U.K. History - from Blair to Johnson

U.K. History: from Blair to Johnson Part I


In the House of Commons elections on May 1, 1997, the Labor Party won an overwhelming victory over the Conservatives, which ended their eighteen-year rule (since 1979). The Labor Party, which received 419 seats (the Conservative Party only 165) and which achieved the best election result in its history, appointed the new Prime Minister with its chairman T. Blair.

Domestic policy: In September 1997, referendums were held in Scotland and Wales to create their own regional parliaments (approved by 74.3% and 50.3% of participants respectively; first elections held in May 1999). In March 1999 a parliamentary reform was passed (in October 1999 the House of Lords approved the abolition of hereditary estates with numerous votes against and abstentions). In the general election on June 7, 2001, the Labor Party achieved a second consecutive victory for the first time in its history; she won (with a turnout of only 59%) 413 of the 659 seats in the lower house. The again weak performance of the conservatives, who received only 166 mandates, acknowledged their leader William Hague (* 1961) with his resignation (successor: initially I. D. Smith, from 2003 Michael Howard [* 1941], from 2005 D. Cameron . Blair, who was confirmed in the office of prime minister, reshuffled his cabinet: the previous interior minister, J. Straw, replaced R. Cook, who was considered “euro-friendly”, in the office of foreign minister. The office of Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury Secretary) remained in the hands of the “Eurosceptic” G. Brown . Prime Minister Blair resigned in his first government statement after re-election health, education and transportation reform and better crime control. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001, a package of anti-terror laws presented by the government was approved by the House of Commons in December 2001 and put into effect (new law 2005).

The death (March 30, 2002) of the »Queen Mother«, v. a. but the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s throne in the same year, after the British monarchy had temporarily suffered a considerable loss of prestige in the British monarchy, especially in connection with the accidental death (1997) of the extremely popular Princess Diana , the divorced wife of the heir to the throne, Prince Charles .

In the parliamentary elections on May 5, 2005, which were particularly characterized by social and economic problems, but also strongly influenced by the debate about British participation in the Iraq war (2003), the Labor Party achieved a historic one despite a major loss of votes third consecutive election victory (356 lower house seats); the Conservatives received 197 and the Liberals 62 seats. Prime Minister Blair, who had lost political support, took on another term.

On July 7, 2005, according to Militarynous, a series of terrorist attacks was directed against London; The bomb attacks on three subways and one bus by four Muslim Brits (native-born men of Pakistani origin) left at least 56 dead and around 700 injured. Another series of attacks on the London underground and bus system on July 21, 2005 remained without victims; the alleged perpetrators were caught.

In June 2007, G. Brown succeeded Blair as Labor leader and Prime Minister, after Blair had previously announced his retirement from both offices. Party donation scandals within the Labor Party (including the resignation of Labor Minister Peter Hain in January 2008) and an impending economic downturn weakened support for the Brown government, which launched extensive rescue packages to combat the international financial market crisis. In 2009 the Labor Party suffered heavy losses in local and European elections – also against the backdrop of an expense scandal in the lower house.

In the general election on May 6, 2010, the Conservatives, led by D. Cameron, emerged victorious, but failed to achieve the absolute majority of the mandates sought. Cameron, who was based on a conservative parliamentary group of 307 members, formed a cabinet with the Liberal Democrats, led by N. Clegg, who received 57 seats. This was the first time since 1945 that the country was ruled by a coalition. After the heavy electoral defeat of the Labor Party (loss of 91 seats), G. Brown resigned from the party leadership. The new Labor leader was E. Miliband on September 25, 2010. The Cameron administration agreed on a rigorous austerity policy to reduce the budget deficit. Schoolchildren and students in London and other university cities protested against planned austerity measures in the education sector in November 2010. In the capital there were violent clashes with the police after demonstrators broke into the Conservative party headquarters. Rioting broke out again after a man was shot dead by police during a control in the London borough of Tottenham on August 4, 2011; they quickly expanded to other London boroughs and also included other cities (including Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol). More than 4,000 rioters were arrested. By mid-2012, the courts had sentenced around 2,000 people, mostly for burglary.

With great public sympathy, Prince William (* 1982), the eldest son of the British heir to the throne Prince Charles, married his long-term partner Catherine Middleton (* 1982) on April 29, 2011. Their son George Alexander Louis was born on July 22, 2013. As Prince George of Cambridge, he was third in line to the British throne. On May 2nd, 2015 daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana was born.

On May 5, 2011, a majority of the population spoke out in a referendum against an electoral reform. In the regional and local elections held at the same time, the Liberal Democrats suffered heavy losses.

In July 2011, a media scandal rocked the country when it became known that journalists had used illegal research methods for the Sunday newspaper News of the World, owned by R. Murdoch’s News International. The newspaper “News of the World” was discontinued. Senior police officers resigned in connection with the affair. Murdoch had to answer before a parliamentary committee. Prime Minister Cameron has also come under fire for his previous close contacts with the Murdoch media.

In April 2013, several social policy reforms came into force, including a significant simplification of the social system through the introduction of a uniform social assistance payment, the »Universal Credit«. The revelations of former NSA employee E. Snowden in June 2013 revealed that the British secret service Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had wiretapped several foreign participants during the G20 summit in 2009. Discoveries about the monitoring program »Tempora« showed that the GCHQ monitored telephone data and Internet communications around the world.

In the European elections in May 2014, the right-wing populist United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) won around 27.5% of the vote, making it the strongest British party.

U.K. History - from Blair to Johnson