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The 1832 Reform Act was passed after a great struggle. Under the Act, most middle-class men received the vote. The Act abolished some small boroughs and reduced the number of members for other boroughs.

The Municipal Corporation Act of 1835 set up town councils elected by ratepayers and presided over by a mayor. It empowered boroughs to provide drainage, markets, street lights, and other facilities.


Lecture # 8

Theme: Great Britain on the Way to Prosperity

Plan: 1.Years of progress

2. The United Kingdom in the 1st Half of the 1900s

1.1. Years of progress (1837-1906)

General Outline. Not long before this century began, Britain had lost its most important American colonies in a war of independence. When the century began, the country was locked in a war with France. By the middle of the 19th century, Britain established her industrial superiority in the world.

The strengthening of the capitalist state machine continued in this period. During the long reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), the revolutionary changes that had transformed Britain from a mainly agricultural nation to an industrial one were followed by developments that took it further along the road of industrialism.

Soon after the end of the century, Britain controlled the biggest empire the world had ever seen. One section of this empire was Ireland. During this century, it was part of the UK, where the British culture and way of life predominated.

 Another part of the empire was made up of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These countries had complete internal self-government but recognized the overall authority of the British government.

Another part was India. The British officials developed a distinctly Anglo-Indian way of life. They imposed British institutions and methods of government on the country.

Large parts of Africa also belonged to the empire. Most of Britain’s African colonies started as trading bases on the coast, and were incorporated into the empire at the end of the century. The empire also included numerous smaller areas and islands, which were acquired because of their strategic position along trading routes.

There was a change in attitude in Britain towards colonization during this century. Previously, it had been seen as a matter of settlement, of commerce, or of military strategy. By the end of the century, it was seen as a matter of destiny. Britain became the world’s foremost economic power. This gave the British a sense of supreme confidence, even arrogance, about their culture and civilization. The British came to see themselves as having a duty to spread this culture and civilization around the world.

Political developments.Many men who did not get the vote in 1832 resented the Reform Act and worked to change it. They drew up a charter demanding votes for all men, payment of members of Parliament, the abolition of the rule that members of Parliament must be property owners, the creation of electoral districts of roughly equal populations, and the annual election of parliaments. Members of the movement became known as chartists. The chartists held many demonstrations throughout Britain. A final, sensational demonstration in 1848 failed ridiculously. But most chartists were serious men, and all their demands—except for annually elected parliaments—have since been granted.

Further parliamentary reform came later in the 1800's. The Reform Act of 1867 extended the vote to working men in the towns. The Reform Act of 1884 gave the vote to agricultural labourers. Both these acts also redistributed parliamentary seats.

From 1830 to 1841, with one short break, the Whigs formed the governments. The Tories opposed the Reform Act in 1832. But in 1835, the Tory Party issued a document called the Tamworth Manifesto, which said that the party should combine reform with respect for tradition. The Tories began to call themselves Conservatives. In 1841, they won power under Peel.

Meanwhile, the aristocratic Whigs became, largely under the leadership of William Gladstone, the new Liberal Party. The Liberals represented particularly the middle classes and Nonconformists (Protestants outside the Church of England). In the late 1800s, the trade unions and a group of socialist intellectuals called the Fabians formed the Labour Party. The first Labour members entered Parliament in 1893.

Industrial developments.British industry continued to expand. Coal output more than doubled between 1846 and 1862, and iron production increased by six times between 1833 and 1865. An expansion in trade as well as raw material production made Britain very prosperous and the world's leading manufacturing nation. It retained its industrial lead through the skill of its inventors. Sir Henry Bessemer discovered a less costly way of making steel, and steel replaced iron in engineering, railways, and shipbuilding. In 1844, Isambard Brunei laid the first electric telegraph on the Great Western Railway from Paddington to Slough. In 1866, British engineers laid the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1884, Sir Charles Parsons made the first practical steam turbine. In 1826, Patrick Bell invented a reaping machine for cutting cereals. He also devised a way of extracting sugar from sugar beet.

Near the end of the 1800s, Britain faced growing competition overseas. Such industrialized countries as France, Germany, and the United States protected their own manufactures against British goods by imposing high tariffs (taxes on imports). The United States and Germany overtook Britain in steel production. Britain's exports went into decline. Only coal, machinery, and ships maintained their share of the export market. Britain suffered an industrial slump between 1875 and 1896.

1.2. The United Kingdom in the 1st Half of the 1900s

By the beginning of this century, Britain was no longer the world’s richest country. The first twenty years of the century were a period of extremism. The Suffragettes, women demanding the right to vote, were prepared both to damage property and to die for their beliefs; the problem of Ulster in the north of Ireland led to a situation in which some sections of the army were ready to disobey the government; and the government’s introduction of new taxes was opposed by the House of Lords so that even Parliament seemed to have an uncertain future in its traditional form. But by the end of the First World War, two of these issues had been resolved to most people’s satisfaction (the Irish problem remained)

In the first half of the 1900s, Britain fought in two world wars that considerably changed its international influence and status. Many countries that before 1945 were British colonies became independent countries as the British Empire developed into the Commonwealth of Unions. In 1906, Britain was the world's richest and most powerful nation, but the Soviet Union and the United States, with their vast resources of people and materials, eventually overtook Britain.

Affairs in Parliament.In 1906, the Liberals won a general election by a large majority and again returned to government in January 1910. It then introduced a bill to end the power of the Lords to reject financial bills. The bill also provided that any other bill, if passed by the Commons three times in two years, should become law without the approval of the Lords. The Liberals also proposed to reduce the length of a Parliament from seven to five years. The Lords passed the bill. It became law as the Parliament Act of 1911.

The Liberals passed more social reforms. In 1911, the Shops Act enforced early closing once a week. By another act, members of Parliament received payment for their services. A National Insurance Act provided sickness insurance for all low-paid workers and unemployment insurance for people in some jobs.

World War I.In the late 1800s, Britain, with its vast empire, relied on the Navy for defences and followed a foreign policy of splendid isolation. But with the early 1900s came a need for alliances. In 1902, Britain allied with Japan to meet a possible Russian attack on India. In 1904, Britain and France, both fearing German aggression, signed a treaty called the Entente Cordiale. In 1907, this became the Triple Entente, when France's ally, Russia, joined. The Entente was opposed by the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy.War was becoming imminent. The assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, at Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 was the pretext which led to open conflict.

On August 1, 1914 Germany declared war on Russia, on August 3 it declared war on France.

World War I began in 1914. The Allies—Britain, France, the United States, and other countries—fought the Central Powers—Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. The war was caused chiefly by political and economic rivalry among the various nations.  Britain entered the war on August 4, 1914, after German troops invaded neutral Belgium on their way to attack France.

In the course of the war a coalition government was formed with the participation of the Liberals, the Tories and a few Labour representatives. Lloyd George emerged as the dominant figure in the government doing his best to divert growing labour unrest by propagating 'national unity'.

The fighting lasted until 1918, when the Allies finally defeated Germany. On August 8, 1918 the allied forces staged a major breakthrough surrounding and destroying 16 German divisions. Germany was defeated and the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.

Lloyd George served as prime minister during the second half of the war. He helped write the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended the war with Germany. The treaty set up the League of Nations, and gave Britain control over German colonies in Africa. The Treaty of Sevres, signed with the Turkish Ottoman Empire, gave Britain control over some Turkish possessions in the Middle East.

The war had a shattering effect on Britain. About 750,000 members of the British armed forces died. German submarines sank about 7 million metric tons of British shipping. The war also created severe economic problems for Britain and shook its position as a world power.

In January 1924, a new party, the Labour Party, came to power under James Ramsay MacDonald. The party represented socialist societies and workers' groups. While the Labour Party grew stronger, the Liberal Party declined. Many voters could see little difference between Conservatives and Liberals. They saw the Labour Party, with its socialist aims, as an alternative to the Conservative Party. The Labour Party held office only until November. It lacked a majority in the House of Commons, and needed the Liberal Party's support. The Liberals soon withdrew their support.

In the 1929 elections, the Labour Party became the largest party for the first time. MacDonald returned as prime minister. A few months later, the worldwide Great Depression began. In 1931, MacDonald formed a government of Labour, Conservative, and Liberal leaders to deal with the emergency. The government increased taxes, abandoned free trade, and cut its own spending. But the United Kingdom could not escape the effects of the Great Depression.

In the depth of the depression, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party won control of Germany. Germany began to rearm, but few leaders in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere, saw the danger.

Meantime, the United Kingdom faced an unusual problem at home. King George V died in 1936, and his oldest son became King Edward VIII. Edward wanted to marry an American divorcee, Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson. The government, the Church of England, and many British people objected. Edward then gave up the throne to marry "the woman I love." His brother became king as George VI.

Neville Chamberlain, a Conservative, became prime minister in 1937. Chamberlain thought he could deal with Hitler. In 1938, Hitler seized Austria and then demanded part of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain and Premier Edouard Daladier of France flew to Munich, Germany, to confer with Hitler. They gave in to Hitler's demands after the German dictator said he would seek no more territory. Chamberlain returned to Britain and said: "I believe it is peace in our time." The people sighed in relief. But Chamberlain met sharp attacks in the House of Commons. Winston Churchill, a Conservative, called the Munich Agreement "a disaster of the first magnitude."

World War II.In March 1939, Germany seized the rest of Czechoslovakia. On September 1, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Two days later, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany. In April 1940, German troops invaded Denmark and Norway. Chamberlain resigned on May 10, and Churchill became prime minister. On that same day, Germany attacked Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

Churchill told the British people he had nothing to offer but "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" to win "victory at all costs." Germany conquered France in June, and the UK stood alone against the Nazi war machine.

The United Kingdom prepared for invasion, and Churchill urged his people to make this "their finest hour." He inspired them to heights of courage, unity, and sacrifice. Hundreds of German planes bombed the UK nightly. German submarines tried to cut the UK's lifeline by torpedoing ships bringing supplies to the island country. Severe rationing limited each person's share of food, clothing, coal, and oil. The British refused to be beaten, and Hitler gave up his invasion plans.

In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. In December, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, and the United States entered the war. The UK, the United States, the Soviet Union, and the other Allies finally defeated Germany and Japan in 1945. Near the end of the war, the UK helped establish the United Nations.

About 360,000 British servicemen, servicewomen, and civilians died in the war. Great sections of London and other cities had been destroyed by German bombs. The war had shattered the UK economy, and the country had piled up huge debts. The United States and the Soviet Union came out of the war as the world's most powerful nations.

The welfare state.The Labour Party won a landslide victory in 1945. The party had campaigned on a socialist programme. Clement Attlee became prime minister, and the Labour Party stayed in power until 1951. During those six years, the UK became a welfare state. The nation's social security system was expanded to provide welfare for the people "from the cradle to the grave." The Labour government also began to nationalizeindustry by putting private businesses under public control. The nationalized industries included the Bank of England, the coal mines, the iron and steel industry, the railways, and the road haulage industry.

Although the Labour government struggled to restore the economy, conditions improved little. Rationing and other wartime controls continued. The government borrowed heavily from the United States.

Decline of the empire.World War II sealed the fate of the British Empire, though the UK had begun loosening control over its empire earlier. In 1931, the UK granted independence within the empire to Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and South Africa. They became the first members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an association of countries and dependencies that succeeded the empire.

After World War II, the peoples of Africa and Asia increased their demands for independence. The UK could no longer keep control of its colonies. Nevertheless Britain tried to keep international ties with its former colonies through a new organisation called the British Commonwealth of Nations. All the former colonies were invited to join it as free and equal members. Now there are 53 member states with the population of more than 1, 7 billiard people.

While the UK was breaking up its empire during the postwar years, other nations of Western Europe joined together in various organizations to unite economically and politically. The UK was reluctant to join them. Throughout history, the UK had preferred to stay out of European affairs—except to keep the balance of power in Europe. By joining the new organizations, the UK feared it might lose some of its independence, and would also be turning its back on the Commonwealth.

Most important, it did not join the European Economic Community (EEC). This association, also called the European Common Market, was set up by France and five other nations. After the EEC showed signs of succeeding, the UK set up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with six other nations. But it was only a mild success, and the UK later regretted its refusal to join the EEC.

George VI's health declined during 1951, and Princess Elizabeth was soon frequently standing in for him at public events. In October of that year, she toured Canada, and visited the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, in Washington, D.C.; on the trip, the Princess carried with her a draft accession declaration for use if the King died while she was out of the United Kingdom. In early 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand via Kenya. At Sagana Lodge, about 100 miles north of Nairobi, word arrived of the death of Elizabeth's father on 6 February. Philip broke the news to the new queen. Martin Charteris, then her Assistant Private Secretary, asked her what she intended to be called as monarch, to which she replied: "Elizabeth, of course." Elizabeth was proclaimed queen throughout her realms, and the royal party hastily returned to the United Kingdom. She and the Duke of Edinburgh moved into Buckingham Palace.

In the years after World War II, British foreign policy was closely allied with that of the United States. The UK joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and fought in the Korean War (1950-1953).


Theme: Britain in the Second Half of the 20th Century

Plan: 1. Modern Britain

2. Present-Day Britain

A Conservative government returned to power in 1951 under Winston Churchill. The Conservatives accepted most of the changes the Labour Party had made. By 1955, rationing and most other wartime controls had ended. Industry was thriving, jobs were plentiful, and wages were good. Churchill retired in 1955, and Sir Anthony Eden succeeded him as prime minister. Eden resigned in 1957, and Harold Macmillan succeeded him.

The economy continued to expand until the early 1960s. Hoping to improve the economy, the government applied for membership of the European Economic Community. By joining the EEC, Macmillan hoped the UK would be able to expand its export trade. But in January 1963, the UK's application was rejected, largely because of opposition from French President Charles de Gaulle. The rejection was a defeat for Macmillan. The 1964 election brought the Labour Party back to power under Harold Wilson.

In 1965 Parliament adopted a five-year national plan of economic recovery. This plan was based on encouraging monopoly development. Wilson’s government also lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. But at the same time the Labour government maintained a typical wage-freeze policy which led to wide-scale industrial unrest.

The government faced mounting economic problems. The UK was importing far more goods than it was exporting, and its industrial growth rate was too slow. The country's financial reserves shrank, and it had to borrow more and more money from other countries and international agencies. In 1966, the government began an austerityprogramme by increasing taxes and putting a ceiling on wages and prices. In October 1967, the UK was again rejected for membership of the EEC. In November, the government devalued the pound in response to the serious economic situation.

1.1 Modern Britain

On this background, the Conservatives won the elections of 1970, and Edward Heath formed the new Tory government. In 1971, agreement was reached on terms for the UK's entry into the EEC. The UK joined the EEC in 1973. However, continuing inflation, fuel shortages, strikes, and other matters caused serious problems for the Conservative government. In home policy, Heath decided to show his firm hand by a dramatic confrontation with miners. As a result, the Tories lost the 1974 general election.

Elections in 1974 brought the Labour Party back to power, and Harold Wilson again became prime minister. In 1976. James Callaghan succeeded him as prime minister and as leader of the Labour Party.

The new Labour government of Wilson – Callaghan took some positive measures: the miners received a wage increase; the full working week was restored. The Labour government managed to disguise the old policies by proposing a “voluntary” wage-freeze policy called the Social Contract. This led to a fall of Labour support.

Long-standing conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland became a serious problem during the late 1960's and the 1970's. In 1969, the government began sending troops to Northern Ireland to try to stop riots from occurring. But the violence continued. The UK Parliament at Westminster established direct rule over the country at various times.

Some people in Scotland and Wales demanded complete independence from the UK for their countries. In March 1979, the UK government allowed the people of Scotland and Wales to vote on the question of whether they should have their own legislatures. The voters in both countries failed to approve the establishment of the legislatures. The process under which Scotland and Wales would have received more control over their affairs is called devolution.

Elections held in May 1979 returned the Conservatives to power. Margaret Thatcher replaced Callaghan as prime minister. She became the first woman ever to hold the office. She headed the cabinet for more than 10 years. The government’s economic policy was focused on encouraging private enterprise and de-nationalization. As prime minister, Thatcher worked to reduce government involvement in the economy. The introduction of the poll tax in 1989 met overwhelming opposition in the country.

In April 1982, Argentine troops invaded and occupied the disputed Falkland Islands. British and Argentine forces fought air, sea, and land battles for control of the Falkland Islands. The Argentine forces surrendered in June 1982.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party briefly allied with a Labour administration in 1978. In 1982, the Liberals formed an electoral alliance with a new party carved out of the Labour Party's right wing. This was the Social Democratic Party. In 1987, the Liberals and Social Democrats agreed to terms for merging the two parties. In 1990, the new party was named the Liberal Democrats.

In November 1990, Thatcher resigned as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. John Major succeeded her in both positions. In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. In early 1991, UK forces took part in the allied bombing of Iraqi military targets and in the ground offensive to liberate Kuwait.

1.2 Present-Day Britain

The economic policy of Great Britain in the 1990swas characterized by the strategy of economic regulation, which promoted the victory of the Conservatives in the general election in 1992. The cabinet headed by John Major continued the economic and social policies traditional for this party. This led to a fall of the Conservatives.

In 1997, Britain’s opposition Labour party routed the ruling Conservative party in the national election, and its leader Tony Blair replaced Major as head of the government. He became Britain’s youngest Prime Minister since 1812, ending 18 years of Tory rule since 1979. Blair repeated his success in the general election of 2002.

As Prime Minister Tony Blair presided over an optimistic first term in which Devolution brought self-governing powers to both Scotland and Wales, reversing control from London. The late 1990s and into the millennium saw an increased celebration of British culture in its myriad of aspects from the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations of 2002 to huge programmes of urban renewal of the long neglected industrial cities of the north, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow, making them the great cities of culture they are today.

On 27 June 2007, the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown replaced Blair. Brown is the first prime minister from a Scottish constituency since 1964. He is also one of only five prime ministers who attended a university other than Oxford or Cambridge. Brown has proposed moving some traditional prime ministerial powers to the realm of Parliament, such as the power to declare war and approve appointments to senior positions. He has also proposed moving some powers from Parliament to citizens, including the right to form "citizens' juries", easily petition Parliament for new laws, and rally outside Westminster.

Brown was committed to the Iraq War, but said in a speech in June 2007 that he would "learn the lessons" from the mistakes made in Iraq. Brown said in a letter published on 17 March 2008 that the United Kingdom will hold an inquiry into the Iraq war.

In a speech in July 2007, Brown personally clarified his position regarding Britain's relationship with the USA: "We will not allow people to separate us from the United States of America in dealing with the common challenges that we face around the world."

In the local elections on 1 May 2008, Labour suffered their worst results in 40 years. Gordon Brown was quoted in the press as having said that the results were "a painful defeat for Labour".

As for the domestic policies, the Labour government admitted that the recession had been deeper than predicted, but claimed that the government's action to pump money into the economy had made a "real difference" to families and businesses. Later the year of 2009, a number of measures to help economic recovery were announced, including a public sector pay freeze, a levy on bank bonuses and a package of measures to help the unemployed.

The country's leading economic think tank forecasts that with spending on health and education protected, the areas most likely to face severe cuts are defence, housing, transport and higher education. Moreover, it is estimated that the cost to each individual family of paying back the national debt will be £2,400 a year for eight years.
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