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Geography and Political Boundaries of the United Kingdom


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Title: Geography and Political Boundaries of the United Kingdom

Geography and Political Boundaries of the United
  • Norman conquest in 1066
  • Institutions developed which are characteristic
    of Britain
  • political, administrative, cultural and economic
    center in London
  • a separate but established church
  • a system of common law
  • distinctive and distinguished university
    education and
  • representative government.

  • The government of Great Britain has developed
    gradually, so that tradition is a primary source
    of stability
  • Great Britains constitution is unwritten having
    evolved from different documents, common law,
    legal codes, and customs often referred to
    collectively as the Constitution of the Crown
    (Constitutional Monarchy)
  • Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are central
    documents in the formation of the British

Historical Evolution of British Politics
  • Magna Carta(1215) King John agreed to consult
    the nobles before he made important decisions, in
    particular regarding taxes
  • Limited government restrictions on the monarch
    began with the Magna Carta
  • 1236 Parliament first used, by 15th century
    gained right to make laws

Historical Evolution of British Politics Part II
  • English Civil War (1640s) civil war between the
    supporters of King Charles I and Parliament
  • Roundheads won, Charles I is executed
  • Oliver Cromwell leads during this time until
    Parliament reinstates the monarch (Charles II)
  • The Glorious Revolution (1688) officially
    established Parliament as the ruling body of
    Great Britain. The agreement signed between
    William Mary and Parliament was known as the
    Bill of Rights
  • The Revolution also replaces the Catholic James
    II with the Protestant William and Mary
  • Oddly enough, Britons have also become more
    secular and religious indentification has very
    little to do with voting behavior

Historical Evolution of British Politics Part III
  • 1750s Industrial Revolution
  • Great Britain evolves from feudal society to one
    dominated by colonial mercantilism
  • Imperialism
  • Trade

British Expansion and Empire
  • Foreign trade
  • Sea power protected English trade and opened up
    new routes
  • British empire roughly one-fifth to
    one-quarter of the worlds area and population.
  • Colonies contributed to the UKs economic growth
    and strengthened its voice in world affairs as
    well as developing and broadening its democratic
    institutions at home.

The Sun Never Sets
Geography and Political Boundaries of the United
Great BritainEngland, Scotland, Wales United
Kingdomadd Northern Ireland
Political Culture
  • Geography
  • Island
  • Small in size
  • No major geographical barriers
  • Temperate climate
  • Short supply of fertile soil

Great Britain
  • North of the boundary
  • Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol
  • Most beautiful, most economically deprived
  • South of the boundary
  • Longer rivers, higher density population
  • Wealthiest and most influentialLONDON

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Regionalism in the UK
  • English constitute 80 of the UK
  • Britain viewed as fairly homogeneous until the
  • Greater demands for cultural autonomy and respect
    for cultural traditions evident recently in the
  • Idea of internal colonialism and electoral growth
    of national parties

Regionalism in the UK
  • Each countryown flag, own country, own culture
    (even languageWales)
  • Unification under the Crown
  • Wales 1535
  • Ireland 1542
  • Scotland 1603

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  • Became subject to the King of England in 16th
  • Located west of England
  • Plaid Cymru Welch national political party
  • Strong sense of national pride reflected in their
    flag and in their own language
  • Granted their own assembly (devolution) in 1997
    as part of the Third Way

Welsh Assembly
  • First Parliament since 1404
  • Referendum Vote
  • 2003New Chamber

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  • History of resistance to English rule
  • Strong sense of national identity
  • Have their own flag
  • Recently granted their own parliament and
    regional assembly (devolution)
  • Scottish National Party political party of the
    region of Scotland

  • Scottish Parliament
  • 129 members (SMD and PROP)
  • 40 women
  • Scottish National Party (SNP)
  • SNP received 30 of Scottish vote in 1974

Northern Ireland
  • Created 1922
  • 6 Counties in Northern IrelandUlster
  • Protestants v. Catholics
  • 1968Bloody Sunday
  • 1972British Governor at Stormont

Northern Ireland
  • The Troubles
  • Sinn Fein and the IRA
  • The Real IRA
  • Ulster Unionists and Ulster Defense Front

Northern Ireland
  • Long history of conflict between England and
    Ireland, particularly over religion
  • After the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell
    attempted to impose Protestantism on the mostly
    Catholic Ireland
  • After WWI home rule was granted to Ireland except
    for the northeast corner where Protestants
    outnumbered Catholics, 60 to 40
  • Home rule was granted largely because of the
    Irish Republican Army (IRA) which used guerrilla
    tactics against British forces to secure
  • Sinn Fein political party of the IRA
  • In 1949 the bulk of Ireland officially became
  • Northern Ireland remains under British control
  • There continues to be a great deal of conflict
    between Catholics and Protestants in Northern
  • 1998 Good Friday Accord-Agreed to power sharing
  • Fell apart after the IRA couldnt prove they were

British Political Culture Tradition and
  • Also characterized by
  • Pragmatism
  • Faith in the System
  • Social Liberalism

Political Culture
  • Political Culturegeneral political attitudes and
    orientation of the population. Refers to the
    collection of political beliefs, values,
    practices, and institutions that the government
    is based on.
  • Political Culture is.
  • Emotional feeling about political world
  • Evaluation of government performance
  • 12 individual adopting certain expectations of
    government. Issue again is of legitimacy

Political Culture Part II
  • Insularity
  • Feeling of separation, in particular from the
    continent of Europe
  • Sense of exceptionalism
  • Has created friction with the EU
  • Different from isolationism

Political Culture Part III
  • Noblesse Oblige
  • Important tradition in British politics
  • The duty of the upper classes to take
    responsibility for the welfare of the lower
  • Legacy of feudal times (Lords protected serfs)
  • Reflected in willingness of British citizens to
    accept a welfare state
  • Margaret Thatchers administration challenged
    this by significantly cutting social services and
    social welfare programs

Political Culture Part IV Multi-nationalism
  • Although Britain has a relatively large amount of
    cultural homogeneity (Anglo/white) it is divided
    into four nations
  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

Ethnic Minorities
  • Make up about 8 of the British population
  • Indian (23)
  • Pakistani (16)
  • Afro-Caribbean (13)
  • Black African (11)

Political Culture Part V Extension of Voting
  • Great Reform Act of 1832 About 300,000 men
    gained right to vote, House of Commons gained
    more power in relation to House of Lords
  • Reform Act of 1867 electorate reaches 3 million,
    many working class people allowed to vote
  • Representation of the People Act of 1884
    electorate is further expanded to make sure that
    majority of electorate is working class
  • Womens Suffrage all women over the age of 28
    and all men over 21 granted the right to vote in
    1918. By 1928, all women over 21 allowed to vote.

Political Culture Part VI
  • Collectivist Consensus
  • 1945-1970s when both parties agreed to many
    policy goals such as full employment, social
    services for all, working with labor unions,
    government intervention for economic growth
  • Beveridge Report issued in 1942 which called for
    a social insurance program that every citizen
    would be eligible for National Health Service
    (1948) created under the leadership of the
    Labour Party
  • Collectivist consensus did not survive because of
    a steady decline in economic growth in the 1970s

  • British government is a unitary system
    (centralized control)
  • Starting in the 1970s the Scots and Welsh made an
    aggressive push for certain political autonomy in
    their regions
  • Devolution the turning over of some political
    power and autonomy to regional governments
  • The Labour Party had supported the idea of
    devolution since the 1970s
  • Margaret Thatchers administration blocked the
    idea during the period in which they controlled
  • Under Tony Blairs New Labour Party the idea of
    devolution was revisited
  • In 1999, referendums in Scotland and Wales
    successfully passed, and each established their
    own regional assemblies powers of taxation,
    education, and economic planning
  • In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement established a
    parliament for Northern Ireland as well, but it
    was shut down by London in 2003 when violence
    broke out once again in the region of Northern

Education Political Elite Recruitment
  • Public schools originally were intended to
    train boys for public life in the military,
    civil service, or politics (schools are expensive
    and private)
  • Majority of Britains political elites go to
    public boarding schools
  • Currently only about 65 of British 17-year olds
    are still in school, the lowest number of any
    industrialized society
  • Oxbridge (Oxford-Cambridge) the most important
    portal to membership in the elite classes and
    political recruitment is through these two
    prestigious universities

Linkage Institutions
  • Political Parties
  • Interest Groups
  • Media
  • Print
  • Electronic

Interest Groups
  • Between 1945-1980, business interests and trade
    union organizations fiercely competed for
    influence over the policy-making process
  • Trade Union Congress (TUC) represents coalition
    of unions, had great deal of political power at
    one time and government often consulted them on
    important policy decisions traditionally
    aligned with Labour Party
  • Coalition of Business and Industry (CBI) a
    coalition of business groups and private
    interests, usually supportive of the Conservative

  • British newspapers reflect social class divisions
  • They are divided between quality news and
    comments that appeal to the middle and upper
    classes, and mass circulation tabloids that
    target working and lower classes
  • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Sought
    to educate citizens
  • Usually respectful of government officials
  • Had significant clash with Blair government in
    2003-2004 over policies regarding the Iraq War

Labour Party
  • Largest party on the left of political spectrum
  • Began in 1906 as alliance between trade unions
    and social groups that were strengthened by
    expansion of workers rights
  • Traditionally labor union have provided majority
    of funds for the party
  • Early history of the party defined by
    controversial Clause 4 that called for
    nationalization of the commanding heights of
    British industry
  • Trade Union Council (TUC) a coalition of trade
    unions generally associated with the Labour
    Party, has traditionally been a force in British
  • Growing moderation of the party reflected by
    removal of clause in early 1990s

Labour Party in 1990s
  • Shift in policies toward more centrist views
  • Shift in political platform originated with Neil
    Kinnock, party leader in the 1980s
  • Moderate-centrist views have continued under
    leadership of John Smith (1993-94) and Tony Blair
  • Tony Blair adopts Third Way platform and
    creates New Labour Party
  • Was led by Gordon Brown

Third Way
  • Moderate
  • Centrist alternative to Old Labour Party on
    left and Conservative Party on right
  • Initiated by Tony Blair in the late 1990s
  • Attempting to redefine and balance following
    policy issues
  • Evolving relationship between government
  • British relationship with EU
  • Balancing act between the United States and
    European Union
  • Devolution

Labour Party and Tony Blair in 1997
  • Won 418 of 659 seats
  • Signals demand for constitutional change
  • Devolution
  • Elected Mayor of London
  • Removal of voting rights of hereditary peers in
    House of Lords
  • Freedom of Info. Act
  • Electoral Reform

Conservative Party
  • Dominant party in Great Britain between WWII and
    late 1990s
  • Main party on the right
  • Traditionally pragmatic as opposed to ideological
  • Historically has supported a market controlled
    economy, privatization, and fewer social welfare
    programs symbolized by Margaret Thatcher in
  • Under Prime Minister John Major (1990-1997)
    gravitated towards center and away from

Conservative Party II
  • Characterized by Noblesse Oblige
  • Power centered in London
  • Party organization viewed as elitist
  • Leadership must submit to annual leadership
  • Weakened by division of party in late 1990s
  • Traditional Wing(one-nation Tories) values
    noblesse oblige and elitism, supports Britains
    membership in EU
  • Thatcherite Wing strict conservatives, support
    full free market, known as Euroskeptics, feel
    EU threatens British sovereignty

  • Rightist reforms instituted by Margaret Thatcher
    in 1980s
  • Privatized business and industry
  • Cut back on social welfare programs
  • Strengthened national defense (staunch
  • Got tough with labor unions in response to Labour
    Parties distinct movement left, which had
    strengthened labor unions politically
  • Returned to market force controls on the economy
  • Resisted complete integration into the European
  • Replaced property tax on houses with a poll tax
    on individual adults
  • Froze income tax increases
  • Foreign policy dominated by securing British
    interests internationally

T.I.N.A Thatcher and MAJOR
Liberal Democratic Party
  • Alliance between the Liberal and Social
    Democratic Parties during the 1980s
  • Formally merged in 1989 into Liberal Democratic
  • Attempted to create strong in the middle
    compromise to the two dominant parties
  • Won a party high 26 of vote in 1983, but because
    of single-member district plurality system only
    secured 23 seats in Parliament
  • Secured only 62 MP seats in 2005 even though they
    won 22 of the popular vote
  • Also managed to gain support in reference to
    their stance on issues such as health, education,
    the environment, and the Iraq War

Other Parties
  • Scottish National Party
  • Plaid Cymru Welch nationalist party
  • Sinn Fein political arm of the IRA
  • Democratic Unionist Party led by Protestant

  • Members of Parliament (MPs) are the only national
    officials that British voters select
  • Elections must be held at least every 5 years,
    but Prime Minister may call them earlier
  • Officially elections occur after the Crown
    dissolves Parliament, but that always happens
    after the Prime Minister requests it
  • Power to call elections very important the
    Prime Minister always calls elections when they
    think that the majority party has the best chance
    to win

Elections II
  • Winner-take-all system
  • Single-member district plurality system
  • Each party selects a candidate to run for each
  • First-past-the-post winner (or winner take all)
  • MPs do not have to live in the district in which
    they are running, therefore party selects who
    runs in what districts
  • Party leaders run from safe districts or
    districts that the party almost always wins
  • Political neophytes are selected to run in
    districts the party know it will lose
  • They are usually happy just to receive more votes
    than the party usually gets in that district

Voting Patterns
  • Conservative Party
  • Middle and upper classes
  • Educated
  • Residents of England, mostly rural and suburban
  • Labour Party
  • Traditionally supported by working class
  • Residents of urban and industrial areas
    (Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle)
  • Third Way centrist policies have made Labour
    Party appealing to Scots, Welsh, and the poor

U.S. vs British Elections
  • Great Britain
  • Party determines who runs where
  • Members usually dont live in their districts
  • Party leaders run in safe districts
  • Individual votes for only one official on the
    national level
  • About 70 to 80 percent of the eligible voters
    actually vote (number was less in 2001 2005)
  • First-past-the-post, single-member districts
    some representation from minority parties, but
    still less than if they had proportional
  • United States
  • Parties are less powerful
  • Members must live in districts
  • Party leaders run in their respective districts
  • Individual votes for four officials on national
  • Between 30 and 60 percent of the eligible voters
    actually vote
  • First-past-the-post, single-member districts
    virtually no minor parties get representation

Current Events
  • 2001,2005 Election
  • New Labour Again
  • Change in Conservative Leadership
  • Blair being to presidential
  • Gordon Brown new PM

Rise of David Cameron
Election of 2010
  • Elections were held May 6th 2010
  • The Conservatives won more seats, but were _at_ 20
    seats short of a full majority of 326
  • The first hung Parliament since 1974
  • Gordon Brown resigns on May 11 to the Queen and
    asks her to call David Cameron
  • Cameron announces a coalition government begin
    formed with the Liberal Democrats and appoints
    Nick Clegg as the Deputy Prime Minister

Election Results for House of Commons