The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
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
Alliance for Green Socialism
The Alliance for Green Socialism is a socialist and environmentalist political grouping operating across Britain. Its first annual conference was in 2003 following the 2002 merger of the Leeds Left Alliance and the Green Socialist Network; the Leeds Left Alliance had been involved in the former Socialist Alliance and a small number of AGS members remained involved in it until it was dissolved by the SWP in February 2005. The AGS has sponsored various attempts by one of its affiliate organisations and the Socialist Alliance Democracy Platform to re-form the Socialist Alliance from 2005 onwards but this has had little success and the AGS concluded in 2011 that such efforts were no longer politically productive; the AGS describes itself as an alliance rather than as a party. This is seen as significant by some AGS members because the AGS contains people from a variety of trends and ideological backgrounds who have all agreed to work together in a single organisation whilst retaining the right to disagree on some issues.
Many of the AGS members come from former political parties which had a democratic centralist tradition while others were in the Labour Party or in no party at all. To argue out every issue on which differences existed to the point where a majority decision was reached, binding on all members might lead to many comrades leaving; the current arrangement recognises that the AGS is open to people from various leftist and environmentalist positions – as long as they agree on the basic principles on which the AGS was founded. The AGS stood candidates in its own name in the Yorkshire and the Humber constituency in the 2004 European Election, coming last with 0.9% of the votes cast. It contested the 2005 UK general election under its own name and in association with other leftist parties in the Socialist Green Unity Coalition, standing candidates in Yorkshire and Brighton; the AGS stood candidates under its own name in the 2010, 2015 and 2017 General Elections. In 2009, the AGS joined the No2EU – Yes to Democracy election campaign for the European elections and three AGS members stood as candidates in Yorkshire & Humberside.
However, following the election, the failure of the RMT union to commit itself to a successor organisation to this campaign and its transformation into a new organisation, politically and organisationally dominated by the Socialist Party, has led the AGS to withdraw from this group. The Green Socialist Network was a socialist environmentalist political grouping whose origins go back to the Communist Party of Great Britain; when the CPGB was wound up in 1991 a number of its members transferred to a new organisation called the Democratic Left led by former CPGB General Secretary Nina Temple. However, the Democratic Left failed to live up to the expectations of a number of its members and a split occurred, which led to many of these — in the London area — leaving the Democratic Left and establishing the GSN; these included Dave Cook, former National Organiser of the party. The GSN was not a socialist grouping as its members accepted that the old Soviet style system of industrialised state socialism had failed in many respects.
The GSN adopted a programme entitled "Towards Green Socialism", which proposed linking socialism with environmental sustainability and which argued that these two developments were both essential for human survival and development and that each required the other. The GSN Programme "Towards Green Socialism" has been incorporated into AGS policy documents but is still available on request from the AGS, Freepost NEA 5794, Leeds LS7 3YY. E-mail requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website at. In 2002 GSN members voted to merge with the Leeds-based Left Alliance and some independent Green Leftists to form the Alliance for Green Socialism; the GSN programme "Towards Green Socialism" was adopted as the basis for the AGS's political programme and remains so. The GSN membership was in London and the South East and former GSN members make up the majority of the AGS London membership. Two former GSN members became National Officers of the AGS and several others became founder members of the AGS National Committee.
The alliance's first and founding annual conference was held in 2003, after the members of the Leeds Left Alliance and the Green Socialist Network had both voted to approve the merger the previous year and had formed a combined National Committee. The first general election the alliance contested was the 2005 general election. However, in 2004 it had contested both the local elections the European elections, securing 13,776 but no seats in the European election; the AGS has continued to contest every general election. During the 2009 European elections the party campaigned as part of the No2EU alliance which combined many minor parties on the left-side of politics to campaign against the perceived'pro-capitalist' and anti-democratic aspects of the European Union. The
1999 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom
The European Parliament Election, 1999 was the United Kingdom's part of the European Parliament election 1999. It was held on 10 June 1999. Following the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, it was the first European election to be held in the United Kingdom where the whole country used a system of proportional representation. In total, 87 Members of the European Parliament were elected from the United Kingdom; the change in voting system resulted in significant changes in seats. The Conservatives won double the number of seats they had won in the previous European election, in 1994, while the Labour Party saw its seats reduced from 62 to 29; the Liberal Democrats saw their number of seats increase to 10 from just 2 in the previous election. The UK Independence Party, Green Party and Plaid Cymru gained their first seats in the European Parliament; the House of Commons Library calculated notional seat changes based on what the result would have been if the 1994 European elections had been held under proportional representation.
The notional results and seat changes are shown in the results box for this article. It was the first European Parliament election to be held since the 1997 general election which resulted in a change of government from Conservative to Labour. Turnout was 24%, the lowest of any member state in the 1999 election where the EU average was 49.51%. It was the lowest of any European election in the United Kingdom, the lowest of any member state until the 2009 election; the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999 introduced a closed-list party list system method of proportional representation, calculated using the D'Hondt method into Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, the Single Transferable Vote, a form of proportional representation, used since the first European election in 1979 was retained; the Act created twelve new electoral regions, which were based on the British government's nine administrative Regions of England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The effect of the introduction of proportional representation was that many small parties won seats to the European Parliament for the first time.
The Conservatives doubled the number of seats from the last European election. Labour saw their 62 seats reduced to just 29, it was the first European Parliament election to be held since the change of United Kingdom government from Conservative to Labour two years earlier. The Liberal Democrats saw their number of seats increase to 10 from just 2 in the previous election; the UK Independence Party, Green Party and Plaid Cymru won their first seats in the European Parliament. These changes were due to the move to proportional representation from first-past-the-post; the House of Commons Library calculated that if the 1994 European elections had been held under proportional representation, Labour would have won 43 MEPs, the Conservatives 26, the Lib Dems 11, the SNP 3 and Plaid Cymru 1. Summary of the election results for Great Britain Summary of the election results for Northern Ireland Labour Angela Billingham Susan Waddington Veronica Hardstaff Clive Needle Peter Truscott David Thomas Carole Tongue Shaun Spiers Mary Honeyball Michael Elliot Dr Gordon Adam Tony Cunningham Mark Hendrick Hugh McMahon Anita Pollack Ian White Joe Wilson David Morris Michael Tappin David Hallam Roger Barton Barry Seal Liberal Democrat Robin Teverson Conservative Edward Kellett-Bowman Bryan Cassidy Pro-Euro Conservative Party John Stevens, former Conservative MEP Brendan Donnelly, former Conservative MEP Independent Labour Christine Oddy, former Labour MEP Scottish Socialist Party Hugh Kerr, former Labour MEP Leeds Left Alliance Ken Coates, former Labour MEP Labour's results resulted in a debate within Labour about the introduction of proportional representation.
In September 1998, a poll of 150 MPs had found that 58% backed the introduction of proportional representation. A follow up poll ran on the Sunday after the election found that this had decreased to 43%, with the majority wanting a return to the first-past-the-post system, it has been argued however, that the introduction of proportional representation reduced Labour's losses as first-past-the-post is more sensitive to swings in public opinion. Elections in the United Kingdom: European elections Members of the European Parliament for the United Kingdom 1999–2004 Members of the European Parliament for the United Kingdom 1999–2004 by region Breakdown of results by Region House of Commons Research Paper 99/64 "Elections to the European Parliament – June 1999"
Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism in opposition to social hierarchy. It involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished; the term left-wing can refer to "the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system". The political terms "Left" and "Right" were coined during the French Revolution, referring to the seating arrangement in the French Estates General: those who sat on the left opposed the monarchy and supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Use of the term "Left" became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the "Independents"; the word "wing" was appended to Left and Right in the late 19th century with disparaging intent and "left-wing" was applied to those who were unorthodox in their religious or political views.
The term was applied to a number of movements republicanism during the French Revolution in the 18th century, followed by socialism, communism and social democracy in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since the term left-wing has been applied to a broad range of movements including civil rights movements, feminist movements, anti-war movements and environmental movements, as well as a wide range of parties. According to former professor of economics Barry Clark, " claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status and wealth are eliminated". In politics, the term "Left" derives from the French Revolution, as the anti-monarchist Montagnard and Jacobin deputies from the Third Estate sat to the left of the presiding member's chair in parliament, a habit which began in the French Estates General of 1789. Throughout the 19th century in France, the main line dividing Left and Right was between supporters of the French Republic and those of the monarchy.
The June Days Uprising during the Second Republic was an attempt by the Left to assert itself after the 1848 Revolution, but only a small portion of the population supported this. In the mid-19th century, socialism and anti-clericalism became features of the French Left. After Napoleon III's 1851 coup and the subsequent establishment of the Second Empire, Marxism began to rival radical republicanism and utopian socialism as a force within left-wing politics; the influential Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, published in 1848, asserted that all human history is the history of class struggle. They predicted that a proletarian revolution would overthrow bourgeois capitalism and create a classless, post-monetary communist society, it was in this period that the word "wing" was appended to both Right. In the United States, many leftists, social liberals and trade unionists were influenced by the works of Thomas Paine, who introduced the concept of asset-based egalitarianism, which theorises that social equality is possible by a redistribution of resources.
The International Workingmen's Association, sometimes called the First International, brought together delegates from many different countries, with many different views about how to reach a classless and stateless society. Following a split between supporters of Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, anarchists formed the International Workers' Association; the Second International became divided over the issue of World War I. Those who opposed the war, such as Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, saw themselves as further to the left. In the United States after Reconstruction, the phrase "the Left" was used to describe those who supported trade unions, the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. More in the United States, left-wing and right-wing have been used as synonyms for Democratic and Republican, or as synonyms for liberalism and conservatism respectively. Since the Right was populist, both in the Western and the Eastern Bloc anything viewed as avant-garde art was called leftist in all Europe, thus the identification of Picasso's Guernica as "leftist" in Europe and the condemnation of the Russian composer Shostakovich's opera in Pravda as follows: "Here we have'leftist' confusion instead of natural, human music".
The following positions are associated with left-wing politics. Leftist economic beliefs range from Keynesian economics and the welfare state through industrial democracy and the social market to nationalization of the economy and central planning, to the anarcho-syndicalist advocacy of a council- and assembly-based self-managed anarchist communism. During the industrial revolution, leftists supported trade unions. At the beginning of the 20th century, many leftists advocated strong government intervention in the economy. Leftists continue to criticize what they perceive as the exploitative nature of globalization, the "race to the bottom" and unjust lay-offs. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the belief that government ought to be directly involved in the day-to-day workings of an economy declined in popularity amongst the center-left social democrats who became influenced by "Third Way" ideology. Other leftists believe in Marxian economics; some distinguish Marx's economic theories from his political philos
A political party is an organized group of people with common views, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters' interests. While there is some international commonality in the way political parties are recognized and in how they operate, there are many differences, some are significant. Many political parties have an ideological core, but some do not, many represent ideologies different from their ideology at the time the party was founded. Many countries, such as Germany and India, have several significant political parties, some nations have one-party systems, such as China and Cuba; the United States is in practice a two-party system but with many smaller parties participating and a high degree of autonomy for individual candidates. Political factions have existed in democratic societies since ancient times. Plato writes in his Republic on the formation of political cliques in Classical Athens, the tendency of Athenian citizens to vote according to factional loyalty rather than for the public good.
In the Roman Republic, Polybius coined the term ochlocracy to describe the tendency of politicians to mobilise popular factionalist sentiment against their political rivals. Factional politics remained a part of Roman political life through the Imperial period and beyond, the poet Juvenal coined the phrase "bread and circuses" to describe the political class pandering to the citizenry through diversionary entertainments rather than through arguments about policy. "Bread and circuses" survived as part of Byzantine political life - for example, the Nika revolt during the reign of Justinian was a riot between the "Blues" and the "Greens"—two chariot racing factions at the Hippodrome, who received patronage from different Senatorial factions and religious sects. The patricians who sponsored the Blues and the Greens competed with each other to hold grander games and public entertainments during electoral campaigns, in order to appeal to the citizenry of Constantinople; the first modern political factions, can be said to have originated in early modern Britain.
The first political factions, cohering around a basic, if fluid, set of principles, emerged from the Exclusion Crisis and Glorious Revolution in late 17th century England. The Whigs supported Protestant constitutional monarchy against absolute rule, they were interested in the citizens of United Kingdom being free from the aristocracy and opposed to any tyranny, however they supported the constitutional aristocracy and does not consider the British nobility abusive because of its limits; the leader of the Whigs was Robert Walpole, who maintained control of the government in the period 1721–1742. As the century wore on, the factions began to adopt more coherent political tendencies as the interests of their power bases began to diverge; the Whig party's initial base of support from the great aristocratic families widened to include the emerging industrial interests and wealthy merchants. As well as championing constitutional monarchy with strict limits on the monarch's power, the Whigs adamantly opposed a Catholic king as a threat to liberty, believed in extending toleration to nonconformist Protestants, or dissenters.
A major influence on the Whigs were the liberal political ideas of John Locke, the concepts of universal rights employed by Locke and Algernon Sidney. Although the Tories were out of office for half a century, for most of this period the Tories retained party cohesion, with occasional hopes of regaining office at the accession of George II and the downfall of the ministry of Sir Robert Walpole in 1742, they acted as a united, though unavailing, opposition to Whig corruption and scandals. At times they cooperated with the "Opposition Whigs", Whigs who were in opposition to the Whig government, they regained power with the accession of George III in 1760 under Lord Bute. When they lost power, the old Whig leadership dissolved into a decade of factional chaos with distinct "Grenvillite", "Bedfordite", "Rockinghamite", "Chathamite" factions successively in power, all referring to themselves as "Whigs". Out of this chaos, the first distinctive parties emerged; the first such party was the Rockingham Whigs under the leadership of Charles Watson-Wentworth and the intellectual guidance of the political philosopher Edmund Burke.
Burke laid out a philosophy that described the basic framework of the political party as "a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed". As opposed to the instability of the earlier factions, which were tied to a particular leader and could disintegrate if removed from power, the party was centred around a set of core principles and remained out of power as a united opposition to government. A coalition including the Rockingham Whigs, led by the Earl of She