Britain is a society with clear class differences. Mass
media and sports, party and school systems are strongly
influenced by this. The social conditions and the class
structure carry deep traces of the country's early
industrialization. Britain became the world's leading
industry during the 19th century, and its working class and
labor movement became pattern-making. The modern labor
movement started from the artisans and the skilled workers'
associations, trades unions. The first unified
organization of trade unions was the Trades Union
Congress (TUC), formed in 1868. Later, the unions of
the unskilled workers' unions, the general unions.
Together with industry associations and civil servants'
organizations, they today constitute the four main types of
organizations of the British trade union movement. During
the 1980s, the British trade union movement weakened. On the
one hand, the number of members decreased (to less than 10
million members), and on the other hand, Thatcher sought to
limit its influence and activities through legislation. An
extensive but unsuccessful strike among the miners in
1984-85 strongly polarized society.
Britain underwent a dramatic restructuring during the
1970s and 1980s. A number of industries were closed down,
and the UK got a large group of long-term unemployed, not
least among the low-skilled, who form the core of the
growing group of poor. The share of unemployed was 10.5% in
1993, but had dropped to just over 7% in 1997. The Labor
government has, among other things, promised improvements
for the unemployed under 25 years. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of GBR and acronym for United Kingdom.
The foundations of modern British social and labor market
policy were laid by a number of reforms the decade before
the First World War, eg. sickness and unemployment
insurance. The principles of the modern welfare state were
formulated during the Second World War in the so-called
Beveridger Report of 1942. Over the course of a few years,
the school system (1944), the various social insurance
(health insurance, unemployment insurance, pension, etc.)
were merged into National Insurance (1946-48) and
the health care system was organized in the National
Health Service (NHS) in 1948. The basis of the British
health care system is a general medical system, where each
household in principle chooses a general practitioner or a
medical center. Treatment and medicine are free. The
hospitals are state-owned. A small number of private
hospitals are available.
The basic social insurance is designed as a basic
protection (flat-rate system), with as a rule
uniform benefits. This has meant that the civil servants and
the middle class have private or contractual supplementary
insurance. Welfare policy in the United Kingdom is shaped by
the interaction between public basic protection and private
supplementary schemes, which are indirectly and partially
invisible (through tax deductions) financed by the state.
The United Kingdom has a strict distinction between the
government agencies that pay different forms of cash
benefits and the municipal bodies (social services) that
provide different forms of care, care, rehabilitation etc.
Council -owned housing has been an important
part of British welfare policy. Rents have been kept low
through various types of subsidies. A significant number of
these homes - more than a million - were privatized during
The municipalities' scope of action was limited during
the 1980s, when its main own tax source, local property
taxes (rates) were removed and replaced by a local,
fixed household tax (the poll tax)
In 1992, the Conservative government chose, in the
context of the Union Treaty (Maastricht Agreement), to stand
outside the so-called social dimension in the EU and was not
covered by EU rules and recommendations in the social and
labor market policy area. In connection with its entry, the
Labor government decided to participate in social
In the May 2002 municipal elections, the extremely
right-wing British National Party (GDP) won 3 seats in
Burnley for the first time in 9 years. The Conservatives got
34% of the vote, Labor 33% and the Liberals 27%. Although a
total of 5889 city council members were elected, BNP leader
Nick Griffin characterized the result as a "triumph". He
also denied that his party exploited the racial tensions
that exist in a number of cities, although he admitted that
the party's goal is to create a "white Britain". Although
municipal self-government has been eroded over the previous
20 years, it still has a number of significant
In July, Secretary of State Jack Straw announced that
Britain is supplying spare parts for US F-16 fighter jets
shipped to Israel. It was seen by activists as a
further stick to the coffin into which the ethics of British
foreign policy should be buried. It was also seen as support
for US war preparation for Iraq.
In October 2002, in a large-scale foreign policy speech,
Blair declared that Iraq could launch missiles of weapons of
mass destruction at Europe in just 45 minutes. The purpose
was to warm up the British population to the war against
Iraq, but the population continued to be predominantly
opposed to war, and 1 year later it was revealed that
Blair's claim was freely invented.
Blair continued his unconditional support for Bush's war
policy until the attack on Iraq in March 2003 - despite
France and Germany refusing to join such a war, and despite
the United States suffering blatant defeat in trying to
adopt a UN resolution to legitimize the war on attacks. Nor
did the British people succeed in persuading Blair. Autumn
and winter saw the largest anti-war demonstrations since the
Vietnam War, and by the outbreak of the war, a
large majority of the British continued to oppose war. At
the same time, several ministers chose to protest Blair's
and Bush's war. That included Robin Cook and Minister of
Development Claire Short.
Blair's position did not improve over the summer as the
United States was unable to find the alleged weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq. And in July, the BBC could
reveal that the British government had distorted information
from the British intelligence about Iraq's military
capabilities. After severe pressure, the BBC had to reveal
that the information came from Defense Ministry expert on
chemical weapons, David Kelly, who in his reports had denied
that Iraq had chemical weapons. The government claimed the
opposite. Kelly committed suicide - or was killed. The
incidents ultimately forced the British government to set up
an investigative commission. The Hutton commission and later
the Butler report did not directly say the government and
Blair had lied, but the indications were clear enough and
Blair's spin doctor, Alistair Campbell had to step down.
The circumstances of the war and the lies of the British
government caused Blair and Labor's popularity to plummet.
When opinion polls also revealed a massive majority of the
British population against the new EU constitution, Blair
felt compelled to declare that the constitution would be
sent to a referendum in 2005. A vote made redundant by the
French and Dutch no.
Local elections immediately following the Butler Report
in July 2004 gave Labor a staggering defeat, including lost
Leicester South, which had otherwise been a safe working
bastion for over 50 years. It was taken over by the
liberals. At Labour's national meeting in late September,
Blair was forced to admit that the allegation that Iraq
possessed weapons of mass destruction in 2003 had been
false. At the same time, he announced that he was running
for a third and final term as the party's prime minister.
In late October, a study by researchers at the Department
of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Institute at
the University of Baltimore was published in the prestigious
British medical journal The Lancet. The
study found that the war against Iraq, the destruction of
the country's infrastructure and the ensuing violence had
cost 100,000 Iraqis life - predominantly women and children.
Secretary of State Jack Straw declared that the government
would investigate the researchers' conclusions.
Following the May 2005 parliamentary elections, the Labor
Party began its 3rd reign, with just 36% of those voting
behind it being the weakest backing any British government
had had. The Conservatives progressed significantly in many
parts of London, and less in the rest of the country, but
the biggest victor of the election was the Liberal Democrats
who gained 22% of the vote and went to 62 seats in the House
of Commons. Even those Labor leaders who had rejected in
advance that the Iraq war would have an impact on the
outcome subsequently had to admit that the war was a major
cause of Labor's decline.
On July 7, 56 were killed and around 700 injured when 4
bombs were blasted in a bus and in London's subway. Three of
the four suspected suicide bombers were British nationals of
Pakistani origin. Two weeks later, another bombing attempt
was made with four new bombs, but this time the bombers
failed to detonate the bombs. The terror campaign clearly
revealed the structural weakness of the British and European
"counter-terrorism", because the bombers were self-organized
and unrelated to terrorist groups abroad.
After the terrorist attack, it became fatal to be a
foreigner in Britain. The British police were ordered to
shoot anyone suspicious, and it cost a Brazilian electrician
life. In mid-July, he was executed by British police in the
subway because he was busy and therefore according to.
police behaved suspiciously.
In November, Blair had to recoup his first serious defeat
in parliament since his inception in 1997, when a new terror
legislation was voted down by 322 votes against 291. The
legislation included a heavily debated proposal to jail
suspects for up to 90 days without traveling charge. Since
then, far-reaching legislation was passed in Denmark. In the
UK, more than 80 Labor members voted against the Prime
Minister's proposal to erode the rule of law, and this put
the minister in a delicate situation where rumors of his
resignation even circulated. Although Blair had already
stated that he would not run for a 4th term, the requirement
to replace him with successor Gordon Brown became ever
stronger. Finance Minister Brown was the architect of the
Labor government's economic "wonder."
At least 1,200 gay weddings were scheduled for December
5, the date when gays were granted the same marital rights
as heterosexuals. The new legislation gives gays the right
to register a partnership, although they do not yet have the
right to be ordained in the church.
Blair had to take note of his first parliamentary defeat
in November since he took office in 1997. It happened when
the lower house rejected his proposal for a so-called
security tax. The Prime Minister subsequently declared that
he did not intend to run for the next election in 2010. The
initially so popular Prime Minister had lost most of his
popularity on the unpopular war on Iraq.