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
Robert Smillie was a trade unionist and Labour Party politician in Great Britain Scotland. He was a leader of the coal miners, played a central role in moving support from the miners away from the Liberal Party to the Labour Party, he had a firm commitment to socialism as an ideal, militancy as a tactic. Born in Belfast, the second son of John Smillie, a Scottish crofter; until his adult years, he spelt his name as "Smellie". During his early years, he was orphaned and brought up by his grandmother who taught him how to read and write. By the age of nine, he was working as an errand boy and by the age of eleven, he was working at a spinning mill, he was able to obtain some books by authors such as Charles Dickens, Robert Burns and William Shakespeare, but his education suffered as he had to provide income for the family. By the age of fifteen, he had left Ireland for Glasgow, where he found employment at a brass foundry, but left for the Mines of Larkhall, he was first a hand-pumper at the Sumerlee Colliery, which involved working twelve hours a day with no human contact.
He married Ann Hamilton on 31 December 1878, began to educate himself in the evenings. Smillie became secretary of the Larkhall Miners' Association in 1885 after presiding over a mass meeting, which ended in its formation and when the county federation was formed, he became president in 1893, he became the President of the Scottish Miners' Federation in 1894. Employers in a number of districts demanded wage reductions. Following a special conference of the Miners Federation of Great Britain, a ballot was taken, the strike that followed lasted from June until October 1894. Controversy arose between Smillie and Chisholm Robertson in 1900 led to a debate at Glasgow Trades Council, which Smillie won. Strikes left the Scottish miners in a greatly-weakened position, who suffered further wage cuts in 1895 and 1896. In 1897, less than 20% of the workers were organised. A founder member of the Scottish Labour Party in 1888 and of the Independent Labour Party in 1893, Smillie was a close associate of Keir Hardie during their early careers and remained friends until Hardie's death in 1915.
He campaigned for Hardie in many of his election contests, including the first in 1888. Smillie stood for parliament on seven occasions between 1894-1910, he could have had the nomination for winnable seats in Glasgow. His early commitment to socialism was moderate, Lib-Labs were predominant in the leadership, which clashed with the miners' political views. Smillie's qualities of leadership brought him to the forefront of the miners' struggles, with the growth of militancy amongst certain sections, opinion changed to his favour. In 1899, Smillie compelled the Scottish mineowners to set up a conciliation board after much trouble, he played an active part in setting up the Scottish Trades Union Congress, which made him such an outstanding activist. At the first STUC meeting in 1897, he came second in the ballot for president, but at the first meeting of the committee he was appointed chairman. Eight out of eleven of the delegates were supporters of the ILP. By 1908, he resolved that the Miners' Federation of Great Britain should affiliate to the Labour Party.
By 1910, the group was the largest in organised labour. By 1912, he was elected vice-president of the MFGB and remained in the position until 1921. All the coalfields of Great Britain went on strike in 1912, the Triple Alliance was set up. In 1915, Smillie became president of the Triple Alliance, he fought to keep the miners outside the provisions of the Munitions Act. In 1918, he resigned from the position of president of the Scottish Miners Federation, he vigorously condemned conscription and was the president of the National Council Against Conscription when it was founded, in 1915. Meanwhile, Smillie had been trying to gain more than political as well as industrial action, his first attempt was in 1894, when he stood at the by-election at Mid-Lanark, followed by Glasgow Camlachie in 1895 as the ILP, 1901 by-election in Lanarkshire, 1906 as a Labour Candidate for Paisley Cockersmouth and at Mid Lanark twice in 1910. All of the attempts were failures, but he was elected in 1923 as the Member of Parliament for Morpeth, but refused office in the short-lived Labour government of 1924 due to his ill health.
From 1922-28, he again presided the Scottish Miners' Federation. He died followed by his wife two years later, they were survived by two daughters. Bellamy, J. M. and J. Saville, eds. Dictionary of labour biography Loads, David, ed. Readers Guide to British History 2: 1190-91, historiography Wrigley, Christopher. "Smillie, Robert". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36126. Portraits of Robert Smillie at the National Portrait Gallery, London Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Robert Smillie
William Adamson was a Scottish trade unionist and Labour politician. He was Leader of the Labour Party from 1917 to 1921 and served as Secretary of State for Scotland in 1924 and during 1929–1931 in the first two Labour ministries headed by Ramsay MacDonald. Adamson was born in Dunfermline and was educated at a local dame school, he worked as a miner in Fife. In 1902–08 he was Assistant Secretary of the Fife and Kinross Miners' Association, he thereafter served as its General Secretary. Active with the new Labour Party, Adamson was first elected to Parliament for West Fife in the December 1910 general election and became leader of the party in 1917, which he was until 1921. In 1918 he was sworn of the Privy Council. In 1919, Adamson was confident that the experience of the First World War would "produce a different atmosphere and an different relationship amongst all sections of our people" and would act as a watershed in the process of social reform, he served as Secretary for Scotland and Secretary of State for Scotland in 1924 and between 1929 and 1931 in the Labour governments of Ramsay MacDonald.
However, he split with MacDonald after the formation of the National Government. Adamson lost his seat in the 1931 election which he contested for Labour against MacDonald's coalition, he stood again in the 1935 election but again failed to take the seat, losing on this occasion to William Gallacher of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Adamson was father of William Murdoch Adamson and, through him, father-in-law of Jennie Adamson, both Labour MPs, he died in February 1936, aged 72. He is buried in Dunfermline Cemetery, just north of the roundel at the end of the entrance avenue. Torrance, The Scottish Secretaries Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Adamson
1918 United Kingdom general election
The 1918 United Kingdom general election was called after the Armistice with Germany which ended the First World War, was held on Saturday, 14 December 1918. The governing coalition, under Prime Minister David Lloyd George, sent letters of endorsement to candidates who supported the coalition government; these were nicknamed "Coalition Coupons", led to the election being known as the "coupon election". The result was a massive landslide in favour of the coalition, comprising the Conservatives and Coalition Liberals, with massive losses for Liberals who were not endorsed. Nearly all the Liberal M. P.s without coupons were defeated, although party leader H. H. Asquith managed to return to Parliament in a by-election, it was the first general election to include on a single day all eligible voters of the United Kingdom, although the vote count was delayed until 28 December so that the ballots cast by soldiers serving overseas could be included in the tallies. It resulted in a landslide victory for the coalition government of David Lloyd George, who had replaced H. H. Asquith as Prime Minister in December 1916.
They were both Liberals and continued to battle for control of the party, fast losing popular support and never regained power. It was the first general election to be held after enactment of the Representation of the People Act 1918, it was thus the first election in which women over the age of 30, all men over the age of 21, could vote. All women and many poor men had been excluded from voting. Women showed enormous patriotism, supported the coalition candidates, it was the first parliamentary election in which women were able to stand as candidates following the Parliament Act 1918, believed to be one of the shortest Acts of Parliament given Royal Assent. The Act was passed shortly, it followed a report by Law Officers that the Great Reform Act 1832 had specified parliamentary candidates had to be male and that the Representation of the People Act passed earlier in the year did not change that. One women, Nina Boyle, had presented herself for a by election earlier in the year in Keighley but had been turned down by the returning officer on technical grounds.
The election was noted for the dramatic result in Ireland, which showed clear disapproval of government policy. The Irish Parliamentary Party were completely wiped out by the Irish republican party Sinn Féin, who vowed in their manifesto to establish an independent Irish Republic, they refused to take their seats in Westminster, instead forming a breakaway government and declaring Irish independence. The Irish War of Independence began soon after the election. Lloyd George's coalition government was supported by the majority of the Liberals and Bonar Law's Conservatives. However, the election saw a split in the Liberal Party between those who were aligned with Lloyd George and the government and those who were aligned with Asquith, the party's official leader. On 14 November it was announced that Parliament, sitting since 1910 and had been extended by emergency wartime action, would dissolve on 25 November, with elections on 14 December. Following confidential negotiations over the summer of 1918, it was agreed that certain candidates were to be offered the support of the Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party at the next general election.
To these candidates a letter, known as the Coalition Coupon, was sent, indicating the government's endorsement of their candidacy. 159 Liberal, 364 Conservative, 20 National Democratic and Labour, 2 Coalition Labour candidates received the coupon. For this reason the election is called the Coupon Election.80 Conservative candidates stood without a coupon. Of these, 35 candidates were Irish Unionists. Of the other non-couponed Conservative candidates, only 23 stood against a Coalition candidate; the Labour Party, led by William Adamson, fought the election independently, as did those Liberals who did not receive a coupon. The election was not chiefly fought over what peace to make with Germany, although those issues played a role. More important was the voters' evaluation of Lloyd George in terms of what he had accomplished so far and what he promised for the future, his supporters emphasised. Against his strong record in social legislation, he called for making "a country fit for heroes to live in".
This election was known as a khaki election, due to the immediate postwar setting and the role of the demobilised soldiers. The coalition won the election with the Conservatives the big winners, they were the largest party in the governing majority. Lloyd George remained Prime Minister, despite the Conservatives outnumbering his pro-coalition Liberals; the Conservatives welcomed his leadership on foreign policy as the Paris Peace talks began a few weeks after the election. An additional 47 Conservatives, 23 of whom were Irish Unionists, won without the coupon but did not act as a separate block or oppose the government except on the issue of Irish independence. While most of the pro-coalition Liberals were re-elected, Asquith's faction was reduced to just 36 seats and lost all their leaders from parliament. Nine of these MPs subsequently joined the Coalition Liberal group; the remainder became bitter enemies of Lloyd George. The Labour Party increased its vote share and surpassed the total votes of either Liberal party.
Labour became the Official Opposition for the first time, but they lacked an official leader and so the Leader of the Opposition for the next fourteen months was the stand-in Liberal leader Donald Maclean (Asquith
First MacDonald ministry
The first MacDonald ministry of the United Kingdom lasted from January to November 1924. The Labour Party, under Ramsay MacDonald, had failed to win the general election of December 1923, with 191 seats, although the combined Opposition tally exceeded that of the Conservative government creating a hung parliament. Stanley Baldwin remained in office until January 1924; the Conservatives had won the previous general election held in 1922 shortly after the fall of the Lloyd George Coalition when along with their Unionist allies, they had won 344 seats. This seemed a significant enough majority to expect a full parliamentary term. Shortly after the election the Conservative leader Bonar Law died and was replaced by Baldwin, who reneged on his predecessor's electoral pledge not to introduce protective tariffs. Baldwin sought a fresh mandate from the electorate in 1923; the result was decisive, being against protectionism, it was clear that the Conservatives had lost, despite remaining the largest party.
Baldwin had little chance of remaining prime minister when the balance of power was held by the Liberal Party under H. H. Asquith, who had campaigned vigorously for free trade, to the point of healing the rift that existed between the Asquith and Lloyd George Liberal Party factions. Baldwin advised King George V to send for MacDonald, since the Labour Party held more seats in the Commons than the Liberals. MacDonald accepted the King's commission that day, arriving with his Labour colleagues, to the amusement of many and dismay of others, in full court dress. MacDonald had become Labour's first proper leader in 1922; as well as being Prime Minister, he became his own Foreign Secretary, a dual role which he performed well enough, but which alienated the second man in the party, Arthur Henderson, who became Home Secretary. Philip Snowden, the evangelical ex-member of the Independent Labour Party became a rigidly orthodox Chancellor of the Exchequer, while the next two prominent members of the party, Jimmy Thomas and J. R. Clynes, became Colonial Secretary and Lord Privy Seal respectively.
The Fabian Sidney Webb, who had, along with Henderson, been instrumental in conceiving Labour's 1918 programme'Labour and the New Social Order' which had committed the party to nationalisation, was appointed President of the Board of Trade. A former chairman of the parliamentary party, Willie Adamson, became Scottish Secretary, while left-wingers Fred Jowett and John Wheatley became First Commissioner of Works and Minister of Health; the Cabinet was characterised by a moderate trade union feel, although it contained a few Liberals. Only three members had been ministers: Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane, Arthur Henderson and J. R. Clynes; the main achievement of the government was that it showed itself to be'fit to govern'. Although this might not have meant much in terms of concrete policy-making, it at least did not alarm voters who may have feared that the party would dismantle the country and promulgate'socialism'. Hence, Labour policies such as nationalisation, the'capital levy' taxation and public works programmes to alleviate unemployment were either played down or ignored altogether.
However, to act'respectably', as any other government would have, was a major component of the MacDonald electoral appeal and strategy. Indeed, some historians have seen, in this time, an electoral consensus that existed between MacDonald and his Conservative counterpart Baldwin, to maintain the stability of the electoral system and preclude any radicalism that might have alienated voters or exacerbated crises such as unemployment. By 1929, voters felt able to trust Labour and thus they were voted back in again. Despite lacking a parliamentary majority, the First Labour Government was able to introduce a number of measures which made life more tolerable for working people; the main achievement of the government was the 1924 Wheatley Housing Act, which MacDonald dubbed'our most important legislative item'. This measure went some way towards rectifying the problem of the housing shortage, caused by the disruption of the building trade during the First World War and the inability of working-class tenants to rent decent, affordable housing.
Wheatley was able to provide public housing to council tenants, as against the previous government's commitment to privatisation. This landmark Act subsidised the construction of 521,700 rented homes at controlled rents by 1933, when the subsidy for encouraging local authority housing construction was abolished. Various improvements were made in benefits for pensioners and the unemployed. More generous provision for the unemployed was provided, with increases in both children's allowances and in unemployment benefits for both men and women. Unemployment benefit payments were increased from 15 shillings to 18 shillings a week for men, from 12 shillings to 15 shillings for women, while the children's allowance was doubled to two shillings; the "gap" between periods of benefit under the unemployment insurance scheme was abolished. In addition, eligibility for benefits was extended, while the household means-test for the long-term unemployed was removed, more people were made eligible for unemployment benefits, uncovenanted benefits were made a statutory right, the duration of unemployment benefits was extended from 26 to 41 weeks.
However, a "genuinely seeking work" clause, by which applicants had to prove that they were seeking work, was introduced, a move that the government saw as a
A trade union called a labour union or labor union, is an association of workers in a particular trade, industry, or company created for the purpose of securing improvement in pay, working conditions or social and political status through collective bargaining and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by creation of a monopoly of the workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers; the most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring and promotion of workers, workplace safety and policies. Unions may organize a particular section of skilled workers, a cross-section of workers from various trades, or attempt to organize all workers within a particular industry; the agreements negotiated by a union are binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers.
Trade unions traditionally have a constitution which details the governance of their bargaining unit and have governance at various levels of government depending on the industry that binds them to their negotiations and functioning. Originating in Great Britain, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution. Trade unions may be composed of individual workers, past workers, apprentices or the unemployed. Trade union density, or the percentage of workers belonging to a trade union, is highest in the Nordic countries. Since the publication of the History of Trade Unionism by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the predominant historical view is that a trade union "is a continuous association on wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment." Karl Marx described trade unions thus: "The value of labour-power constitutes the conscious and explicit foundation of the trade unions, whose importance for the working class can scarcely be overestimated.
The trade unions aim at nothing less than to prevent the reduction of wages below the level, traditionally maintained in the various branches of industry. That is to say, they wish to prevent the price of labour-power from falling below its value". A modern definition by the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that a trade union is "an organization consisting predominantly of employees, the principal activities of which include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members."Yet historian R. A. Leeson, in United we Stand, said: Two conflicting views of the trade-union movement strove for ascendancy in the nineteenth century: one the defensive-restrictive guild-craft tradition passed down through journeymen's clubs and friendly societies... the other the aggressive-expansionist drive to unite all'labouring men and women' for a'different order of things'. Recent historical research by Bob James in Craft, Trade or Mystery puts forward the view that trade unions are part of a broader movement of benefit societies, which includes medieval guilds, Oddfellows, friendly societies, other fraternal organizations.
The 18th century economist Adam Smith noted the imbalance in the rights of workers in regards to owners. In The Wealth of Nations, Book I, chapter 8, Smith wrote: We hear, it has been said, of the combination of masters, though of those of workmen, but whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate When workers combine, masters... never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combination of servants and journeymen. As Smith noted, unions were illegal for many years in most countries, although Smith argued that it should remain illegal to fix wages or prices by employees or employers. There were severe penalties for including execution. Despite this, unions were formed and began to acquire political power resulting in a body of labour law that not only legalized organizing efforts, but codified the relationship between employers and those employees organized into unions.
The origins of trade unions can be traced back to 18th century Britain, where the rapid expansion of industrial society taking place drew women, rural workers and immigrants into the work force in large numbers and in new roles. They encountered a large hostility in their early existence from employers and government groups; this pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labour spontaneously organized in fits and starts throughout its beginnings, would be an important arena for the development of trade unions. Trade unions have sometimes been seen as successors to the guilds of medieval Europe, though the relationship between the two is disputed, as the masters of the guilds employed workers who were not allowed to organize. Trade unions and collective bargaining were outlawed from no than the middle of the 14th century when the Ordinance of Labourers was enacted in the Kingdom of England but their way of thinking was the one that endured dur
Ben Smith (Labour politician)
Sir Benjamin Smith was a Labour Party politician in England. A driver of one of London's first taxicabs, Smith became the first organiser for the London Cab Drivers' Union, he was national organiser of the Transport and General Workers' Union from its formation in 1922 until he was elected to Parliament in 1923. Smith was Member of Parliament for Rotherhithe from 1923 until 1931 and from 1935 until 1946, he served as Minister of Food in the 1945 Attlee ministry until his resignation in May 1946 to become Chairman of West Midlands Coal Board. TIME.com: The New Cabinet, 13 August 1945 TIME.com: Sir Ben's Battle, 18 February 1946 Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Ben Smith