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The United Kingdom of Great Britain is a nation located in Western Europe, especially the isle of Great Britain and smaller islands around it, including Angelsey, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight and the Orkney, Shetland and Hebrides islands. The United Kingdom is an archipelago-nation, not bordering any other state.
Politically, the UK (as it is often abbreviated) is a federal parliamentary monarchy, composed of four main government bodies; the central Parliament itself, housed in London, as well as parliaments for the three devolved regions of England (in Oxford), Scotland (in Edinburgh) and Wales (in Cardiff), which are less powerful and subservient to the central government. The head of parliamentary power is the Prime Minister, whose powers devolve from the King or Queen (currently Victoria II), who officially obtains her powers from "God and the Will of the People of Britain and her Empire".
Great Britain is a member of the Imperial Federation, a federal body that officially acts as a united nations in several terms of policy with other extremely autonomous states such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Antillean Federation. However, the Federation grants ample devolved powers to its members, which are so autonomous that they can often do external treaties. As the head of the Federation, Britain is often granted powers even wider than those of the majority of the nations.
The capital of Britain is London, one of the largest cities in the world with nearly 15 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area (and even more by some estimates, as some nations consider the whole of England, spanning some 57 million inhabitants, as mostly a single megalopolis).
for history before the 1880s, see History of England
The Shine and Dusk of the Gladstonian EraThe Liberal Party of the United Kingdom achieved a victory against the conservatives in the 1880 General Election, gaining 110 seats to lead a comfortable majority of 25 seats over the 327 threshold. The Liberal Party's senior leaders, including Lord Hartington, the leader in the House of Commons, resigned their office in favour of William Ewart Gladstone, who would return for a new presidency. While Gladstone thought of resigning in the 50th anniversary of his entrance into politics in 1882, he decided against the idea, and continued to hold the parliamentary majority until he was voted out of office in 1886.
The deposing of a pro-Western khedive in Egypt led to Gladstone's involvement in the Scramble for Africa. He authorised a bombardment of Alexandria, where anti-Christian riots had occurred previously, in 1882, leading to the invasion of the Khedivate, as it was perceived as a threat to British interest in Egypt.
Gladstone also mildly relaxed certain legislation against Irish landowners; he granted them fair taxing and other rights in 1883, and expanded franchise throughout the United Kingdom in the 1884 act. However, much of these large expansions, which proved the greatest legacy of Gladstone, were eventually overshadowed by the dawn of the Mahdist War in Sudan, where several colonial generals were besieged and murdered. While Gladstone was still held in high esteem by many, he was forced to call a general election in 1885, which resulted in a positive but reduced Liberal majority of 13, and eventually once again in 1886, which led to the rise of Lord Salisbury as the Prime Minister of the 1890s.
Salisbury was himself a reactionary, famously having once said "Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is on our interest that as little should happen as possible". However, Salisbury spoke out on behalf of the poor, stating laissez faire should be enforced on both sides of the table and that the poor conditions of the working class resulted in low productivity and loyalty to the State, and should thus be improved. He rose to full power after achieving a coalition with a large part of the Liberals, which opposed Irish Home Rule. He was involved in several scandals, including his bad portraying by the press, which called him "deep in the confines of State Socialism", and the fact that he complained about a black man having ran for constituency in Britain, claiming only those who had been born in Britain could ever represent it. However, his government was remarkably successful. In the foreign office, he hugely increased military spending, especially for the Navy; and was approached by Emperor Frederick of Germany, which allowed for closer relations between the two nations. He decided to "kill Home Rule with kindness", helping develop the conditions of the Irish populace and having it grow as quickly as that of Britain, which had not been achieved since the Great Famine; allowing for thousands of Irish farmers to own land; relaxing restriction on the Irish language; and all in all improving the rights of the Irish. This led to an increase in popularity of Unionists in Ireland, however, it broke apart his coalition with the Liberals and deeply divided the Conservative opinion. He was forced out of power a full nine years after he seized it for the first time, in 1895.
While Gladstonian Liberalism was now on its death throes after Salisbury's comprehensive reforms, Gladstone once again rose to power in 1895, leading an extremely divided Parliament whence all four parties were split into two main camps; the Liberals were split into the Gladstonian and Imperial factions, which would eventually morph into the Gladstonian and Keynesian Parties; the Conservatives were divided between Salisburyites and New Tories, in regards to protectionism and Irish Home Rule. This prevented much legislation from occurring in this age, but Gladstone was able to join the two factions of Liberalism and some moderate Salisburyites in passing the Irish Home Rule Act of 1896, which was vetoed by the House of Lords. This led to the falling apart of both Gladstone's government and his health. While he hanged on to the Prime Ministership, almost no new legislation was passed in his period. He died in 1898, considered by many to be Britain's best ever Prime Minister.
The New Century
The Liberals struggled for leadership after his death, hoping to maintain parliamentary permanence. However, they decided to maintain united and elect a joint ruler, fearing Conservative resurgence under Lord Salisbury now that the strongest Liberal figure was dead. They chose Archibald Primrose, due almost entirely because of implicit support by HH Asquith and the dislike of Queen Victoria for most other Liberal figures. Aided by division within the Tories and mild parliamentary moderation, he passed through several legislations, including expanding the Navy to an even larger level; continuing the "kill Home Rule with kindness" ideals of the Salisburytes; continuing British interest in the Scramble for Africa, especially regarding Marchand's Fashoda Crisis in 1897-1898, the Katanga Incident which severely deprestiged Belgium, as well as the German-organised Tangiers Crisis in 1901 also characterised the Primrose ministry. Primrose's downfall also came from Africa, in regards to the infamous Rose-Coloured Treaty with Portugal, in which a large area of Southern Africa composed of today's territories of Matêbia, Pintonia and parts of Moçambique. This granting away of territory some factions of the British Parliament considered theirs cost them much of their support, especially one of their foremost private funders, Cecil Rhodes and his diamond corporation. Public support also turned against Peel once news of the awful treatment of Boers in the War in South Africa reached public ears. This led to the calling of the 1901 "Khakhi Election" or "Centennial election", in which the Conservatives resulted victorious.
However, the Conservatives were in no shape to seize power just yet. Salisbury had resigned not two weeks before the election because of ill health, and a leadership struggle was occurring. As a measure to achieve a temporary solution in order to take power after the election, the Conservatives elected Arthur Balfour as an interim ruler. Balfour, however remained Prime Minister for four years before losing the election. He was mostly considered a weak and divisive personality, and his government did little outside of motions already put in advance. He did sign the Treaty of Friendship with the German Empire in 1903, which granted much of Namaqualand to the British in exchange for Walvis Bay; he terminated the annexation of the two Boer colonies to the Cape Colony in 1904, although he allowed autonomy to the states of Orange and Stellaland in the centre of the nation; he also finalised the annexation of much of East Africa, and the development of the Uganda-Jewish Programme. However, his government was defeated when it agreed to sell Heligoland back to the Germans, which was seen as a less-than-wise strategic move. However, as the two nations were allied as the two, no major uproar against the Germans was caused; it was more of a constant decline in prestige that resulted in the collapse of the Conservative government.
The Great Budgets
The Liberals returned to power in 1905, with a majority of 65 seats in Parliament. Balfour's government received a sound beating in polls, with Balfour himself losing his seat in Parliament. This allowed a fresh Liberal government led by Imperial politician Herbert Henry Asquith to establish dominance over Parliament. Asquith, holding the unquestioned majority over Parliament, authorised several "people's budgets", which expressed the wish to redistribute the wealth from the nation's rich to its poor. Introduced by David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, the budgets increased taxes on the wealthy, in order to spend to several policies attempted at the poor.
While the 1906 People's Budget and the Eight Hours Act and Workman Compensations Act were passed by the House of Lords, they opposed steep resistance to the 1907 People's Budget. This triggered a constitutional crisis between the House of Commons (spearheaded by members of the Liberal Party and the Labour Representation Social Democratic League) and the Conservative House of Lords. This crisis was characterised by vicious struggle of classes; this depressed the contemporary King, Edward VII, so much that he allegedly presented his son as "the last King of England". Eventually, the problems reached such level that Edward VII threatened the House of Lords with flooding its composition with members in favour of Asquith's agenda. At their resistance, he proceeded to do so, creating 100 new Lords with Liberal sympathies, which voted in favour of the People's Budget. Increased pressure by the House of Commons led to the pass of the Parliament Act 1908, which heavily restricted the power of the Lords to stop legislature. This was the last time in British History in which the House of Lords proved to be an effective counterweight to democratic power.
Asquith continued to rule throughout 1908 and 1909, passing two further People's Budgets, before opposition turned against him as well. The left of the party thought his rulership had not been strong enough, as much of his legislature was actually introduced by David Lloyd George; as a Welshman and a son of the middle-class, he seemed a more attractive target for the liberalising reforms they sought to be identified with. Furthermore, Lloyd George was more charismatic than Asquith, and seemed to have increased support by the Social Democrats, rapidly growing in Parliament; all of this resulted in a successful Leadership Struggle against Asquith, and the resurgence of Lloyd George as PM. The majority of Liberals in the House of Commons, which had shrunk in an election in 1909, grew after Lloyd George seized the power, and the 1912 elections led to a very large Liberal majority.
Lloyd George's first term, between 1911 and 1915, was far more similar to that of Asquith than that of the Unity Government. Lloyd George, however, did extremely important and revolutionary notions in terms of Empire. He finally granted Irish Home Rule for the first time in 1911, keeping three counties around the city of Belfast (which would later be granted to Ireland) whilst giving the remnant to the Kingdom of Ireland, granted dominionship. The declaration of the Kingdom of Ireland was the first to bring up the notion of Imperial Federation as a serious ideal; indeed, while it was only enacted under the subsequent government of Bonar Law, Lloyd George established much of the framework for this. Furthermore, Lloyd George continued with many changes to legislature. He promised woman's suffrage in the next election to all women aged over 35, and expanded the suffrage through the Peoples Representation Act 1914 to all males over 21. He also expanded social reform and economic redistribution. However, all of this was interrupted with the end of the Period of Reforms, and the start of the Great War.
The Great War
The Great War was a decisive moment in British history. Causing millions of casualties in five-year conflict between the two nations, it shaped British culture for decades to come. The British government was the leader, in opposition to ideas of much of the German one, in decisions of the opening of war theatres such as the Indochina, Levantine and French West Africa, as well as helping German incursions into France proper, such as the Brest Landing and the Battle of Bourdeaux. The war was expected to be a short conflict, with white peace resulting after Christmas, or, otherwise, a swift crushing of French troops by the joint British and German war machines; however, the encirclement throughout the south of Germany, the loss of Gibraltar in 1916 and the incredible resistance of French troops to invasion led to a five-year struggle that killed millions of the British youth.
The war closened relations with Germany and Russia, and eventually led to the dominance of seas by the British, after the destruction of the French and German navies in several naval battles throughout the world. The war eventually ended with the Third French Revolution which deposed the Boulangist régime. The Treaty of Peterhof is generally considered the start of the modern world, forgiving France of most war reparations and no territorial concessions outside of Africa. The only true enforcement was the obligation by the British to place the duc d'Orléans, Philippe, as Philippe III of France. It also outlined the begin of the European Community, which led to the beginning of European integration, as well as the end of pan-European wars.
The "post-war feeling" led to the huge majority of the Liberals in the 1920 election, which was agreed upon by all major parties (Liberals of both sides of the spectrum, Conservatives and the Social Democratic League) that would only last two years until reconstruction finished. This majority in theory would allow Lloyd George to continue his development of social justice. However, much of the term was spent in avoiding what seemed to be unavoidable economic recession. In the war, although the United States had stayed out of fighting, they had lent billions of dollars to most fighting parties, in both sides. This led to huge debt that was meant to be paid by the European Community to the United States at the latest in 1924 in their terms. This move was deeply unpopular in the United Kingdom, and Lloyd George hoped to put it off the longest time possible. However, public demand proved to be his undoing. He was forced to resign by members of his own party before the election in 1922, and the party was irrevocably split by this decision. With Asquithian and Lloydian Liberals competing against Gladstonians, the Liberals dropped to third-party status in the election, not to recover until 1930. The government was taken over by the Conservatives, led by Andrew Bonar Law.
The Birth of the Imperial Federation
Andew Bonar Law brought a very pan-Imperial approach to foreign relations in the British Empire. After all, he was the one who finally passed the Imperial Parliament Act of 1923 and the Executive Act of 1923, which decreed the bases for the Imperial Federation. He also approved the Statute of Westminster, which made the dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, the Union of South Africa and the Kingdom of Ireland equal in statute to the United Kingdom, and only subservient to the Imperial Parliament, which granted them very broad autonomy. This was the birth of the Imperial Federation, as well as other less bound organisations such as the Imperial Commonwealth and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Bonar Law also was responsible for the collapse of the American Economy in 1924, as he refused to pay the European Community's debts in the terms outlined by the United States president James E Cox in negotiations in Toronto in the year. When he demanded the immediate restitution of debts, Bonar Law famously said,
|“||"Your predecessor secured a loan of billions to my predecessor on nothing but his good word. Now you can accept repayment on our terms, back by my good word, or your advisors can explain what it would cost you when the largest empire in the world goes bankrupt."||”|
When Cox refused to negotiate on the expansion of the repayment of the debt, Britain declared official default towards the American economy, sending the American stock market into a nosedive. This led to the start of worldwide economic recession, but it hit hardest of all places the United States, where employment rose to nearly 45%. Eventually, this would lead to the collapse of the American government, and the Unioner's Coup and the rise of President De Leon to power.
With growth of international co-operation between Britain and both the colonies in the Imperial Federation and Europe because of trade improvements thanks to both the Imperial Federation and the Concert of Europe, Bonar Law's fall began. With his opposition to increased tariffs with international communities after the fall of industrial output of America and the start of a world recession. This prevented much of the fall of the economy in the United Kingdom that characterised the 1924-1929 period in much of the Western Hemisphere (and the globally recognised Period of International Recession and Depression between 1924 and 1932). However, this led to a "backbencher backstab" as some Tory backbenchers refused to vote in favour of the 1925 Budget, and launched a vote of no-confidence against him. While it failed because of Liberal, moderate Conservative and (split) Social Democratic support, it spelled the end of his government. With ailing health, he resigned from his Prime ministerial position (but not his parliamentary constituency of Glasgow Central) in favour of Stanley Baldwin.
Baldwinian Boom and Bust
Stanley Baldwin rose to power supported as a moderate ruler to the right of Bonar Law by all the shapes of the Conservatives, who had a parliamentary majority after election in 1926. With the International Depression abating everywhere outside Europe, Baldwin agreed to rightist pressure and increased some tariffs that were reduced by the Liberal-supported Government of Bonar Law the year before. However, Baldwin's premiership, although a relatively rightist one, was marked by an extremely important event supported across the table (with the exception of only fifteen MPs from the Conservatives); the granting of universal suffrage to all females over 21, making age differences in voting requirements between the two sexes irrelevant.
Baldwin established several policies supporting internal British productivity, and helped for much of the economic growth representing this age. Industrial output grew rapidly throughout the Baldwin premiership, both because of emigrating Americans and inside industrial output. Not everyone went wealthier, but in generally it was a good time for the British economy.
The Baldwinian era, however, eventually began to fall apart after the Liberals finally banded together with the Social Democratic Labour Representation Party to field in a new candidate. 1928 saw International Depression return universally across the world, and Britain was hit quite harshly to this. Unemployment soared to 19% in 1928 and 21% in 1929, and some of the ground gained during Baldwin's premiership was once again lost in this period. As unemployment rose quickly and the government did little to bail out the population, the electorate soon began to be alienated by traditional economic schools. They turned to the daring new Prime Minister proposed by a united Left, John Maynard Keynes.
The Keynes AgeJohn Maynard Keynes was not the first person in choice for the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He himself had no major aspirations, and had very little experience as public servants; before the 1929 election, he launched himself for his native constituency of Cambridge. With extreme dissent across the board for the Conservatives and a brilliant joint SDP-Liberal campaign, Keynes was voted in as MP for Cambridge with a majority of over twelve thousand votes, and overall swing was quite high against the Conservative Party. While the Conservatives remained with their position as the largest party, after Baldwin stood down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party they were divided and in no position to govern. Instead, the Liberals' leader David Lloyd George was once again called to leadership, but decided to resign by 1930, thinking that another Lloyd George premiership might alienate both Labour and the right Liberals. Instead, he was in favour of Keynes as a form of reassuring the Left that immediate political action against them, and promised the Liberal right that they would have a right to elect their next Prime Minister in a leadership election.
Isaac Foot of the Liberal far-left competed against Keynes, as did William Benn, more moderate. The choice of leftist candidates, however, did the job of convincing that Keynes, with his charming personal charisma and conciliatory attitude, would be the best leader for the Party, and he was elected as both Leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. With a majority of 76 seats, the Coalition Government showed mettle early establishing Government interest in the economy. Reduced taxes and heavily increased borrowing and spending were quite effective in increasing productivity and thus returning employment back to normal figures; 1930 saw 20% unemployment, but by 1932 it was down to 14%. Deficit was at its largest in well-recorded British history, but that also brought the growth of the British economy for the largest time since the end of the War. 1933 saw inflation at less than 4% and unemployment fall to the lowest degree since 1918. The programme "We Can Conquer Unemployment!" written almost entirely by Kenyes led to increased Liberal and SDP improvement in the 1934 election, whence the two things also ran jointly in the Liberal-SDP coalition.
Rights were declared by a joint SDP-Keynesian move for an "Economic Bill of Rights", granting, in early 1935, the rights to employment, food, a living income, fair competition and the lack of monopolies, housing, medical care, social security and education. This would prove to be a foreshadowing to the social welfare policies of the Labour and Keynesian premierships of the twentieth century.
The death of King George V in 1935 was expected for some time, as his health had been ailing for a long time previous to his death. It was a smooth transition between his death and the succession of his son, which, out of respect for his dead father, chose the name George VI for his coronation. However, in 1938, George VI suffered a terrible hunting accident, and died shortly after, taking everyone by surprise. His brother, Albert, was not interested in the crown, and it was feared that he would abdicate soon enough. However, Keynes moved in time to and was able to convince him to accept the crown. He was crowned in as Frederick I.
Relations with the extremely populist United States (especially after the overthrow of President Roosevelt because of attempts at increased democratisation by several businesses) worsened throughout the 1930s, especially after the Business Coup and the formation of the military wing of the Concert of Europe. Tensions rose between the two power blocs after the coup d'etat against the government in favour of the United States in Mexico; all in all, Keynes took a very stiff approach in direct opposition to American encroachment. He began the long-lasting British interest in the Caribbean and in the Andes, as well as in Korea and Japan. The end of his premiership more or less co-ordinated with the end of the Interwar Peace, and the start of the Cold War.
Socially, Keynes was a great liberalisator. As an open bisexual man, he de-penalised homosexual sex for men aged over 30, and limited abortion quotas. He tried to end segregation because of race, especially in dealings in India, which was gaining increasing amounts of autonomy. All in all, he looked for equality.
Keynes, however, never was content with public office. He was convinced at the time of his launching for constituency in Cambridge, and did not expect such a long mandate. He resigned in 1939 and retired from Premiership. He is today considered one of the most widely successful Prime Ministers of the twentieth century.
Social Democratic Supremacy
The Attlee PremiershipKeynes dissolved Parliament and called for general elections as his last act in office. General elections held in 1939 led to the Social Democratic Party running its first ever parliamentary majority. The majority was no slight beat-out either; it got a majority of 55 seats, one of the largest since the surge of the three-party system and an extremely solid base of support. This was further increased by Liberal-Keynesian support, which granted them an overwhelming majority of Parliament. The Social Democratic party was thrown to leadership for the first time in history.
Elected as Prime Minister in a Social Democratic leadership election that seemed to be elected as a mild centre between all the factions of the party, Clement Attlee was elected as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for the Social Democratic Party.
The Social Democratic Party, spearheaded with great strength by the widely popular Attlee, began passing legislation seeking large-scale reform throughout Britain, in order to protect its population from further abuse by capitalist leaders. Wide-scale nationalisation of major economic forces occurred during the Attlee premiership, including the arms, rail, steel and several pharmaceutic companies, which came under control of the government.
Public spending also increased in social policies, with two major different new programmes; first, there was the programme of food rationing. Rationing in some areas when starving or food shortage seemed looming had actually been beneficial to the health of those areas; children in starving places where proper rationing and nutrition had been instituted were healthier and taller than their counterparts. Attlee began a campaign of food rationing that aimed to improve the health of the child population, so that they could grow up to be healthier and stronger adults in the workforce. Furthermore, Attlee tried to diversify Britain's economy by creating easily accessible education, in the form of the expansive National Education Service (NES) that replaced the public system of grammar schools, and was applied to groups of all levels of education, primary, secondary and tertiary alike. These policies soon began to take effect. Enrollment in schools went up throughout the Attlee mandate; public spending caused a rebound in the economy, which grew quickly, especially throughout Attlee's golden era in 1942-1946; and popularity was very high across Britain towards Attlee. In the 1945 election, most of the nation was painted red, with a large majority of almost one hundred seats being achieved; only the Celtic Fringe (traditionally very Liberal) and parts of southern England remained staunchly anti-Social Democratic.1946 and 1947, however, posed a gigantic threat to the United Kingdom; the rise of tensions in the Western Hemisphere with the United States of America, which, although democratic, was supporting the rise of undemocratic dictatorships that supported their movements. Attlee decided to tackle the problem in the Americas heads-on; he heavily increased the military budget throughout his second term. Intervening in several areas of high conflict. He sent British troops and eventually was one of the decisive forces in the inconclusive result of the Andean War after the tragic events of April 19, 1948; he diffused the possible Chinese invasion of Korea through arduous discussion between the governments of Japan, China and Britain, leading to the independence of the Republic of Korea; he defended the sovereign interests of the United Kingdom in the Ellice Crisis and eventually in its protectorate of Hawai'i. However, each one of these events slowly teared away at the British economy. The last straw came in the Cuban War. As war costs mounted, the economy began going into recession, slowing down substantially. Public opinion turned against both austerity and Attlee. Eventually, he saw the writing on the wall and resigned, in favour of Aneurin Bevan, his right hand.
Bevan and the NHS
Despite the unpopularity of Attlee's policies, Bevan continued them after the 1949 election, even though the SDP majority had now been weathered down to just 24 seats, even after including the guaranteed Keynesian support. Bevan took charge, although with far less confidence than the previous Attlee ministry. He tried to continue Attlee's major unimplemented policy, which had been drafted and spearheaded by himself; the creation of free, universal public healthcare under the wing of the National Health System, an idea that he had proposed (together with an exiled member of the Party, Oswald Mosley) several years previous. The idea was indeed voted into favour with support not only from the Social Democrats and Keynesian Liberals, but also Gladstonian Liberals.
However, problems began to rise after the establishment of the System, as Bevan and his senior ministers (including Attlee, now Minister of Education and the young minister Harold Wilson, who would end up being the PM some day) attempted to establish a more radical state to sustain the population, most notably the nationalisation of several industries. While the last private remnants of the rail system were almost unilaterally nationalised, the nationalisation of several minor industries came under the opposition of many Keynesian MPs, who believed that, although the situation was now in crisis as the economy continued to head downwards, the necessity was for less state-sponsored production, and more incentive. This began tearing apart the fragile coalition that had maintained Bevan in charge.Failure in the Cuban War also undermined legitimacy, as the war between the Free Cuban Army (sponsored by the United States) and the Capitaincy's remnant loyal army (sponsored by Spain and Britain) remained at a standstill in Havana, and the Havana Wall went up. The disappointment at the unexpected defeat, the first since the end of the Great War, drove Bevan's approval ratings downward, and, for the first time in over thirty years, Gladstonian Liberals topped opinion polls in almost every region of the United Kingdom. However, Bevan originally attempted to rectify this, and achieved it through the lifting of food rations, which saw Bevan's popularity rebound a bit.
However, Bevan was still doomed. Extremely large and costly military expenditures drove the British economy down, which entered into depression in 1950. Unemployment skyrocketed, although the Pound remained stable and solid. While the standard of living remained higher than at any previous point in British history, the people became extremely angry at Bevan and his Government. Strikes and riots began to occur throughout London and Yorkshire, and soon enough, Bevan was forced to meet with King Frederick I, who reportedly told him to "call a bloody general election before they do to you what they did to Marquis de Launay". Bevan was finally forced to resign, and call general elections, which the Gladstonians, led by a charismatic aristocrat named Winston Spencer, took the majority.
New GladstonianismSpencer, famous for drafting the still popular First People's Budget under the Asquith government, was elected with resounding approval throughout Britain. Keynesian Liberalism was for the first time since the Keynes premiership sidelined by the older Gladstonian line, and, with mild levels of Conservative support, they achieved the formation of a solid government, which even the Keynesian (although not Keynes himself, who split in a temporary protest party) wing supported. With three major parties against the Social Democrats, Spencer was set out to undo several of the more socialist legislation of the Attlee and Bevin premierships, which he called "the freedom of Lady Liberty from the clutches of Socialist Tyranny".
Internally, Spencer began major periods of liberalisation of the economy. Several of the industrial regulations and nationalised industries were overturned, returning them to private hands (although strong syndicates prevented worker abuse, and strong voter opinion prevented the nationalisation of the NHS, the NES and the national infrastructure system). His policies led to moderated industrial recovery, with depression going back to recession by 1951 and into regular growth by 1952. This allowed the military spending to remain the same throughout the time.
Spencer's policies were extremely marked by the strengthening of the democratic states of the Americas and East Asia in opposition to American-aligned Boulangist governments. Spencer greatly strengthened Britain's relationship with the Axis of Democracy, funding them in development programmes and military equipment; he achieved a ceasefire in Havana, at last ending the stalemate there and leading to the payment of war reparations by the United States; he declared direct British intervention in Hawaii, to prevent an anti-royal coup in favour of the United States; and he intervened in genocide in Liberia, forcing the United States to withdraw its influence from the nation.
Within the Concert of Europe and the European Community, Spencer was a major proponent of unification of the European System, even though he was not supportive of British union in this system itself, but rather close association. He helped in the formation of an European Court of Human Rights, and of a Single Market Policy, as well as a proponent of freedom of movement within the continent. However, he kept Britain slightly outside these integration processes, which were led by Spain, France and Germany.
By the end of his government, Spencer was very popular with British audiences (although his popularity waned in the rest of the Imperial Federation, especially Ireland), and was extremely ahead of all other parties for re-election as Prime Minister. However, after suffering a mild stroke in 1953, he withdrew from government, something that led to a leadership crisis.
The Short Tenure of Harold Macmillan
The leadership election of 1953 saw several unlikely candidates. For the right of the party stood Harold Macmillan, who seemed to have Spencer's personal support; for the centre, his chief enemy was John Profumo, a young cabinet member who was put there by several backbenchers. However, it was soon clear that support was quite low for Profumo. An unwritten agreement was reached between the two men, in which Macmillan promised to stand out and support Profumo after one term in government. Profumo soon withdrew, and Harold Macmillan became Prime Minister.
Macmillan saw several Gladstonian candidates losing by-election results, leading to panic within the party. If the results continued in the way, the Gladstonian majority (now down to only 10 seats) would be completely eroded, and if the Conservatives withdrew their support the government would be prone to a vote of no-confidence. In an attempt to have the party look new and rejuvenated, Macmillan sacked 40% of his Cabinet in two days. In what is known as the "Night of the Long Knives", Macmillan lost the support of both the Conservative government (as Conservative leader David Maxwell Fyfe was amongst those sacked) as well as much of his own party.
Macmillan attempted to get support from the left through the independence movements of the East African Federation and the Indic Federation, who he granted as part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and that of Alodia as part of the Associated Commonwealth. While famous for his "Winds of Change" speech regarding racial inequality in South Africa and the British Empire, Macmillan did not achieve the necessary support. After awfully low sayings in the polls, Macmillan called for an election in 1953, leading to the Social Democratic Party regaining government.
The Second Chapter of Social Democratic Supremacy
The Social Democrats, returning in 1953, were faced with a large majority of the parliamentary seats (especially when including Keynesian support, back in full, and mild Gladstonian support by some of the more leftist members of parliament of the Party). This allowed them to establish full support before the start of a leadership election, and, without any haste of an unequal coalition, no SDP Leader replaced Clement Attlee for a full year, for which Attlee acted, on all intents and purposes, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The 1954 leadership election, which had been expected since Attlee promised his resignation in 1952, was one of the longest in history. There were several strong candidates to the leadership from all wings of the party. Amongst them were William Jowitt, Lord Chancellor, who was an initial favourite but was undermined by his advanced age and the fact that he was attempting to rule from the House of Lords; Oswald Mosley, a government official with ideas centred in labour; Stafford Cripps, widely credited for Social Democratic Boom during the early Attlee premiership; Ernest Bevin, Minister of Foreign Affairs under the late Attlee and Bevan premierships; Harold Wilson, a young face supported by much of the Parliamentary Party, and Eric Arthur Blair, a very unknown candidate who was far better known as an author, under the name of George Orwell.
Blair was originally a nobody who was expected with being dropped off in the very first round of the leadership election. However, soon enough his support roared against the general populace. Once he began showing his support for civil rights, and the rights to free assembly, complete freedom of expression and the continuation of the safety net of the SDP in the Attlee era, his polling was the highest amongst all party candidates. After seeing the polls continue high for Blair through several days, the third main candidate, Harold Wilson, agreed to stand down and support Blair's candidature, when Blair agreed he would stand down and support Wilson eventually. After this, the die were cast. Cripps was voted first in the first round of voting, but by the second round, Blair won by an astounding majority. He was elected as Leader of the Social Democratic Party in June of 1954, and became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom soon afterwards.
Blair soon continued to implement the policies he had promised during the leadership election. He oversaw the proceeding of the complete liberation of freedom of expression and assembly amongst all subjects of the British Crown across the Imperial Federation. Staunchly supportive of democracy, he refused to censor any opposition, including the virulent attacks from part of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph which attacked him despite Tory antipathy to his government (self-describing himself as a "Tory-anarchist", the Conservative party did not fear massive overhaul from Blair). He virulently supported democracy overseas, forcing the Princely States to legislate proportional election by their population to both their seats in the Parliament of the Indic Federation and their local parliaments, ending the quasi-dictatorial control by princes of 50% of the seats of the Assembly. Blair also ordered the governments of Natal and Cape in the South African Federation to stop using racialist motives to prevent suffrage to a majority of the population. Internationally, he funneled troops and weapons throughout the Arsenal of Democracy, and dissuaded Argentinian troops from opening fire with Chilean troops after a diplomatic incident in October of 1956.
Despite his wildly popular government, one of the most favoured in recent history by the people of the United Kingdom, Blair's downfall began in 1957, not because of opposition by the public or the Party, but because of his own health. Diagnosed with tuberculosis in early April, he was forced into hospital care for much of the year. Returning in September for an attempted liberalisation of freedom of religion, Blair collapsed during a heated PMQ and was once again forced out of the Parliamentary Party. In February of 1958 he announced his resignation, effective after general elections in June, and suggested Wilson for heir to the government. After ruling four years as Prime Minister, Blair died in office the Fifth of March of 1958, and is to this day considered one of the best political writers and Prime Ministers the United Kingdom has ever had.
Blair's Heritage; Wilson's Government
Wilson came to power easily, with no major contenders on a leadership election that was considered mostly a token election honouring the SDP's and Blair's love for democratic rule. Wilson continued passing through things that were generally originally either thought by Blair or in his path of thinking. He equalised the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual relations, something that had been called upon by the more progressive extremes of society since the legalisation of relations during the Keynes premiership. Wilson also liberalised freedom of religion, making it absolutely permitted to follow any faith, including Catholicism, to which many restrictions considered obsolete were now lifted (although Catholics were unable to inherit the British throne until 1975, most other discrimination against Catholics ceased in 1959 and 1960; indeed, this probably bought Fine Gael another term as the dominant party of Ireland). Abortion law was also liberalised, reducing the restrictions to women's abortions; and theatre censorship, the last standing form of government censorship, was removed.
The rapid creation of new public universities under the NES continued during the Wilson premiership, and picked up speed, as he found great importance in the issue of education. Open universities for those who could not attend intensive courses were opened by Wilson, managed by Aneurin Bevan's widow. Nursery education and technical profession was also heavily invested in. Furthermore, Wilson also supported the rapid building of council houses to shelter the rapidly urbanising nation, especially in London and in the Northern Metropolis, which were quickly rising at this point. Social services, welfare, healthcare and urban renewal were heavily invested by him.
Wilson soundly defeated the Conservatives and was re-elected in 1962 (partly because of his policies, but also because of the optimism caused by Britain's 1962 victory in the FIFA World Cup and the booming economy), continuing several policies. Increased liberalisation in social themes, however, stopped being so attractive when devaluation of the Imperial Pound Sterling began to pick up pace. Conflict in Vietnam and in West Africa further worsened the situation, as Wilson was unable to cope with external pressure against his government. When Fianna Fáil was elected for the first time as the leading party in the Kingdom of Ireland, and once again began to openly challenge British rule over Counties Antrim and Down in Northern Ireland, Wilson was coped into giving away those regions to the Irish government, eliminating the 50-year old condominium.
The resigning of British territory proved to be the downfall of Social Democratic supremacy. Immediately after the news was leaked, Wilson's approval ratings plummeted, as did those of the SDP. Pressured into calling a general election by King Henry IX, who had replaced King Frederick after his death in 1960, Wilson was forced to step down as Prime Minister as, in 1964, the Conservatives returned to government for the first time in over thirty years.
The Conservative Decade
The Conservative government was initially led by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, in a firm but not stern control of the party that would slip as the years passed. At first, Douglas-Home's policy was centered on the international stage, and was therefore not too different from that of the Social Democrats. He got Britain involved in the Ainu War against Chinese-funded rebels who wanted independence from the Eurasian Union, and heavily increased the number of British troops sent to East Cuba and the Axis of Andes. Despite public opposition, he began the commission of the British nuclear programmes of Trident and Spear.
After his foreign front was secure, Home challenged some of the more common bits of consensus that had been accepted implicitly by all major parties, including the NHS and the NES and the nationalisation of key industries by the government, something that had been occurring for over sixty years since the age of Keynes and Attlee. Originally intending to do away with the services completely, he was dissuaded by hostile Gladstonian reception to the idea. Instead, Douglas-Home was forced to launch a referendum regarding the issue, one of the first referenda the United Kingdom ever had.
The results were resoundingly bad for Home's attempt. 93.4% of the population voted in favour of the NHS; 86.5% in favour of the NES; and 76.23% in favour of nationalisation. This heavily discredited Home's rule, and led to his challenge by the right-wing of the party. After losing the party, he was replaced by a far-right candidate, Enoch Powell
The Six Years of Hung Parliament
Pressured into new elections by Henry IX, Powell's parliamentary majority was set to dwindle, but instead it completely collapsed, with the Conservatives being forty seats short of majority. With the Gladstonians alienated by Conservative rule and the Keynesians and SDP in no way for establishing a joint parliament, Powell retained the position of Prime Minister. A second election five months afterwards resulted in extremely similar results.
Powell was therefore unable to do any pressure in the home front, instead being limited to pressure in areas where he was in agreement with the Liberals. This was mostly centred around the international front, where Powell played an extremely more aggressive role than most other British prime ministers. Continuing the Ainu War into its conclusive Eurasian victory after the surrender of the Japanese rebels in June fifth of 1964, he was also extremely aggressive against Boulangists throughout the world. The Boulangist Party of Canada was banned at his recommendation. He intervened in Hawaii after a failed coup d'etat led to American intervention; the Kingdom of Hawaii was saved by British intervention from annexation by the United States.Powell is most famous, however, for his dealing with the Trident and Spear nuclear programmes. He initially heavily strengthened the programme, diverging a lot of money from the NHS to the programmes and moving nuclear weapons, including the building of missile silos and the relocation of submarines, to the Bermuda and Bahamas isles in the Atlantic, close to the United States. Further sending nuclear weapons to Antioquia, in the north of the Caucasian Confederation and close to the border to the Democratic People's Republic of Colombia, he triggered the Antioquian Missile Crisis, nearly starting a second Great War. This, was, however, narrowly avoided by negotiation between Powell and American president Michael Johnson that ended the brawl last minute.
Bad relations, however, continued with the Powell government. As Boulangist Greenland continued to develop after independence from Denmark, Powell organised an invasion of Greenland to recover it for the Danish with support of capitalist Inuit exiles. The Bay of Nuuk Invasion was originally expected as victory for the Greenlanders, but was a resounding failure. The result was a collapse of the opinion of Powell in the Conservative Party, and his resignation shortly afterwards.
The Conservative leadership election led to the tenure of Peter Thorneycroft, who once again called for an election, once again resulting in hung parliament in 1967. Thorneycroft, therefore, was completely unable to continue any sort of internal affair, and his government was quite similar to Powell's. However, externally, Powell's main purpose diverged widely from that of Powell. Powell, seeking alliance but not close relationship with Europe, diverged from Thorneycroft, which brought Brtiain extremely close to the European Community. The pound joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in August 5 of 1969.Negotiation to unite Cuba had began during the Powell administration, one of the only peaceful negotiations that attempted to end the Cold War in the Caribbean, but it began to stall as delegates from the National Republic of Cuba began protesting the plans of Free Cuba to take down some of the communist tendencies of a united Cuban nation. Eventually, in a meeting led by Thorneycroft himself, the Nationalist Cuban representatives stormed out, leaving a flabbergasted Free World delegation. The day after this, in March 5 of 1970, the city of Cap-Haïtien fell to Boulangist insurgency and North Haïti was united into the south. This triggered a widespread Conservative rebellion of the backbenches, and Thorneycroft was forced to resign by April.
As a method of last resource, the Conservative party lacked any major politicians who wished to become Prime Minister at this point. Instead, the party put its weight behind a war hero of the nation, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stuart. Instead of attempting to continue in an extremely unstable minority government as Powell and Thorneycroft attempted; instead, he attempted to arrange a "Unity Coalition" with the Social Democratic Labour Representation Committee. The SDP, tired of six years in which not even a hung parliament and an extremely divided Conservative government, elected Danis Healey in the right-wing of the party (which led to the defection of Tony Benn and a few of his parliamentarians to the UK Socialist Labour Party, still an important force in the left nowadays) as Leader of the SDP, and agreed to form the Unity Coalition, overtly centrist in tone.
The Unity Coalition
With the Coalition preventing any challenge to the internal workings of the United Kingdoms in regards to economic systems. Finally, the nation could turn inwards, and address some much-needed issues. First and foremost came the issue of regional devolution. The SDP-Liberal-Tory triad was being weakened through the years of hung parliament through the rise of nationalist parties, most notably Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party. Lethbridge-Stuart, a Scot himself, agreed to open a commission on Scottish devolution. While full federalisation was still far in the future for the United Kingdom, Stuart agreed to set up devolved Scottish and Welsh Assemblies that passed through the Scottish Devolution Act 1972. He also re-federalised the Conservative Party, creating the Scottish and Welsh Unionist Parties. Soon, polls showed this an extremely effective act; in Scottish Assembly elections in 1972, the Scottish Unionists, with a centrist manifesto, came slightly ahead of the SDP in Scotland; in Wales, the Welsh Unionists came in second by less than 70,000 votes, in a region in which the SDP and the Liberal Keynesians were previously completely dominant.
In outside policy, Lethbridge-Stuart was far less conciliatory, establishing several agencies to keep the Americans in check. The United Intelligence Task Force (or UNIT, for short) was created under the Lethbridge-Stuart rule in 1973, as a sub-agency of the Secret Intelligence Service in co-operation with several European intelligence services to prevent espionage as well as to further espionage in the United States (as well as, according to some circles, to counter alien technology reaching Earth), an extremely effective tool against Boulangist spying.
War flared up again shortly after the Unity Coalition's new agreement after general elections in 1975 in South America, after protests once again began after a bombing attempt in Pereira, Caucasia. Lethbridge-Stuart, as well as SIS and UNIT, left for the Axis of Andes, himself leading an intelligence operation that uncovered a spy ring belonging to the USA and the DPRC in Caucasia. Small-scale skirmishing throughout the Magdalena River continued for three years, killing 347 Caucasian soldiers, 77 British and German volunteers and 574 Colombian ones, over half of which occurred in a single battle near Neiva in August 12 of 1976.
This Magdalena Skirmish Conflict led to Lethbridge-Stuart to declare the creation of the Arsenal of Freedom, a massive project of loans for industrial, military and economic development to nations that were fighting against the Boulangist States. The European Union began loaning extremely large amounts of money to Caucasia, Peru, Chile and Japan, amongst other states; this helped their rapid development and their becoming some of the economic powerhouses of the world.
The last two years of Stuart's rule, however, led to a turn around in international politics. While the Arsenal of Democracy continued in full swing, by 1977 talks were re-opened with the United States of America. Indeed, the United States and the United Kingdom agreed on a permanent place of negotiation between the two. Inviting all the nations of the world to this new organisation of consensus, the United Nations was born.
After this was done, Lethbridge-Stuart came under the increasing pressures of the always unstable Coalition for Unity. Mounting pressure and more issues began leading to issues with his private health. Finally, he tendered his letter of resignation in 1978, and calling a general election.
The Urquhart Constitutional CrisisWith the coalition completely broken, the political alliances returned to normality. The Conservatives once again arranged an alliance with the Gladstonians, while the Keynesians procured their electoral deal with the SDP. Eventually, a (very slight) Conservative majority, of only three MPs including the Gladstonians. After a short interim period led by Conservative politician Henry Collingridge, Francis Urquhart took power as the leader of the Conservative Party.
Urquhart's first step, despite his extremely small majority, was to make a hard lurch to the right, heavily reducing taxation for the creators of wealth and weakening unions. However, soon enough, he met issues with the death of King Henry IX. His eldest daughter, Alexandra, took the crown, adopting the name Victoria II. Victoria, despite the supposed neutrality of the monarchy, opposed the policies of the far-right wing of the Tory Party, which Urquhart belonged to.
As Urquhart attempted to move the nation even further to the right, by trying to trim down the welfare state (which he called "the net for bums"), direct fighting between the Government and the Monarchy came to be. The constitutional crisis of the monarchy's status within the UK government was to be decided by who won the election that Victoria forced Urquhart to call for 1980. The Queen agreed to abdicate if the election was won by Urquhart; Urquhart agreed to step down in case of his defeat. However, eventually, Urquhart's popularity came to be his rightism's downfall. While polling suggested that the rightist coalition would have won under more rightist leadership, such of that of the leader of the Liberal Party, Margaret Roberts, or Edward Heath, a prominent conservative leader, polls showed that under Urquhart's government the Party was 13 points down in polls. This deep unpopularity carried out until polling day, leading to the SDP's two-year government. The Queen agreed to restore the monarchy's neutrality, but remained triumphant over Urquhart. He agreed to step down, being replaced by John Major as Leader of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Decade (actually, closer to 16 years), was over.
The Social Democratic Interlude
The fall of Urquhart sent political shock waves throughout the nation. Having, for the first time in nearly 16 years, no leadership, there was little political incentive to establish one. All parties had been discredited, as at some point they had all been in government. The strongest party was the SDP, which, with some brilliant rhetoric, managed to get a surge in popularity which allowed them to vote in a government. Denis Healey, from the right wing of the party, managed to appeal to enough Keynesian and Liberal MPs to become Prime Minister.
Healey was originally received with some optimism as a candidate of compromise and development in the nation. He originally began this way, with legislation heavily to the right of the SDP's average, with several business-friendly reforms and lowering of taxes. However, soon, this position proved untenable. Within a year, the world crisis that had made international economies stagger (nations such as Aryanam and Assyria, hit by an oil shock, had their GDP collapse, falling over 15% in three years) hit the United Kingdom. Although Healey's maneouvres managed to keep growth positive, it was sluggish throughout the entirety of 1981, with the economy growing a total of 0.6%. Unemployment rose to 8%, and the opinion polls of Healey, who presided over the first economic troubles in the nation, began falling, despite the fact that it was one of the few developed nations (together with Germany and Sweden) which were able to evade recession.Healey's business-friendly reforms alienated the left-wing of the party, led by Michael Foot, one of the oldest MPs in the House of Commons and a hardcore socialist, as well as Tony Benn, an avowed republican, which decided that Healey's reforms had "destroyed the voice of the Left in Britain". This led to the massive defection of 40 MPs from the left of the party to create the British Socialist Party (BSP), which would join the opposition, leading to the SDP to lose its status as largest party to the Liberals, and therefore heavily jeopardising its position as government.
While the SDP hung on through extremely conciliatory measures throughout 1982, with a barely active government that passed very few laws, fearing any opposition from any party. Eventually, however, this came to be, as the Budget of the nation had to pass. Indeed, as the SDP budget was rejected by a vote of 475-175, the government was forced to call early elections.
Out of these elections, a "Lib-Lab" pact, or a "Liberal reunification", came to the frontline as the largest party, after a surprisingly effected campaign that left most pundits flabbergasted. The new government was led by Margaret Roberts, a chemist married to an influential businessman, Denis Thatcher.
The Roberts EraRoberts' Lib-Lab pact was the first time the Liberals, from either the Keynesian-Imperialist or the Gladstonian side, ruled the nation since the premiership of Winston Spencer in the 1950s.
Inheriting a sluggish economy and a deeply divided nation politically speaking, Roberts could not do much in her first term other than seeking compromise in the way that would allow the most growth. While close to a majority government, the 1983 and 1984 budgets were only passed due to supply and confidence agreements with the SDP and the Conservatives. However, these two budgets, which composed of a first lurch to the left to reduce unemployment followed by a hard lurch to the right to permit job creators to gain more power, allowed the British economy to begin a recovery process. Growth rose to 1.1% in 1982 and 2.3% in 1983, and unemployment dropped to nearly 4% (before once again rising to around 7% because of monetarist policies). After this improvement allowed for several by-election victories, she was finally able to secure a coalition with the Conservatives and get a working majority in order.
Roberts' coalition agreement led to a new hard lurch to the right, with the privatisation of several major industries and the reduction of state power within the nation. Almost defeated by a vote of no confidence created by a joint Keynesian-SDP-BSP bill, she was saved at the last moment by a defection of SDP and Keynesian members into the Green Initiative Party (created along the same time as the Greens in Germany) and the rejection of this vote by the Conservative Party.October of 1982 also brought a new, terrifying threat to Britain as the Boulangist junta of Argentina invaded the Falkland islands. Unprepared for invasion, Stanley, the capital of the island (renamed Puerto Argentino by Gaiteri's junta) fell to Argentine forces. Fearing direct confrontation with the United States, the Conservatives offered agreeing a handover of the Falklands in peaceful terms to Gaiteri's junta. However, Roberts completely refused to agree to any treaty that resulted in the handover of the Falkland isles. In 1983, she sent a massive taskforce to destroy the Argentinian forces in the islands and end the war.
Naval task forces of the United Kingdom landed on the Falklands and easily overwhelmed the Argentine forces on the island. The ship General Boulanger, flagship of the Argentinian navy, was fired upon by British troops on February the 3rd of 1983, and incapacitated. It was then captured by British troops, with most of the personnel being killed in the taking of the ship.
Stanley was liberated by British troops in February 7, and the Argentine junta agreed to a ceasefire with no changes. However, this opened a new chapter of hostility in the Cold War. Roberts attempted to arrange a change in policy in order to prevent a possible world war, as exemplified in her famous "We'll turn as we want to. The Lady is for turning" speech. She was the first political leader since the failed negotiation talks during the Powell administration, and went as far as going to the Havana wall, with her famous "soy una Habanera" speech. To this day, political analysts consider Roberts' U-turn in policy absolutely essential to the end of the Cold War and the collapse of Ronnie Reagan's government.
Roberts also had an extremely effective appeal within Europe. While happily married to Denis Thatcher for several years, she retained her maiden name, in confrontation to British policy at the time. She increased the amount of female ministers from 9% (two of Healey's 23 cabinet members) to 32% (seven ministers out of twenty-two). While generally negative to the regulation of the state in leadership boards, she was amongst the first to introduce gender quotas in Europe.
Soon afterwards, Roberts' hegemony began to wane. She called an election with almost five months of anticipation in 1985, after a three-year term cut short by student protests, rebellious labour movements that she could not quell, failure to continue her international pressure in the Falklands after the war, as she watched by as Haïti's student movement was brutally destroyed whilst Caucasia and Free Cuba asked for help, and generally covering many unpopular decisions that made the government pass a vote of no confidence on her. However, a series of scandals soon began affecting the approval rating of the Roberts government. Starting with MP expenses scandals, and followed by pedophilia and rape scandals of some Liberal MPs in society, Roberts' election ratings dropped from a height of 53% during the Falklands War to 27% the night before the election. The Liberals were vanquished from power, and Harriet Jones' Keynesians, most virulent in their opposition to Roberts, were elected to government.
New Labour, New Britain
An unassuming and modest MP from Wales, Harriet Jones was elected Leader of the Keynesian Party mostly because of her electability; her regional roots and modesty appealed to the lower classes and the Celtic Fringe; her sex appealed to woman voters; and her leftish politics appealed to the SDP's voters. This led to a landslide election for the Keynesian Liberal Party, which had previously been consistently relegated to fourth place.
As part of her modernisation strategem, Jones organised a renovation of the Keynesian Liberal Party. It announced a final goodbye to all connections to the Liberal (Gladstonian) Party, now organising itself under a completely new name, the Labour Party. Labour presented itself as a centre-left party, a party for both disaffected Liberals tired of Roberts' far-right economic policies and the SDP's leftward trend as it attempted to recover the Bennite/Footite faction that had become the British Socialist Party. This achieved widespread success, with Harriet's Labour Party and her personal approval ratings being very high throughout her 1985-1988 term. At one point, one of her pollsters, reporting a opinion poll for the Independent, quipped "even Commander García doesn't get that." Jones, while quiet and not very charismatic, was the dominant individual in British politics throughout her whole premiership. She, personally, oversaw hundreds of different policy enforcements, from lowering the amount of green belts in order to spike construction in London and the powerful industrial cities of the north, to the establishment of the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments in full force, the officialisation of the Scottish Gaelic and Welsh languages in those areas, and the re-nationalisation of British Coal, British Steel and British Rail. British Petroleum was taken over by the government, when Jones' government re-purchased the 5% of the company it had given away, increasing the shares of the government to 51.6%.
Jones' stance in international relationships was essential for the end of the Cold Peace and the collapse of the American government. Her government emphasised cooperation with the American government, and devoted time to the reunification of East and West Cuba. Eventually, in a speech in Havana in 1989, she uttered the famous words: "Mister Reagan, tear down this wall!"; shortly more than a year later, the Havana wall fell, and Cuba was reunited. Shortly afterwards, Reagan's government was overthrown by a coup, which then resulted in student protests that led to free and fair elections. The United States were finally free.
Jones, seeing her success in ending a process that Spencer, Attlee, Blair, Wilson, Powell, Thorneycroft, Lethbridge-Stuart, Urquhart and Roberts failed to end, thought her goals as Prime Minister were finished. She agreed to stand out after a health scandal broke out shortly after Christmas, and called for early elections in 1988, almost two years before she had to.
The elections were bogged down and confusing. Throughout five months of campaign, no party showed major breakthrough in the polls. Labour sank down back again to third spot, but remained very close behind the Conservatives and the SDP. The Liberals also rose in pollings, to the expense of the Conservatives. The SDP also suffered electoral losses to their left due to the Socialist and Green Parties gaining votes. However, in April 2 of 1989, just seven days before the election, negotiations between Labour, the SDP, the Socialists and the Greens were able to arrange a coalition agreement. By party vote, the four parties agreed to elect Tony Benn, the elderly, but extremely charismatic leader of the British Socialist Party, as their candidate for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The Compassion CoalitionTony Benn's election was hard-fought, but eventually, the four-party Compassion Coalition beat out the Conservative-Liberal alliance with an overwhelming majority.
Right away, Benn began enacting radical changes to the British government in order to search for more equality and justice. First and foremost upon these was the reform of the unpopular House of Lords, which Benn once called in an address to the House of Commons, "a medieval relic from a time when land ownership was a major source of political power". His plan, as stated in the Green, BSP and SDP manifestos, was to abolish the House of Lords, making the UK's legislature unicameral, something that Sweden had done in 1973. This vote was emphasised through heavy campaigning before and after the election.While initially opposed to the idea, especially while Harriet Jones was still in power, eventually Labour, upon which the passing or failing of the law depended, came around to support a slow and methodical dismemberment of the House of Lords, first reducing its numbers to 250 and making it fully appointed, and eventually phasing it out. While loathe to keep the House of Lords going on for any longer, especially the estimated eight years that people claimed would take until it was fully phased out, Benn agreed to this compromise in order to end it. The House of Lords' chambers were, however, eliminated from an expansion of the Houses of Parliament, that accommodated 650 new MPs (at which Parliament set a cap). However, constitutional review of the United Kingdom under Compassion did not stop with the House of Lords phaseout. Next on the agenda was the very important topic of devolution to the regions. While previously the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies had been created by the government, and the regional Parties devolved, the governments did not have much autonomy to themselves, instead only fixing a few localised issues. Benn set out to fix this, commiting almost maximal devolution to Scotland and Wales in regards to economic spending and taxation, as well as education, culture and healthcare administrations, through the devolution of NES and NHS Scotland. Less powerful, but still devolved, assemblies were created for Northeastern England and Cornwall. Cultural devolution also permitted the full use of minority languages as official within the devolved parliaments; Gáidhlig and Scots were made official in Scotland, Welsh in Wales, and Cornish in Cornwall.
Final, but perhaps most important, amongst Benn's massive constitutional reforms was the change of voting law in the United Kingdom. Until Benn's election, the United Kingdom had used the nineteenth century constitutency-based first past the post system, which weakened small parties and permitted grossly innacurate results. Parliament barely passed through (with a majority of 3) a vote replacing the FPTP system with a mixed-membered proportional system, similar to the election of the German Bundestag. While this movement was controversial, it is generally lauded as the last step in democratisation of the British Empire. Benn's Britain was constitutionally extremely different by the time he left office in 1993.
Economically, this was a period of an intense leftwards shift. The gini index was 0.32 when Benn came to power (down from a height of nearly 0.4 when Roberts left office), but dropped extremely rapidly throughout his government. At its lowest, Britain's gini index dropped to an impressive 0.2. Benn massively increased the amount of funding given to state-funded services, such as the NHS and NES, as well as the BBC. Cultural education programmes were established, amongst them the yearly Youth Parliament to interest people in governance, and several entertainment programmes about British history and culture. Funding for science and development was heavily ramped up, as was that of telecommunications. British Telecom was fully nationalised, and competition in IT began developing with private companies in the United Kingdom. The nationalisation of several major industries also led to the growth in productivity of a few of them within the nation, as outsourcing to the Third World, opening up to the free market after the Cold Peace, was prevented.
Benn's government also acceded to requests from his coalition partners. The Greens led an initiative to reduce carbon emissions in the nation, as well as one to begin a switch from coal and nuclear energy to renewable energy. It took the idea from Labour to increase immigration quotas by 50,000 new migrants a year.
While Compassion went into 1993 with a ten point lead over the Conservative-Liberal alliance, it would soon run into trouble as the alliance began to show fissures. While the Socialists remained independent and in their highest amount of support ever due to Benn's leadership, the SDP presented an ultimatum to the party; either it would once again join the SDP or the coalition would be broken. When Benn ignored this ultimatum, the SDP declared it would join opposition ranks,
Compassion essentially broke after that. Benn agreed to call for new elections, and shortly afterwards, Labour, under a new leader, David Steel, decided to also break free from Compassion. Leaving only the BSP and the Greens in coalition, the highly divided left's ratings fell rapidly, and eventually, while gaining a majority of votes, lost to a minority Lib-Con government, with Michael Portillo elected as Prime Minister.
Michael Portillo and the Conservative Catastrophe
With a new proportional system in place, but not yet knowledgeable about politics of compromise, it was predicted by most people that Portillo's minority Conservative government would be weak and unstable. However, nobody expected the sheer chaos of a government that controlled only 30% of the seating arrangement. With a supply and confidence agreement from Labour and a few rightwing SDP members, they were able to pass on a budget in late 1993, but little more was done. Parliament passed less than 40% the amount of bills passed by the previous Compassion coalition.
The ineffectiveness of the government further worsened things when economic crisis ravaged the United Kingdom after the fall of stockmarkets by 8% in a single day in April 1994. Further controversy over exportation of food after the death of three French nationals was related to CJD acquired from British beef further constricted the British economy, and without a swift response, it got out of bounds. Inflation skyrocketed, reaching 7.5% by Q3 of 1994 and 8.5% by Q4; unemployment went up, from nearly full employment during Compassion to 12% unemployment in 1994.
Portillos' approval ratings plummeted, dropping a full 35% in two months. By November of 1994, his approval ratings were in single digits, and a motion of no-confidence passed through in late December, leading to early elections being called.
All parties continued down on their luck. The Conservatives and Liberals were down on polls after Portillo's disastrous showing, and Labour was also being punished by its voters for supporting the government for too long. The SDP, undergoing massive leadership struggles. was the favourite throughout most of the polling period, but all of its potential leaders had terrible personal ratings. As for the BSP, it had elected Michael Foot as Leader after Tony Benn stood down, something which was considered, according to Conservative politician John Major, "akin to taking electoral cyanide". Several populist parties had failed to capture large portions of the vote.However, everything changed with the foundation of Unity. Its founder, Harold Saxon, had been a brilliant Cambridge graduate, but stayed out of politics after graduating. However, shortly before the 1995 election, Saxon joined the political scene through the foundation of a grassroots-based political party, "Unity". It emphasised a moderate approach to problems, and a nonpartisan solution of the present economic crisis. With a fresh, nonpolitical face and a neutral stand on politics, the Unity movement rose at breakneck speed in the polls, up to 60% of the vote at their height. By election day of 1995, while the Unity support had dropped to "only" 53%, they had won the first single-party majority since the 1910s in the vote. With the other parties hemorraghing MPs to either Unity proper or the "National Coalition", they got one of the safest majorities in British history, despite the proportional representation that would normally prevent this from happening. The Unity era had begun.
Saxon and the Unity EraSaxon's premiership was left with a deep deficit, extremely high unemployment and high inflation, in one of the gravest economic crises the UK had had since the 1930s. However, Saxon's Unity government soon got around to beginning the difficult task of bringing the crisis under control.
As a rare show of political affiliation in his first term, Saxon decided to target the unemployment rate first of all, promising "5% by 2000", and calling for full unemployment by 2005. Indeed, he massixely expanded public services for those unemployed. He combined this with higher taxes, but also some incentives to big companies for them to create new jobs. To increase funding of things, he widened Britain's deficit; to begin paying it off, he printed more money, keeping inflation high. However, this tactic worked very well. Economists called it "a beautiful example of Keynesianism in action".
Saxon is a devout Europhile. He attempted to make the British economy join the euro; however, this was soon considered untenable by the government, given that Britain was already in a currency union with the other nations of the Imperial Federation. However, he all but established a currency union, by demolishing all trade barriers with Europe and pegging the Pound 1:1 with the Euro.
With unemployment nearing 4% and inflation, while not that low, holding steady, by 1999 Saxon's support was at an all-time high of 67%. Calling new elections for late 1999 ("A new Government for a new millenium"), Saxon's campaign was not seriously attacked by anyone except the far right, which rallied around Nigel Farage, a rightist leader, but was unable to make any dent in Unity's extreme rankings. Indeed, by election time in late November, the right had once again split between "Right Unity" and the rest of the Conservative-Liberal coalition (which itself divided later, with the creation of the United Kingdom National Party). By polling day, the Unity Party and its allies got almost 65% of the vote.
Saxon's second term was, economically speaking, far less ideological than his first one. He commited himself not only to keep life standards up and unemployment down, but also to reduce inflation and balance the national budget. He continued with this job with quite a lot of success, maintaining a decent balance between all things. Debt was reduced by 30% by scrapping parts of the defence budget and privatising several industries.One major change that occurred in Saxon II, however, was the implementation of symmetric federalism in the United Kingdom. While previously the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments had retained full autonomy, while small council areas retained some in regards to housing and the economy, this caused major different changes. Saxon helped the creation of three new national Parliaments, those of South England, the Midlands and Northern England, as well as fully devolved Assemblies for the Isle of Mann and the Channel isles. The devolution, however, did not stop here; Parliament created several sub-units for the different regions of the five major regions, each with their own devolved Assemblies with reduced powers.
Saxon personally arranged all of Greater London being included amongst the major regions. Furthermore, besides London, the British Parliament arranged the creation of four different semi-autonomous urban zones in the areas, besides the autonomous regions; two for single cities (Cardiff and Birmingham) and two urban zones created from major cities; the Northern Metropolis, made up of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Lancaster, and most cities between these cities; and the Central Scottish Urban Area, composed of Edinburgh and Glasgow and the territories between the two. This meant a major change with the previously centrally administered English territories, with the British Parliament now taking a much smaller role, akin to a stronger parliament of the Imperial Federation. While remaining an important central authority on the government, Parliament surrendered a lot of powers to the regions.
Another important change that occurred during the Saxon premiership was a change in the direction of House of Lords reform. Originally reducing in size until it was gone, Saxon's administration agreed to instead modify the change in House of Lords, in order to make it a fully meritocratic chamber based on a representative expression of British society. Some of the greatest scientists, artists, economists and retired politicians were made Peers in the House. The Lords was made a consultative chamber to the Commons, and was supposed to advise the Parliament of their laws' effects in society.
Saxon won a third mandate, barely scrapping into an absolute majority (with 53% of the vote for Unity) in 2005. From here on, Saxon began a policy of changing the status of the House of Commons. The structure of the sitting was rebuilt, so that confrontations were not that explicit; a circle structure was built with room for a reformed House of Commons with 1300 seats. Agreements were attempted to be achieved with all major parties before passing to vote, and the tone of Parliament became far more concilliatory. With the Telenet spreading in popularity and scope, Saxon made a large push to establish electronic democracy.
2009 brought Saxon calling a new, early, election, which went much worse than what he expected. In fact, even with support from Unity defectors, he was about 20 seats short of a majority. This was arranged with a "Broad Front" coalition with the Liberals and the Green Party, who both agreed to stand by Saxon, as well as supply and confidence agreements with Labour and the Socialists. This extremely broad coalition, while was able to arrange passing through two budgets, eventually fell apart due to infighting between the junior colleagues. In 2011, Saxon once again called a new election, in which a fresher majority parliament, with Unity holding a coalition only with Labour, was elected. Soon enough, Saxon stated that the next election would occur in late november of 2015, after which he would have become the longest-tenured Prime Minister, beating Sir Robert Walpole after nearly 21 years of tenure.
However, the last term has been rather complicated for the United Kingdom. Economic crisis hit in Q1 of 2012, with inflation rising to 8% and staying very high for the next few quarters. GDP growth ground to a halt, to a low of only 0,1% in Q3 of 2012. Saxon's premiership was unable to control inflation, which became an issue throughout the quarter. However, by early 2013, it started dropping to 5%, and then, two months later, to 3%, the lowest it had been in years. By 2014, Britain's economy was once again robust, and, although Unity's polling has taken a beating since Saxon announced he will stand down as MP for his Islington North constituency and as PM after the 2015 election, It remains as a popular party, appealing to several centrist electors. Saxon has been greatly lauded by the press, both nationally and internationally, for keeping a much stronger economy as well as retaining extremely low levels of inequality, high social mobility, and a great safety net.
Government and PoliticsThe United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy, as described in a series of laws and bills that act as an unofficial British constitution, as the United Kingdom has never established a full official constitution. The series of bills that has establish the code of law in the United Kingdom go back as far as the Magna Carta of 1215. The United Kingdom's balance of a parliamentary system with almost full control and a monarchy with reduced powers overseeing the government is the example and the base of the "Westminster System", in contrast with fully republican systems (such as the bicameral parliament of the Caucasian Confederation), the "Berlin System", with a bicameral representation of federal states and proportional representation, and the "Stockholm System" with a unicameral, fully proportional, legislature.
The British legislature is bicameral; it is divided in the House of Commons, which is elected through a mixed-member proportional system (half of the MPs, or members of parliament, being elected by constituency vote and the other half being elected by a closed-party list attempting to reach full proportionality). As of the 2015 election, the composition of the House of Commons was:
|Social Democrats||Hilary Benn, PM||Compassion||77 MPs||Centre-left to left|
|Labour Party|| Tristram Hunt, MP|
Charles Kennedy, Speaker
|Green Party||Caroline Lucas, MP||Compassion||55 MPs||Left|
|British Socialist Party|| Collective Chair|
presided by Jeremy Corbyn, MLP
|Compassion||55 MPs||Left to far-left|
|Scottish National Party|| Alex Salmond, MP|
Nicola Sturgeon, MSP
|Plaid Cymru|| Hywel Williams, MP|
Ieuan Wyn Jones, Senaddwr
|English Regionalist Federation||Peter Davies, MP||Regionalists||10 MPs||Centre to centre-left|
|Mebyon Kernow||Richard Cole, MP||Regionalists||4 MPs||Centre-left|
|Unity||Tim Farron, MP||none||103 MPs||Centre|
|Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition||George Galloway, MP||none||2 MPs||Far-left|
|Libertarian Party UK||Douglas Carswell, MP||none||1 MP||Right to far-right|
|Christian Democratic Union||Sidney Cordle, MP||none||1 MP||Centre to centre-right|
|Pirate Party UK||Loz Kaye, MP||none||1 MP||Centre|
|Monster Raving Looney||Alan "Howling Laud" Hope, MP||none||1 MP||Sitting, facing forward|
|The Conservatives||William Hague, MP||Right Bloc||84 MPs||Centre-right to right|
|The Liberals||Dave Cameron, MP||Right Bloc||84 MPs||Right|
|British National Party||Nigel Farage, MP||Right Bloc||47 MPs||Right to far-right|
|Overview||SDP||Hilary Benn, PM||Compassion||650 MPs|
The Compassion Coalition has only 249 (39.9%) of the seats in the House of Commons; it operates with passive support from the Regionalist Alliance and Unity.
The House of Commons, although by far the dominant power in UK government, is not the sole authority. On the national scale, there is also the Monarchy, which contains a few official powers (although has not exercised them since the Urquhart era, and has stayed politically neutral), as well as the House of Lords, an advisory body subservient to the Commons that can delay the passing of bills. There is also the devolved regional parliaments for Scotland, Wales, North England, the Midlands and South England, as well as the assemblies for their devolved regions and the Isle of Mann and the Channel Isles. There's also authorities in historic counties and council areas that have their own reduced powers, as well as in the Parliament of the Imperial Federation, which controls some economic and foreign policy decisions. However, the United Kingdom is very much an independent country, with the Imperial Federation acting as more of a supra-national figure.
The next British general election is scheduled for December 10, 2015 (conspicuously, four days after Harold Saxon beats Robert Walpole as longest-lasting Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) with a few changes to the constitution. The MMP system will be changed, with the treshold of 3% needed to go into parliament being scrapped; this will lead to increased representation from part of small parties. Furthermore, the MMP system will be once again fixed to restore the number of Members of Parliament to 650, as before the implementation of the system. According to polling, Compassion is currently ahead to become the largest bloc in the British Parliament, if Labour once again joins them in a coalition agreement.