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Britain - San Mateo County Community College District

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Britain
History—settling and invading
populations
• Settled by Celts
• Roman invasions, then Angles and Saxons
• 1066 Conquered by Dukes from North of
France
History—first limitations on king’s
powers
• 1215 Nobles force the concessions in Magna
Carta
Age of Absolutism
• Henry VIII and daughter Elizabeth cow
opposition
Reaction against (Catholic) Absolutism
• 1640-60 Civil War and rule by Republic—
giving way to protectorate under Cromwell
• Then restoration
• 1688 Glorious Revolution
• Bill of rights
Imperial Conquests and naval
superiority
Territory--Wales
• Annexed in 15th century
• Since 1998 devolved a Welsh Assembly with
limited powers
Territory--Ireland
• Conquered by Cromwell
• Independent in 1920—except mostly
protestant northern Counties
• “The troubles”
• 1998 Good Friday Agreement
Territory--Scotland
• 1707 United with England
• 1998 granted its own parliament and some
powers of taxation
Decolonization
• First US, Ireland, then India and all
Parties—early history
• Maybe invented parties in 1600s—Tories and
Whigs
• In 19th C, became mass parties—eventually
Tories and Labor
• Essentially two party system—single member
districts—”constituencies”
Parliament
• House of Commons
• 646 Constituencies for (max) 5 year terms
• No confidence vote or call for early elections
• House of Lords
• Power to delay
• Phasing out inherited peers
Parliamentary and Cabinet govt
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Leader of largest party becomes PM
Either alone, or in coalition forms the govt
Chooses fellow ministers—pment has no say
“backbenchers”
“fusion of powers”
Shadow government
“question time”
Monarchy
• “Invites” leader of winning party to form a
govt, and disbands Parliament for elections.
• Assents to legislation
• Politically “neutral”
• popular
Constitution
• Almost unique among democracies for having
no “written” constitution
• Consists of laws, judicial decisions, customs
• Even experts disagree what is in it
Judiciary
• No judicial review
• But European Court of Human Rights can
invalidate British laws and court decisions
• Beginning 2009 a Supreme Court of Great
Britain will take over from house of Lords as
highest court of appeal
Class—upper, middle, working
• Especially distinct—work, language, customs,
education, religion, politics
• Becoming more fluid—eroding manufacturing
sector, expanding services, immigration and
multiculturalism
Why nationalization?
• Great Depression showed irrationality of free
market
• Some projects are too big with too distant a
pay-off for private business to undertake
• Manage business and profit for society as a
whole, not just the capitalist owners
Post-war econ management consensus
• Keynes over Hayek
• Allow some inflation to combat
unemployment
Winters of Discontent
• In the 70s, oil crises and:
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High inflation
High taxation
Constant strikes
Low growth
Talk of emigration
Falling govts
• Neither Tory nor Labor parties were able to
bring order
• Heath’s “U-turn”
The Revolution
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Thatcher runs for leadership
Rejects Keynes
Rejects goal of equality
Entrepreneur the true backbone of society
Economy for the consumer, not the producer
Wins general election in 1979
The fight begins
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Cuts back on govt spending
Extremely unpopular—but no “u-turn”
1982 Falklands War
Wins re-election
Round 2
• 1984 Orders unprofitable coal mines closed
• Refuses to negotiate with strikers
• Breaks the strike
Round 3
• “New Steps”—”reinventing government”
• Begins selling off nationalized industries—
”privatization”
• British Telecom, Steel, Air, Rail, utilities,
airports, etc
• “share-holder society”
Reflection
• Greater efficiency
• Eventually relatively low unemployment and
higher growth
• Society of individuals
• Inequality
Modern Parties
• Labor victory in 1945 brings welfare state
• After malaise of 1970s, Thatcher pushes party to
the right
• Labor at first responds by turning more to the
left, but then moves to the center
• When Tony Blair becomes leader, successfully
rewrites Clause 4 of the parties 1918
constitution—abandons commitment to
socialism for New Labor’s “Third Way”
• New consensus—elections more about
competence
And Europe
• Conservative Party is largely split on further
integration
• UK “opted-out” of Europe’s social legislation
and common currency
European Parliament
• UK uses party list system for EU elections
• In 2004, leading vote getters were Tories,
Labor, UKIP, . . .
London--congestion pricing
• Cars pay to enter downtown London
• Reducing congestion—but still controversial
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