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Britain Outline 1

PM: Prime Minister MP: Member of Parliament

Social Compacts & Constitutionalism:
-Traditional legitimacy, belief that hereditary ruling family had the right to rule.
-Except religious conflicts in Northern Ireland, the church doesnt challenge the authority of the
- Rational-legal authority: a system of well-established laws and procedures.
No written constitution but important docs & common law form Constitution of the Crown.
It includes: Magna Carta-King John signed the doc agreeing to consult nobles before making political
Bill of Rights: William and Mary signed it, giving important policymaking power to Parliament.
Common Law: Based on local customs & precedent rather than formal legal codes.

Historical Evolution of National Political Traditions:
-The shaping of the monarchy: Established limited monarchy when King John signed Magna Carta.
During Civil War, Charles I was beheaded. Today, monarchy has no actual power but plays a symbolic role.
-The ascendancy of Parliament: Civil war between Supporters of Charles I (cavaliers) & Parliament
Parliament won CromwellCharles II, James IIGlorious Revolution--Bill of Rights.
In 18th century, Robert Walpole was the 1st prime minister.
-Challenges of the Industrial Revolution: Peasants left rural areas, moved to cities, and went to factories.
-Colonialism: The sun never sets on the British empire huge network of colonial empire.
Industrialization made communications and transportation of raw materials much more efficient.
-20th and 21st centuries: Britains power diminished by WWs. Thatcherism (later). Conserv& Liberal
(pg.100 Geography)

Political Culture: Insularity-feeling of separation from the continent of Europe. Ex. Refusing euro
-Noblesse oblige: duty of upper classes to take responsibility for the welfare of the lower classes.
Reflected willingness to accept a welfare state (National Health Service) and supported Britains colonial
-Multi-nationalism: English with different dialects & Catholic/Protestant conflicts in Northern Ireland.

Political and Economic Change: Gradualism in Britain. Ex: gradual transition from king to Parliament.

Adjusting to the Industrial Revolution: created two social classes: business middle class & laborers.
Franchise broadened to working classes and women-proved that Marxism did not take root.

Extension of Rights to the Common Man: -Labour Party was created 1906 to represent the rights of the
newly-enfranchised working man, and the Conservative Party drew its members from middle-class.
-The Trade Union emerged as a coalition of trade unions. Labour was militant trade unionism w/ social

Reacting to the Loss of Imperialist Powers: After WWs, Britain prepared the colonies for independence.
WWII marks the collapse of old imperialist order and beginning of global hegemony of U.S. and Soviet

Collective Consensus: Labour and Conservative supported welfare system and accepted Beveridge
National Health Service was created under Labour Party. Conservatives didnt repeal the reforms.
Mixed Economy: Gov. directing the economy & nationalizing industries w/out giving up basics of

Challenges to the Consensus: Serious decline in economy along with divide between Labour & Conserv.
Labour wanted socialist economy & serve the labor unions. Conservatives wanted denationalization of
industries and pure market economy.
Britain Outline 2
Economic Crises of the 1970s: Declining industrial production, loss of colonies, impact of OPEC.
Labour Unions demanded higher wages& went on strikes, LP lost membership & many voters turned to

Thatcherism: The famous Iron Lady, Thatcher privatized business & industry, cut back on social
welfare programs, strengthened national defense, got tough with labor unions, and returned to market force
controls on the economy.
-Neoliberalism: Revival of classic liberal values that support low levels of gov. regulation, taxation, and
social expenditures and the protection of individual property rights.
-Refused to join EU.
-She resigned in 1990 when other Conservative Party leaders challenged her authority.
The Third Way and the Big Society
-John Major, Thatchers successor, at first followed her policies but abolished the poll tax, reconciled the EU,
and slowed social cutbacks and privatization.
-1997 Labour Gov, Tony Blair: promised to create a New Labour Party and rule in a third way- a centrist
alternative to the old left Labour Party and right Conservative party (so on the middle with different policy).
His popularity declined after he supported the U.S. in its Iraq War.
-2007 Gordon Brown, a long-time cabinet member, replaced Blair, had hard time convincing British public to
remain loyal to the Labour Party.
The economic recession of 2008 made difficult for Brown to maintain control of the gov.
-Coalition government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats: David Cameron.
His Big Society, energized by volunteers and private organizations, not harnessed by big government.

Citizens, Society, and the State: Homogeneous culture, English is spoken by all citizens. 5% are minorities.

Multi-National Identities:
-England: Contains the majority of the population. Goal is to integrate the nationalities as a whole.
-Wales: West of England. Plaid Cymru: Welsh flag. Language is still alive and currently being taught.
-Scotland: Resisted British until 1600s (James I). Century later two countries agreed to single Parli.
Have their own national flag and Scottish Parliament has recently been revived.
-Northern Ireland: After WWI, Ireland was granted home rule, where Protestants outnumbered Catholics.
Irish Republican Army: used guerilla warfare tactics to allow Irish independence.
1949, Bulk of Ireland became independent but Northern Ireland remained under British rule.

Social Class Distinctions: Distinctions between rich and poor have always been important.
Today the most important distinction is between working and middle-class people.
-Ralf Dahrendorf explained the divide with solidarity of the working class which says:
Keeping the old job and living in the old neighborhood is more important than individual success.

-Many of the elites have gone to public boarding schools.
-The most important portal to the elite is going to Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge Universities).
-Number of universities has grown, however the Parliament recently raised the max. tuition fee,
making higher education less accessible to many students.

Ethnic Minorities: Only about 7.1% of British population is non-European origins.
The main minorities: -India: 23% of all non-European population.
-Pakistani: 16%
-Black African-10.5 %
-B/C tight immigration policies, most ethnic minorities are young.
However, percentages of minorities have grown despite the restrictions that were placed.
-Whites are leaving London to settle in suburban areas resulting higher % of minorities in London.

Britain Outline 3
Muslim Minorities: Major attack in 2005, schemes foiled in 2006, car-bombings in 2007
Distinct minority/majority cleavages: Muslims are minority distinct from the Europeans.
Interestingly, many people in U.S. are immigrants and the majority of white Americans.
Social class differences of Muslims: Many British Muslims are disaffected and unemployed.
Many are the children of illiterate workers in cheap industrial labor.
Pakistani Muslims: The largest British Muslims come from Pakistan.
B/c Osama bin Laden are found in Pakistan, some scholars think that British Muslims are
more linked to al-Qaeda than they are in other European countries.
Lack of integration of minorities: Muslim girls may attend classes in full hijab, but many
minorities feel as if they are treated as second-class citizens.

Immigrants from Eastern Europe: -Influx of immigrants from eastern Euro countries that joined EU in 2004.
-Better job opportunities in Britain; however the recession in 2008 led many newcomers to return home since
the job market withered. Still, job market has been even worse in eastern Europe.
-Gordon Brown called for British jobs for British workers before his resignation.

Political Beliefs and Values: -In the 1960s, Civic culture (political culture) in Britain was characterized by
trust, deference to authority and competence, pragmatism, and harmony.
-The economic crisis of 1970s and conflicts w/ N Ireland challenged this view.
-British citizens are less supportive of the collective consensus & more inclined to free market economy.
-Politics of Protest: the tendency to disagree openly and sometimes violently with the government.

Some changing political beliefs and values include:
Decreasing support for labor unions: Unions staged strikes during the 1970s, and public
opinion turned against them, viewing unions as bullies to gov. and general population.
Increased violence regarding Northern Ireland:
In Jan. 1972, British troops killed 13 Catholics in a bloody Sunday incident.
IRA and Protestant paramilitaries stepped up their campaigns of violence.
Thatcherism: She rejected collectivism and its emphasis on the redistribution of resources
from rich to poor and government responsibility for full employment.
-Fostered entrepreneurial values of individualism and tradition of noblesse oblige.
New Labour: Tony Blair led Good Friday Agreement on NI.
Conserv. and Labour were inclined to middle path, or third way. Ex: Coalition gov.
Protests over the Iraq War: Labour MPs withdrew their support for Blairs policy in Iraq.

Voting Behavior: More than 70% of the eligible citizens normally vote in parliamentary elections.
Social Class: Labour-working class. Conservatives-middle class.
-The Labour is strongest among people who feel disadvantaged: Scots, Welsh and poor.
-Today, the distinctions between Labour and Conserv. are blur which left room for Liberal
Democrats to compete for votes in all social classes.
Regional factors: Industrial areas of north & central London support Labour.
Rural and suburban areas support Conservatives.

Political Institutions: Monarch as head of state, prime minister & cabinet from policymaking center.
Parliamentary system: prime minister and cabinet ministers are actually members of legislature.

Linkage Institutions: political parties, interest groups, and media connected the gov. to Brit. citizens.

Political Parties
In 18
century, the parties were simply caucuses, meetings of people from same area or of like mind.
Tories (supporting king) and Whigs (opposing) first appeared under Charles II.
Tories became the Conservatives and were Irish bandits. Whigs were the Liberals and Scottish bandits.
-2010 Hung Parliament, which no party gained a majority and a collation government formed.

Britain Outline 4
The Labour Party: Began as alliance of trade unions and socialist groups that were strengthened by
expansion of rights for the working class during 19
-Early history was defined by Clause 4 that called for nationalization of commanding heights of
British industry.

-Neil Kinnock John Smith Tony Blair (1994-2007) Gordon Brown (2007-2010) Ed Miliband
-Lost 1992 election- Neil Kinnock stepped down and John Smith, a moderate Scotsman, was
appointed to gain support from Scottish. Smith suddenly died in 1994, and Blair became the leader.

-Won the elections of 1997, 2001, and 2005 and redefine itself as moderate party to appeal to public.
-In election of 2010, Labour party lost and Gordon Brown left the leadership to Miliband, whose
political preferences appeared to be left of center.

The Conservative Party: Dominant party in Britain between World War II and 1997.
-Supported market-controlled economy, privatization, and fewer social welfare programs under
Thatcher, but they moved back toward the center under Prime Minister John Major (1990-1997).
-Traditional wing (Tories): Noblesse oblige, country controlled by elite that takes everyones interest.
-Thatcherite wing: Gov. control w/ free market. Euroskeptics b/c EU is threat to Britain sovereignty.
-Current party leader and prime minister is David Cameron who won in 2010 election by forming a
coalition government with Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg as deputy Prime Minister.

The Liberal Democrats: Liberals and Social Democrats formed an alliance as Liberal Democrats.
-Won impressive votes but single member district plurality voting system, it won few seats in MP.
-Campaigned for proportional representation which give them an equal of percentage of MP seats.
-Ashdown gained some popularity in 1992 Charles Kennedy Nick Clegg-criticized Labour for it
erosion of individual civil liberties, a stand that party has long supported.

Other Parties: Plaid Cymru in Wales, Scottish National Party won seats in House of Commons.
-Labour is still strong in these regions.
N Ireland is dominated by regional parties such as Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party
(led by Protestant clergy man.)
-British National Party: never been represented in MP. Was anti-Semitic but now turned to Muslims.
-UK Independence Party: Opposition to British membership in the EU.

Elections: British voters only select the members of Parliament.
Prime minister is elected as an MP from single electoral district instead of direct vote as PM.
-Elections held every 5 years, but the PM may call them earlier (when best chance of winning).

The Plurality Electoral System: Winner take-all elections with no run off, meaning the person with
the most votes gets the position even if he/she does not receive the majority of votes in that district.
-Also known as first past the post.
-Exaggerates the size of the victory of the largest party and reduces the influence of minor parties.

-Nick Clegg called for referendum on alternate vote (AV) which allowed voters to rank candidates on
the ballot in order of preference.
IF no candidate has more than 50 % of the votes, the votes of least popular candidate would be
redistributed. The votes are repeatedly redistributed until someone crosses the 50% line.
-The Labour leader, Miliband, supported the AV, but Conservatives and many Labour MPs opposed it.

Elections for Regional Governments:
-Good Friday Agreement: Britain agreed to give N Ireland a regional government in which all
parties would be represented on a proportional basis.
Religion-based parties with # of representatives would match the # of total vote each received.
-Scotland Wales agreed to proportional representation, which caused no clear majority party.
Britain Outline 5
European Parliament Elections: Britain participates in the elections to the EU Parliament.
-Held every five years buy EUs member states. -Members elected using proportional representation.
-2009 EU election: Conserv. with the most, drop in Labour.

Campaign Financing: In 2006(Blair) major political parties were investigation for campaign financing.
-2 areas were: peerages (seats in the H of Lords) & disclosure of non-commercial loans.

Interest Groups: Advanced democracies have interest group pluralism with relatively autonomous
groups competing with one another for influence in policy making.
-Another pattern is neo-corporatism which interest groups take the lead and dominate the state.

-Quangos (quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organizations), or policy advisory boards appointed
by government. They together with gov. officials to develop public policy.
They were once weakened by Thatcher but still over 5000 organizations work.

-Class & Industrial interests: Business interests & trade unions competed for policymaking process.
-Trade Unions Congress: coalition of unions which gov. often consulted them on important decisions.
-Chancellor negotiated with TUC & Confederation of Business Industries to limit wage demands.

The Role of the Media: Radio and tv were originally monopolized by BBC. Now there are 5 stations.
-The Gov. strictly regulates the BBC and the commercial stations.

BBC and Government Relations:
Iraq War: BBC reporter wrote that Iraqi forces could bring mass destruction within 45 minutes but
was based on false intelligence. The conflict grew when Michael Kelly (weapons inspector)
committed suicide. Tony Blair appointed judge Lord Hutton to investigate his death and the judge
exonerated the Blair government and criticized BBC for reporting.

The Labour government continued to support the BBC with a license fee levied on any household in
Britain with tv that receives broadcasts. The fee allowed BBC to control tv and internet.
The Conservatives had been critical of raising the license fee and advocated for more transparent BBC.

Media Scandal of 2011:
Phone-Hacking: The News of the World tabloid hacked the cell phone of murdered 13 yr-old.
David Cameron called for investigation but his credibility was questioned b/c his former media chief
was questioned and arrested by police.
-Brought the relationship between gov and media into question.

The Institutions of National Government: -3 branches of government and bureaucracy.
-Legislature is divided into two houses.
-Parliamentary system: executive branch is fused with legislative branch b/c prime minister and the
cabinet are actually the leaders of parliament; no separation of powers.
-Unitary state which decisions are made by central gov.

The Cabinet and the PM: -Cabinet members are party leaders from Parliament chosen by PM.
-Collective cabinet: Center of policy-making in the political system and PM shapes their decisions.
-The leaders of party are elected by people and they take collective responsibility for making policy.
-The PM is first among equals but stands at the apex of the unitary government.
-The PM is not directly elected by the people but is a MP and leader of majority party.
Speaks legitimately for all MP.
Chooses cabinet ministers and important subordinate posts.
Makes decisions in the cabinet with the agreement of the ministers.
Campaigns for and represents the party in parliamentary elections.

Britain Outline 6
The House of Commons: The party wins a plurality at the polls become the majority and the 2

party becomes the loyal opposition.

Set-up of the House of Commons:
The PM sits on the front bench of the majority side in the middle.
The majority party may vote to change their leader and the PM will change.
The Shadow Cabinet faces the majority on the opposition side.
The Back-Benchers are the less influential MPs and sit opposite & far away from the table.

The Question Time happens once a week: The PM and his cabinet must defend against attack
from the opposition.
The Speaker of the house presides over the debates and is not often member of the majority.
The opposition is seen as the check on the majority power.

Party Discipline:
Vote of no confidence: If party members do not support their leadership, the gov. may fall b/c it
lacks legitimacy. If the issue is not supported, the cabinet must resign and vote for new MPs.
-Recently occurred in 2005 when Labour Govs Higher Education Bill was almost rejected.
-The policymaking power of the House is limited b/c gov decisions are ratified by cabinet not MP.
Near collapse of Labour questioned parliamentary sovereignty (Parliaments decisions are final.)

The House of Lords: Britain is bicameral but it doesnt operate b/c H of Lords have little power.
-The only hereditary parliamentary house in existence.
-The only remaining powers are to delay legislation & debate technicalities of proposed bills.
-Five law lords who served until 2009 as Britains highest court of appeals but they could never
rule acts of Parliament unconstitutional.
-Life peers, people appointed to nonhereditary positions by distinguished service to Britain.
-Today, only 92 hereditary seats remain and 567 are life peers.

-In 2007, House of Commons voted to replace the Lords with elected chamber, but the House of
Lords rejected the proposal and voted for entirely appointed House of Lords.
-Criticism of British parliamentary system is lack of separation between PM & the legislature.

The Bureaucracy: Top civil servants have great deal in policymaking, including discretionary
power to make many decisions in implementing legislative and executive decisions.
-Never run for public office and are usually not active in party politics.

The Judiciary:
-Parliamentary sovereignty limited the development of judicial review.
-Courts can only determine whether gov. decisions violate the common law or previous Parl. acts.

-In 2009, the law lords (highest court in the land) were replaced by Supreme Court.
-Its chief function is to serve as the final court of appeal on points of law in cases.
-It cannot declare an Act of Parliament unconstitutional.

-Judges are independent impartial and neutral. They are appointed on good behavior but
expected to retire when they reach 75.

-Since Britain is bound by EU, the judges interpret the EU laws and determine whether EU
conflicts with parliamentary laws.

Britain Outline 7
Public Policy and Current Issues:
The evolving relationship between gov. and the economy:
-Britains political economy is liberalism, the philosophy that emphasizes political and economic
freedoms for the individual and the market.

-Keynesianism: gov. takes action to secure employment, expand social services & control economy.
-Thatcher reversed this by neo-liberalism, revival of old political & economic philosophy of
liberalism, and moved toward free market economy and denationalization of industries.

-Blair teamed with Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer (treasury) succeeded in bringing Britains
misery index (inflation + unemployment) down to a new low.
-The recession in late 2007 caused GDP growth to slow down and the gov. had to cut the budget.
-Cameron advocated his Big Society, which emphasizes greater roles for private companies,
charities and employee-owned cooperatives.

-The Liberal Democrats which formed coalition with Conservatives, suffered criticism for drastic
reductions in public spending. Ex: Raising the maximum fees English universities can charge.

-Current debate is about National Health Service:
British population is much healthier and the working class has benefited.
NHS is challenged by the aging population, a general trend in most mature democracies today.
-Private medical care is becoming more common, but many Britons want to keep the NHS.

Transparency in Government:
-The Daily Telegraph reported huge amounts of personal expenses charged to the government.
-The British public reacted strongly against these exposures.
-Brown called for end to the functioning of Parliament as gentleman club that makes its own rules
on members benefits.
-Some suggested to reduce number of MPs, primary elections to select parliamentary candidates, and
parliamentary committees with real powers of oversight and investigation.

Relations with the EU: When Britain decided to enter in 1960s, France vetoed it twice.
-Britain finally joined the Common Market in 1978.
-Thatcher opposed to adoption of the euro in place of the pound.
-John Major signed the Maastricht Treaty that created the EU.
-The Labour government openly advocated adoption of the euro but backed away in 2005.
-Many British citizens expressed their disapproval of the EU in 2009.

Terrorism and Violence: British Muslim suicide bombers attacked the London transit system in 2005.
-In 2006 and 2007, several car bombs exploded: Brown reacted the attacks by affirming his gov.
commitment to nonviolence and taught Muslim religious classes that emphasized nonviolence.
-The program has been criticized for signing out young Muslims for civic lessons.

Relationship with the U.S.: Tony Blair sought to develop UK to play central role in Europe but
maintain a special relationship with the U.S. As a result, he supported Iraq War.
-The war damaged relationship with France and raised questions about special relationship with U.S.
-With Barak Obama, the direction of U.S./ British relations is positive.

Devolution and Constitutional Reform: Conflicts w/Wales, Scots & N Ireland suggested devolution.
The Labour party support devolution, turning over some political powers to regional governments.
-Good Friday Agreement: a parliament was set up for N Ireland, but it was shut down for violence.
-In 2009, Two British soldiers were killed by republican terrorists and protest rallied in N Ireland.
-Devolution also included giving the city more independence from the central gov. over its affairs.
-Other reforms include written Bill of Rights & constitution, freedom of info & new electoral system.