United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland • Includes: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. • Collectively referred to as the UK or Great Britain • Size of Oregon • Approx 60 million residents • Island separated by English Channel
UK • Size and location matter! • As island; no neighboring countries to threaten the UK; being isolated kept country relatively free from conflict/turmoil that affected Euope • No need for standing army • Less taxes (no wars to pay for) • Development of a strong state with low autonomy and high capacity ;
UK History • Conflict between Catholics & Protestants had the potential to divide • 1500’s King Henry VIII (British monarch and Protestant) used Parliament to remove England from the control of the Vatican and Catholic Church.-led to creation of Protestant Church which would be controlled by the UK led to Anglican Church
UK History • Catholics protested, but religion never polarizing split (excepting No. Ireland) • Parliament grows in strength over time under Henry VIII • James (1602) resists Parliament; raises taxes • Son Charles b.m.o.c; flaunts royalty; English Civil War – supporters of Parliament win battle and Charles is executed
UK History • 1649-1660- no monarch; UK is republic known as Commonwealth; led by Oliver Cromwell it becomes military dictatorship. Parliament restores monarchy in 1660 w/Charles II. • 1685 – James (brother of Charles) inherits throne; he’s Catholic; Parliament fears return to Catholicism and send him into exile. • Parliament installs James daughter as monarch; Queen Mary (Protestant)
UK Development • Parliament enacts English Bill of Rights.(1689) • Relationship b/t monarch & state strengthen; creating constitutional monarchy. • Current monarch dates back to 1714; monarch was German who spoke little English; relied on cabinet and his PM. • By late 1800’s, PM’s & cabinet appointed by Parliament- political power of monarch diminished.
Legitimacy & Gradualism • Common law – customs & precedent; long standing traditions stability • Magna Carta (1215) – limited power of monarch; subjecting them to law • English Bill of Rights - guarantees rights of government AND citizens • Collectively, these documents and common law comprise the unwritten Constitution of the UK->Constitution of the Crown
Gradualism • Establishment of Parliament – no universal suffrage; only elites voted • Parliament ->represented elites and consisted of elites w/in society • Rise of political parties ( Conservatives (Tories) and Liberals (Whigs) & expansion of suffrage changed political landscape
Political Culture • Noblesse Oblige – duty of upper classes to be responsible for welfare of lower classes idea of WELFARE STATE; legacy of feudal times when Lords protected serfs. • Collective Consensus –Churchill’s emphasis on putting class differences aside to defeat Hitler. • Beveridge Report –adopted by both parties –made all citizens eligible for health, pension unemployment, etc.
Political Culture • National Health Service (‘48) - created under Labour party • necessity for welfare state led to mixed economy ->gov’t directs economy & nationalizing major industries w/o giving up principles of capitalism • Challenges to welfare state since the 1970’s due to economic and political changes
Political Parties/Labour • Off shoot of Whigs; 1906, politically left. • Began as alliance b/t trade unions & social groups; labor unions provide majority of funds for party • Dominant party after WWII • Socialist ideology ->strong welfare state and some state ownership of industry
Labour • Shift in ideology began in mid 70’s • Moving towards moderate-centrist under Neil Kinnock • Due to economy and change in Britain’s work force w/fewer people engaging in blue collar jobs. • John Smith (1993-94) • Tony Blair (1997 – 2007) • Gordon Brown (2007-2010)
Tony Blair’s Labour • Internal strife leads to defect in members; divisions b/t radical socialists & moderates. • Led to ideological & organization changes • 80’s & 90’s to regain political strength, Labour rewrites party’s constitution ; abandoning commitment to socialism and advocated cross-class apeal • Blair – leads party in ’94.
Tony Blair’s Labour • More moderate approach; centrist alternative to old labor on left and conservative on right • advocated moderate free-market • Reduced influence of trade unions • Introduced minimum wage, Human Rights Act • Brokered Good Friday Agreement in No. Ireland • Devolution
New Labour • Won elections in ’97,’01 and ’05 • War in Iraq Blair’s undoing • Blair resigns as party leader in 2007 • Paving the way for election of Gordon Brown • Labour, however, remains moderate/centrist party w/diverse political base
Labour voters • Working class • Residents of urban/industrial areas • Less educated • Less wealthy
Conservative Party • Dominate party b/t WWII and late 1990’s • Politically right • Pragmatic as opposed to ideological; what’s best for the country • Characterized by noblisse oblige; power is centered in London • Elitist party ; supported market-controlled economy, privatization and fewer social welfare programs
Conservative Party • 1979-1990 Margaret Thatcher – Iron Lady • “Thatcherism” – rightist reforms • Privatized business & industry • Cut back on social welfare programs • Strengthened national defense (staunch anti communist) • Resisted integration into the EU • Returned to market force controls on economy
Conservative splits • traditional (one-nation Tories) value noblesse oblige; wants country ruled by elite who take everyone’s interest into account; supports Britain’s membership in EU • Strict conservatives (Thatcherites) – roll back gov’t controls; Euroskeptics – see EU as threat to British sovereignty • 2010 – David Cameron elected as PM
Conservative Voters • Middle and upper classes • Well educated • Residents of rural and suburban areas
Liberal Democratic Party estab. 1989 • Alternative to Labour and Conservative • Platform: individual freedoms, collective equality, integration w/in EU, opposed to war in Iraq, election reform; want to replace SMD w/proportional representation • Nick Clegg; current deputy PM as part of coalition gov’t in the UK
Party Discipline • Party members support leadership; party id impt NOT the individual MP • When key issue of PM isn’t supported – vote of confidence can be taken; called by party in control OR opposition • if issue isn’t supported cabinet must resign and new elections for all MPs must be held • Motivation for voting party line
Linkage Institutions • Groups that connect gov’t to citizens: political parties, interest groups, print & electronic media • UK – interest group pluralism: autonomous groups that compete w/each other and w/gov’t for influence over state policies; rival groups pressure gov’t to make policies in their favor. • Elements of neocorporatism
Linkage, etc • Neocorporatism (societal corporatism) – interest groups take the lead and dominate the state. AS OPPOSED TO • State corporatism – state approves and protects select interest groups • UK has quangos– quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organizations. Policy advisory boards appointed by gov’t
Linkage, con’t • Work w/gov’t to develop public policy. • TUC – Trade Union Congress – represents coalition of unions • CBI – Confederation of Business Interests • BBC – British Broadcasting Corp – originally monopolized by gov’t. BBC competes w/private stations. Strict regulations: no advertisements sold to politicians, parties or political causes.
PM & Cabinet • “first among equals” • Member of Parliament and leader of majority party • Speaks for all MPs • Chooses cabinet members from MPs • Makes decisions in cabinet w/agreement of ministers; shapes decisions into policy • Campaigns for and represents party
Cabinet • Collective cabinet is center of policy making in British pol sys • As leaders of majority party they take collective responsibility for making policy • All must agree on decisions; if cannot agree individ resigns & returns to Parliament • Cabinet members NOT policy experts; rely on bureaucracy to provide expertise
Elections • MPs are only nat’l officials elected by voters • Must be held at least every 5 yrs; PM may call them earlier • PM sets date for gen’l elections. He asks Queen to formally dissolve gov’t; everyone seeks re-election • Can occur any time • Elections process quick – usually less than month
Elections • Party determines who runs where • MPs don’t usually live in their home districts • Run in safe districts • Approx 70-80% of eligible voters vote • First past the post; single member district w/some representation from minority parties • Scotland & Wales – proportional representation
Parliament • Party w/majority of plurality becomes Majority party; party w/second most is loyal opposition • Majority party formulate policies into legislation • Debate and refine potential legislation • Members may become future party leaders
House of Commons • Long benches facing each other • PM sits in the middle on front bench with majority side, directly across from leader of loyal opposition • Cabinet members sit on front rows on majority side opposite from Shadow cabinet; influential members of opposition party • Back benchers; less influential members of both parties who sit in rear benches
House of Commons • Debate and discussion takes place publically during question time/question hour • Time when PM & cabinet defend themselves from opposition party and members of own party • Speaker of house; presides over debate; often not a member of majority party; • Opposition party is check on power of majority party
House of Lords • Members not directly elected • Life peers; pple appointed to positions as result of distinguished svce • Hereditary peers – seats which have been passed down thru family ties over the years; abolished in 1999 as part of reform • Powers have gradually declined; no one knows quite what to do w/ House of Lords
House of Lords - powers • Delay legislation • Debate technicalities of proposed bill • May add amendments but House of Commons may delete w/simple majority vote • Include 5 law lords who serve as Britain’s highest court of appeals; do not have power of judicial review; limiting authority
The Judiciary • Legal system based on common law • Parliamentary sovereignty – parliaments decisions are final; limits develop of judicial review • British courts; cannot impose their rulings on parliament, the PM or cabinet • Law lords settle disputes from lower courts • Constitutional Reform Act – 2005 created a Supreme Court to take over role of law lords
The Judiciary • Supreme Court – to replace law lords • Final court of appeal; nullifies government actions if they are judged to exceed powers granted by an Act of Parliament, but it cannot declare and Act of Parliament unconstitutional. • Limited in powers. Parliament remains supreme authority.
Citizens, Society and the UK • Homogenous culture; 5% of Britain’s citizens are ethnic minorities. • Historically, major social cleavages based on multi-national identities & issues, social class distinctions and the Protestant/Catholic split in Northern Ireland • New cleavage based on race and ethnicity; tensions b/t Brits and Muslims increasing.
Social Class • Gulf b/t working and middle class very wide • Social class reinforced by education system: public schools trained boys for public life, i.e., military, civil service or politics; expensive; following in parents footsteps – many go on to Oxford or Cambridge – elites in society • Post WWII; scholarships made avail to working and middle class for university.
Political Beliefs & Values (today) • Political culture characterized by: trust, deference to authority and competence, pragmatism and harmony….BUT • Tendency to disagree openly & sometimes violently w/government is becoming acceptable. • Decreased support for labor unions,Thatcherism led to sense of individualism and competition; New Labour led to a middle path & coalition govt.