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Intro to Great Britain

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Stephen Popp

on 21 January 2015

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Transcript of Intro to Great Britain

Scotland and Wales
United Kingdom
Collective Consensus to Thatcher
David Cameron and the Coalition Government
Northern Ireland
The "Troubles"
Geography and Political Boundaries of the United Kingdom
Great Britain—England, Scotland, Wales
United Kingdom—add Northern Ireland
Great Britain—North and South
Each country—own flag, own country, own culture (even language—Wales)
Unification under the Crown
Wales 1535
Ireland 1542
Scotland 1603
Regionalism in the UK
Poverty and Regeneration
Plaid Cymru
Legacy of History
First Parliament since 1404
Referendum Vote
2003—New Chamber
Plaid Cymru
Welsh Assembly
Scottish Parliament
129 members (SMD and PROP)
40% women
Scottish National Party (SNP)
SNP received 30% of Scottish vote in 1974
Created 1922
6 Counties in Northern Ireland—Ulster
Protestants v. Catholics
1968—Bloody Sunday
1972—British Governor at Stormont
Created 1922
6 Counties in Northern Ireland—Ulster
Protestants v. Catholics
1968—Bloody Sunday
1972—British Governor at Stormont
Northern Ireland
The Troubles
Sinn Fein and the IRA
The Real IRA
Ulster Unionists and Ulster Defense Front
Northern Ireland
Political and Economic Change
Free Market
State Distancing
Take on Labor Unions
Lower Taxes
Reduce Social Spending
Enterprise culture
Indirect election of prime minister
No separation of powers—executive authority less checked
No single executive—first among equals
One party dominance
Potential instability
Prime Minister System Disadvantages
Quicker Legislative Action
Collective Cabinet Authority—diversity in leadership
Flexibility in Change of Power—votes of no confidence
Resistance to authoritarianism
Prime Minister System Advantages
Independent power can lead to authoritarianism
Separation of Powers/Gridlock
Difficulty in leadership change
Presidential System Disadvantages
Separation of Powers/Checks and Balances
Direct Mandate
Executive authority/decisive authority
Presidential System Advantages
At Graceland
Red-pure systems
Yellow and green—adapted systems
Nations with Prime Minister Systems
President and Prime Minister
Presidential Systems--blue
Life Peers
Appointed by Crown, by advice of PM
Majority of total membership (600)
Title ceases on death of peer
Law Lords
Up to 12, hear appeals from lower courts (until age 70)
Judicial function of House of Lords ends 2008
House of Lords
In GB the MPs all can’t fit in the chamber
Only seats 427 MPs
House of Commons
Steps for Parliamentary election
Parliament dissolved
General Election
Swear in members/election of the Speaker
State Opening of Parliament
House of Commons
Since 1945—3 years and 7 months is the average life expectancy of a Parliament
PM calls for dissolving Parliament by a Royal Proclamation
Basic rule—general election must take place on the 17th day excluding Sundays and holidays following the date of the Proclamation
Usually campaigns last six to seven weeks—some Brits complain that the campaign season is too long!
House of Commons
The Road to Parliament
First Past the Post
Boundary commission deals with the size of the district
Party allegiances of those elected MPs are not in the same proportions as the votes cast through the country
Turnout declining
House of Commons
Party Rules—aspiring MPs go through series of interviews, written application before being placed on list
Deposit 500 pounds—lose deposit if you receive less than 5% of vote
MPs—educated, professional, business backgrounds primarily
House of Commons
House of Lords
Processes and revises legislation
Acts as a check on the Government
Provides a forum of independent expertise
Acts as a final Court of Appeal
House of Commons
Represents constituent interest
Examines and passes legislation
Scrutinizing the Government
British Parliament
Westminster Model
Parliamentary sovereignty
Parliamentary democracy
Cabinet government
Center of British politics
Formulates and presents policy to Parliament
Supreme ruling body of the executive branch
Collective responsibility
British Parliament
British constitution—noted for FORM and ANTIQUITY
No form, but mostly written down
Combination of statutory law, common law convention, and authoritative interpretations.
Held together by Parliament which, in theory at least, has the power to repeal any law it likes.
Constitutional changes long lasting
British Parliament
Parliament is derived from the French word “parler”—to speak or talk
1265—Simon de Montfort established the first parliament
After Henry VIII no monarch would actually live there
Great fire in 1834 came as a result of members overstoking the fire in the House of Lords furnace
From 1840-52 it was reconstructed
British Parliament
Called the Palace at Westminster—the houses of Parliament sit on an 8 acre site with 1100 rooms (an old fashioned gentleman’s club)
Queen—The Monarchy
Queen must give royal assent to all legislation passed by both houses of Parliament
Opens Parliament and dissolves it.
Formally makes treaties with foreign states, creates peerages, makes many top appointments in civil service, armed forces and judiciary.
Role of the Monarchy
Traditional Elements
Antiquated features
The Monarchy
The House of Lords
Institutions of Government
End of hereditary peers (some 700)
92 remaining hereditary peers
Will remain until next stage of reform
Oldest of hereditary peers dated back to 1264

Lords Spiritual
Archbishops and Bishops
House of Lords
Unlike MPs, Lords are unelected and unpaid (except for certain allowances to cover attendance—which is voluntary)
No upper limit n the number of members
Currently 730 peers
House of Lords
What is in a Parliament?
Cycle between calling of one general election to the calling of the next.
650 MPs-1 for every 89,000 (in US 1 representative for every 600,000 or so people)
Elections are held every 5 years
British Parliament
Constitutional Reform
Human Rights Act
Not quite a written constitution…
Did not abolish parliamentary sovereignty
MPs and Peers still have the final say when the Law Lords rule that legislation has fallen foul of the Act
House of Lords
Proportional Representation
British Parliament
Constitutionally bound to take the advice of the Prime Minister
“Queen must sign her own death warrant if the two Houses unanimously send it up to her.”
Last sovereign to refuse royal assent was Queen Anne in 1707
Queen’s role would be heightened if a general election produces no clear majority.
Role of the Monarchy
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