UK. Labor forces urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to resign as party leader at the beginning of the year, but even this time he was able to remain despite dissatisfaction with his leadership within the party.
In January, former Prime Minister Tony Blair testified before the independent inquiry into the Iraq war led by Sir John Chilcot. He then defended his decision to participate in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Later in the year, Blair published his autobiography and pledged to donate all proceeds to the Royal British Legion, a charity that, among other things, rehabilitates wounded soldiers returning from the front.
From 2004, the British police had increasingly used anti-terrorism legislation to stop and body-visit people despite not being suspected of any crime (in 2004 the law was used 33,000 times, in 2008 the same figure was over 117,000). That opportunity disappeared in January after the European Court of Justice ruled that the law violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
In February, the right-wing populist British Nationalist Party (GDP) voted to allow non-whites as members of the party. Check Abbreviationfinder for U.K. acronyms.
In the same month, gun giant BAE Systems paid over £ 400 million to US and UK authorities to avoid bribery charges in connection with arms sales to several different countries. Critics of the settlement felt that the company should have been prosecuted for these crimes.
According to COUNTRYAAH, United Kingdom has a population of 66.65 million (2019). The issue of the British security service MI-5 known that Binyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian former resident of the UK, had been tortured in foreign prisons continued to attract attention. Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and taken via Afghanistan and Morocco to the US Guantánamo camp, from where he was released in 2009 without being charged with anything. A court ordered in February that former Secretary of State David Miliband should publish documents from the US intelligence service CIA that related the case. The documents confirmed Mohammed’s information. New Prime Minister David Cameron announced in July that former Judge Peter Gibson would investigate the torture charges. In mid-November, it was announced that the state would pay damages to Binyam Mohammed and 15 other men who had been jailed in Guantánamo.
The so-called cost-reimbursement scandal, which was unveiled in 2009, led to legal backlash for at least six politicians during the year. But for the majority of MEPs, who incorrectly requested compensation for their spending in 2004–09, it was enough to repay the money. 392 members had been asked to repay over a billion pounds in total.
In April, Prime Minister Brown announced parliamentary elections until May 6. He, David Cameron (Conservative Party) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) met shortly thereafter in three televised party leadership debates, the first ever before a British election. The debates, primarily the first to deal with domestic politics, gave the Liberal Democrats a boost in opinion, largely because of his more popular appearance.
Labor claimed that the party had the best conditions to lift the country out of the economic crisis. In its election manifesto, the Conservative Party presented ideas on giving business and voluntary organizations greater responsibility for certain community service. The party promised measures that would quickly take Britain out of the economic crisis, but both Labor and the Liberal Democrats wanted to take more caution so as not to jeopardize an economic recovery. The Liberal Democrats placed great importance on the need to introduce a new proportional electoral system in the United Kingdom.
The election was a success for the Conservatives, but 36 percent of the vote and 308 of the 650 seats were not enough for the party to get its own majority in the lower house. The party won almost all its new mandates in England. Labor received 29 percent and 258 seats. The success of the Liberal Democrats did not materialize. The party received 23 percent of the vote and 57 seats. The other parties in the lower house became the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with eight seats, the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) six seats, Sinn Fein five seats, the Social Democrats and Labor (SDLP) three seats, the Plaid Cymru three seats and the Alliance Party one seats as many as the Green the party that entered the lower house for the first time. The turnout was 65.1 percent.
Local elections were held in 32 municipal parishes in London, where Labor did well. At the same time, the election was a setback for GDP, which lost 27 local mandates.
In the parliamentary elections, the Liberal Democrats were given a guardian role. Both the Conservatives and Labor invited invitations for government cooperation. After a few days of deliberations, however, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats formed a government coalition, the first in the country since the Second World War. Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet had 19 Conservative members and five Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg was named Deputy Prime Minister. The heavy items went otherwise to conservative politicians: George Osborne became Finance Minister, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith were given responsibility for foreign policy and the labor market and pensions, while political veteran Kenneth Clarke was appointed Minister of Justice.
The government parties agreed that the cooperation would be valid for the entire term of five years. Both parties were forced to compromise, but the biggest concessions the Liberal Democrats had to make. They still got the Conservatives to agree to hold a referendum on a new electoral system, which, however, did not go as far as the party wanted. When it came to EU policy, they agreed to let voters decide if more power should be transferred from nations to the EU. As a mark, Cameron made his first trips abroad to France and Germany.
Brown resigned as Labor leader in May. Until further notice, Harriet Harman was taken over.
In early June, a taxi driver, Derrick Bird, shot twelve people in Cumbria, north-west England, to take his own life.
The Prime Minister said in June that the British troops would be taken home from Afghanistan by 2015. At the end of the same month, Finance Minister Osborne presented a first budget aimed at overcoming the economic crisis. He set the goal that the central government finances would be in balance in 2015. Most ministries would have their appropriations reduced, at the same time as VAT would be increased and salary cuts introduced for many public sector employees. Care and assistance were some of the few areas that would not be forced into major savings. The government promised measures to protect weak groups, among other things, low-paid people would not have to pay income tax.
In July, Cameron traveled on his first official visit to the United States to meet President Barack Obama and confirm “the special relationship” between the countries. A major leak from one of BP’s oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico and the release of Liberty Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi sentenced by a Scottish prison in 2009 were among the burning problems being discussed. The decision to release al-Megrahi was formally made by the Scottish Government, but the Labor government was accused in the media of exerting pressure on the Edinburgh ministry to save a large oil contract for BP.
In September, Pope Benedict XVI visited Britain; it was the first time a pope had made a state visit to Britain since 1534.
At Labor’s conference in Manchester in September, a new party leader was elected. In order to stand, it was required that a candidate had the support of at least 33 MPs. Most of the candidates were former ministers, with brothers David Miliband and Ed Miliband as favorites. Other candidates were Ed Balls and Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott from the party’s left flank. The election, described in the media as a fraternity fight, was unexpectedly won by Ed Miliband, former Minister of Energy and Climate, who had a more left-wing profile than Brother David, whom he defeated by a marginal margin thanks to support from the trade union movement.
On October 20, Finance Minister Osborne presented a more comprehensive budget than in June. It contained savings of £ 81 billion by 2014. On average, the ministry’s appropriations would be cut by almost a fifth. The most money would be saved by the Ministry of Foreign, Domestic, Justice and the Environment. Cuts would also be made within the welfare system, among other things, many middle and high income earners would lose their child allowances and greater demands would be placed on social welfare recipients.
The Ministry of Defense came away relatively mildly and would save 8%. The US should have wanted to move harder, and it is possible that the concern over the cuts expressed by the US was affecting the government. It also decided to wait to build new submarines for the nuclear weapons in the so-called Trident system, something the Liberal Democrats advocated. Britain still had the fourth largest defense budget in the world.
In November, the British signed a defense agreement with France that would last for 50 years. The countries would cooperate on military equipment and development of nuclear weapons technology and form a joint special force of 10,000 men. In addition to saving money, the agreement also reflected the countries’ goal of retaining influence in the global arena.
A sharp increase in university fees during the fall posed problems for the Liberal Democrats, who had promised to eliminate them in the electoral movement. In both November and December, student protests in London led to violence. On December 9, the House of Commons voted in favor of the proposal by 21 votes in excess. A dozen Liberal Democrats voted no, others abstained. A small group of Conservative members also opposed the proposal.
In November, it was announced that Prince William would marry Kate Middleton in April 2011.
A few days before Christmas, nine men were arrested on suspicion of planning a series of terror attacks in London. According to newspaper reports, the men, who had their roots in Bangladesh, had, among other things, planned to strike against the London Stock Exchange and the US embassy.
Extensive snow storms caused major traffic problems in December. The week before Christmas, London’s international airports were forced to suspend all traffic for a few days.