UK. The issue of Britain’s relations with the EU created tensions within the government coalition between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. Prime Minister David Cameron’s veto of EU plans for a fiscal pact at the end of 2011 and increasingly loud opposition to EU membership from parts of the Conservative Party fueled speculation that Britain was about to leave the Union. As a remission of the EU-critical faction within his party, Cameron suggested that a referendum on the EU might be held in 2015. A review would also be made of whether the British could regain some of the EU’s powers. The government also pushed for a freeze on appropriations for the EU’s long-term budget for 2014-21. Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the EU-friendly Liberal Democrats,
The local elections held around the UK on May 3 became a setback for the ruling parties, and especially the Liberal Democrats. In England and Wales, Labor performed strongly, while the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) had great success in Scotland. Great attention was paid to the mayor’s election in London, where Conservative Party Boris Johnson managed to defeat Labor’s Living Living by a small margin. In the elections to the GLA municipal assembly, however, Labor won a clear majority.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for United Kingdom. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II was celebrated for 60 years on the throne. It culminated with a series of events in London in early June. All Brits got an extra holiday in connection with the diamond anniversary.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that WikiLeak’s founder Julian Assange would be extradited to Sweden, where he was suspected of sexual abuse. However, Assange, who was free from bail, departed and took refuge in the Ecuador Embassy in London where he sought political asylum on the grounds that he feared that Sweden would extradite him to the United States. However, he remained at the embassy guarded by police. Outside the embassy building, many of Assange’s supporters gathered to mark his support for him. On August 16, Assange was granted political asylum in Ecuador, but he was still unable to leave the embassy.
From July 27 to August 12, London hosted the Olympic Games. The host country won 29 gold medals and finished third in the medal league, after the USA and China. London Mayor Boris Johnson kept a high profile during the Olympics. His high popularity figures fueled speculation that he was aiming to take over Cameron’s party leadership post.
In October, Prime Minister Cameron and Scotland’s Prime Minister Alex Salmond agreed that a referendum on Scottish independence would be held in 2014. Salmond and his party SNP had wanted voters to take a stand for another option – on increased self-government for Scotland. According to opinion polls, just over one-third of Scots were fully independent, while a majority wanted the Scottish Board to have greater powers. Cameron and the government, which opposed Scottish independence, had wanted an earlier election date because they thought it would benefit their cause.
Media issues received a lot of attention during the year. This was very much the case with the investigation of print media conducted by Judge Brian Leveson on behalf of Prime Minister Cameron. The investigation began after revelations that the Sunday newspaper News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s media group News Corporation, had hacked into computers and cell phones belonging to murder victims, relatives of soldiers who had fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan and a large number of celebrities. There were also suspicions that several senior politicians were affected. Other newspapers such as The Sun and The Mirror were also suspected of illegally intercepting phones. Newspapers were also suspected of having bought information from police and others.
Among those heard by Judge Leveson in the spring were David Cameron and two of his representatives as Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as well as Rupert Murdoch and his son James. For Cameron, the issue was sensitive because his former communications manager Andy Coulson and his friend Rebekah Brooks both held leading positions in Murdoch’s tabloid newspapers during the interception. Great attention was paid to SMS correspondence between Cameron and Brooks in 2009, when The Sun magazine, also owned by the Murdoch Group, switched to supporting the Conservative party instead of Labor. Prosecutions were filed in the spring against, among others, Coulson, Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks and several employees within the Murdoch Group.
When Leveson presented his final report in November, he sharply criticized the press for all ethical violations. He also felt that too close ties existed between parts of the press and leading politicians from all the major parties. He suggested that a new press-ethical system be legislated. Both the Conservative Party and the press opposed legislation. Both Labor and the Liberal Democrats advocated implementing Leveson’s proposal in its entirety. The latter was considered to upset the contradictions within the government.
Several police investigations were ongoing at the same time. According to the police, perhaps over a thousand people, possibly even more, had their phones hacked.
The BBC’s media company also happened in blustery weather when it was revealed in the autumn that Jimmy Savile, an entertainment profile with a 40-year TV career, was suspected of exploiting his position and sexually assaulting hundreds of children. However, Savile, who was honored in 1990 for his charity work, had died in November 2011. BBC executives were now accused of stopping a program on suspicion against Savile for instead broadcasting a program in which he was praised. The question was whether other people in the BBC knew of Savile’s abuse, and if they did, why they had not intervened. Later in the fall, another program was broadcast in which a conservative politician was incorrectly identified as a pedophile. This led to the resignation of the BBC’s Director General George Entwistle in November.
The European Court of Justice ruled in April that five people, including Egyptian-born Islamic preacher Sheikh Abu Hamza, could be deported to the United States for trial of terrorist offenses. Abu Hamza, who, among other things, was charged with having been involved in organizing a terrorist camp in Oregon, appealed the decision, but was denied. All five flew to the United States in October.
Scotland and Wales
England has always been the dominant of the three areas of the island. From the 1960s, the demand for greater self-government in Scotland and Wales developed. In Wales, however, the claim was weaker as so many English miners had settled in the region.
The crisis hit the Scottish working class hard, with extensive unemployment and the closure of entire industrial areas. The industry was traditionally dominated by the metal industry – especially the shipbuilding industry. The petty bourgeoisie also noticed that Scotland was lagging behind. «Nationalist» currents emerged, especially in the context of oil extraction in the North Sea, which led to some economic growth and the creation of new jobs.
It was not a question of traditional nationalism, but of a redistribution of power so that the periphery gained greater autonomy. It was on such a program that the Scottish Nationalist Party won the election in 1974. An attempt to divide Labor and build a Scottish Labor Party, on the other hand, failed.
At the first referendum in 1979 on increased self-government, the proposal declined, but it was adopted by the vote in 1997, and the two local parliaments have now been given extended powers.
The political system in the United Kingdom is based on elections in individual circles. In practice, it puts very high barriers to political influence. For example, the Liberal Party has. about 20% support among voters, but has only approx. 2% of seats in parliament. Smaller groups have no chance of making a parliamentary claim at all. Therefore, the two major parties have traditionally been characterized by coalitions. Although the contradictions within both Labor and the Tory Party are greater than between similar parties in other countries, the parties are held together by a recognition that divisiveness is tantamount to powerlessness.
Labor is different from other social democratic parties in Europe. We can distinguish between three different levels in the party, or three different “Labor parties”, which have little to do with each other.
The basis is the local party divisions – Constituency Labor Parties (CLPs) – with direct membership. Officially, they have over 600,000 members, but the real number is far lower, and probably less than 10% of members are active. The party congress is composed of delegates from CLPs and from the trade unions that are part of Labor. They had earlier voting numbers according to their membership numbers, giving the delegates from a few large federations an automatic majority. In connection with Tony Blair’s takeover of the lot, this system was abolished. Congress elects a main board – the National Executive Council (NEC) – and establishes the electoral program.
The party chairman and the prime ministerial candidate, on the other hand, are directly appointed by the parliamentary group – Parliamentary Labor Party (PLP). The PLP functions completely independently and does not take much notice of the decisions of the NEC or of Congress. In the 70s, the NEC was dominated by the party’s left wing and the PLP by the right wing.
The Labor Party is often perceived as identical to the political labor movement. The only political condition for membership is that you cannot be a member of a party that is running for election against Labor. Due. the electoral system, there are not many political small groups that find it interesting to stand for election, and Labor therefore holds a wide variety of organized small groups – most Trotskyists (see Entrism).
In the mid-1990s, the former chairman of the British coal miners, Arthur Scargill, tried to launch a new labor party. But despite Labour’s violent right turn through the ’80s and’ 90s, the new party has few opportunities to break through – especially because of the electoral system.
Among the many organized Trotskyist small groups is the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) with approx. 4,000 members clearly the largest. The SWP has achieved some positions among the lower tiers of some unions, was in the 70s led in the construction of the Anti Nazi League and played a central role in the anti-poll tax movement in the early 90s. The party is very strongly organized, which has made it possible to survive the crisis of the other left, but at the same time its strong dogmatism has been an obstacle to greater dissemination. SWP is the mother party of the International Socialism movement, to which also the Danish International Socialists belong.
According to countryaah, the population of United Kingdom in 2012 was 65,860,035, ranking number 21 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.750% yearly, and the population density was 272.2281 people per km2.