History of United Kingdom

Ireland. Scotland. Wales. International relationships. US (United States). Europe. Commonwealth. USA (United States of America). Society. Government. Education

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  • 20th C. IN THE UK, IRELAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES

  • UNITED KINGDOM

    Queen VICTORIA died in 1901 and she was succeeded by her son Edward VII who reigned from 1901 to 1910.

    EDWARD VII was quite different from his mother: he was a quite self-indulgent person, quite extravagant, he liked expensive food, travelling to France, a pleasant life, etc. This period is known as the Edwardian Era and also Belle Époque. But life was no so good or belle for the whole population of the country (there were many problems).

    This was a period of reforms, most of them carried out by a liberal called Campbell- Bannerman. For instance:

    • slums were cleared and towns replanned

    • labour exchanges were established

    • minimum wages were fixed for same jobs

    • pensions started to be paid

    • a Trade Disputes Act: protect the rights of the workers when they were on strike

    Edward VII died in 1910 and he was succeeded by his son George V who reigned from 1910 to 1936.

    GEORGE V was a very popular monarch and he started the tradition of delivering a speech on Christmas Day (first on radio, later on tv).

    Some important reforms took place at the beginning of his reign:

    • Parliament Act in 1911: greatly limited the power of the House of Lords. For instance:

  • The House of Lords could not go against any economic law that had been passed by the House of Commons

  • It also introduced a salary for the members of the House of Commons

  • Now candidates to Parliament could be supported by Trade Unions. In fact, this was a great encouragement for the labour party.

    • National Insurance Act in 1911: it provided help for the sick and for the unemployed.

    The beginning of George V´s reign was marked by an important international event which was the First World War. This war broke up in 1914 between Austria - Hungary and Serbia.

    Quite soon, other European countries were involved: Germany, Russia, France, Belgium and eventually Britain. In fact, quite soon the enemy was Germany and the other countries were allies.

    Initially Britain remained neutral. In fact, Britain was no ready for this war. So at the beginning, only volunteers joined the army. However, from 1916 onwards, men were forced to join the army.

    Many Britains died in this war, not only in Europe. Civilians (no soldiers) had to be convinced that the war was worth fighting. Here popular newspapers played an important role (they contributed to create an anti German feeling in Britain.

    When Germany attacked some neutral countries, America came into the War. The result was that Germany surrendered in 1918. However, the official end of the War didn't come until 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles.

    The problem of this treaty was that it forced very harsh conditions on Germany. Some historians consider that here is the real beginning of II WW.

    During the War, women in Britain had played an important part in the economy and functioning of the country. Men were sent to War as soldiers and it was women who kept the country going (in factories, farms, etc).

    For sometime, there had been a Feminist movement known as the Suffragettes that had been fighting to give women the right to vote. In 1918, women over 30 got the right to vote. A few years later, they got the right to vote on the same terms as men.

    After the I WW, it came a period of Recession. There were many strikes and some hunger marches (protesting against the lack of food). In fact, in 1921, there were over 2 million unemployed people in Britain.

    The situation was so serious that the Liberal Prime Minister at the time, Lloyd George, had to resign. This was almost the end of the Liberal Party in Britain. From then onwards, the Labour Party became the real opposition to the Conservative Party. In fact, the Labour Party came to power for the 1st time in 1924. However, the situation was so difficult that Government lasted for very short periods.

    The situation became more serious in the following years due to the American Wall Street Crash in 1929 known as “ The Depression ”. It had consequences for Britain where the economy was on the brink to collapse (now the amount of unemployed people was 3 millions).

    In 1931, it was necessary to have a coalition Government to save the country.

    In 1936, the country lived a new crisis, a Monarchy Crisis:

    George V died in 1936 and he was succeeded by his son EDWARD VIII. However short time after being crowned, he decided to give up the throne in order to marry a divorced American woman called Miss Simpson. This meant an important crisis, but it was solved electing his brother as successor of the throne: GEORGE VI who reigned from 1936 to 1952.

    In the mid 1930´s, the country seemed had recovered a bit from the Depression. But again, some external factors prevented the whole recovering of the country. This external circumstances led to the beginning of the World War Two in 1939.

    Among some other questions, the beginning of the II WW was due to the Hitler's and Mussolini's expansionism wishes and dreams.

    Again, quite soon, the whole of Europe was involved into this war. On this case:

    • The Axis: Germany, Italy and Japan

    • The Allies: France, United Kingdom and Russia

    The leader of the Axis group was Germany who never invaded Britain. But German planes bombed many towns in Britain and many part of London was badly damaged during the period of 1940 and 1941 (known as the Blitz).

    The War that started in Europe, soon became a world-wide.

    In 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and Japan attacked the USA (Pearl Harbour). This is the moment when the USA entered in the War.

    Italy surrendered in 1943 and Germany in 1945. The War finally came into the end with the dropping of the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima (Japan, on August 6th of 1945).

    In 1940, Churchill (Conservative Party) had been elected as Prime Minister of the country. So he was the British PM during the War. However, at the end of the War, the Conservative Party was defeated at the election that year.

    The Labour Party won the election by an absolute majority. The leader of the Labour Party at the time became PM: Clement Attlee.

    Clement Attlee´s Government meant great changes for the country. He introduced some Bills (proposals for Parliament to become Acts/laws) at the Parliament in order to Nationalise the essential industries and the means of supply.

    These nationalizations would mean the foundations of something that became known as Welfare State. This Welfare State was supposed to bring back prosperity to the country:

  • Nationalisation of the essential industries took place in :

  • 1946: the Bank of England

  • 1946: the Coal Mining, and Radio.

  • 1947: Transport (Railway, Canals) and Electricity.

  • 1948: Gas

  • 1949: Iron and Steel Industry

  • National Health Service: In 1946, the Labour Government also established this service which gave anyone in Britain the right to free medical treatment.

  • National Assistance Act: was passed at Parliament two years later, and it provided financial economic help for unemployed, for the old and for those unable to work (also for mother and children). So it took care of a huge range of population.

  • Clement Attlee established what later was known as Post War Consensus. This consensus or agreement was an agreement between the two main parties on fundamental economic and social matters. The aim was to rebuild the country economically and socially. This consensus was based on some principles put forward by an economist called J.M. Keynes who said that capitalist society could only survive if Government control, manage and plan part of its economy. The consensus was about the commitment of both parties to the economic reconstruction and social reform of the country.

  • Situation of the British Empire:

    After the WWI, some of the German colonies in Africa (but also Iraq and Palestine) had been added to the British Empire. However the situation changed after the WWII and the British Empire started to fall apart, to dismantle, to came to an end:

    • India had demanded freedom for several decades and since the 20´s and 30´s there had been a growing nationalist movement led by Gandhi. So finally Britain left that area in 1947, but before that the area had been dived into two countries: a Hindu religion State called India and a Muskin religion State called Pakistan.

    • Palestine: Britain left Palestine in 1948 but leaving behind an unresolved problem between the Arab inhabitants and the Jewish settlers.

    • Egypt: Britain left Egypt in 1956, after they'd tried to bring about the fall of the Egyptian president Nasser because he wanted to nationalise the Suez Canal. This was against the interest of Britain so in an old-fashioned imperialist action, they tried to prevent it, but they failed.

    • During the 60´s , several British African colonies became independent states due to the growth of nationalism and independence movements. Britain lost most of its colonies in the West Indies and an institution called the Commonwealth kept the lines (cultural, economic, etc.) between the former colonies and Britain.

    In 1952, Elizabeth came to the throne and became Queen ELIZABETH II.

    Just one year before this, the Conservative Party won the elections and W. Churchill was PM again. They were in power for around 30 years and this was a period of economic prosperity. Britain partly recovered its economic leading position.

    Because there were years of prosperity, people could get a job quite easily. This situation made possible the phenomenon of Youth Culture: young people now had money to spend on things they were interested on. The mini-skirt was invented, referred to music, different bands appeared. This was the 50´s and the early 60´s.

    In Europe, the European Economic Community (EEC) was established in 1957 after the Treaty of Rome was signed. Britain declined to join this community, but latter, when they decided to apply for membership, they were vetoed in two occasions by France. But in 1973, Britain became a member of this community.

    The situation changed in the middle of 1960´s when the British economy entered in a new crisis. Unemployment increased very quickly, in fact, the crisis wasn't solved until the 1990´s.

    Britain also had to face some new social conflicts due to the arrival of immigrants from the former colonies. In the 1950´s, black immigrants started to arrive from the West Indies. Later, in the 1960´s, it was the turn of the Asian immigrants from India and Pakistan.

    The arrival of immigrants created social tension in Britain, so different governments have passed laws both protecting the immigrants rights and controlling the number of them coming. In the 1980´s there were serious riots in places like Liverpool, Bristol and London.

    We come to year 1979 when after the elections, the Conservative Party won and Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister in British or European history.

    Mrs Thatcher promised a new beg for the country. This new beg should be based on these principles:

    • hard work

    • patriotism

    • self-help.

    At the same time, she was determined to destroy the position of Socialism or Labour in Britain, which philosophy she blamed for all country's problems.

    Her philosophy was to create a stable economic climate by having low rates of inflation and low taxes. She thought that the government should not interfere in the economy of the country. So in this way she was breaking the post-war consensus. And she also started to privatised many of the essential industries. To have public services, people had to pay taxes because the Government could only get money from this way (Economic Liberalism).

    But at the same time, she tried to control different institutions in the country, for instance the media (press, tv, etc), and she also tried to control education (by means of the National Curriculum).

    So comparing Clement Attlee and M. Thatcher:

    Clement Attlee, 1945

    • nationalisation; Welfare State

    • High taxes

    • the government should interfere in the economy (Keynes)

    • he started post-war consensus

    Margaret Thatcher, 1979

    • privatise

    • low taxes

    • the government should not interfere in the economy (laissez-faire)

    • she broke up the post-war consensus

    As a consequence of her economic policy, she divided the country in two areas:

  • the North which had the traditional industry, and which was stagnating.

  • the South which had the service and technological industry and which was thriving (prosperous), growing.

  • There was a serious differences between these two areas.

    M. Thatcher came into power in 1979, and three years later, she already became very unpopular. But she was quite lucky thanks to the war Britain won against Argentina.

    In April 1982, Argentina forcibly occupied the Falkland Islands. British victory made grow the patriotism and also brought Thatcher´s popularity back.

    Thatcher won the elections in 1983 and in 1987. Again she promised to stop Britain's economic decline, but she failed. In fact, in 1984 there were several strikes mainly as a consequence of the closing down of several mines in the country (Billy Elliot, etc).

    The economic situation was only solved by the discovering of oil in the North Sea in this period.

    M. Thatcher finally resigned in 1990, when she lost the support of the majority of her party. She has always been an anti-Europe politician, she was against anything that meant Europe. At some point, this created an embarrassing situation for the Government itself.

    M. Thatcher was succeeded by another conservative politician: John Major. He was softer in manner and he evolved the idea of post-war consensus, so the party recovered the popularity of conservative party.

    Unfortunately for him, he had to govern in one of the worst economic periods for Britain. In the early 1990´s, Britain suffered one of the period of the worse recession since 1930´s. The situation was quite serious. Business were closing down, unemployment grew very fast and the property markets collapsed.

    In 1997 there was another election, the Labour party won after a period of 17 years ruled by the Conservatives. Tony Blair became Prime Minister. His main concerns were about education, welfare cuts and decentralisation:

    • Regarding education, the problem has not been resolved yet. There is an important shortage of primary and secondary school teachers. There are problems with discipline and also with the renowledge the student acquire.

    • Regarding the Welfare Cuts, they are rebated with a new philosophy he put forward: the Third Way:

  • Intervention, high taxes, nationalisation

  • Liberalisation, low taxes, privatisation

  • Taxes have to be paid but not too high, some services can depend on the state but some others can be privatised. This third way was connected with the Welfare cuts. Decentralisation consists in giving self-government to some areas in the country. In 1997 there were referendums about self-government in Wales and Scotland, later in Northern Ireland too. Projects of self-government in some areas of England itself.

    Tony Blair advanced the following elections that should have been in May 2002 to 2001. He won the election again by an important majority of votes. However, right now Tony Blair´s Government is going through a difficult situation mainly due to the problems with social services, the education or the national health service.

    IRELAND

    Ireland had become part of the UK in 1801 by means of Union Act. But through the 20th century, there had been protests and attempts of rebellion to become independent from the

    UK again.

    Just before the IWW, the British Government had agreed to give Home Rule or self-government for Ireland. But this home rule was not immediately introduced. So in 1916, there was a rebellion of Irish nationalists in Dublin known as the Easter Rising which was quickly put down and 15 leaders were executed. This was a mistake because it increased the nationalist feeling in Ireland.

    In 1918, there was a National Election ( the whole UK) for the PMs in London. The Republicans won this election in every country in Ireland except for Ulster. They decided not to join the British Parliament in London and meeting in their own Parliament: the Dail in Dublin.

    The British Government did not accept this, so a guerrilla movement started to fight against Britain. The guerrilla attacks by the Irish Volunteers, after called the Irish Republican Army (IRA), on government forces continued throughout the year, escalating in early 1920. The events of November 21, 1920, known as Bloody Sunday, when 13 men who were mostly British intelligence agents were killed by IRA activists, and Auxiliaries later opened fire on a crowd at a Gaelic football match in Dublin killing 12 people, marked another sharp escalation in the levels of violence and reprisals.

    In 1921, the British Government proposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty which established that Ireland would be divided into two areas:

    • the Irish Free State: made up of 26 southern countries

    • the Ulster: made up of 6 northern countries which would remain as a part of the UK.

    The Treaty also established that Britain could make use of some parts in Ireland apart from this. And it also established that the British Crown was still sovereign over Ireland and the Irish Free State. The result of this treaty is known as The Partition.

    Not everybody was happy with the Treaty, and this led to a civil war which was won by those in favour of the treaty.

    There were people who still wanted a fully independence, so in 1926, a group of republicans founded a new party called Fionna Fail. They won the election in 1932 and the new Prime Minister was Camon de Valero. In 1949 he declared the southern part of the Ireland a Republic. So it became the Republic of Ireland or Eire.

    At the moment of Partition, the 67% of the population of Ulster was Protestant ( Unionists, Loyalists) and only 33% was Catholic ( Nationalists, Republicans). Northern Ireland was one of the poorest areas within the UK, and Catholics were disadvantaged in this area, in Ulster. They were in a worse situation mainly because they were discriminated regarding jobs, and also regarding housing. The result of this was that a Civil Rights movement appeared in order to demand a fairer system for the Catholics. Several demonstrations were organised and although they were peaceful, British soldiers troops were sent to Northern Ireland.

    An increase of violence between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s was followed by the revival of IRA activity. In 1972, when British paratroopers opened fire on a banned civil rights march in Londonderry, killing 14 civilians. The incident became known as Bloody Sunday (the same name given to events on November 21, 1920).

    The Bloody Sunday marked the beginning of terrible violence in Northern Ireland and this long period since 1972 has been known as the Troubles. Paramilitary appeared on both sides, Protestant and Catholics. There had been many villings through these years.

    In despite of the violence, most people in Ulster wanted a constitutional solution for the problem. There were several attempts, proposals, but all they failed. Eventually in 1994 both Catholic and Protestant paramilitary groups declare a “cessation of military operations”. This cease-fire ended 17-month after when the IRA exploded a huge bomb in London's Docklands, killing 2 people and injuring more than 100.

    As a result of this cease-fire in 1995, an International Commission chained by Mitchell was formed in order to look for a proposal to solve the problem. After a long and complex process, the result was that the 10th of April 1998, the Good Friday Peace Agreement was signed.

    This peace agreement established three levels of participations and co-operation:

    • to have an assembly and an executive committee

    • a North-South Council

    • a Council of the Isles

    These 3 levels should be accompanied by the decommission of weapons. One of the main problems in the cease-fire was there. this political process had to go together with the decommission of weapons, give up the fight.

    The agreement was signed in April, in May there was a referendum asking for support or not for this agreement both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland which supported in favour. In June there was an election for members of North Ireland Assembly. As a result of it, David Trimble as a kind of Prime Minister for North Ireland. However this process hasn't been easy. Violence has continued on some occasions. The self-government had to be suspended at some point and Trimble has been about to resign one, two or three occasions.

    SCOTLAND

    Since 1707, Scotland is part of Britain, and it managed to keep three different institutions:

  • legal system

  • education system

  • the church of Kirk (Presbyterian)

  • As in the rest of the countries of the UK, in the last decades Scotland has had a secretary of state. There is a Scottish National Party (SNP) which became very popular during the 1960´s. However when in 1974, Scotland was offered self-government, only 54% of votes were in favour of it. London decided that the majority was not big enough and they abandoned the offer of self-government. The result of this was that SNP collapsed, its popularity decreased.

    With the arrival of Tony Blair in 1997, one of his main ideas was decentralisation so Scotland was offered again a self-government. In September there was a referendum in Scotland to ask population if they wanted or not the self-government. The answer was yes. In May 1998, there was an election for the members of Scotland parliament.

    This parliament has low-making and tax-raising powers, and also over education, health, local government, industry and local affairs in that area.

    In Scotland several languages are spoken: standard English, Scots, Gaelic.

    WALES

    The principality of Wales was annexed in the 14th century and was legally unified with England in the 16th century. Due to this earlier union with England, Wales has traditionally been more influenced by England than Scotland or Ireland. However, there is a sector in the Welsh society that has kept Welsh traditions and that is speaking Welsh. So Wales society was divided between:

  • a dominant Anglo-Welsh culture (linked the rich land owning class)

  • the Welsh culture (linked to ordinary people who speak vernacular).

  • People in Wales were disappointed with both conservative and labour governments in London due to the economic recession and due to the closure of mines. That's why the Welsh Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru, became quite popular in 1970´s. When Wales asked about a self-government, the answered was no and Plaid Cymru collapsed. In 1997, with Tony Blair, there was a referendum and the answer was yes. There is a Welsh assembly and in May of 1998,members were elected but it was fewer power than in Scots parliament. For instance, they cannot make laws and raise taxes (Scottish can). Welsh Parliament can only regulate an existing law, adopt it to Welsh.

  • 20th CENTURY IN THE USA

  • In the early 1900, USA was undergoing a positive economic period and a social transformation. However, the wealth and advantages of this becoming economy were not equally distributed.

    Before this period most Americans had believed in Liberalism (laissez faire, laissez passer), but now some people started to think that were necessary the government should start to take action into the problems of society. These people were called the Progressives and for two decades they tired to look for the most adequate ways to improve the life of the Americans. They worked to improve local and state government and they also attacked corporations. The role of women was very important in this progressive moment.

    The fist president in this century, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of this Progressive movement. His idea was to give the USA the best of both worlds (Liberalism, but also interventionism).

    During his Government, laws were issued:

    • to protect the public general interest (against big industries)

    • to ensure greater participation of the federal government (so the Government could interfere, could intervene)

    • also laws to protect the environment.

    From 1913 to 1921, a Democratic President: Woodrow Wilson who was also a great supporter of this movement that Roosevelt had started. This period, early 20th century, was also waned by Europe's Big War which soon became WWI because was beyond the limits of Europe.

    In WWI, the Allies were UK, France and Russia, and the Central powers were Germany and Austria-Hungary.

    Most Americans wanted the country to remain neutral and to stay out of the European War. But the USA found it more and more difficult to stay impartial. American bankers had started to land huge amounts of money to the allied countries and at the same time military supplies were being sent to Europe (to allies). Therefore, the USA had too much at stake in this war. The USA couln´d afford a defeat of the allies.

    At the same time, Germany started to attack neutral merchant and passenger ships. When 5 American ships were attacked, the USA declared war on Germany. Over a million Americans soldiers were sent to the battlefront in Europe.

    In 1918, an armistice or agreement to stop fighting had been reached and in 1919 allied leaders along with some American politicians met to discuss the Versailles Treaty. Notice that no German and no Russian were present in this meeting. They were left out. The result of this treaty was very harsh conditions on Germany.

    One of the positive things out of this treaty, out of these meetings was a plan to set up a league of nations. This league of nations wasn't very successful, but was the origin of the future United Nations.

    Immediately after the end of the war, there were a series of violent strikes in the USA. This phenomenon of violence was known as Radicalism and was something mistaken by Terrorism. The result was that a ware of “red scare” went through the country.

    In 1917, Russian Revolution had taken place, so people feared that something similar could happen in their country. A consequence of this was “witch hunting” through the country.

    The 1920´s are known as the “roaring twenties”. These were very good years for the economy of the country. A lot of European countries owned a lot of money to the USA. In the USA they had plenty of raw materials and industries (so they didn't have to import materials) and their national income was higher than the UK, France, Germany and Japan put together. Industries in USA were producing “consumer goods”, products supposed to make the life of ordinary people free and more enjoyable (radios, washing machines, etc).

    How could they afford to buy these consumer goods?

    Thanks to a new system of payment that consisted on paying a small deposit and the rest was paid by means of an “instalment plan”.

    Businessmen like Henry Ford became almost popular heroes. This was also the period of the “modern Renaissance” (in music and arts).

    In this decade, the new media, radio and cinema started to spread and they shaped the tastes in American people and a new way of life.

    Some other changes were brought by the automobile, for instance it meant new ways of communication and it bought a revival of the economy. People could move easily from one place to another. Also the building of houses, new shops, etc. increased.

    A group of writers in this period tried to revitalise the American society proposing new ideas. They were called “the lost generation”.

    Finally this was the dry decade because the making, sale and transport of liquors was forbidden.

    Politicians in this period oriented their actions to satisfy the myth of the American Dream.

    This American Dream involved protecting the value of business. That's why Calvin Coolidge who was president from 1923 to 1929, acted in favour of businessmen. He thought that if businessmen were supported, everybody would become richer.

    In the 1920´s the Congress passed lows to limit immigration. The problem was that Americans were worried by the flood of immigrants because they thought that immigrants took jobs away from American born workers. And they also thought brought un-American political ideas (for instance, anarchism or communism).By 1924, only 150000 immigrants a year were allowed into the country. No Asian immigrant were allowed.

    All this happy life (roaring 20s) was in fact announcing a disaster at the end of the decade. In 1920´s , investing money in the stock exchange had become a popular practice among the middle classes. They called it “playing the market”. It had become almost a national hobby and by 1929 it had become a kind of fever. However, there were some serious underlying problems because the profits of many American companies had been decreased in the last years and the value of the shares depended on these profits.

    Some cautious investors started to sell their shares and more and more people followed until eventually prices started to fall very fast.

    By October 1929, the situation had become critical. October 29th is known as the Black Tuesday: the climax of Wall Street Crash. Thousands of people lost a lot of money and were ruined. Some bankers had to close down and industry production was reduced.

    The real problem and the origin of the Wall Street Crash seems to have been that the offer of manufactured was much bigger than the demand, and this affected the whole economic process.

    Apart from that, foreign sales exports had also decreased because some European countries had not recovered from the War.

    The result was that in 1931, there were about 8 million unemployed people with no unemployment pay (benefit). They had nothing to live on.

    The president during that period, Herbert Hoover (1929 - 1933) had a rather passive attitude and didn't do much about the situation. So in the following elections, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 - 1945) was elected president.

    Roosevelt proposed a platform which was known as the New Deal . What he proposed was that the Federal Government should take the lead in the fight against the Depression. The Government did this through “agencies”:

    • Some of these agencies gave work to young people.

    • Some others raised crop process by paying money to farmers if they reduced production.

    • Some others agencies started to build public works, for instance presas o pantanos.

    • Some others were finding jobs for people.

    Another set of measures had to do with low interest loans so that people could buy farms, start factories, etc. It also established minimum salaries. At the same time, some laws were passed to control laws.

    One of the most important measures was the Social Security Act (1935) which established a system of pensions for the old but also a system of unemployment benefits.

    Some people said that could not afford the money they were spending (e.g. people working in public works were paid by the state, unemployment benefits, etc). they also said that politicises could make people role or lazy.

    By 1939, there were 10 million unemployed people (in a decade it has grown 25%). What saved the economy of the country was in fact anew war: WWII

    WWII broke up in Europe in 1939 and the USA intended to remain neutral. In fact, at the beginning of the War, and even after the beginning, the USA had passed some neutrality Acts. But quite soon, the USA became the main supplier of weapons to the allied countries in Europe (as in WWI).

    Roosevelt established a Fend-and-Lease plan. It was a plan to lend money to the European countries.

    Fighting had also started in Asia due to Japan's expansionist plans. The USA thought that there was some danger in this fact, in this expansion, and started to decrease exports to Japan. In 1941, the USA stopped all shipments of oil to Japan (Japan depended of imports from other countries, so this supposed a big problem for the Japanese economy).

    Japan decided to take control of the oil production in south-east Asia and to do so they needed to destroy the American fleet in the Pacific. That's why in December 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked Pearl Harbour by surprise.

    The USA declared war on Japan and immediately Germany and Italy declared war on the USA. This is how the USA entered in the WWII.

    American economy soon became organised towards winning he War. For instance, economy would control on prices, increased taxes, many goods were rationalised and factories changed their production from consumer goods to war supplies.

    WWII took place mainly in two battlefront. One of them was Europe and North Africa, and the other was the Pacific:

  • Europe and North Africa:

  • The 1st step was that Germany were defeated in North Africa. After that, Italy was invaded and later freed from the German army. The following step was the landing of American soldiers in Normandy. This landing led to the liberation of Paris which was under German control. The last stage of the war was when Germany surrendered.

  • The Pacific:

  • At the beginning, the Japanese had some early victories, but later the join effort of American, British and Australian armies drove the Japanese back. In fact, Japan was never invaded by the allied armies and the Japanese defeat came only with the dragging of two atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

    Although many Americans soldiers died in this War, the USA were economically benefited by the war. Not a single bomb had been dropped on American territory. UK, Germany, Japan had been bombed.

    The American economy had not been damaged. Factories had not been destroyed. American economy was prosperous because the other countries factories were destroyed or damaged.

    At the same time, the USA became the leader of the “free world”. Another negative aspect of the War was the intolerance and hostility that many Japanese-Americans and German- Americans had to suffer in the USA.

    F.D. Roosevelt was the president of the USA through the War. He died a few days before the end of the War, and he was succeeded by his vice-president Harry S. Truman (1945 - 1953).

    In 1945 the military war was over, but there were many suspicious over power and control between the USA and the Soviet Union. That's why people started to talk about a “Cold War” meaning that there was a great tension about these two powerful countries.

    One of the 1st consequences of the Cold war in the USA was a wave of anticommunist feelings and a new witch-hunting period led by an American senator called McCarthy.

    Another consequence of this cold war was the containment policy which intended to stop Communism in other parts of the world. This policy is also known as the Truman Doctrine.

    Connected to this doctrine is the Marshall Plan which was a scheme of financial help to different European countries.

    Connected with this containment policy was the signed up of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation): it was an alliance between the USA, Canada, and some European countries against the threat the Soviet Union.

    The containment policy was also taken to Asia and as a result there were two wars: 1st in Korea, and later in Vietnam.

    Regarding the USA, Truman continued the New Deal politics of Roosevelt which was linked to a greater social protection.

    After the War, there was a “baby boom”, an increase on the birth rate.

    In 1953, there was an election and Eisenhower became the new president (1953 - 1961). His period was marked by relative peace and also by unusual economic prosperity. He tried to combine the New Deal social economic measures with some federal government control but also tax reduction.

    This period was also marked by youth culture. In the 50´s young people had access to the consumers society and for instance, they modified their dressing or their musical listening, partly influenced by the cinema (jeans, T-shirts, rock & roll, etc).

    Another social phenomenon was mobility. People started to move from the countryside to the city, and at the same time from the cities to the suburbs.

    Someone called this society (in this period) the “society of affluence” meaning that people had access to more goals than they actually needed. This term was coined by economist K. Galhraith.

    From 1961 to 1963 we have the 1st Catholic president: J.F. Kennedy. He called his platform “New Frontier”. This platform was committed with fight against communism and social problems. Kennedy based part of his ideas on Keynesian principles.

    This period was also very important to the Civil Rights Movements (Black movement mainly). In the 50´s, black people had started to fight for their rights and had started to boycott some of the polices of the country, as for instance, segregation.

    The climax of the Civil Rights movement came in 1963 when 200000 people marched on Washington to demand full racial equality. One of the leaders was Martin Luther King and this movement was supported by president Kennedy. He struggled to have the Civil Rights Act passed at Congress, but this happened in 1964 when he was already dead.

    Civil Rights Movements did not avoid tensions in the country and in fact, in 1965 there were very serious riots in places like Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Washington and one of the leaders, M.L. King was killed in 1968.

    Kennedy was murdered in 1963 and he was succeeded by his vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson ( 1963 - 1969).

    Basically what Lyndon Johnson did was to continue Kennedy's social reform plans. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. He also set up systems mostly of health care for the elder and the poor, and he increased the amount of money devoted to education.

    The most negative aspect of his presidency was that he made the decision to send soldiers to Vietnam starting a pointless and very frustrating War for the USA. This was also a very expensive war which took economic means from the social reform programmes. As a consequence of this, there were some protests by political activists, but also by hippie communities and hippie movement.

    Both Kennedy and Johnson were members of the Democratic Party, but the following president was a Republican: Richard Nixon ( 1969 - 1974).

    He was much less interested in social reform, in social concerns. However, he managed to take the USA out of the Vietnam War.

    The economic situation had started to deteriorate due to other reasons (to the international oil crisis that the whole world was suffering).

    Another important event in his presidency was that he improved the relationships with China.

    Nixon had to resign in 1974 when he was accused of being involved in an illegal plan to discredit his political opponents. This was known as the Watergate Affair.

    Nixon was succeeded by his vice-president Gerald Ford (1974 - 1976) who was just a honest hard-working politician, but not very brilliant.

    The following president of the country was Jimmy Carter (1976 - 1980).

    The economic crisis that had started with Nixon, continued because the oil crisis continued and he did not manage to put an end to this situation. On the international front, he was more successful and he was omitted to human rights. He also had an important role in the Peace Agreement between Egypt and Israel.

    One of the dark points was that a crisis between the Soviet Union and the USA started in 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    In 1980 he was followed by a Republican, a very conservative politician: Ronald Reagan

    (1980 - 1988). He had no interest whatever in domestic social concerns, and he had his own economic philosophy known as the Reaganomics which was based on reducing taxes. This reduction of taxes would result in economic expansion and reduction of unemployment. At the same time, this would result in greater revenues for the state (even if people were paying low taxes, the state is still getting money).

    The economy of the country improved but at the expense of social reforms.

    One of Reagan´s most important aims was to make the USA stronger than any other country in the world and especially stronger than its rival the Soviet Union. That's why he spend millions of dollars on an important nuclear arsenal. In fact, this policy of investing more money in nuclear weapons became popularly knows as the Star Wars.

    Reagan was succeeded by George Bush (1988-1992) who had to face another period of economic crisis or at least stagnation. He also got the country involved in a new war: the Gulf War.

    It was supposed to be an UN affair, but in fact it was led by the USA: Dessert Storm Operation.

    G. Bush was succeeded by Bill Clinton (1992 - 2001) who managed to recover the economy of the country and he also proposed plans for the improvements of the social services, mainly in the health service.

    He was quite popular, however his presidency was manned by several economic and sexual scandals.

    The last president is George W. Bush who won the elections of 2001. It is too early but it is going to be inevitable manned by the events on September 11th : economic recession and his foreign policy (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc) Evil Axex.

  • INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

  • THE UNITED KINGDOM

  • The international position of United Kingdom as a economic and political colonial power was in decline at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 19th century Britain had a huge Empire and important trading power, but the situation changed.

    Something else is that Britain has been uncertain about its influence in the world and quite often the UK has believed that it was more important than it really was. There is a sentence by a politician in the 1960´s which says: Britain had lost an empire but it has not yet found a role.

  • United Kingdom and the United States:

  • At the end of the 20th century, UK was still uncertain about where its primary interests were: with the USA or with Europe?

    We have to take into account that the USA often has been British most important military ally. The problem is that Europe is UK´s most important economic area. The UK has always been uncertain about this.

    Since WWII, Britain has believed that there was a special relationship with USA. This was based on a shared language and culture, historical ties, and the strong alliance between

    politicians of both countries. For instance the strong alliance forced during the WWII between Roosevelt and Churchill. There was a great understanding between them. This alliance has been repeated later, for instance between Reagan and Thatcher, and also between Clinton and Blair, Bush and Blair.

    Again the problem is that USA has seldom valued this special relationship as highly as the UK.

    (The USA has not always valued the relationship in the same way).

    The degree of agreement has varied depending on several circumstances, for instance in periods of danger.

  • United Kingdom and Europe:

  • In 1957, six countries in Europe started the European Economic Community by signing the Treaty of Rome. Britain decided not to join the community, and instead it the UK created another organisation: EFTA ( European Free Trade Association) in 1959 with some other countries. It started with United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Portugal and Switzerland.

    In the 1960´s the UK changed his mind and decided to become a member of the EEC, but they were vetoed by France whose president Charles DeGaulle thought the UK could be a rival and did not believe in the British commitment towards Europe.

    In 1973 the UK finally became a member of the EEC. However, two years later (1975) there was a referendum to see whether the British wanted to remain in the EEC or leave the community. There wasn't too much enthusiasm in being part of Europe.

    In 1980´s there were problems between the UK and the EEC due to the Common Agriculture Policy. In 1990 Thatcher´s position towards Europe brought out her downfall.

    In the decade of 1990´s, the UK has withdrawn from several agreements and treaties, mainly having to do for instance, with economy.

    The UK is one of the 3 countries in the EU which has not introduced Euro as its currency.

  • United Kingdom and the Commonwealth

  • The British Empire has built up over several centuries, over several steps:

    • It started with an internal domination of the British Isles (England has always tried to conquer Scotland, Ireland).

    • It had continued with training activities and colonisation of North and South America.

    • The following step was emigration to the “White Colonies”, places like Australia, and South Africa or New Zealand.

    • The 4th step was the colonisation of parts of Africa, Asia, West Indies and the exploitation of these places.

    By the 19th century, Britain possessed territories which contained a quarter of the world population.

    In the late 19th century, early 20th century, the empire became the British Empire and Commonwealth. At this time, some of the White Colonies become dominions and self-governing.

    In the middle 20th c. we have the British Commonwealth. Later will be known as the Commonwealth of Nations (Free association of entirely independent states). When colonies became independent, they could choose to break all the connections with the colonial past or they could choose to remain in the Commonwealth as independent nations.

    At the beginning (1960) only 11 countries were members. Five years later, there were 21 countries, and by 1990 there were some 30 countries. Now, Commonwealth contain a ¼ of the world's population.

    The Commonwealth has not elected parliament, has not political ruler and they has not written laws. The British monarch is the non-political head of it. The British monarch is the unifying symbol of this association.

    The Prime Ministers of all Commonwealth states meet every two years, and this meeting is presided by the British monarch.

    There is a Secretariat in London, the central governing institution which co-ordinates the policy of the whole Commonwealth.

    Apart from this, there are many Commonwealth institutes, libraries, professional associations and specially many exchanged Universities programmes. Although there are many varieties of English this is the language they have on common.

    They celebrate Commonwealth games every 4 years and there are many joined BC programs, mostly development programmes ( agriculture, engineering, education) at official and voluntary level.

    We can see evidences of the British colonial position in these countries in the fact that educational and legal systems often fellow common patterns.

    In the last decades, some doubts have appeared regarding the effectiveness of the Commonwealth. Nowadays, Britain has very little in common with many Commonwealth countries. So the future of the Commonwealth is at the moment at doubt.

    At the same time, regarding economy Europe is much more important than the Commonwealth.

    Something else is that according to some opinion polls, Europe is more important for Britain than the Commonwealth.

    The UK also has some colonies that were called dependent territories and now they are trying to introduce a more neutral term: British overseas territories.

    At the moment, there are about 15 dependent territories normally very small places. They depend on Britain mostly for defence and for international relationships. The UK is ready to give independence to these territories, but at the same time it also feels the duty to protect them if they want to remain a part of the UK.

    Some of these dependent territories are:

    • the Falkland Islands which previously belonged to Argentina, France and Spain, but for the last 150 years, they had belonged to UK. In 1982 were invaded by Argentina. The population in the Island (2000 inhabitants) wanted to remain British. Britain became victorious and a very strong nationalism feeling appeared. 1000 people died in that war.

    • Gibraltar has been claimed by Spain, but people living there want to remain British. There has been diplomatic tension with both countries.

    • Hong Kong is no longer a dependent territory because in July 1997 it was given back to China. The problem is that China has a communist political and economic system, whereas Hong Kong had a Capitalism system

  • THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

  • The USA is a relatively isolated country regarding its geography. At the same time, it has got a great size. It seems to be a self-sufficient country in many respects. These two ideas seem to be related to the traditional American isolationism regarding politics. It has been apart from the affairs of other countries. The USA has withdrawn from the conflicts in other areas and it has focused on domestic affairs.

    At the same time, Americans have had quite a great insecurity feeling. That's why they have sought, they have looked for the territorial expansion. They have extended the maximum to the West.

    Another idea connected with international relationships is the American exceptionalism. Because America was the promised land, they have always thought they had a mission, the mission of offering the rest of the world a better society, democracy, a better economy, etc.

    These three ideas are present through different periods on American history regarding international relationships:

  • The 18th and 19th century

  • The USA tried to avoid political and military alliances, and at the same time, they tried to encourage trade with other countries.

    These two centuries were greatly influenced by several Acts and theories:

    • In 1798 the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed and they allowed the president and also the courts to find, to imprison or even to deport any foreigner who could be considered a danger for the country.

    • In 1820´s it appeared the Monroe Doctrine whose main idea was that Europe souldn´t colonise any more colonies in America. Europe should not intervene in America, and at the same time, the USA promised not to interfere in the colonies established before that time.

    • Roosevelt Corollary was an addition to the Monroe Doctrine. It justified the USA intervention if they considered it was necessary for the security/stability of the continent.

    • The Manifest Destiny was a popular belief in America around the 1840´s which meant that if is even a duty to help other people, to set an example for other countries.

  • The 20th century

  • Following this traditional isolationism and also a traditional neutrality, the USA wanted to stay away in the WWI, but that wasn't possible for several reasons:

    • the Government had strong sympathies for the Allies.

    • The economic dependence on trade that the USA had with European countries. So a war in Europe affected the economy of the States.

    However, people in the USA needed to believe that there were moral rather than economic reasons to enter to the war. That's why president Wilson established what came to be known as the 14 points. This was a document which appealed to the American mission to create New World. This document justified entering the War but also limited the commitment that the USA had with the other countries. So Wilson all the time was speaking of America as an associate to Europe, but not as an ally.

    The situation in WWII was quite similar. The USA wanted to stay away of the war, to remain neutral but again economic interests led the country to participation in this war. In this case the Lend-Lease Act had established economic links with the European allied countries and the USA. Apart from that, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was also important for entering on the War.

    Once the WWII had finished, a different kind of war started: the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union. This affected many other countries, for instance Europe was divided.

    In 1947, president Truman announced what became known as the Truman Doctrine. It was based on a policy of containment which consisted in stopping Communism preventing its expansion anywhere in the world. This policy of containment justified intervention anywhere in the world and it also justified the building up of nuclear arsenals.

    This Truman Doctrine was accompanied by the Marshall plan. It tried to contribute to containment by means of economic help. The USA gave money to many countries in Europe.

    We must not forget that the Marshall plan had some other aims apart from containment Communism. The situation was that the USA had great industrial and agricultural surpluses. If they did not get rid of that extra production, that could be a problem for the economy of the country because prices may go down.

    One of the consequences of this containment policy was the establishment of the NATO in 1950. This was an agreement of mutual defence between the USA, Canada and some European countries.

    In the early 1960´s there was a serious crisis in the middle of the Cold War which was the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union set up several missiles in Cuba aiming at the USA. The USA applied this containment policy not only in Europe but also in some other continents. One of them was Asia. Here the most important conflicts took place in Korea and Vietnam.

    Korea had been divided into two areas some years before ( North Korea and South Korea). North Korea was under the Soviet influence and in 1950 they decided to invade South Korea. Following the policy of containment, Truman decided to send American soldiers and a pointless war started. Many people were killed and damages in the country. The War ended in an armistice in 1953 but the country remained divided.

    Vietnam was in fact part of the old French colony of Indochina. When France left that area, it was divided in several countries, one of them was Vietnam. It also was divided into two more areas: North Vietnam (communist) and South Vietnam (non-communist).

    First Eisenhower and later Kennedy decided to send money and weapons to South Vietnam. In 1965 president Johnson decided to send soldiers and a very long guerrilla war started. This caused a lot of anger and frustration in the soldiers, and it also caused division in the society. Nixon decided to withdraw the American soldiers from Vietnam in 1973 and two years later North Vietnam took over South Vietnam and it became a single country.

    Latin America: The USA hasn't been involved in any open, decelerated war, but it is known that they have supported right wing governments and movements in the area. For instance Pinochet against Allende or the contra movement in Nicaragua, etc.

    In the 1970´s a new period started because president Nixon started a policy known as The Détente. It was translated as “peaceful Coexistence” or “Relaxation of tensions”. Soviet Union, but also China. The idea was that these countries would carry out a gradual reduction of their nuclear arsenals. Nixon opened talks with China and he signed the SALT 1 (the strategic arms-limitation treaty). Some years later, J. Carter would sign the second SALT agreement.

    A crisis grew out in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. There were new tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union. The consequences were some economic measures against the Soviet Union, and the American boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980.

    The Détente policy continued. Even president Reagan signed these armament treaties with Russia and China, but at the same time, he spent millions of dollars on developing new nuclear weapons, missiles. In fact, this project was popularly known as Stars War.

    The situation changed a little due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. So Russia is always an enemy. Still the USA continues fighting against the enemy.

    Middle East: the USA has a great dependence on the middle East due to the oil supplies. The USA has become involved in conflicts in the middle East for several reasons:

    • One would be to protect the world's oil supply.

    • Another has been to maintain a friendly relationship with Israel.

    • Another would be to limit the influence of the Soviet Union in the area.

    The USA has had different results in these conflicts. The greatest success was the neediction between Egypt and Israel to reach the Camp Devil peace agreement in 1979.

    Apart from the conflict in Israel, the USA has taken part in different wars in the area. A recent one is the Gulf War in 1991. This was a war very different, it was short and it was intended to have a great precision. The Gulf War started a new kind of wars.

    The most recent war has been the Afghanistan war and just to finish it is quite difficult to say what the situation is at the moment and what will happen. This feeling of insecurity has been awaken by September 11th events. The attacks have also shown how pointless the defence system of the USA is ( the ABM). Consequences are to be seen.

  • SOCIETY

  • THE UNITED KINGDOM

  • Population Distribution

    The UK has a population of around 58 million people. Through history, the population has concentrated mostly in the South of the Island. The only exception was during some years after the Industrial Revolution when population concentrated in the North.

    As a rule, there are more people in the South than in the North.

    Another way to look at this situation has been presented by some sociologists in recent years. They have suggested that some areas can be drown starting in London and going outwards. The area near London is called “the core” which is subdivided into an inner and an outer core. The following section would be the periphery, also divided between the inner and outer periphery.

    We can say that the core is equivalent to the South (the SE of the Island) and the periphery covers the North of the England, Wales, SW and the other periphery is Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    There is a continuing movement of population from periphery to the core because there is a sharp contrast in the conditions of life between North and South. These differences are regarding:

    • living standards, for instance, unemployment which is higher in the North than in the South.

    • living expectations, because people lives longer in the South.

    • Housing in the South is more expensive because there is a greater demand.

    The network of motorways is also in the core, also airports. So they have a good network of communication and that is very attractive for companies. We have Cambridge and Oxford and also many high technology industries or services industries have been set up in the South.

    The most stagnating areas are in the North of the country where the traditional industries have collapsed (textile, iron and steal, cars, etc).

    Towns and Countryside

    In Britain, 80% of the population live in towns or cities of 100.000 inhabitants or more. However many of these people would like to live in the countryside. Since the middle of the 19th century, great part of population has moved from the cities to the suburbs because after the years of industrialisation, cities became unpleasant places to live.

    This phenomenon increased in the 20th century, in fact in the last decades there is something called the “boom towns”: they have around 150000 population and they are attractive for several reasons such as the quality of life, good transport links an a diversified economy oriented to the service industry rather than manufacturing.

    This phenomenon has affected the countryside itself. How? Also many middle class families have bought cottages in the country side to live there permanently or only to rest in holidays.

    This has changed the nature of life in these villages because before people who lived there also worked there. But now, people who live there, don't work there.

    Another aspect is that there has been a great demand for houses so prices have gone up, and at the same time, many green/farming areas are being used for houses. Some woods have been cut down, and the use of chemical fertilisers that provoke pollution in rivers. Modern agricultural methods have led to a decline in the farming population.

    Age

    Fluctuation in birth rates has many implications for services mainly for health and education but also employment. For instance, after the WWI there was a “baby boom” but there was a decline in birth in the 1970´s.

    The problem now is the population is slowly getting older and the amount of pensions had started to grow quickly.

    Family Pattern

    It has also changed in the last decades of the 20th century. The picture of the nuclear family ( the father, the mother and two children - son and daughter- the father going out to work, the mother staying at home taking care of the children, etc.) is more and more unrealistic.

    Britain has the highest divorce rate in Europe. This means that there is an important proportion of families where parents are in their 2nd (3rd or 4th) marriage, and they have children from different marriages.

    Another consequence of this is that there are more single parents families: more and more people are living alone in Britain. People get married later, some of them just decide to live on their own.

    In general, the family patterns has changed not only in Britain but in Western societies.

    Social Class

    Britain is considered a class-conscious society. Social class has traditionally been defined by money and material wealth. It has also been defined by education and professional status (attending or not to a public school, etc).

    In Britain class has also been defined by accent and dialect. Social class was always defined by lifestyles, for instance, travelling.

    Nowadays is more difficult to define a social class by life standards. A plumber can get more money than a doctor. University nowadays is much more popular than before. Nowadays almost everybody can travel. Lifestyles are also very mixed.

    The traditional division into upper, middle and lower class has been further subdivided. At the same time, socio-economic circumstances are taken into account.

    Nowadays, socio-linguistics distinguish these socio-economic categories: upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class, skilled working class, working class, those at the lowest levels of subsistence.

    Women

    The role of women has changed as has also changed the family pattern. The situation of women has improved through out the century, but it is still far from the equal to that of men. There are fewer in the administrations and governments. At University more women are studying and teaching but there are more male professors. In medicine there are very few female surgeons. There are very few business women.

    Since the 1960´s, there has been a campaign for a greater equality between men and women: to get the same job opportunities, the same rates to pay, etc.

    In the 1970´s some legislation was issued regarding all these aspects and there were created some laws: Equal Pay Act, Equal Opportunities Act, Equal Opportunities Commission, etc.

    But in spite these laws and this commission, men are still better paid in many occupations. And there are jobs which are considered women's works.

    Ethnicity

    Many people have traditionally considered that British society is a white Anglo-Saxon society, but this is no longer true. If we take into account the 20th century, we can see that in the 1st half of the 20th c. there was a substantial immigration of people from continental Europe and also from the old dominions known as the white colonies. These were white immigrants.

    Apart from these people, in Britain there are around ¾ m Irish people and there are also ½ m of American people. These immigrants were not a problem because they were white.

    In the 1940´s and 1950´s, the 1st black immigrants started to arrive to the country in response to labour-shortages. They came from Caribbean and they found work in public transport, in catering and also in health services. The cities they went ere mainly London and Birmingham.

    In the 1960´s and 1970´s there was a wave of immigration from Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh). Most of them went to work to the textile and iron industries in places like Leeds, Bradford or Leicester.

    This black ethnic minority communities in Britain represent around 7 to 8 % of British population.

    Because of this arrival of immigrants since 1960´s, two different kinds of laws have been issued in Britain:

  • Laws in order to reduce the number of immigrants arriving to Britain. Only people who had been born in Britain or had one parent has the right to live permanently in the country. In 1980´s there were more restrictions on immigrants, and there was at the end to the automatic right to British citizenship to anyone born in England.

  • Laws to protect the rights of immigrants. There have been different laws which tried to prevent discrimination based on race, religion, skin colour, etc. As a consequence of these laws, the Commission for Racial Equality was established. This Commission had to check that the laws were followed, and also had to give advice to social workers, people working for the community.

  • The arrival of so many people in the Island has provoked some problems in society:

    • Some (White) people in Britain think that the Island is already overcrowded and they can not let anyone else enter. However this is not exactly true. British people have traditionally liked travelling and setting in other countries and it has been seen that during some periods of the time there was a balance between the people living into the country and people living out the country. So population is quiet balanced.

    • Some British people consider that ethnic minority communities failed to integrated, but integration is difficult specially in a hostile climate created by ordinary people and by the authorities.

    • The confrontation between population and immigrants had led to riots in some occasions. For instance, in 1981 there were very serious problems and riots in London and Liverpool. In 1985 there were riots in different places around England, and lately in 2001 in the area of Manchester.

    The positive aspect is that some people now speak of multiculturality in the sense of taking the best from different cultures. We can see this in literature, in films, in music, etc.

  • THE UNITED STATES

  • Population distribution

    The USA is a very big varied country so it is quite difficult to classify or organise people into groups. The USA is usually divided into 4 main regions:

  • North - East:

  • It comprises from Maine to Maryland (New England and Mid-Atlantic States). Going West, it comprises NY, Pennsylvania and up to Ohio.

    The NE has traditionally been considered the engine for nation's economic and social progress. The first settlers settled there and it has been the origin of many things, for instance, the Constitution.

    This area is densely populated. It is highly urban and it is culturally sophisticated. In America sophistication often means Europe.

    At the moment there is a kind of crisis because many of the old or declaring industries are in this area.

    People in there are described as thrifty (they look keeping money in the bank rather than spending it) , reserved and also hard-working.

    For many years, the most important writers and artists have come from this area. And the most important Universities were also into this region, but some people speak about a crisis. Population is decreasing.

  • South:

  • It comprises quite a big area. For instance it takes from Oklahoma, Texas to Arkansas, etc.

    There was a difference between the first settlers in the NE and the settlers in the South: in the NE we have people escaping religious or political persecutions; in the South we have people who were looking for profitable farming opportunities. The result of this situation was the plantations.

    The South has always been doted to agriculture. Something else is that the South has been greatly influenced by the experiences of the Civil War. Even mentally, the North imposed its political ideology over the South. So in North very few things changed. This influence of the Civil War is the explanation some people give for the revenue the South has for the past and also the resistance to change.

    People in the South consider themselves as the most “native” or the most old-stock population which is purer, it has not been influenced by people from other countries.

    People in the South are more conservative, they are more aware of the social rank or social class. They are more religious and less educated than the rest of the country. They have a very specific accent, quite distinctive.

  • Mid - West:

  • Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota... the area around the Great lakes. It has got fertile farmeland and a lot of recourses for industry. Both agriculture and industry have developed in this area. People from the Mid-West are considered commercially minded or with commercially skills self-sufficient, pragmatic and unsophisticated.

    They are mostly worried about their own domestic affairs and they have traditionally favoured or supported a policy of isolation. This is a region of small towns except for some big cities in the North like Chicago, Detroit, etc.

  • West:

  • The West is even more difficult to classify than the rest of these areas, so we can speak about some sub regions within the West:

    • California which is densely populated and highly industrial (mainly high technology). For some decades, it has been a trend-setter area: fashion, movies, etc. also universities like UCLA.

    • We have also Oregon and Washington which have developed an important industrial economy and also have an important population.

    • The following group is what is known as the Mountain States: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado. This is a wild area, life is difficult because of the climate. It rains very little. No possibilities for agriculture. However, they have got a lot of mineral resources. The problem is that a great part of the land in this area are owned by the state. People feel that they are in the hands of the state.

    • Finally we have Arizona and New Mexico influenced by immigration from the South. However, better means of communication and also national policies have tended to homologize. It is compulsory for children to go to school, everybody must have a certain level of health care, etc.

    There is a relatively recent phenomenon which is national or domestic immigration towards the “sunbelt”. Some people have decided to escape from overcrowding, high taxes, expensive houses, big cities, etc. some companies have also moved South of the country because they have better business conditions. Trade unions are weaker, they can pay lower salaries, and they also offered tax exemptives from the authorities. Population is decreasing in the North and increasing in the South. This effect put power or balance. The amount of representation in state has depends on the amount of people living there. in fact, recent presidents from the USA have been from the South: Texas, Arkansas, etc.

    Towns and Countryside

    Around 80% of the population live in urban areas, but many of them would like to live in the countryside. So in the USA, around 1950, there was a sub urbanization process.

    This was possible thanks to the popularisation of the private car (in UK thanks to the railway).

    Nowadays, 2/3 of the urban people live in the suburbs. In some areas, the metropolitan area grow very much becoming megalopolis. In the States, there is one of the megalopolis in NE growing from Boston to Washington D.C.

    Another consequence of these suburbs is that city centres became empty and they deteriorate because if these kept people living there no taxes, no money to keep them going.

    In the last two decades, there have been some attempts to improve the situation of some city centres. For instance:

    • some slums have been cleared, pulled down. New social housing units have been built. however, this hasn't been a good solution because some families have been displaced from their neighbourhoods.

    • another attempt has been a process of gentrification: restoration and renovation of the old houses.

    • A third attempt has been the redevelopment of the city centres. For instance to build mew more open spaces (squares, terraces, parks, etc). some city centres are being recovered.

    Small towns are becoming very popular in the USA. Further process of sub-urbanisation /ruralization.

    Women

    In the USA there was a women's movement towards the 1960´s and as a result of this, the National Organisation for women (NOW) was founded. Legislation was issued in the 1970´s - 1980´s. The reason was to get equal pay and equal rights for women and affirmative action programmes were started.

    The situation has improved but still it isn't as it should be. For instance, some people speak of the “feminisation of poverty”.

    Immigration and Ethnicity

    The situation of the USA is a very particular one in the sense that all the inhabitants of the USA are immigrants. Of course, except the Indians or native Americans.

    At the beginning, immigrants come mostly from Northern and Western Europe (Britain but also Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, etc.) These people are usually known as the old immigrants.

    In the late 19th century, with the Industrial development, new immigrants started to arrive from Southern and Eastern Europe. For instance, many Italians, but also from Poland or Hungary.

    At that time there was a “open doors” policy. However, they were welcomed in theory because in fact the arrival of these immigrants created many conflicts at that time.

    In the 1920´s, quota restrictions were established and these quotes favoured immigration from North and the West of Europe. They were established according to the amount of people. For instance, they excluded completely immigration from Asia.

    From the 1930´s to the 1950´s, it was a new wave of immigration of people coming from Latin America and Asia. Many of them entering the country illegally. Some people speak about this group as “recent immigrants”.

    Two recent laws regarding immigration:

    • In 1986 the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed. This Act, this law imposed sanctions to the employing illegal immigrants and it also tried to prevent discrimination in employment. On the other hand, it allowed illegal immigrants to apply for residence.

    • In 1990 the Immigration Act was issued. It increased the number of immigrants and refuges who were allowed into the country.

    The USA general policy towards immigration has traditionally been assimilation into the white Anglo-Saxon culture.

  • Native Americans:

  • This is the only group of people in the USA who are not immigrants.

    One characteristic during the colonisation of the North of America was that the white British settlers did not mix with the Indian population. So we can not speak about mixing races.

    The treatment of the American Government towards Indian has gone through different faces.

    For instance, we can speak about removal: the settlers remove the Indians from where they were and push them towards the West and the worst areas into he country. A consequence of this was the concentration in some areas which were known as Reservation.

    Later, there have been attempts of assimilation (Let's turn the Indian into the white Americans.

    In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there was a law called Dawes Act which regulated the life and their treatment in the States. What this law did was to dismember the tribal system and to dissolve reservations. The Indian system was a tribal system,. It is mostly about the community property, based on the community ownership and work of the land. With this law, the community land was split, divided into small farms and given to different families. The whole tribal system was lost. Children were taking to boarding schools away from their families. The idea was to assimilate the Indians into the white culture, but it didn't succeed and it created new problems.

    In 1934, the Indian Reorganisation Act was passed and this act restored the tribal organisation. Hospital and schools were built in the reservations, land was returned to the community, religious freedom and the right to bilingual education were granted. All this was known as the Indian New Deal.

    With the war, there was no money to invest in these programmes, so in the 1050´s there was again a policy of termination meaning that the tribes were devolved again and the Indians were relocated, taken to another place (mainly to cities, so that they could integrate in the white whole culture).

    In the 1960´s and 1970´s, the American Indian Movement started and they were fighting for the rights of the Indians. The result of this was the Indian self-determination Act in 1975 which again restored the tribal system.

    Since then, the situation of the native Americans has improved but still they have the highest rates of unemployment, alcoholism and suicide.

    According to the census in 1990, there are 2 million Indians which represent less than 1& of the USA population.

  • African Americans:

  • They were initially taken there as slaves. After the Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery. Also the 14th and 15th amendments granted equal rights to black people.

    In despite of this, they were often discriminated and segregated by the people and also by the Courts. Some judges said: “ok, we are all equal, we have the same rights but we can be separated”.

    The problem was that black people weren't allowed in some hotels, toilets, public transports, etc. they were not treated equal so some judges said: “ok, but why not be separated?”. The sentence white use was “separate but equal”. The problem was that the schools for whites were not the same than schools for black, etc.

    In the early 20th century, some people started to fight for the rights of the blacks and the National Association for Advancement of the Coloured People (NAACP) was created. It was the first step towards the improvement of the situation of the blacks.

    Another phenomenon in the 1910´s 1920´s : many blacks emigrated from the South of the country to the North. This changed the racial distribution of the USA. A result of this phenomenon was in 1920´s the black cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.

    In 1950´s the Afro-Americans Civil Rights Movement appeared. One of the leaders was Martin Luther King. They started a non-violent revolution to get what they wanted. But at the same time, some radical movements appeared as the Black Power, the Black Panthers or the Black Muslims. One of the leaders of the Black Muslims was Malcolm X.

    One of the results of these Civil Rights Movements was the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the voting Rights Act in 1965. At the same time, affirmative actions were taken.

    The institution of black people has improved but nowadays the overage per capita income is still 65% less than whites. In 1990 black population was about 30 million, 13% of the whole population. African Americans were the largest racial minority, but nowadays Hispanics have reached the same amount.

  • Asian Americans:

  • This category embraces 7 million people, the 30% of the population. Coming from different religions, skin colours, historical background, etc. here we speak about people coming from Laos, China, Japan, Vietnam, Camdodja, etc. they are seen as hard-working and more successful than other ethnic minorities. However, they are often segregated and discriminated. In most cities in the USA, there is an area called Chinatown.

  • Hispanics / Latinos:

  • This group includes people coming from the Caribbean, Central and South America. In 1990 the census was 20 million, so the 9% of the population. But in the last census, there are around 30 million Latinos. Many of them are still emigrating to the USA and they also have many children. Most of these are from Mexico. The 2nd group would be PuertoRican, next Cuban and then, the rest of the groups.

    They are often subject to prejudice and discrimination. However, in the SW of the country (California, Texas, Arizona, etc), in Florida and also in NY, some Latinos are achieving political influence.

    In the 1960´s 1970´s the right to education in Spanish was established, but it was rather a way of assimilation, and it was the right to preserve their languages.

    Spanish is present in over a hundred radio stations around the country and also in many television stations.

  • SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT

  • THE UNITED KINGDOM

  • Constitution

    The United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy based on an unwritten constitution that has evolved over centuries. It comprises statute law, common law (judicial precedent), and custom and can be altered by act of Parliament, general agreement, and judicial precedent and is thus adaptable to changing political conditions.

    The principles of the constitution and of constitutional practice are inherent in the institutions of government, which overlap in function but which can be clearly distinguished. They are the Crown, the government and Cabinet, the Privy Council, and Parliament.

    The advantage of non having a written constitution is that the system is very flexible. But this has also a disadvantage: there is no constitutional protection for the country or for the individuals when a party has the majority at Parliament.

    The Monarchy

    Britain has a parliamentary monarchy so the monarch can only rule with the support of Parliament.

    The British sovereign is head of state and as such is, in law, the head of the executive, an integral part of the legislature, head of the judiciary, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Crown, and the “supreme governor” of the established Church of England and the Church of Scotland. In addition, the British monarch is head of the Commonwealth of Nations and head of state of 16 Commonwealth countries.

    The monarchy is hereditary, descending to the sons of the sovereign in order of birth, or to the daughters if there are no sons. Under the Act of Settlement (1700), the monarch must be Protestant.

    The monarchy is the oldest institution of government, however, its once absolute powers have been progressively reduced, and today the sovereign acts on the advice of ministers, which constitutionally cannot be ignored. In practice, this means that Britain today is governed by Her Majesty's Government in the name of the Queen and with the approval of Parliament. Within this framework the monarch has specific functions that are considered essential to constitutional government in Britain. These functions include summoning, proroguing, and dissolving Parliament, and giving the royal assent to bills passed by both houses of Parliament; without this assent bills cannot become law.

    The monarch also formally appoints the prime minister and government, as well as judges, officers in the armed forces, governors, diplomats, and archbishops, bishops, and other senior Church of England clergy. The monarch confers honours and awards, and has the sole power, as head of state, to declare war and make peace, to recognise foreign states, and to conclude treaties

    The cost of the Royal Family's official duties are paid with money coming from the Civil List. The Government gives an amount of money for all these expenses. The private or personal expenses are paid with money coming from the Privy Purse.

    Apart from this, there is a Privy Council: a group of loyal advisors which advise the Monarch on different matters. There are about 400 of these advisors, but they work in small groups, committees.

    The government and Cabinet

    Government ministers are often members of the House of Commons. In average , Government in the UK has around 100 ministers.

    But there is a reduced group of around 20 members who make up the Cabinet.

    The members of the Cabinet have collective responsibility. They must promise confidentiality and they musn´t disagree publicy with Government's policy.

    The work of the Government depends on a permanent body of officials who make up the Civil Service (people working in the administration of the ministries). They have to take an exam. The most important member of this Civil Service is the Cabinet Secretary who works at the Cabinet Office who is in charge of co-ordinating the work of the Government and the work of the different ministries.

    The Parliament

    Parliament is one of the oldest representative assemblies in the world dating from the 13th century. It is in Westminster and it is rectangular.

    By the end of the 15th century Parliament existed in a form recognisable today. That is, it is the supreme legislative body whose function was to agree to taxes and to legislate (make any law), and which comprised two separate chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

    By law, the life of a Parliament is five years. It is divided into annual sessions which go from October to October. Parliament is dissolved by the sovereign at the end of its five-year term or on the advice of the prime minister. All members of the House of Commons are then subject to re-election.

    Constitutionally, Britain's supreme legislative authority is the “Crown in Parliament”. This means that for legislation to become law it must be approved by all three elements which make up Parliament: the monarch, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.

  • House of Commons:

  • Members of the House of Commons are elected by universal suffrage from geographical constituencies which in Great Britain approximates a population of 60,000.

    So the House of Commons is made up of 650 members distributed as follows:

    • England: 523

    • Wales: 38

    • Scotland: 72

    • Northern Ireland: 17

    The chairperson of the House is the speaker who sits at one end of the chamber. On his right it is his Majesty's Government, and on his left sits her Majesty's opposition. The most important member of the opposition are known as the Shadow Cabinet. The speaker is the responsible for the correct development of business in the House. He controls the voting system and he also has a casting vote.

    Another figure, the Whip (in each party) who is in charge of the party's discipline. He has to inform when there are important matters at Parliament, and he has to make sure that the MPs will attend the meeting.

  • House of Lords:

  • The House of Lords is made up of the lords temporal and the lords spiritual. The former comprise:

    • the hereditary peers (nobles): these peers intent the right to be member of the House of Lord from their parents. These used to be many of them (around 800) but there was a reform and nowadays they are below 100 members.

    • life peers: there are around 350-400 members. They are only peers only while they are alive. They are people who have rendered a political or a public service to the nation.

    • the lords of appeal or “law lords”: around 9/10 senior judges who are at the same time the highest Court of appeal.

    • The lords spiritual are the two archbishops of Canterbury and York, and 24 the bishops

    The House of Lords is presided by the Lord Chancellor ( Juez supremo) who is a member of the Cabinet and also the highest responsible for justice in the country.

    The members of the House of Lord have no salary but they are paid expenses. The House of Lords lost a great part of its power on the beginning of the 20th century (1911) and nowadays they cannot reject/challenge legislation coming from the House of Commons.

    It has been criticised and it is undergoing several reforms.

  • Parliamentary Procedure:

  • Everyday the procedure at Parliament starts with “Question Time”, and this is when MPs can ask questions to members of the Government or to other MPs. After this Question Time, there is the main debate when the different issues are discussed. The leader of the House is responsible for planning and supervising the Government's legislative program.

    The process to make laws at Parliament in Britain is the following:

    A proposal for a law is called a Bill, and when it is approved it is called Act of Parliament. We can have different kinds of Bills. We can have Private members Bills (these are proposals presented by members of the House of Commons/Lords who are not in the Government.

    Private Bills are proposals which come from local authorities.

    Public Bills are proposals introduced by the Government, they are debated most time.

    The Bill can be introduced at either House but it is presented first in the House of Commons. Once approved by the Commons, bills pass to the Lords for discussion; no vote is necessary in the Lords to pass legislation. Since the Parliament Act of 1911, the Lords has been unable to block fiscal legislation. By the terms of the Parliament Act of 1949 the Lords may not disapprove other bills if they have been passed by two successive sessions of the House of Commons.

    The Bill has to have the Royal Assent to become an Act of Parliament.

    Apart from the Bills, there are other kinds of documents: the Green papers, and the White Papers. They are consultative documents but they are not formal proposals. The aim to see which is the reaction of the other politicians towards a project, to set some feed back.

    The Electoral and Party System

    For electoral purposes, the UK is divided into constituencies. There are 650 of them and each one embraces around 66.000 people. In the UK there are 4 boundary commissions, one for each country, to make periodic reviews and adjust the seats and the electoral boundaries.

    In Britain, all citizens can vote if they are under 18, registered, not disqualified by being insane, in prison or by being a member of the House of Lords.

    Once the election is announced, the parties publish their manifests. The campaign is about 3 weeks and the polling day is usually a Thursday.

    The electoral system in Britain is known as first-past-the-post. This means that the candidate of a constituency who gains most votes become MP and the rest get nothing. Some people say this system is not very democratic or very representative because it doesn't always reflect the wish and the opinion of the people.

    When an MP dies or resigns, there is a by-election (elections parciales).

    There are two big parties:

  • The Labour Party ( left-of-centre party), lead by Tony Blair defends social justice, equality of opportunities, economic planning, state ownership and high taxes. Supported by Trade Unions, working classes, and part of the middle classes; today by upper class and by a wider range of people ð North of England, Wales and Scotland.

  • The Conservative Party ( right-of-centre party) leadered by Smith Duncan defends economic liberalism, individual ownership and low taxes. Supported by business interest, and middle an upper classes ð South of England.

  • The Liberal Democrat Party leaded by Charles Kennedy, is defined as a centre-left-party.

  • Other small parties which are mostly regional: the Scottish Nationalist Party; Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalist); and the Northern Irish parties: the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and Sinn Fein. Other parties outside Parliament include the Communist and Green parties.

  • Local Government

    Local authorities in Britain have considerable autonomy, but at the same time, the Central Government is responsible for the financial stability of Local Government and also for the national uniformity in the provision and standard of the Local Services.

    The Central Government has to make sure that the public services, local services are provided and have more or less the same quality all over the country.

    How is local government organised in the country?

    In 1963, the London Government Act was passed and this Act created a new country of London which was Greater London and embraced 8 million people. This population was quite difficult to manage, therefore it was divided into 32 boroughs. The police of these boroughs was co-ordinated by the Greater London Council. Apart from the 32 boroughs, the city of London (the financial area in the very centre of London) has its own administration.

    Since 2000, London has finally got its own Lord Mayor. The name of the Lord Mayor is Ken Livingston.

    In 1972 there was another act, the Local Government Reorganisation Act which aim was to simplify the Local Government system but it changed some boundaries in different countries.

    England is divided into several countries which have their own County Councils. Counties are subdivided into districts which have got their own district Councils. They are responsible for several matters: police, education, social services, etc.

    This Act also stabilised 6 metropolitan county councils in areas with large conurbation (big metropolitan areas). These were subdivided into 36 metropolitan district councils.

    Substantial changes in local government were introduced by the Conservative government in the 1980s. The Greater London Council and six metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986, but the metropolitan districts councils remained.

    Tony Blair has proposed to divide England into 8 autonomic regions. It is part of his manifesto.

    Administrative division of Britain:

    • Wales: 8 county councils and 37 district councils

    • Scotland: 9 regions and 53 district councils

    • N. Ireland: 6 counties and 26 districts.

    There are special secretaries of State in charge of these areas.

    These councils have got members which are called counsellors. A county council may have between 40 and 100 members and a district council would have between 30 and 50 members.

    Election for local councils are staggered (they don't take place in the whole country at the same time). The system is also fist-past-the-post.

    In Ireland they follow the representation method.

    Councillors are not paid, they work in committees, there is a chair person to co-ordinate the policy of the council who is elected among the councillors, for a year. Sometimes the chair person may be called Mayor/Lord Mayor.

    In Scotland this person is called Provost /Lord Provost.

    Local Government finance:

    Local government gets money from different resources:

    • from the central government

    • from taxes on commercial properties

    • from the council-tax (equivalent to contribución)

    • from some other sources like rent paid on council houses.

  • THE UNITED STATES

  • Constitution

    The supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States, which was drafted by a convention in 1787 and put into effect in 1789. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were adopted in 1791. These provide for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, the right to petition the government, and various due process and criminal procedure rights for individuals. Seventeen additional amendments were adopted between 1795 and 1992, abolishing slavery, providing for an income tax, and providing for universal suffrage for all people 18 or older, among other purposes. So nowadays they are up to 27.

    The Constitution provides for a union of states, now numbering 50, each with its own constitution, republican form of government, and reserved powers, within a federal system.

    In the USA, authority is divided between the central or federal government and the different States government. So Federal power has control on some matters and State governments have power on other aspects, and they have concurrent or shared powers on other questions.

    The Constitution establishes three separate branches of government:

    • the legislature ( represented by the Congress)

    • the executive (represented by the President)

    • the judiciary (represented by the Supreme Court)

    In the USA no person can serve in two branches at the same time. Each branch limits the power of the other branches and, in this way, a balance is created. For instance, Congress makes laws, but these laws can be vetoed by the President. The Supreme Court can veto this law. However, the President appoints the members of the Supreme Court, but these members have to be approved by the Congress.

    The executive:

    The executive branch is responsible for administrating the laws passed by Congress.

    Article II of the Constitution provides as head of the executive branch a president chosen by a majority of voters in the Electoral College for a fixed term of four years. The 22nd Amendment (1951) limits presidents to two terms in office. To be a candidate for the presidency you must be at least 35 years old, you must have been a resident of the USA al least 14 years.

    The president has several powers:

    • he appoints the secretaries of the Government departments

    • he appoints senior officials

    • he appoints ambassadors

    • he represents the country abroad

    • he makes treaties

    • he is he commander-in-chief of the US armed forces.

    Apart from the president, there is a vice-president who is elected at the same time. He is not considered part of the Government. He only has two duties/responsibilities:

    • to chair the Senate

    • to assume the Presidency is something happened to the President.

    The legislative:

    All legislative powers granted by the Constitution in Article I are exercised by the Congress of the United States. Its main function is to make laws. But it also have other functions: to create programs to implement policies, to raise founds to get money for the country and to advice the President on several political aspects.

    Congress consists of two houses:

  • The Senate:

  • The Senate contains 100 senators, 2 representing each State. Senators are elected for 6 years, but the Senate is elected in thirds every two years. To run for a seat in the Senate you must be 30 years or older, you must have been a citizen for 9 years at least, and also being a resident of that State is compulsory.

    The Senate has very relaxed procedures. They have no plans about their work. It is presided by the vice-president. there is a majority and a minority leader. And also there is a majority and minority whips.

  • The House of Representatives:

  • The number of Representatives each State has depends on the number of districts a State has, and it depends on the amount of people living in a State.

    Every 10 years there is a redistribution following the results of the census. Each district represents around 530.000 people. In Britain each constituency represented 66.000 people.

    The House of Representatives have at the moment 435 members who were elected for a two years term. In order to be a candidate in the House, you must be 25 or older, you must have been a citizen for at least 7 years and although it is not compulsory, you must live in that district.

    There is a speaker of the House who chairs the meetings and there is also a Rules Committee and both plan schedule the legislature work of the House. There is also a majority leader and a whip. There is also a minority leader and a minority whip.

    Congressional procedure:

    It is similar to the UK: a bill can be introduced in either chamber (the House or the Senate). Once it is introduced, it is sent to a committee which is specialised in a specific area. It is studied and if the people in the committee consider it is not interesting enough, it may die there. but if it is accepted, it will be sent back to the chamber for debate and then it will be voted. Once it will be accepted, it will go to the other chamber following the same process.

    If there are any disagreement from the second chamber a conference committee is established to work out a solution.

    Once the bill is passed by Congress by majority vote, it is then sent to the president. The president may sign the bill to indicate approval, or allow the bill to become law without signing it; or may veto the bill and return it to Congress, giving reasons for this action. The president's veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the members of Congress voting in each chamber.

    Electoral and Party System

    If you want to run a seat in Congress, you must usually win a primary election. This election may be opened or closed (only people registered in a party as member can participate). Only one person is elected in each district. This system is known as plurality (the same as first-past-the-post of UK). Once you have won the primary election you follow the same system to be elected for a seat.

    The system to elect the President is more complex. Presidential Election:

    Candidates must announce that they are running for the office between twelve and 18th months in advance. Then, from February to June of the presidential election year (which by the way is always a leap year), State delegates are chosen to attend the party convention which is held in July/August that year. Most States celebrate presidential primaries and the participants in the convention agree on a policy program known as the platform and they also agree for on the candidates for president and vice-president because they are both elected at the same time (the ticket).

    After that, the campaign starts and it last until the beginning of November when the Presidential election takes place (usually on Tuesday).

    The total amount of votes is known as the popular vote. This vote is counted by States, not nationally. Each state has a number of votes in the college (which will become the college vote). It is the sum of the members in Congress ( 100 Senators + 435 Representatives) + 3 votes of Representatives from District of Columbia (they only vote on Presidential Elections). So 538 electors (college vote).

    The members of the college are pledged or required to vote together for winning candidate in each State. The candidate who carries a State gets all the votes for that State in the college. There are some proposals for changes, it is under debate.

    Parties:

    The USA have traditionally had two parties: Democratic and Republican. Both parties are supported by a wide variety of people and both parties have a wide range of political views. In fact, many people say that both parties are very similar in their political and economic aims and both parties are often accused of lacking an ideology.

  • Democrats:

    • are supposed to be Liberal, in favour of Government management of the economy (interference)

    • are supposed to be in favour of a public social network (public social care, hospitals, etc)

    • are supposed to be in favour of the Union Movement (support workers, etc)

    • are supposed to be in favour of Civil Rights as well as affirmative action programmes

    • high taxes

    Who would vote Democrats?

    People with a lower income, people with less education, less prestigious occupations (working class people), women rather than men, Jewish people, people in the urban areas and also members of ethnic minorities.

  • Republicans:

    • are supposed to be Conservative

    • they tend to limit the role of the Government as well as the regulation of business (non-interference, economic liberalism)

    • they favour low taxes and private solutions

    Voters are people with interest in business, WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants), people from rural area, etc.

    When voting, members of a party are not subject to party discipline. Political parties are quite decentralised and they are organised in local committees. Very often the party does not control the candidate's campaign or even their policies or their ideas.

    To become a member of a political party, you only have to register but you have no demands or no commitments. You don't have to pay a fee for attend meetings. As a citizen of the country, you can become member of a political party. Participation in elections in the USA is in general very low. For instance, president elections have an average participation between 60% of voters. For State or local elections, the participation is even lower. They have many elections in the USA.

    State and Local Government in the USA

    Each State has a written Constitution, separation of powers and a system of checks and balances. It is the same as the organisation at national level. The State Organisation was first, and then we have the Federal Organisation.

    Each State has its own legislature which has two houses: the State Senate and the State Assembly.

    The governor is the chief executive of the State, so he is the equivalent of the President at State level. Each State has also got its own State judiciary organised in a similar way to the Federal State System. Sometime we can have special District governments which are authorities established to deal with problems that affed several neighbouring estates. Foe instance, Texas and Mexico (immigration regarding Mexico).

    The State is usually divided into several administrative units. Nowadays there are about 83,000 units of local government. Depending on the States, there are several kinds of divisions. Some have counties, other towns, cities, boroughs, parishes, school districts or even mixtured.

    Counties is the most general division. A county government usually has a board between 3 and 12 people. There are county courts and there are chief officers for the county departments: education, health, etc.

    In urban areas, we have the municipal governments where there is a major who is supported/helped by a City Council. Finally, financing for local government comes from the State.

  • EDUCATION

  • In the UK schooling is compulsory for all children from 5 to 16.

    Then there are two voluntary years (17-18) up to the age of 18.

    The system is basiically divided into :

  • State-owned Schools

  • Private Schools

  • 1. Primary and Secondary Education in State Schools

    The education system is not the same all over the country. Enngland and Wales have a system, and Scotland has some particularities. Also N. Irreland has some differencies.

    England and Wales

    Before 5 they can attend kindergardens, nursery schools, play groups, etc. at 5 and up to 11 they attend Primary School which is usually divided into:

    • Infant School ( 5-7)

    • Junior/Middle School (8-11)

    At the age of 11 they move to Secondary Education up to the age of 16.

    At the end of this period, students have to take an exam: The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).

    Those who want to attend school for two more years go to the Sixth Form Colleges. These colleges have 2 different Kinds of courses:

    • Vocational Courses ( like FP)

    • Academic Courses taken by people who want to go to the University.

    At 18 they have taken another exam: the General Certificate Education (GCE) at Advanced Levels (the A Levels). Here students specialice in 2/3/4 subjects only and they have an exam on these subjects only.

    Since 1989, there has been an intermediate exam called Advanced Supplementary (AS) taken at the end of the firt year. It is only a kind of degree.

    All these exams (GCSE, AD, etc) are set by independent boards (tribunales).

    Scotland

    Differences regarding Primary and Secondary Education in England and Wales are the following:

    • students stay in Primary Education up to the age of 12 (nor 11)

    • they have less exams: at the 16 the Scottish Certificate of Education, and at 18 the Scottsih Higher Certificate which exam covers a wider range of subjects that the A levels

    • students who want to go to the University have to take an extra exam: the Certificate of 6th Year Studies.

    Northern Ireland

    The main difference is that schools are divided according religion:

    • Catholic

    • Protestant

    They are aften single sex, and another difference is that the Conprenhensive Principle has no being widely accepted in N.Ireland.

    Evolution

    In 1870, an Education Act (the Forster Act) made Elementary Education compulsory (so it hadd to be free) up to the age of 13.

    Local authorities were responsible for the schools.

    In 1944, another Education Act created the Ministery of Education and it also introduced free compulsory Secondary Education. It was a decentraliced system in the sense that the ministery only drew the main guidelines and local authorities which were known as the LEAS were responsible for most of the aspects regarding education.

    This Act also established an exan known as the Eleven Plus. Depending on the result of this exam, children were sent to Secondary Modern schools were students were given suffiecient education for manual skilled or clerical employment. The rest of the students were sent to grammar schools where they were prepared to go to the University.

    This system started to be widely critized in the 1960´s. and the Labour Government at the time decided to introduce the Comprehensive shcool which was a combination of the two previous kinds of schools and which accepted all students at the same time. By the 1980´s the modern schools and grammar schools were replaced by conprehensive schools. Those scholls that didn´t accept the new system had to become independent free paying schools.

    The new kind of school (comprehensive) also invoved a new way of teaching where more emphasis was given to the adcquisition of knowledge instead of memory or factual learning.

    In the middle late 1980´s there were more and important changes: a new Education Act in 1986 and a new Edcation Reform Act. The result of these two Acts were several changes:

    • more power and control was given to the central government (taken from the local authorities) and parents.

    • Introduction of a National curriculum that established that same subjects were compulsory. Education was standardized and centralized. Free Paying Schools were not obliged to follow this National Curriculum

    • Periodic formal Assesments were introduced to control the progress of students at different ages

    • Parents were given the right to enrol their children at any school they wanted. This have some problems such as voluntary racial segregation, reduction in budgets for unpopular schools (it depend on the amount of children a school has), etc

    • Schools were given a greater responsability: now schools could manage their own budgets and they could hire or fire any members od their staff. It used to depend on the LEAS but this power was also given to schools. The LEAS were deprived the power they used to have.

    2. Private Education

    At the moment there are about 9% of children going to independent free-paying schools. The problem of these schools is that whereas only 9% of the children go there, 29% of the university students come from those schools. There is no a balance between those students an who attend to free-paying schools and those who go to the university.

    How are these schoold financed?

    They get moeny from:

    • from investments

    • from fees paid by students parents

    • from the Stae by means of grants given to students

    These schools are tax exempt.

    Within the group of independent free-paying schools, there is a sector which are the Public Schools. There are about 250 of them. Public Schools in England means elitist. Some of them are Eaton, Rugby, Winchester. They had a golden age at the end of 19th century and early 20th century. Many doctors, lawyers, judges, members of the civil or diplomatic service come from these schools. Also many PM had attended to Public Schools.

    All Public Schools are private, but not all the private schools are public schools.

  • Present situation of Primary Education in UK

  • One of the main problems regarding education at the moment in Briatin is the shortage of teachers. Mailty in some areas like Math, Science or Physics. The teaching profesions have become very unattractive due to the low salaries, problems with students, etc.

    The other problem is that the standard of teaching has beeb criticed in recent years. But must be taken into account that there has been many spending cuts which has prevented modernization of schools.

    Tony Blair has promised may times to have reforms on education, but so far there haven´t been any reforn.

  • Higher Education

  • In the moment at UK there are about 85 universities which are divided into several categories:

    • Ancient English and Scottish foundations: Oxford and Cambridge universities which were founded in the 13th and 14th centuries and which are different from other universities in the world in the sense taht they are federations of independent colleges.

    Regarding Scotland, we have also anciebnt universities founded in the 15th and 16th centuries: St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh.

    • Redbrick Universities: a group of universities were established between 1850-1930 as a result to respond to the demand for educated peole during and after the Industrial revolution in Britain. They are mostly created in industrial cities like Manchester nd Liverpools, Birmingham, Nothingham, and they focused on technical teaching.

    • Plate-glass university: they were the result of the expansion of higher education in the 1960´s, and they were created mostly in rural areas

    • New universities: created in 1992 when polytechnics and some other colleges of higher education were given university status.

    Most university students used to receive grants or schoolarships for tuition and for cost of leaving. However, in 1990 the Government decided to replace many of these grants by loans, so students have to pay the money back after their studies.

    Universities are independent institutions but they depend on Governement money. In recent years, 1980´s Conservative Government, the budget for universities has been reduced and nowadays many universities have to market for their products.

    University Examinations or Degrees:

    • 1st level is Bachelor of science or arts (BSc / BA ): students have to take 3 years of studies (In Scotland 4 years).

    • 2nd level is Master in Csience or Arts (MSc / MA): one or two more courses which involve some research

    • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): 3 year period of research and you have to present a disertation or thesis.

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