Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and to the electorate; the office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016; the office is not established by any statute or constitutional document but exists only by long-established convention, which stipulates that the monarch must appoint as Prime Minister the person most to command the confidence of the House of Commons. The position of Prime Minister was not created; the office is therefore best understood from a historical perspective. The origins of the position are found in constitutional changes that occurred during the Revolutionary Settlement and the resulting shift of political power from the Sovereign to Parliament.
Although the Sovereign was not stripped of the ancient prerogative powers and remained the head of government, politically it became necessary for him or her to govern through a Prime Minister who could command a majority in Parliament. By the 1830s the Westminster system of government had emerged; the political position of Prime Minister was enhanced by the development of modern political parties, the introduction of mass communication, photography. By the start of the 20th century the modern premiership had emerged. Prior to 1902, the Prime Minister sometimes came from the House of Lords, provided that his government could form a majority in the Commons; however as the power of the aristocracy waned during the 19th century the convention developed that the Prime Minister should always sit in the lower house. As leader of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister's authority was further enhanced by the Parliament Act 1911 which marginalised the influence of the House of Lords in the law-making process.
The Prime Minister is ex officio First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service. Certain privileges, such as residency of 10 Downing Street, are accorded to Prime Ministers by virtue of their position as First Lord of the Treasury; the status of the position as Prime Minister means that the incumbent is ranked as one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. The Prime Minister is the head of the United Kingdom government; as such, the modern Prime Minister leads the Cabinet. In addition, the Prime Minister leads a major political party and commands a majority in the House of Commons; the incumbent wields both significant legislative and executive powers. Under the British system, there is a unity of powers rather than separation. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of their political party. In an executive capacity, the Prime Minister appoints all other Cabinet members and ministers, co-ordinates the policies and activities of all government departments, the staff of the Civil Service.
The Prime Minister acts as the public "face" and "voice" of Her Majesty's Government, both at home and abroad. Upon the advice of the Prime Minister, the Sovereign exercises many statutory and prerogative powers, including high judicial, political and Church of England ecclesiastical appointments; the British system of government is based on an uncodified constitution, meaning that it is not set out in any single document. The British constitution consists of many documents and most for the evolution of the Office of the Prime Minister, it is based on customs known as constitutional conventions that became accepted practice. In 1928, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith described this characteristic of the British constitution in his memoirs:In this country we live... under an unwritten Constitution. It is true that we have on the Statute-book great instruments like Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights which define and secure many of our rights and privileges, they rest on usage, convention of slow growth in their early stages, not always uniform, but which in the course of time received universal observance and respect.
The relationships between the Prime Minister and the Sovereign and Cabinet are defined by these unwritten conventions of the constitution. Many of the Prime Minister's executive and legislative powers are royal prerogatives which are still formally vested in the Sovereign, who remains the head of state. Despite its growing
National Government (United Kingdom)
In the United Kingdom, National Government is an abstract concept of a coalition of some or all major political parties. In a historical sense it refers to the governments of Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, which held office during the Great Depression from 1931 until 1940; the all-party coalitions of Herbert Henry Asquith and David Lloyd George in the First World War and of Winston Churchill in the Second World War were sometimes referred to as National Governments at the time, but are now more called Coalition Governments. The term "National Government" was chosen to dissociate itself from negative connotations of the earlier Coalitions. Churchill's brief 1945 "Caretaker Government" called itself a National Government and in terms of party composition was similar to the 1931–1940 entity; the Wall Street Crash heralded the global Great Depression and Britain was hit, although not as badly as most countries. The government was trying to achieve several different, contradictory objectives: trying to maintain Britain's economic position by maintaining the pound on the gold standard, balancing the budget, providing assistance and relief to tackle unemployment.
The gold standard meant that British prices were higher than its competitors, so the all-important export industries did poorly. In 1931 the situation deteriorated and there was much fear that the budget was unbalanced, borne out by the independent May Report which triggered a confidence crisis and a run on the pound; the Labour government agreed in principle to make changes in taxation and to cut expenditure to balance the budget and restore confidence. However the Cabinet could not agree on the two options available: either introduce tariffs or make 20% cuts in unemployment benefit. In the end, MacDonald and Snowden drafted a proposal that would cut benefits by 10%; this was rejected by the Trade Unions, however. When a final vote was taken, the Cabinet was split 11-9 with a minority, including many political heavyweights such as Arthur Henderson and George Lansbury, threatening to resign rather than agree; the unworkable split, on 24 August 1931, made the government resign. The financial crisis grew worse and decisive government action was needed as the leaders of both the Conservative and Liberal Parties met with King George V, MacDonald, at first to discuss support for the measures to be taken but to discuss the shape of the next government.
MacDonald had wished to tender his resignation but was told to re-consider by the King on the grounds that the majority of opposition MPs and the country at large supported the cuts proposed by the May Report if the Labour Party and the Trade Unions led by Ernest Bevin did not. MacDonald duly changed his mind during the night and met with the Conservative and Liberal MPs the following morning. On 24 August, MacDonald agreed and formed a National Government composed of men from all parties with the specific aim of balancing the Budget and restoring confidence; the new cabinet had four Labourites who stood with MacDonald, plus four Conservatives and two Liberals. Labour unions were opposed and the Labour Party repudiated the new National government, it made Henderson the leader of the main Labour party. Henderson led it into the general election on 27 October against the three-party National coalition, it was a disaster for Labour, reduced to a small minority of 52. MacDonald won the largest landslide in British political history.
The Government was applauded by most, but the Labour Party were left in a state of confusion with the loss of several of their most prominent figures, MacDonald, Philip Snowden and James Henry Thomas did little to explain themselves, with the result that the Labour Party soon swung against the government. This was in part because of the Trade Unions' decision to oppose all forms of cuts proposed by MacDonald and Snowden in response to the May Report, which had concluded the UK government needed to curb government expenditure to reduce the budget deficit amid the fallout from the Great Depression that began in 1929; the May Report in particular recommended to MacDonald that his Labour government cut unemployment benefit by 20%. The Trade Unions that represented a large proportion of the Labour party's base refused to support any cuts to benefits or wages except to "the salaries of Ministers". Efforts to bring public expenditure cuts produced further problems, including a mutiny in the Royal Navy over pay cuts, with the result that the pound sterling came under renewed pressure, the government was forced to take the radical step of taking the pound off the gold standard altogether.
Debate broke out about further steps to tackle the economic problems. At the same time the Labour Party expelled all of its members who supported the National Government, including MacDonald; the majority of the Cabinet came to believe that a protective tariff was necessary to support British industry and provide revenue and that a general election should be fought to secure a mandate but this was anathema to the Liberal Party. The Liberals' acting leader and Home Secretary, Sir Herbert Samuel, fought in Cabinet against an election but found the Liberal Party dividing in several directions over the course of action. One group, under Sir John Simon emerged as the Liberal Nationals, was prepared to accept the tariff and expressed willingness to take the place of the main Liberals in the government; the party's official leader, David Lloyd George was incapacitated at this time but called for the Liberals to abandon the government altogether and stand independently in
1931 United Kingdom general election
The 1931 United Kingdom general election was held on Tuesday 27 October 1931 and saw a landslide election victory for the National Government, formed two months after the collapse of the second Labour government. Collectively, the parties forming the National Government won 67% of the votes and 554 seats out of 615; the bulk of the National Government's support came from the Conservative Party, the Conservatives won 470 seats. The Labour Party suffered its greatest defeat, losing four out of five seats compared with the previous election; the Liberal Party, split into three factions, continued to shrink and the Liberal National faction never reunited. Ivor Bulmer-Thomas said the results "were the most astonishing in the history of the British party system", it was the last election where one party received an absolute majority of the votes cast and the last UK general election not to take place on a Thursday, would be the last election until 1997 in which a party won over 400 seats in the House of Commons.
After battling with the Great Depression for two years, Ramsay MacDonald's Labour government had been faced with a sudden budget crisis in August 1931. The cabinet deadlocked over its response, with several influential members such as Arthur Henderson unwilling to support the budget cuts which were pressed by the civil service and opposition parties. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Snowden, refused to consider deficit spending or tariffs as alternative solutions; when the government resigned, MacDonald was encouraged by King George V to form an all-party National Government to deal with the immediate crisis. The initial hope that the government would hold office for a few weeks, dissolve to return to ordinary party politics, were frustrated when the government was forced to remove the pound sterling from the gold standard; the Conservatives began pressing for the National Government to fight an election as a combined unit, MacDonald's supporters from the Labour Party formed a National Labour Organisation to support him.
However the Liberals had to be persuaded. Former Liberal leader David Lloyd George opposed the decision to call an election and urged his colleagues to withdraw from the National Government. A main issue was the Conservatives' wish to introduce protectionist trade policies; this issue not only divided the government from the opposition but divided the parties in the National Government: the majority of Liberals, led by Sir Herbert Samuel, were opposed and supported free trade, but on the eve of the election a faction known as Liberal Nationals under the leadership of Sir John Simon was formed who were willing to support protectionist trade policies. In order to preserve the Liberals within the National Government, the government itself did not endorse a policy but appealed for a "Doctor's Mandate" to do whatever was necessary to rescue the economy. Individual Conservative candidates supported protective tariffs. Labour campaigned on opposition to public spending cuts, but found it difficult to defend the record of the party's former government and the fact that most of the cuts had been agreed before it fell.
Historian Andrew Thorpe argues that Labour lost credibility by 1931 as unemployment soared in coal, textiles and steel. The working class lost confidence in the ability of Labour to solve the most pressing problem; the 2.5 million Irish Catholics in England and Scotland were a major factor in the Labour base in many industrial areas. The Catholic Church had tolerated the Labour Party, denied that it represented true socialism. However, the bishops by 1930 had grown alarmed at Labour's policies towards Communist Russia, towards birth control and towards funding Catholic schools, they warned its members. The Catholic shift against Labour and in favour of the National Government played a major role in Labour's losses. In the event, the Labour vote fell and the National Government won a landslide majority. Although the overwhelming majority of the Government MPs were Conservatives under the leadership of Stanley Baldwin, MacDonald remained Prime Minister in the new National Government; the Liberals lacked the funds to contest the full range of seats, but still won as many constituencies as the Labour Party.
There were more MPs who were elected under a Liberal ticket of some description there were the combined number of Labour and National Labour MPs, but the three-way split in the party meant that the main Labour group still ended up as the second-largest in Parliament. Note: Seat changes are compared with the 1929 election result; this differs from the above list in including seats where the incumbent was standing down and therefore there was no possibility of any one person being defeated. The aim is to provide a comparison with the previous election. In addition, it provides information. All comparisons are with the 1929 election. In some cases the change is due to the MP defecting to the gaining party; such circumstances are marked with a *. In other circumstances the change is due to the seat having been won by the gaining party in a by-election in the intervening years, retained in 1931; such circumstances are marked with a †. These are available at the PoliticsResources website, a link to, given below.
MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1931 Ball, Stuart and the Conservative Party: The Crisis of 1929–31, Yale University Press Bas
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a British politician, army officer, writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament. Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party. Of mixed English and American parentage, Churchill was born in Oxfordshire to a wealthy, aristocratic family. Joining the British Army, he saw action in British India, the Anglo–Sudan War, the Second Boer War, gaining fame as a war correspondent and writing books about his campaigns. Elected an MP in 1900 as a Conservative, he defected to the Liberals in 1904. In H. H. Asquith's Liberal government, Churchill served as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, championing prison reform and workers' social security.
During the First World War, he oversaw the Gallipoli Campaign. In 1917, he returned to government under David Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions, was subsequently Secretary of State for War, Secretary of State for Air Secretary of State for the Colonies. After two years out of Parliament, he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government, returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move seen as creating deflationary pressure on the UK economy. Out of office during the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in calling for British rearmament to counter the growing threat from Nazi Germany. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was re-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty before replacing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1940. Churchill oversaw British involvement in the Allied war effort against Germany and the Axis powers, resulting in victory in 1945, his wartime leadership was praised, although acts like the Bombing of Dresden and his wartime response to the Bengal famine generated controversy.
After the Conservatives' defeat in the 1945 general election, he became Leader of the Opposition. Amid the developing Cold War with the Soviet Union, he publicly warned of an "iron curtain" of Soviet influence in Europe and promoted European unity. Re-elected Prime Minister in 1951, his second term was preoccupied with foreign affairs, including the Malayan Emergency, Mau Mau Uprising, Korean War, a UK-backed Iranian coup. Domestically his government developed a nuclear weapon. In declining health, Churchill resigned as prime minister in 1955, although he remained an MP until 1964. Upon his death in 1965, he was given a state funeral. Considered one of the 20th century's most significant figures, Churchill remains popular in the UK and Western world, where he is seen as a victorious wartime leader who played an important role in defending liberal democracy from the spread of fascism. Praised as a social reformer and writer, among his many awards was the Nobel Prize in Literature. Conversely, his imperialist views and comments on race, as well as his sanctioning of human rights abuses in the suppression of anti-imperialist movements seeking independence from the British Empire, have generated considerable controversy.
Churchill was born at the family's ancestral home, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, on 30 November 1874, at which time the United Kingdom was the dominant world power. A direct descendant of the Dukes of Marlborough, his family were among the highest levels of the British aristocracy, thus he was born into the country's governing elite, his paternal grandfather, John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, had been a Member of Parliament for ten years, a member of the Conservative Party who served in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. His own father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had been elected Conservative MP for Woodstock in 1873, his mother, Jennie Churchill, was from an American family whose substantial wealth derived from finance. The couple had met in August 1873, were engaged three days marrying at the British Embassy in Paris in April 1874; the couple lived beyond their income and were in debt. In 1876 John Spencer-Churchill was appointed Viceroy of Ireland, with Randolph as his private secretary, resulting in the Churchill family's relocation to Dublin, when the entirety of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom.
It was here that Jennie's second son, was born in 1880. Throughout much of the 1880s Randolph and Jennie were estranged, during which she had many suitors. Churchill had no relationship with his father, his relationship with Jack would be warm, they were close at various points in their lives. In Dublin, he was educated in reading and mathematics by a governess, while he and his brother were cared for by their nanny, Elizabeth Everest. Churchill was devoted to her and nicknamed her "Woomany". Visits home were to Connaught Place in L
Limehouse (UK Parliament constituency)
Limehouse was a borough constituency centred on the Limehouse district of the East End of London. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom; the constituency was created by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 for the 1885 general election, abolished for the 1950 general election. Its most prominent MP was Labour's Clement Attlee, party leader from 1935–55, Prime Minister from 1945–51. In 1885 the area was administered as part of the county of Middlesex, it was located in the east of the historic county. The neighbourhood of Limehouse formed a division of the parliamentary borough of Tower Hamlets; the parliamentary division was part of the East End of London. In 1889 the Tower division of Middlesex was severed for administrative purposes, it became part of the County of London. In 1900 the lower tier of local government in London was re-modelled. Limehouse became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney; when a re-distribution of parliamentary seats took place in 1918, the constituency became a division of Stepney.
It comprised the wards of Limehouse North, Limehouse South, Mile End Old Town North East, Mile End Old Town South East, Ratcliffe. Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885-1972, compiled and edited by F. W. S. Craig
Spen Valley (UK Parliament constituency)
Spen Valley was a parliamentary constituency in the valley of the River Spen in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom; the constituency was created by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 for the 1885 general election, retained with altered boundaries in 1918, abolished for the 1950 general election. In the 1901 Census, there were 13,557 inhabited houses in the division. Political historian Henry Pelling noted that the constituency as it existed from 1885 to 1918 was dominated by the woollen industry and carpetmaking, where the vast bulk of the population were nonconformist: the Church of England parish of Birstall was said to have had only four clergymen in the eighteenth century. In 1922, membership of nonconformist circuits in the constituency is estimated at 2,759 for the Congregational Church, 1,065 Wesleyanism, 1,027 United Methodist Church, 698 Primitive Methodism, 328 Baptists, making it the second largest nonconformist attendance in the West Riding.
The death of the sitting MP in 1919 led to a sensational by-election gain for the Labour Party, described by historian Maurice Cowling as the worst result for the Coalition during the 1918-22 Parliament. At the ensuing general election, the Manchester Guardian described the constituency as "scattered between the three towns of Leeds and Huddersfield", centred on Cleckheaton, populated by "woollen and wire workers, card manufacturers". A significant presence of Irish voters was noted. Sir John Simon, a former Home Secretary who had lost his seat in the 1918 election, regained the seat for the Liberals in 1922 and held it until given a Peerage in 1940. During this period Simon moved from declaring his basic sympathy with the Labour Party's objects, to forming the Liberal Nationals who went into alliance with the Conservatives. Simon found his constituency marginal, had a majority of under 1,000 in his last election, Labour gained it in the 1945 election landslide. Boundary changes abolished the constituency in 1950.
The bulk of the abolished constituency, including Cleckheaton and Spenborough, formed the eastern half of Brighouse and Spenborough. Heckmondwike and Mirfield transferred to Dewsbury, while Kirkheaton moved to Colne Valley and other parts moved to Huddersfield East. While devised by the Boundary Commissioners in 1885, the division was named as'Birstal', "from the name of a large ancient parish"; the naming of the new division led to a small struggle between the two Houses of Parliament during the passage of the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, when Alfred Illingworth moved an amendment to replace'Birstal' with'Spen Valley'. Illingworth argued that Birstall contained only one-eighth of the population of the division, but Spen Valley was a name which represented several important towns, his amendment was accepted without dissent by the House of Commons; when the Bill reached the House of Lords, the Conservative peer the Earl of Feversham moved an amendment to reinstate'Birstal' claiming the support of the people in the area.
The Earl contended that the Spen Valley was an unknown description and "was only remarkable for being the receptacle of all the sewage from Birstal", whereas Birstal was a important parish. He had support from the Earl of Cranbrook and his amendment was accepted without dissent; when the Bill returned to the House of Commons, Alfred Illingworth again took up the issue and moved that the Commons disagree with the Lords. He again pointed to the small population of Birstall in comparison with other towns, noted that the Sanitary district covering the area was known as Spen Valley and that the River Spen ran through the centre of the constituency whereas Birstall was in the extreme north-east corner of it. Conservative MP Edward Stanhope said that he had found feeling in the area to be in favour of'Birstal', but the President of the Local Government Board Sir Charles Dilke, speaking for the Government, stated that the local boards in Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton had sent a memorial in favour of'Spen Valley'.
He agreed that the name had been invented by the Local Government Board, but argued that there were "local jealousies" between the towns and that Birstall was unpopular with the others, therefore supported'Spen Valley'. After a brief debate, the House voted by 65 to 46 to insist on'Spen Valley' as the name; the Lords gave way, but not without further protest from the Earl of Feversham. During this battle no alteration was made to the boundary; the new division was to consist of: the Parishes in the Sessional Division of Dewsbury of Gomersal and Liversedge, the Parishes of Cleckheaton, Clifton and Wyke. When redefined by the Boundary Commission in 1917, the county division was defined as consisting of the Urban Districts of Birkenshaw, Drighlington, Heckmondwike, Kirkheaton, Mirfield and Whitley Upper; the effect of the boundary change in 1918 was as shown in the table: Of the 59,643 population in Spen Valley before the boundary change, 49,960 remained in the div