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The United Kingdom. Making of the Modern British State. Basic Statistics. Area: 243,610 sq. km Natural Resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, Lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, Clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, slate, Arable land Land Use: arable land: 23.2 %

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the united kingdom

The United Kingdom

Making of the Modern British State

basic statistics
Basic Statistics

Area: 243,610 sq. km

Natural Resources:

coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore,

Lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt,

Clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, slate,

Arable land

Land Use:

arable land: 23.2 %

permanent crops: 0.2%

other: 76.5%

Ethnic Groups:

white 92.1% (of which English 83.6%,

Scottish8.6%, Welsh 4.9%, Northern Irish

2.9%), Black 2%, Indian 1.8%, Pakistani

1.3%, mixed 1.2%


Christian (Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist)

71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, unspecified or none 23%

what s in a name
What’s in a name?

United Kingdom- England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Britain- England, Scotland, and Wales

England = England

Good Friday Agreement (1998)

british confusion
British Confusion
  • The four regions can operate very differently:

a. Scotland = own bank notes and legal system; Wales and NI do not

b. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have own soccer teams but play together in cricket and rugby (sometimes)

thinking about britain why is it a core nation
Thinking About Britain- Why is it a core Nation?
  • The incubator (even the originator) of liberal democracy
  • Gradualism

a. Collective Consensus

  • 500 + yrs as one of the world’s great powers
  • Political system is similar to those in other English speaking countries
broad sweep of british history
Broad Sweep of British History
  • 1215- Magna Carta

- end of absolute monarchy

- consent of nobility before imposing taxes or spending money

- created the Great Council

- an early meeting of the minds


16th Century

- Reformation and split b/w Catholics and Protestants

- King Henry VIII softened the blow

  • Glorious Revolution 1688

- King now accountable to Parliament


English Bill of Rights 1689

- illegal for monarch to impose taxes w/ consent of Parliament

- could not enforce law w/out consent

  • Act of Settlement

- procedures for succession to the throne

- King and Queen govern in accordance with laws passed by parliament


Development shaped by gradualism

a. shift of power (gradual) from aristocracy to the people

b. laid foundation of parliamentary democracy

c. first country to industrialize, dominant world power 19thc

d. model for other countries- consolidation of democracy and Westminster model


Magna Carta 1215

a. limited the power of the monarchy and protected rights of feudal barons (King John)

  • English Bill of Rights 1689

a. Limits on power of the crown

b. rights of Parliament

c. freedom of speech in Parliament

d. regular elections

e. right to petition Monarch

f. Reestablished right of Protestants to have arms for their defense


Great Reform Act of 1832

a. Extending voting rights to another 300,000 men.

b. Showed ruling elites willingness to adapt and cede some authority

6. Reform Act of 1867


Representation of the People Act of 1884 and 1885

- working-class men became majority of the electorate

8. 1928 all women had voting rights


Typically described as 2 party system; 2010 coalition gov. w/ Conservative-Liberal Democratic Alliance

David Cameron

Nick Clegg

First formal coalition government in Britain since the 1930s

gradualism and religion
Gradualism and Religion

State sponsored

Official religion

2/3 belong to the church

Receives funding and support

From the State


Political Change



Collectivist Consensus




Thatcher & Major

The Third Way


Blair & Brown



the collectivist consensus
The Collectivist Consensus
  • 1945-1979 “Golden Era”
  • Policy Goals:

- narrow gap b/w rich and poor

- provide basic necessities through education, health care, and other policies of the welfare state

- economic improvement and full employment (4% or less)


Roots lie in WWII

a. Winston Churchill (conservative) forms all-coalition government

1. normal politics suspended (including elections)

2. William Beveridge (conservative)- overhaul Social Service System

a. Every citizen eligible for h.c.

b. Unemployment insurance

c. Pensions


b. 1945- Labour Party wins

c. Next 30 years- both parties enlarged government and differed on how big and how fast it should happen

1. neither discussed restricting size

a. unabated economic growth

b. no real divisive or controversial political “wedge” issue

economics of the collectivist consensus
Economics of the Collectivist Consensus


Deficit spending by the government

Spurs economy

(Demand-side Economics)

New Deal/Stimulus Packages



More capitalistic

Nationalized industry

More socialistic

british political culture
British Political Culture

Collectivist Years

a. Virtual unanimous belief in the regime

b. Public trust in politicians

c. Sense of political efficacy

d. Sense of patriotism

Protest ---”Uncivic” Culture? Aka “The Crisis Years”

a. everything changed in te 1970s

1. The “Sick Man of Europe”

2. uncontrolled gov’t spending, short-termism, gov’t leaders lacked

understanding of economic theory, high unemployment, limited output,

massive inflation ----economy a mess!

3. Strikes made it worse- especially coal

4. 1973 OPEC oil embargo

a. Conservative Policy- 3-Day-Week

5. 1978- “Winter of Discontent”


“Now is the

Winter of our


Richard III

Act 1, Scene 1


This House has


In Her Majesty’s


Labour government (PM Callaghan)

Defeated 311-310

economics of thatcherism monatarism replaces keynesianism
Economics of ThatcherismMonatarism replaces Keynesianism
  • Supply side economics
  • Limited gov’t intervention
  • Reduce social spending, downsize public sector, reduce gov’t. workforce, and privatize industry
  • Cut taxes and let people innovate
thatcherite social policy
Thatcherite Social Policy
  • Less reliance on “the dole”
  • ‘Workfare’ instead of ‘welfare’
  • Change benefits structures of welfare state (means testing and COLA shifts)
  • Cut spending
new labour s third way
New Labour’s Third Way
  • Modernization and recast British politics
  • “third way” alternative

- break from tradition – Labour = unions and working people; Conservatives = business and well to do

- New Labour = expand political base

3. Blair v. Brown

4. Iraq War and economic meltdown


Took on foreign affairs

Took on domestic issues

conservative liberal coalition
Conservative-Liberal Coalition
  • David Cameron
  • Climate change, citizen activism, reduce gap b/w rich and poor
  • 2010- “hung parliament”
  • Cameron and Clegg

- “Big Society”- devolution of power

- local control of schools, recall of MP’s, elect police commissioners, etc.

political economy and development
Political Economy and Development
  • British economy = “two track” pattern

a. strong service sector

b. weak industrial sector

  • Pre-2008 meltdown:

a. low unemployment, low interest rates, low inflation, sustained growth

economic management
Economic Management
  • British Macroeconomic policy

a. Consensus = keynesianism

b. Thatcherite = monetarism

c. New Labour = improve labor quality through education and training; maintain market flexibility, and attract investment

1. control of inflation and limits on public expenditures

d. Coalition Government = deficit reduction

1. cut in gov’t. subsidies for public housing, increase pension age, reduce child benefits for middle class families, 10% cut in welfare benefits, and 20% cut in public spending across board


2. Social Policy

a. reduction of group inequalities not the proper goal of welfare state

b. policies not that generous compared to rest of Europe


2011- administering of health care and managing budgets handed over to

General practitioners


Inequality and ethnic minorities

a. diminished opportunity

b 80% under the age of 45

c. young men targets of police and citizen harassment


a. Inequality by the numbers:

- Full time employee pay gap = 10.2%

- Part time “ “ = -4%

- 2008- 79% of men employed; 70% of women

- 50% of jobs performed by women are part-time; 1/6 performed by men

b. Patterns of women’s employment shaped by chronic undersupply of affordable child care

britain in the global economy
Britain in the Global Economy
  • #1 in Europe for FDI

a. low cost, business friendly, financial incentives, reduced trade union power, and nonunionized recruits

governance and policy making
Governance and Policy-Making
  • Organization of the State

a. parliamentary sovereignty + unitary government + Parliamentary democracy + constitutional monarchy = Westminster Model

b. European Union

1. EU law overrides British law

2. European Court of Justice

c. Unitary State

1. devolution under New Labour


24 + cabinet positions

a. Foreign Office, Home Office, Chancellor of the Exchequer, etc.

b. overlapping membership required

c. loyal followers or ideological combatants

d. PM needs support of majority of cabinet on significant decisions

e. only routine check on PM


Cabinet supported by many institutions

a. Cabinet committees, official committees, treasury, whips from Commons and Lords

3. Fusion of executive and legislature = decisive leadership

bureaucracy and civil service
Bureaucracy and Civil Service
  • Public and Semipublic Institutions

a. Nationalized Industries

1. collective consensus- coal, iron and steel, gas and electric,

2. Thatcher- privatize

b. quangos

other state institutions
Other State Institutions
  • Military and Police

a. ranked among top 5 militaries in world

b. little opposition to use of military in international affairs


2. Judiciary

a. no judicial review

b. highest court of appeal

c. bound to European Court of Justice


3. Subnational Government

a. Westminster controls security, foreign policy, economic policy, trade, defense, and social security of UK

b. Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, North Ireland Assembly

1. education, health, justice

c. effect on parliamentary sovereignty

d. “the West Lothian Question”


4. Policy-making

a. focus on Whitehall

b. primarily executive

c. influence of policy communities

d. impact of EU:

1. 80% of rules on economic life

2. macroeconomic, monetary, and fiscal policy

representation and participation
Representation and Participation

House of Commons:

3 main jobs:

a. Pass laws

b. provide finances for

the state

c. review public admin.

and gov. policy

Other key elements:

Shadow Cabinet


Three-line whip


The Wrekin in


Shropshire within



The House of Lords

Nobility of the rank of duke,

Marquis, earl, viscount, or baron

Archbishops of Canterbury and


Bishops and Archbishops of the

Church of England

Chamber of revision- can refine,

Debate, and delay legislation


1. Life peers

2. hereditary peers

political parties and the party system
Political Parties and the Party System
  • Described as two-party, but actually multiparty

a. rise of the Liberal-Democrats

b. National Parties

  • General elections- House of Commons only

a. PM not directly elected

b. Snap elections

  • Parliament maximum life of five years, with no fixed term

a. 2010- 5 year fixed term subject o dissolution by 55% vote of MPs


First past the post

a. aka winner take all

b. system weakens lesser parties (U.S.)

c. 2010 elections

2010 Results: (Problem w/ 1st past post)

Conservatives – 36.1% = 306 seats

Labour – 29% = 258 seats

Lib Dem – 23% = 56 seats


Proportional Rep v. “the Alternative Vote”

  • 2010 election- record # of ethnic minority and women

a. ranks 73rd for female representation

political challenges and changing agenda
Political Challenges and Changing Agenda
  • Constitutional reform

a. House of Lords

b. Monarchy

c. Executive power relative to the legislature

d. 2011 referendum on voting system


2. Indentities in flux

a. issues of immigration, refugees, and asylum = fear of multiculturalism

b. Muslim relations since 7/7

c. Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses


English Common Law

- no codification of the law

- judicial precedents are binding

- parliament has taken on law-making