  • 1707 Union with Scotland, last veto by King,
    King let PM control Cabinet starting in 1721
    (Robert Walpole)
  • 1800 Union with Ireland
  • 1832 Reform Act adds Middle Class voting (7),
    also 1867 and 1884 Great Reform Act (all 21 men
  • 1911 House of Lords weakened
  • 1914 Entered World War I
  • 1918 Voting age now 21 for men, 30 for women
  • 1922 Ireland gains independence
  • 1928 All adults 21 and over may vote
  • 1939-1945 World War II, Wartime coalition,
    Pyrrhic victory
  • 1942 Beveridge Report and Collectivist consensus
  • 1945 World War II ends, colonies begin gaining
  • 1947 British India partitioned into
    India/Pakistan, given independence

UK History (Continued)
  • 1948 National Health Service (NHS) formed
  • 1949 NATO formed
  • 1951 Churchill and Conservatives return to
    power, do not dismantle NHS
  • 1956 Botched Suez Canal incident
  • 1973 Finally joins EEC, forerunner to EU (FRA
    had blocked)
  • 1979-1997 Thatcher/Major governments
  • 1982 Falklands Warvictory over Argentina
  • 1990 Thatcher resigns, replaced by major after
    Community Charge debacle
  • 1994 Chunnel opens
  • 1997 Conservatives lose power after 18 yrs
    Blair elected
  • 1999 Elected assemblies (devolution) for Wales,
    Scotland, and Northern Ireland (suspended but
    later restored)
  • 2000 Accepted ECHR as domestic law (1st real
    Bill of Rights)
  • 2003 UK assists US in Iraq
  • 2005 Blair narrowly holds on for third term
  • May 31, 2007 Blair cedes power to Chancellor
    Gordon Brown
  • 2008 Economic crisis begins, Northern Rock
  • 2010 David Cameron and Conservatives return to
    power in coalition with Liberal Democrats

More about the UK
  • NO Written Constitution. Only Custom, history,
    tradition, and precedent (can include works of
    authorities like Blackstone). Example Magna
    Carta (1215). Now, includes European law.
  • Huge trust in government people of incremental
  • In Britain, civil rights and liberties are
    protected by political tradition and public
    opinion establishment derives its political
    power from public acceptance
  • British slower to integrate into Europe than
    France, no Euro
  • Single member districts virtually guarantee two
    party system
  • Handguns outlawed in 1998.
  • Uses common law as opposed to civil law
  • Common law judge-made law based on
  • Civil/code law law based on legal codes, former
    church law

Thinking about Britain Themes
  • Britain has suffered from less unrest and has had
    a more consensual history than any other country.
  • Britains relative economic standing declined
    dramatically in the second half of the 20th
  • UK as dependent on world events rather than
    master of them
  • The conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher
    and John Major in the 1980s and 1990s redefined
    political life.
  • Gradual change
  • Relative economic decline
  • Impact of Blair and New Labour

Government Structure
  • Constitutional Monarchy
  • Queen has only ceremonial duties, symbol of unity
    but stays informed has audiences with PM.
    Access to secret documents.
  • Queen gives Speech from the Throne written by
    new PM at each Parliament opening. Imitated in
    Commonwealth countries.
  • House of Commons 646 members (change 2005)
  • House of Lords 724 members (changed recently)
  • Prime Minister heads govt, leads majority party
    in Commons
  • PM names Cabinet of MPs In US, lack of fusion
    causes problem Sec State and NSA often dont get
    along! 5 year fixed theoretical term. PM calls
    elections, can call them skillfully or not so
  • Parliament can call for a vote of no
    confidence if PM loses, must resign and call
    new elections
  • If no party has majority, Queen names PM in
    consultation with current PM, 3 times since 1952
  • The British do not need to love their Prime
    Minister. They love their Queen.

The Electoral System
  • Voters elect members of the House of Commons in
    single-member districts.
  • Every 5 years, PM can call whenever
  • 70-75 turnout
  • Election campaigning limited to 3-4 weeks
  • Carpetbaggers generally accepted
  • System is first past the post just like US,
    requires plurality (SINGLE MEMBER DISTRICTS)
  • In no election since 1935 has 1 party gotten a
  • April 1997 Labour 43
  • 1951 Conservatives won but had lower popular
  • 1979 Thatcher 43
  • By-elections occur when a member resigns or
    dieswatched carefully as a political harbinger
  • European Parliament elections as well

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Political Participation
  • The British electorate
  • Long time class-based politics upset by
    radicalism and Thatcher victories
  • Rather than realignment, it was a dealignment
  • Labour victories probably the result of voter
    fatigue with Conservative government and
    Labours success in appealing to middle class and
    post-materialist voters
  • Labor has tried to increase support among women
    by nominating them to elected and appointed

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Political Participation
  • Interest groups
  • Trades Union Council and Confederation of British
    Industries are dominant peak associations
  • Lobbying must be done at highest levels where
    bills are drafted

House of Commons (646)
  • Much like US House, debates, makes laws. But PM
    and Cabinet, who are members, introduce all bills
  • Prime Minister Question Hour on Wednesdays!
  • US debate filtered thru committees, not in
  • 14 select committees were established in 1979
  • Salary about 70,000 (compare to 145K in US)
  • Speaker of the House retains position in
    Parliament, traditionally runs unopposed.
  • Party leaders usually tested ex-Cabinet
    officials. Must deal with the show and the
  • Cabinet/PM are primary initiators of legislation,
    known as frontbenchers
  • Backbenchers have staged revolts, worked in 1990
    against Thatcher. Vote of no confidence/issue
    of confidence designation can also bring down a
  • Party whips enforce loyalty strictly

House of Lords (724)
  • 790 Hereditary peers, almost all eliminated in
    1999. 92 left.
  • 500 Lifelong peers remain (granted by PM or
  • Religious leaders 2 church archbishops and 24
    bishops are members
  • 3 areas of power Immigration, Health Services,
    and Transportation
  • Not elected, independentreelection concerns
    dont preclude sticky issues (homosexuality,
  • Members cant be expelled
  • Limited legislative functions no veto power over
    Commons, but debates and can delay legislation
    (30 daysfinance, 1 year on other bills). Can
    amend bills but a Commons vote can reverse
  • Law Lords serve as final court of appeals.
    (Pinochet case, extradition to Spain)
  • Law Lords nominated from bar hear appeals but
    cannot declare anything unconstitutional (Human
    Rights Act makes this technically possible, but
    we shall see)

Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • David Cameron (Conservative)2010
  • In coalition with Liberal Democrats
  • Lives _at_ 10 Downing Street head of majority party
    in Commons. Votes less and less in Commons.
  • PM must balance cabinet for internal party
    reasons Cabinet expected to be loyal
  • Most Cabinet members MPs, then junior ministers,
    before ascending to Cabinet. At any one time,
    100 MPs serve in the Executive branch.
  • More Cabinet members resign under duress than in
    the United States (Pym under Thatcher)
  • Cabinet is directly accountable and more
  • Not always expert in their portfolio.
  • More Presidential because of nuclear weapons,
    television, growth of interest groups.

  • Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Foreign Secretary
  • Defense Secretary
  • Home Secretary (police, internal governance)
  • Lord Chancellor (Law Lords, heads judiciary)
  • Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • International Development
  • Work and Pensions
  • Transport, Local Government, and the Regions
  • Health
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales
  • Scotland
  • Trade and Industry
  • Education and Skills
  • Culture, Media, and Sport

British Prime Ministers Since World War II
  • Clement Attlee 1945-1951 Labour, welfare state
  • Winston Churchill 1951-1955 Tory
  • Anthony Eden 1955-1957 Tory
  • Harold MacMillan 1957-1963 Tory
  • Alec Douglas-Home 1963-1964 Tory
  • Harold Wilson 1964-1970 Labour
  • Edward Heath 1970-1974 Tory
  • Harold Wilson 1974-1979 Labour
  • Margaret Thatcher 1979-1990 Tory
  • John Major 1990-1997 Tory
  • Tony Blair 1997-2007 Labour
  • Gordon Brown 2007- 2010 Labour
  • David Cameron 2010-present Tory

Current UK Party Leaders
  • Coalition leadership in govt since 2010
  • Conservatives David Cameron
  • Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg (Deputy PM in
  • Labour Ed Miliband (since 2010)
  • Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru has three Members of
    Parliament at Westminster, no 1 leader
  • Scottish National Party Angus Robertson

The Conservatives
  • Traditionally pragmatic politicians
  • Historically practiced noblesse oblige
  • Opening organization to more democratic processes
    led to Thatchers election
  • Party strong during Thatcher years
  • Since Thatcher, party struggled to find success
  • Party has had five leaders since 1997
  • Today they are stronger contenders because of
    public dissatisfaction with Labour Partyand now
    in power
  • Views on Europe not shared by majority of
    British, aging party leadership (except Cameron)
  • They were flexible and changed policies
  • They emphasized market forces but maintained
    responsibility to poor
  • They have an elitist but effective organization

The Labour Party
  • Began as alliance of unions, socialists, and
    cooperative associations in the early 20th
  • Wanted three things originally 1) Home rule 2)
    Minimum wage increase 3) Prohibition
  • Clause 4 Formally repudiated by Blair
  • Economic crisis and New Left activists led to
    leadership by partys left wing
  • Leaders more interested in electoral success than
    ideology were chosen in mid-80s
  • New Labour Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and
    younger, more moderate leaders took over in

The Liberal Democrats
  • Product of 1987 merger of Liberal and Social
    Democratic parties
  • First past the post system prevent from winning
    as many seats
  • Currently challenging as second-largest party
  • It has capitalized on dissatisfaction with
    conservatives to build base
  • The party has fared better under new leadership,
    especially Nick Clegg

Political ParticipationMinor Parties
  • Rise in Scottish, Welsh, and Irish nationalism
    has led to moderate growth in support for
    regional parties
  • What is devolution?
  • In recent general elections they have often come
    second in their regions
  • Regional parties have always dominated Northern
  • Other minor parties

Margaret Thatcher
  • British disease of de-industrialization, weak
    economy led to Thatcher Revolution in 1979
  • The Old Testament prophets did not say,
    Brothers, I want a consensus. They said, this
    is my faith, this is what I passionately believe.
    If you believe it too, then come with me.
  • Strong relationship with Reagan/Bush
  • Produce before you can consume
  • Neo-Conservative, promoted home ownership, breaks
    to entrepreneurs. Dry conservative, not Wet
  • Powerful wartime PM (Falklands)

The Falklands War
  • Argentine military Junta takes over in 1982, led
    by General Galtieri. They try to play on public
    opinion by seizing Falklands. Falklands
    administered by Britain since 1833, all British
  • April 1982 Invades Falklands (Malvinas Islands
    to Argentinians)
  • Margaret Thatcher determined to get islands back,
    tries diplomacy and UNSC. Not much luck. US
    plays mediator, but backs UK.
  • British naval expedition wins islands back
  • Galtieri deposed by his own people soon after
  • Thatcher soars in popularity.

Margaret Thatcher contd
  • Freed economy from state intervention
    privatization and deregulation. Economy grew by
    leaps and bounds. Silicon Glen
  • Euroskeptic favored common market but not a
  • Gave way to John Major in 1990 after domestic
    issue turbulencepoll tax or tax for every
    adult person to replace property tax. Major
    rescinded the tax.

Tony Blair
  • Neil Kinnockmoved Labour towards center, paved
    way for Blairs third way
  • Won 1997, 2001, and 2005 elections
  • Came in with talk of change, delivered.
  • Eliminated Clause 4 from Labor Party platform
    (societal ownership of means of production)
  • Devolution for Welsh, Scottish, and Irish
  • Advocated House of Lords reform, eliminating
    hereditary peers.
  • Sought to fortify US/Britain relationship (not
    typical of Labour).
  • Favors judicial review being established
  • Wanted Bill of Rights, got it indirectly thru
    EUs ECHR
  • Banned handguns and fox hunting
  • Semi-scandals with wife, oldest son
  • Almost Presidentialnot prima inter pares

The End of the Blair Decade
  • Successes and popularity of first term did not
  • Dissatisfaction with Labour
  • Unpopularity of Iraq war
  • Gordon Brown became PM in June 2007

Gordon Brown
  • Former Chancellor of the Exchequer under PM Blair
  • Prime Minister 2007-2010
  • Kept UK out of Euro with Five Tests scheme
  • Reneged on promise to hold referendum on Treaty
    of Lisbon
  • Nationalized Northern Rock bank, 2008
  • Popularity sank, doomed 2010 election

David Cameron
  • Prime Minister since 2010
  • Devised Austerity budget to cut budget
    deficitincluding military budget (RAF/Navy
    squablle-won by Royal Navy)
  • 2.5 rise in VAT plus massive spending cuts

British Bureaucracy
  • Known as Whitehall DO NOT confuse with
    Westminster (Parliament bldg.)
  • Highly specialized, oversees and fleshes out law.
    Filters info, presents options.
  • Minister, Secretary, Undersecretaries appointed,
    Permanent secretaries stay on job and are elites.
  • British top ministers rotated more frequently
    (remember this was a goal of the U.S. SES)
  • No. 10 Downing Street links to No. 11
    (Chancellor) and No. 12 (Party Whip), as wellas
    Foreign Office

Political Parties in the UK
  • Labour Control since 1997, won 2002 elections
  • Conservative (a.k.a Tories) Lost 1997
    elections, controlled govt 1979-1997. Margaret
    Thatcher and John Major. Current leader David
    Cameron. Pro-status quo, pro-religion. Believes
    in noblesse oblige (obligation of nobility to
    help those less well off)
  • Liberal Democrats. Led by Nick Clegg.
  • Ulster Unionist Party
  • Scottish National Party
  • Welsh parties (Plaid Cymru)
  • Party not in power forms shadow cabinet

British Political Culture
  • Tony Blair has raised consciousness of population
    to idea that they cannot forget Europe.
  • Most significant Lack of antagonism, no deep
    ideological differences among people. Minor
    disagreements only. Society operates on
  • Party voting well disciplined party can deny
  • Referendums not used much in UK (circumvents
    Parliament). Last big one Withdrawal from EC
    (lost), also devolution
  • Overwhelming support for parliamentary system
  • Minor rumblings about monarchy, North Sea oil,
    written Constitution
  • Media more partisan than US papers, exposes
    scandals. Even so, more strictly regulated than
  • UK Conservative, only tiny social movements
    (Chartist movement of 1848). Trafalgar square

Political Culture, contd
  • Oxbridge/ public schools are the way to
    leadership--education very elitist (3 years)
    Also Rhodes Scholarships.
  • Britain used to be a good example of class
    votingnot so much anymore (like Reagan Democrats
    and Clinton Republicans in US). Swing votes key.
    Deferential culture.
  • Heckling common in Parliament (Was even aimed at
    Thatcher at the end, ditch.)
  • Irish Republican Army/Sinn Fein has become less
    of a threat
  • 25 Unionized workforce Trades Union Congress is
    most significant union group, opposed by
    Confederation of British Industry (like US
    Chamber of Commerce)
  • CBI mostly liked Thatcher, except for withdrawal
    of subsidies.
  • Racism an issue, Islam fastest growing British
  • National Health Service probably there to
    staysome success, healthier but costs
  • Created after WW II, British are healthier but
    costs have skyrocketed
  • More bureaucrats than beds
  • Private medical care now had by 13--quietly
    returned legally

The politics of protest toward an uncivic
  • growing unrest in 1970s
  • Northern Ireland a battlefield
  • Urban race riots
  • Radicalization of unions in face of growing
    unemployment and economic decline
  • Renewed activism of anti-nuclear, anti-war
  • polarization of politics and alienation of the

  • QUasi-Autonomous Non Governmental Organizations
  • An ostensibly non-governmental organization which
    performs governmental functions, often with
    government funding or other support
  • The UK government's definition of a
    non-departmental public body or quango in 1997
  • "A body which has a role in the processes of
    national government, but is not a government
    department or part of one, and which accordingly
    operates to a greater or lesser extent at arm's
    length from Ministers."
  • US has them Fannie Mae provides mortgage
  • In UK Press Council and the Law Society, among
    about 600

Foreign Policy
  • 3 circles Former Colonies, USA, European Union
  • British invest heavily in NA assets/interests
  • Not expansion oriented
  • Since 1945, relative ECN/POL decline, with that,
    decline in prestige
  • Joined EEC, 1973 for tariff relief, elimination
    of barriers to trade
  • UK joined EU. Why? 1) Practical necessity 3
    trading blocks of 21st Century are NAFTA, EU,
    Asian-Pacific 2) UK has European interests EU
    moves as one.
  • Tidbit European Declaration of Human Rights is
    first written guarantee of rights in UK!
  • Atlanticist Foreign Policy. April 1982 Falklands
    War, Britain helps in Gulf War, War on Terrorism,
  • Special relationship with US

Major Issues
  • Terror War/Iraq
  • Diplomacy with Iran
  • Global warming
  • Northern Ireland going to backburner Mitchell
    Plan working. IRA disarming. (IRA is military
    wing of Sinn Fein)
  • EU involvement, CFSP???
  • Education
  • Devolution
  • Foxhunting
  • Gay rights (Labour in favor)

Constitutional Changes in the UK Since 1980s
Will there always be a Britain?
  • Identification with the UK has declined in past
    40 years
  • Resurgence of support for regional parties in
    Scotland and Wales
  • Devolution (regional parliaments)
  • Monarchys loss of influence and prestige
  • Increasing racial diversity (most born in the UK)
  • Growing importance of the EU

Learning ObjectivesAfter mastering the concepts
presented in this chapter, you will be able to
  • Gain general knowledge of the history of the
    political system in the United Kingdom.
    Recognize the importance of Magna Carta and the
    role of monarchy in Great Britain.
  • Understand the concept of gradualism while
    analyzing the development of British political
  • Define civic culture and civil society and assess
    the importance of both in the British political
  • Understand the position of Euroskeptics
  • Recognize devolution and its impact on the
    development of British state.
  • Define patterns of collective responsibility in
    the British executive government.
  • Describe British cabinet government.
  • Comprehend the role of the political opposition
    in the British parliament and define the shadow
    cabinet in the functionality of British
  • Understand the nature of parliamentarian
  • Describe the work of British parliament
  • Recognize the specification of British electoral
    system. Learn the difference between
    winner-take-all and proportional representation
    electoral systems.
  • Describe the impact of Margaret Thatcher and Tony
    Blair governments on the political and economic
    system in the United Kingdom.
  • Understand the impact of nationalization and
    privatization on economic and political
    development of the British state.

Learning Objectives, continued
  • Explain how the economic problems faced by
    Britain have had such dramatic political
  • Define and give examples of gradualism within the
    context of British political history.
  • Describe examples of the changes made by Prime
    Ministers Thatcher and Major to the
    political/economic culture of Britain.
  • Describe how New Labour differed from Old
    Labour and from Thatcherism.
  • Identify 4-6 major developments in the creation
    of the current regime.
  • Describe the basic elements of the collectivist
  • Describe several ways in which the civic culture
    of the collectivist consensus broke down in the
  • explain why the three major parties in Britain
    are considered catch-all parties today.
  • identify the main characteristics of the
    Conservative Party that ensured its success and
  • describe the conflict between ideological and
    pragmatic politics within the Labour Party that
    eventually led to Tony Blairs election as party
  • explain in general terms how interest groups
    function in Britain.
  • explain the roles of the parliamentary party, the
    shadow cabinet, and collective responsibility in
    the functioning of Commons.
  • describe the basics of the debates in Britain
    over the countrys relationship with Europe.
  • Be able to analyze the 2010 General Election and
    why the voters removed the Labour Party from
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