Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom, described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights; the Labour Party was founded in 1900, having grown out of the trade union movement and socialist parties of the nineteenth century. It overtook the Liberal Party to become the main opposition to the Conservative Party in the early 1920s, forming two minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in the 1920s and early 1930s. Labour served in the wartime coalition of 1940-1945, after which Clement Attlee's Labour government established the National Health Service and expanded the welfare state from 1945 to 1951. Under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, Labour again governed from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1979. In the 1990s Tony Blair took Labour closer to the centre as part of his "New Labour" project, which governed the UK under Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010.
After Corbyn took over in 2015, the party has moved leftward. Labour is the Official Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, having won the second-largest number of seats in the 2017 general election; the Labour Party is the largest party in the Welsh Assembly, forming the main party in the current Welsh government. The party is the third largest in the Scottish Parliament. Labour is a member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance, holds observer status in the Socialist International, sits with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament; the party includes semi-autonomous Scottish and Welsh branches and supports the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland. As of 2017, Labour had the largest membership of any party in Western Europe; the Labour Party originated in the late 19th century, meeting the demand for a new political party to represent the interests and needs of the urban working class, a demographic which had increased in number, many of whom only gained suffrage with the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1884.
Some members of the trades union movement became interested in moving into the political field, after further extensions of the voting franchise in 1867 and 1885, the Liberal Party endorsed some trade-union sponsored candidates. The first Lib–Lab candidate to stand was George Odger in the Southwark by-election of 1870. In addition, several small socialist groups had formed around this time, with the intention of linking the movement to political policies. Among these were the Independent Labour Party, the intellectual and middle-class Fabian Society, the Marxist Social Democratic Federation and the Scottish Labour Party. At the 1895 general election, the Independent Labour Party put up 28 candidates but won only 44,325 votes. Keir Hardie, the leader of the party, believed that to obtain success in parliamentary elections, it would be necessary to join with other left-wing groups. Hardie's roots as a lay preacher contributed to an ethos in the party which led to the comment by 1950s General Secretary Morgan Phillips that "Socialism in Britain owed more to Methodism than Marx".
In 1899, a Doncaster member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, Thomas R. Steels, proposed in his union branch that the Trade Union Congress call a special conference to bring together all left-wing organisations and form them into a single body that would sponsor Parliamentary candidates; the motion was passed at all stages by the TUC, the proposed conference was held at the Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street on 26 and 27 February 1900. The meeting was attended by a broad spectrum of working-class and left-wing organisations—trades unions represented about one third of the membership of the TUC delegates. After a debate, the 129 delegates passed Hardie's motion to establish "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour." This created an association called the Labour Representation Committee, meant to co-ordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class population.
It had no single leader, in the absence of one, the Independent Labour Party nominee Ramsay MacDonald was elected as Secretary. He had the difficult task of keeping the various strands of opinions in the LRC united; the October 1900 "Khaki election" came too soon for the new party to campaign effectively. Only 15 candidatures were sponsored. Support for the LRC was boosted by the 1901 Taff Vale Case, a dispute between strikers and a railway company that ended with the union being ordered to pay £23,000 damages for a strike; the judgement made strikes illegal since employers could recoup the cost of lost business from the unions. The apparent acquiescence of the Conservative Government of Arthur Balfour to industrial and business interests intensified support for the LRC against a government that appeared to have little concern for the industrial proletariat and its problems. In the 1906 election, the LRC won 29 seats—helped by a secret 1903 pact between Ramsay MacDonald and Liberal Chief Whip Herbert Gladstone that aimed to avoid splitting the opposition vote between Labour and Liberal candidates in the interest of removing the Conservatives from office.
In their first meeting after the election the group's Members of Parliament decided to adop
Campaign for Freedom of Information
The Campaign for Freedom of Information is an advocacy group that promotes and defends freedom of information in the UK. It seeks to strengthen the public’s rights under the Freedom of Information Act and related laws and opposes attempts to weaken them, it does the publication of briefings and other reports and research. The Campaign provides advice to the public, assistance to people challenging unreasonable refusals to disclose information and runs training courses on freedom of information; the Campaign is a not-for-profit company, unaffiliated to any political party, governed by a board of non-executive directors. It is funded by grants from charitable foundations and income from training. Maurice Frankel has been its director since 1987; the Campaign was founded in 1984 by citizen campaigner Des Wilson to secure a freedom of information law in the UK. The organisation was launched on 5 January 1984 with the support of the 3 main opposition party leaders of the time and 150 MPs from all parties.
The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, opposed FOI in principle saying that a legal power to force ministers to disclose information would weaken ministers’ accountability to Parliament. They worked to keep FOI on the political agenda until the climate became more favourable, while seeking to introduce specific rights to information through private members’ bills. Several private members’ bills that the Campaign drafted and promoted reached the statute book as the: Access to Personal Files Act 1987 Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 Environment and Safety Information Act 1988 Access to Health Records Act 1990 The Campaign drafted a bill to reform section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911, a catch-all provision which made the unauthorised disclosure of any official information a criminal offence; the Protection of Official Information Bill, introduced by Richard Shepherd MP in 1988, would have replaced section 2 with a narrower measure that included a public interest defence. The bill was defeated after the government imposed an unprecedented three-line whip on its own MPs at second reading requiring them to vote it down.
Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative government introduced the Official Secrets Act 1989, which repealed section 2 of the 1911 Act, but rejected all efforts to insert a public interest defence. In February 1993, another of the Campaign's private members' bills for a full FOI Act, the Right to Know Bill, was introduced by Mark Fisher MP and debated for a total of 21 hours in the Commons. With the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work the Campaign drafted the Whistleblower Protection Bill, introduced as a ten-minute rule bill by Tony Wright MP early in 1995. A revised version, the Public Interest Disclosure Bill, was introduced by Don Touhig MP at the end of 1995; the bill completed its committee stage in the Commons before being talked out by the government in 1996. Shortly after the Labour Party won the 1997 general election, Richard Shepherd MP drew a high place in the private members’ ballot and introduced the Public Interest Disclosure Bill, which received Royal Assent in July 1998. In 1996 Tony Blair presented the Campaign’s annual awards and committed himself to FOI.
Following Labour’s election in 1997, the Campaign’s chairman James Cornford was appointed a special adviser by David Clark, the cabinet minister responsible for drawing up the government’s FOI proposals. But after a well-received white paper, Your Right to Know, Clark was relieved of this role and responsibility for FOI was moved to the Home Office under Jack Straw MP; the Home Office published a draft FOI bill, greeted with "universal hostility". The Campaign took the lead in proposing amendments to the bill during its Parliamentary passage, it played a similar role in relation to the Freedom of Information Act, which received Royal Assent in 2002. The Campaign’s role in bringing about FOI was acknowledged by Jack Straw MP, who as Home Secretary introduced the legislation. Mr Straw told MPs on the Justice Committee, conducting post-legislative scrutiny of the FOI Act, that Labour's manifesto commitment "was the product of a brilliant campaign by the Campaign for Freedom of Information"; the commentator, Peter Riddell, wrote that the Campaign "was responsible for the introduction of the legislation".
Since 2005 the Campaign has worked to defend the FOI Act from repeated attempts to weaken it. These started in 2006 when the government published draft regulations to make it easier for public authorities to refuse FOI requests on cost grounds; this was followed by separate moves to remove Parliament and MPs’ expenses from the legislation. There was pressure to exclude cabinet papers from access, exclude all policy discussions and to introduce charges for requests; the Campaign has opposed all these so far unsuccessful initiatives - though in 2010 a measure giving the Royal Family greater protection from FOI was passed. The Campaign continues to press for improvements to the FOI Act. In particular to: ensure FOI applies properly to contractors providing public services introduce tighter time limits for responding to requests and for them to be enforced more extend the Act’s public interest test to the ‘absolute’ exemptions allow requesters to specify that they want access to actual copies of documents not just the information in them extend the 6 month time limit within which the Information Commissioner can prosecute authorities which deliberately destroy requested records – the Government agreed to this
Censorship in France
France has a long history of governmental censorship in the 16th to 18th centuries, but today freedom of press is guaranteed by the French Constitution and instances of governmental censorship are limited. There was strong governmental control over television during the 1950s-70s. Today, the CSA is only responsible for overseeing the observance of French law by the media; the 1990 Gayssot Act which prohibits racist or/and religious hate speech, time period allocated to each political party during pre-electoral periods. Furthermore, other laws prohibit homophobic hate speech, a 1970 law prohibits the advocacy of illegal drugs. In 2016, a television ad which advocated that babies with Down Syndrome should not be aborted because of their syndrome ran, it was removed. Each of these laws has been criticized by some groups, either from the far right. Others express the need for minorities to be protected from hate speech which may lead, according to them, to heinous acts and hate crimes, while still others claim that one cannot tolerate free speech concerning drugs as it is a matter of public health and moral order.
However, the 2005 vote of the law on colonialism voted by the UMP conservative parliamentary majority has lifted a debate among historians, concerning the legitimacy and relevancy of such "memory laws." Although a fair amount of historians are opposed to such laws, few advocate their repeal because they think that repealing democratically agreed upon laws would be a greater evil. Critics, in particular, but not only, from the left wing, have criticized economic censorship, in particular through concentration of media ownership, or the fact that Dassault or Lagardère, both military firms, control several newspapers in France, such as Le Figaro. Overall, freedom of press is guaranteed by the French Constitution but several effective cases of censorship against newspapers, films, or radio-shows, have been registered in the history of the Fifth Republic, founded in 1958. Most several acts ordered by Nicolas Sarkozy, then-Interior Minister and former President of the Republic, have been criticized as forms of censorship.
Censorship in France may be traced to the middle ages. In 1275 Philip III of France put Parisian scriptoria under the control of the University of Paris which inspected manuscript books to verify that they were copied. Correctness of text, not content, was the concern until the early 16th century, when tracts by Martin Luther were printed. On June 13, 1521, Francis I of France decreed that all books had to be read and approved by the Faculty of Theology of the University, on August 3, 1521, Parlement ordered that all Lutheran books must be deposited within one week. In 1526, the Parlement of Paris and the Sorbonne issued a ban on the publishing of the Bible in French. On January 13, 1535, an extreme statute was enacted forbidding all printing under threat of hanging and closing all bookshops; this law was abandoned, Parlement formed a commission to review book printing. In 1536 it was ordered that all medical books must be approved by the Medical Faculty of the University, actions were taken against certain publishers of books on medicine and astrology.
In 1544, the University banned the printing of any book not approved by the appropriate University officials. In 1543, the Faculty of Theology issued its first Index of prohibited books, all religious, preceding by 16 years the Vatican's issuance of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1559; the Edict of Châteaubriant issued on June 27, 1551, prohibited possessing any books listed on the University's Index. The state itself began to take a greater role in censorship over the University and in 1566, the Ordonnance of Moulins was issued, banning the writing, printing or selling of defamatory books attacking individuals' good reputations and requiring that all books published must be approved and include the privilege and the great seal; the state control was strengthened in 1571 by the edict of Gaillon which placed enforcement of the censorship laws in the Chancellor's office instead of the University. The concern of the censors was "heresy and personal libel" until 1629, when censorship began to focus on immorality and indecency.
"Nevertheless... the government was never so much concerned about looseness of morals as it was about freedom of thought." Manuscripts had to be approved by the Chancellor before publication and a register of permits was maintained. During the 17th century, the University and the state fought over control of censorship, haphazard. In 1653, the University was replaced by royal censors; the royal censors office expanded in banned hundreds of titles. Books that were approved were required to include the censor's certificate of approval. Censorship was under the authority of the office of the Director of the Book Trade, the most famous o
2005 United Kingdom general election
The 2005 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 5 May 2005, to elect 646 members to the House of Commons. The Labour Party led by Tony Blair won its third consecutive victory, with Blair becoming the only Labour leader beside Harold Wilson to form three majority governments. However, its majority now stood at 66 seats compared to the 160-seat majority it had held; as of 2019, it remains the last general election victory for the Labour Party. The Labour campaign emphasised a strong economy. Despite this, Labour retained its leads over the Conservatives in opinion polls on economic competence and leadership, Conservative leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard struggled to capitalise on Blair's unpopularity, with the party trailing Labour in the polls throughout the 2001-5 Parliament; the Conservatives campaigned on policies, such as immigration limits, improving poorly-managed hospitals and reducing high crime rates, all under the slogan "Are you thinking what we're thinking?".
The Liberal Democrats, led by Charles Kennedy, were opposed to the Iraq War, given that there had been no second UN resolution, collected votes from disenchanted Labour voters. Tony Blair was returned as Prime Minister, with Labour having 355 MPs, but with a popular vote of 35.2%. In terms of votes, it was only narrowly ahead of the Conservatives, but still had a comfortable lead in terms of seats; the Conservatives returned 198 MPs, with 32 more seats than they had won at the previous general election, won the popular vote in England, while still ending up with 91 fewer MPs in England than Labour. The Liberal Democrats saw their popular vote increase by 3.7% and won the most seats of any third party since 1923, with 62 MPs. Anti-war activist and former Labour MP George Galloway was elected as the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow under the Respect – The Unity Coalition banner. In Northern Ireland, the Ulster Unionist Party, the more moderate of the main unionist parties, which had dominated Northern Irish politics since the 1920s, was reduced from six MPs to one, with party leader David Trimble himself being unseated.
The more hardline Democratic Unionist Party became the largest Northern Irish party, with nine MPs elected. Following the election, Conservative leader Michael Howard resigned and was succeeded by future Prime Minister David Cameron. Blair resigned as both Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party in June 2007, was replaced by then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown; the election results were broadcast live on the BBC, presented by Peter Snow, David Dimbleby, Jeremy Paxman and Andrew Marr. The governing Labour Party, led by Tony Blair, was looking to secure a third consecutive term in office and to retain a large majority; the Conservative Party was seeking to regain seats lost to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats since the 1992 general election, move from being the Official Opposition into government. The Liberal Democrats hoped to make gains from both main parties, but the Conservative Party, with a "decapitation" strategy targeting members of the Shadow Cabinet; the Lib Dems had wished to become the governing party, or to make enough gains to become the Official Opposition.
In Northern Ireland the Democratic Unionist Party sought to make further gains from the Ulster Unionist Party in unionist politics, Sinn Féin hoped to overtake the Social Democratic and Labour Party in nationalist politics.. The pro-independence Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru stood candidates in every constituency in Scotland and Wales respectively. Many seats were contested by other parties, including several parties without incumbents in the House of Commons. Parties that were not represented at Westminster, but had seats in the devolved assemblies and/or the European Parliament, included the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, the UK Independence Party, the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party; the Health Concern party stood again. A full list of parties which declared their intention to run can be found on the list of parties contesting the 2005 general election. All parties campaigned using such tools as party manifestos, party political broadcasts and touring the country in what are referred to as battle buses.
Local elections in parts of England and in Northern Ireland were held on the same day. The polls were open for fifteen hours, from 07:00 to 22:00 BST; the election came just over three weeks after the dissolution of Parliament on 11 April by Queen Elizabeth II, at the request of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Following the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April, it was announced that the calling of the election would be delayed until 5 April. Thanks to eight years of sustained economic growth Labour could point to a strong economy, with greater investment in public services such as education and health; this was overshadowed, however, by the issue of the controversial 2003 invasion of Iraq, which met widespread public criticism at the time, would dog Blair throughout the campaign. The Chancellor, G
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors; the Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—the Conservatives' colloquial name is "Tories"—and was one of two dominant political parties in the nineteenth century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the 1920s, the Labour Party surpassed the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers — notably Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — led governments for 57 years of the twentieth century.
Positioned on the centre-right of British politics, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Different factions have dominated the party at different times, including One Nation Conservatives and liberal conservatives, while its views and policies have changed throughout its history; the party has adopted liberal economic policies—favouring free market economics, limiting state regulation, pursuing privatisation—although in the past has supported protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing both Irish reunification and Welsh and Scottish independence, supported the maintenance of the British Empire; the party includes those with differing views on the European Union, with Eurosceptic and pro-European wings. In foreign policy, it is for a strong national defence; the Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Gibraltan branches of the party are semi-autonomous.
Its support base consists of middle-class voters in rural areas of England, its domination of British politics throughout the twentieth century has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. The Conservative Party was founded in the 1830s. However, some writers trace its origins to the reign of Charles II in the 1670s Exclusion Crisis. Other historians point to a faction, rooted in the 18th century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger in the 1780s, they were known as "Independent Whigs", "Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites" and never used terms such as "Tory" or "Conservative". Pitt died in 1806. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was used for a new party that, according to historian Robert Blake, "are the ancestors of Conservatism". Blake adds that Pitt's successors after 1812 "were not in any sense standard-bearer's of true Toryism"; the term "Conservative" was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830.
The name caught on and was adopted under the aegis of Sir Robert Peel around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of the Tamworth Manifesto; the term "Conservative Party" rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845. The widening of the electoral franchise in the nineteenth century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886, the party formed an alliance with Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain's new Liberal Unionist Party and, under the statesmen Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906 when it split over the issue of free trade. Young Winston Churchill denounced Chamberlain's attack on free trade, helped organize the opposition inside the Unionist/Conservative Party.
Balfour, as party leader, followed Chamberlain's policy introduced protectionist legislation. The high tariff element called itself "Tariff Reformers" and in a major speech in Manchester on May 13, 1904, Churchill warned their takeover of the Unionist/Conservative party would permanently brand it as: A party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable confederation. Two weeks Churchill crossed the floor and formally joined the Liberal Party. )He rejoined the Conservatives in 1925.) In December, Balfour lost control of his party, as the defections multiplied. He was replaced by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman who called an election in January 1906, which produced a massive Liberal victory with a gain of 214 seats. Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith enacted a great deal of reform legislation, but the Unionists worked hard at grassroots organizing. Two general elections were held in one in January and one in December; the two main parties were now dead equal in seats.
The Unionists had more popular votes but the Liberals kept control with a coalition with the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1912, the Liberal Unionis
1997 United Kingdom general election
The 1997 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 1 May 1997, five years after the previous general election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. Under the leadership of Tony Blair, the Labour Party ended its eighteen-year spell in opposition and won the general election with a landslide victory, winning 418 seats, the most seats the party has held to date, the highest proportion of seats held by any party in the post-war era. For the first time since 1931, the outgoing government lost more than half its parliamentary seats in an election; the election saw a 10.0% swing from Conservative to Labour on a national turnout of 71%, would be the last national vote where turnout exceeded 70% until the 2016 EU referendum nineteen years later. As a result Blair became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a position he held until his resignation on 27 June 2007. Under Blair's leadership, the Labour Party had adopted a more centrist policy platform under the name'New Labour'.
This was seen as moving away from the traditionally more left-wing stance of the Labour Party. Labour made several campaign pledges such as the creation of a National Minimum Wage, devolution referendums for Scotland and Wales and promised greater economic competence than the Conservatives, who were unpopular following the events of Black Wednesday in 1992; the Labour Party campaign was a success. However, 1997 was the last general election in which Labour had a net gain of seats until the snap 2017 general election 20 years later. A record number of women were elected to 120, of whom 101 were Labour MPs; this was in part thanks to Labour's policy of using all-women shortlists. The Conservative Party was led by incumbent Prime Minister John Major and ran their campaign emphasising falling unemployment and a strong economic recovery following the early 1990s recession. However, a series of scandals, party division over the European Union, the events of Black Wednesday and a desire of the electorate for change after 18 years of Conservative rule all contributed to the Conservatives' worst defeat since 1906, with only 165 MPs elected to Westminster, as well as their lowest share of the vote since 1832.
The party was left with no seats whatsoever in Scotland or Wales, many key Conservative politicians, including Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Trade Secretary Ian Lang, Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth and former ministers Edwina Currie, Norman Lamont, David Mellor and Neil Hamilton lost their parliamentary seats. However, future Prime Minister Theresa May was elected to the safe Conservative seat of Maidenhead, current Speaker John Bercow at Buckingham. Following the defeat, the Conservatives began their longest continuous spell in opposition in the history of the present day Conservative Party, indeed the longest such spell for any incarnation of the Tories/Conservatives since the 1760s, lasting 13 years, including the whole of the 2000s. Throughout this period, their representation in the Commons remained below 200 MPs; the Liberal Democrats, under Paddy Ashdown, returned 46 MPs to parliament, the most for any third party since 1929 and more than double the number of seats it got in 1992, despite a drop in popular vote, in part due to tactical voting by anti-Conservative voters supporting it in lieu of Labour in areas where that party had little strength.
The Scottish National Party returned six MPs, double its total in 1992. As with all general elections since the early 1950s, the results were broadcast live on the BBC; the British economy had been in recession at the time of the 1992 election, which the Conservatives had won, although the recession had ended within a year, events such as Black Wednesday had tarnished the Conservative government's reputation for economic management. Labour had elected John Smith as its party leader in 1992, but his death from a heart attack in 1994 led the way for Tony Blair to become Labour leader. Blair brought the party closer to the political centre and abolished the party's Clause IV in their constitution, which had committed them to mass nationalisation of industry. Labour reversed its policy on unilateral nuclear disarmament and the events of Black Wednesday allowed Labour to promise greater economic management under the Chancellorship of Gordon Brown. A manifesto, entitled New Labour, New Life For Britain was released in 1996 and outlined five key pledges: Class sizes to be cut to 30 or under for 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds by using money from the assisted places scheme.
Fast track punishment for persistent young offenders, by halving the time from arrest to sentencing. Cut NHS waiting lists by treating an extra 100,000 patients as a first step by releasing £100 million saved from NHS red tape. Get 250,000 under-25-year-olds off benefit and into work by using money from a windfall levy on the privatised utilities. No rise in income tax rates, cut VAT on heating to 5%, keeping inflation and interest rates as low as possible. Disputes within the Conservative government over European Union issues, a variety of "sleaze" allegations had affected the government's popularity. Despite the strong economic recovery and substantial fall in unemployment in the four years leading up to the election, the rise in Conservative support was only marginal with all of the major opinion polls having shown Labour in a comfortable lead since late 1992. Following the 1992 general election, the Conservatives held government with 336 of the 651 H
House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster; the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House; the Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved; the House of Commons of England started to evolve in 14th centuries. It became the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland in 1707, assumed the title of "House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" after the political union with Ireland at the start of the 19th century; the "United Kingdom" referred to was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Accordingly, the House of Commons assumed its current title. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power; the Government is responsible to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as she or he retains the confidence of a majority of the Commons. Although it does not formally elect the prime minister, the position of the parties in the House of Commons is of overriding importance. By convention, the prime minister is answerable to, must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person who has the support of the House, or, most to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since 1963, by convention, the prime minister is always a member of the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords.
The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence. Confidence and no confidence motions are phrased explicitly, for instance: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." Many other motions were until recent decades considered confidence issues though not explicitly phrased as such: in particular, important bills that were part of the Government's agenda. The annual Budget is still considered a matter of confidence; when a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for another MP who can command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament, thereby precipitating a general election. Parliament sits for a maximum term of five years. Subject to that limit, the prime minister could choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament, with the permission of the Monarch. However, since the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, terms are now a fixed five years, an early general election is brought about by a two-thirds majority in favour of a motion for a dissolution, or by a vote of no confidence, not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence.
By this second mechanism, the UK's government can change its political composition without an intervening general election. Only four of the eight last Prime Ministers have attained office as the immediate result of a general election; the latter four were Jim Callaghan, John Major, Gordon Brown and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. In such circumstances there may not have been an internal party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim, having no electoral rival. A prime minister will resign after party defeat at an election if unable to lead a coalition, or obtain a confidence and supply arrangement, she or he may resign after a motion of no confidence or for health reasons. In such cases, the premiership goes to, it has become the practice to write the constitution of major UK political parties to provide a set way in which to appoint a new leader. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no fixed mechanism for this, it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the consensus of cabinet ministers.
By convention, ministers are members of the House of House of Lords. A handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Exceptions include Peter Mandelson, appointed Secretary of State for Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2008 before his peerage. Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened