United Kingdom of Great Britain and N. Ireland What is a Nation? What is a Nation-State?
Nation • “A group of people who identify themselves as belonging together because of cultural, geographic, or linguistic ties.”
Nation-State • “ A territorial unit controlled by a single state and governed by a single government.”
The Union Flag of the United Kingdom represents the union of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Wales is not represented.)
Historical Overview Current Context David Cameron, the current British PM from the Conservative Party (1966- ) Second Youngest Prime Minister in History
Geographic Setting What do all these names mean? • British Isles • Great Britain • Britain • England, Scotland, Wales • United Kingdom of Great Britain and N. Ireland
What’s in a name? • What political cleavages do you think might exist in the UK just by looking at the name? • A clash of national identities…
Geographic Setting • What are the benefits/challenges of being an island off the coast of Europe? • Natural barrier of protection (important in history) • Close but not too close (to Europe) • A complicated relationship with the EU.
Themes and Implications Why do we study the UK? • 1st nation to industrialize • 1st nation to develop an effective parliamentary democracy. • Because of its huge empire, its political influence on the forms of government established all over the world has been tremendous (the Westminster Model). • It serves as a model of a peaceful and progressive advancement of democracy in a world where transition to democratic systems can be turbulent and unstable.
Themes and Implications • Questions to Consider: • Is the UK a world power or just another middle-of-the road European country? • Can they achieve economic success outside of the European Union? • Will the monarchy survive? • What does it mean to be British?
Critical Junctures • Magna Carta – 1215 • King John gives in to the feudal landowners. • In 1236, the first use of the word “parliament” from the French, meaning “to talk.”
Critical Junctures • Glorious Revolution -1688 • Why this name? • It was a success and it was bloodless. This resolved the religious conflict as well, making the nation a permanently Protestant nation.
Gradualism • By the end of the 17th Century there was a basic form of parliamentary democracy within Great Britain and it has remained ever since, only strengthening over time.
Critical Junctures • Industrial Revolution & the British Empire • In the 19th Century, the British Empire controlled 25% of the world’s population.
Critical Junctures • Collectivist Consensus (1945 - 1979) • After World War II, reconstruction and prosperity took priority over political ideologies. • There was an overall harmony and agreement that the state should take more responsibility in improving the lives of citizens through political means, the “welfare state.”
Critical Junctures • Winter of Discontent (1978-79) • Massive unrest of the labor unions due to huge inflation wage increase restrictions • Jan. 22, 1979 – 1.5 stopped work 140,000 protested in London.
Critical Junctures:Thatcherism • Margaret Thatcher • PM from 1979-1990 • How did she solve the UK’s problems? How did people feel about her?
Critical Junctures:New Labour’s “Third Way” • In 1997, Tony Blair led the Labour party to a landslide victory over the Conservatives. • New Labour offered a third alternative to the collectivist consensus of the past and the Thatcherism of the 80’s and 90’s.
Critical Junctures:New Labour’s “Third Way” • Rejected the traditional models that defined labor & conservative alliancesand promised a new approach to economic, social, and welfare policy. • Faced major hurdles, even early on… • Princess Diana’s death • Peace settlement with Nth. Ireland • Outbreak of Mad Cow disease • September 11, 2001
Neoliberalism • Government policies that encourage competition in business, promote entrepreneurial activity, and create a pro-business environment to attract FDI and spur innovation.
Consensus Era • Keynesianism • An approach to economic policy where the government uses policies to achieve economic growth and control inflation. During recession, the government spends more money to increase employment, investment and increase demand. In times of growth (& inflation) the government cuts spending and reduces credit in order to lessen demand.
Thatcher’s Era • Monetarism • A more hands off approach, where the government does not try to control unemployment but controls inflation. The government will set goals for economic growth and will not resort to running a budget deficit to spur the economy.
New Labour’s Era • New Labour’s Economic Policy • Policies emphasizing economic growth • Using government surplus to increase spending on education, health care, etc. • Tight control of inflation and government spending. • Focusing on the global economy and seeking to improve the UK’s economy through education, training, investment, etc.
Society & Economy • Policies brought forth during the Thatcher years served to increase the gap b/w rich and poor • But since the mid 1990’s these policies have been moderated and there has been a significant redistribution of wealth.
The Global Economy • Increased FDI has led to consistent growth of the British economy • New Labour did not reverse the Conservatives dismantling of the power of labour unions. • Friendly towards globalization, but at what cost?
What is a Constitution? • “a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknow- ledged to be governed.”
British Constitution • To understand the British system of governance you must understand its constitution. • They don’t have a specific, unified, written out constitution. • It is a combination of statutory law (acts of Parliament), common law, and authoritative interpretations. • It is also very old and still contains some of the old ways of doing things. For example, the UK is the only western democracy that permits two institutions of governance gained by unelected heredity.
Parliamentary Sovereignty • Westminister Model - Key Features • Parliamentary Sovereignty • Parliament has supreme power. They can make or overturn any law. The executive, the judiciary, and the Queen can not stop Parliament from action.
Parliamentary Democracy • Parliamentary Democracy • The Prime Minister is selected from within the House of Commons, is answerable to the House, and may be dismissed by the House. • This is much different than an executive who is selected by national election and is separate from the legislative branch of government.
Unitary State • Unitary State • In the UK, no powers are reserved for the sub-central units of government. However, the Labour Party, under Tony Blair, did introduce some significant “devolution” reform, giving some authority to the sub-national legislative bodies.
Westminster Model • Fusion of Powers • Parliament is the supreme legislative, executive, and judicial authority. This includes the crown and both houses of the legislature. • Members of the legislative branch may also serve in the executive or the judicial.
Westminster Model • Cabinet Government • Cabinet members in the Westminster model bear enormous responsibility. They are both members of the legislature and serve in a specific role on the Prime Minister’s cabinet. • Together, the cabinet bears the responsibility for shaping and directing the government.
The Cabinet • @ 2 dozen members • After an election, the Queen invites the new Prime Minister to form a government. • He/She selects minisisters to serve in various capacities.
Cabinet • Functions of the Cabinet • Responsible for formulating policy • The supreme authority of the executive branch. • The PM, in the cabinet, is a “first among equals”
Cabinet-Tug-o-War POV of Cabinet Member POV of PM, -loyal follower - ideological opp. - potential challenge - advocate for agenda PM Cabinet Member District MInistry Party
Cabinet • Collective Responsibility • The idea that the cabinet restrains and “checks” the power of the Prime Minister. • There is only one other official means of accountability on the PM; this is the “vote of no confidence.” in the House of Commons
Cabinet • Does collective responsibility work? Does the PM have too much power? • Under Blair, the power of the cabinet was undermined and weakened. • Blair held short cabinet meetings and made decisions without debating issues before the cabinet. • Blair met with cabinet ministers and advisers in more informal and private meetings to discuss his agenda and gain support.
Linkage Institutions • Any institution that connects the government to its citizens. • For example? • Media, interest groups, and political parties.
Labour Party • Predicted to win in 1992 but lost…uh oh. • John Smith became leader. A Scottish moderate brought in to gain the support of the Nationalist parties. But he died in 1994. (heart attack)