o The U.k. – PoliticThis document will address two questions:
The first is whether the political organization of the United Kingdom is similar enough to the United States that Americans would adapt and work comfortably there, and secondly, if the United Kingdom has a history of political stability (how long), and is likely to continue for at least 10 years in the future. The answers to these questions will be used to determine marketing potential for the introduction of personal computing products to include a network infrastructure, manufacturing facility, and a personnel staff of 250 employees.
Preliminary U.K. information indicates the following:
* 186 Personal computers
* 503 Telephone lines
* 612 Televisions
* 1433 Radios
These indicate a good market share for potential customer base.
Parliamentary Democracy with 2 party system
High Adult literacy (99%)
Rising annual growth rate of GNP since 1995
Major Language is English
Adequate ship and air commerce facilities
These address stable political and economic presence, and will require further study to determine future stability in ten years.
The initial information above made the United Kingdom a choice candidate for this research. The detailed answers to the 2 main questions are addressed in this report.
Question A: Is the political organization of the United Kingdom similar enough to the United States that Americans would adapt and work comfortably there?
The United Kingdom is a Parliamentary Democracy based on a two-chamber system. The House of Lords (the upper House) and the House of Commons (the lower house) sit separately and are constituted on different principles. The legislative process involves both Houses, with the House of Commons being the legislative branch, and House of Lords revising legislation and keeping a check on Government by scrutinizing its activities. Parliament has a maximum duration of five years, and at any time up to the end of this period, a general election can be held for a new House of Commons.
The Executive power is that of Prime Minister who is the leader of the party that wins the most seats at a General Election. The Prime Minister has powers to appoint judges such as the Lord Chancellor , create Life Peers and make appointments to senior positions in the Church of England. There is also a Constitutional Monarchy, which for the most part is symbolic as a result of the “Bloodless Revolution of 1688 .
There are currently three political parties in the United Kingdom. Of these three, the Labour and Conservative are the major parties, while the Liberal Democrats (center party) are a minor party. The political party system has evolved from the historical division of Whigs and Tories in the Stuart period (1603-1715). The Whigs became the Liberal Party in the early parts of the 20th Century, and was pledged to social reform. The Conservatives stood more for the preservation of vested interests and tariff reform. Labour Party membership has led to the decline of the Liberals in the first part of the twentieth century, and since the 1970s there have been increasing numbers of parties represented in the House of Commons. While Labour and Conservative have remained the largest parties, the Liberal Democrats have increased their strength, there are Members of Parliament from nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales and a number of Northern Ireland parties .
In Summary: The United Kingdom has a political organization similar enough to the U.S. political system that it would be an easy transition to work and live comfortably there. Additionally, the non-language barrier, healthy diplomatic relations, and American population currently there would further support this transition
Question B. Does the United Kingdom have a history of political stability ( if so, how long)? Is stability likely to continue at least 10 years in the future?
Like most European countries, the United Kingdom has undergone changes to its political process throughout the course of its history. Beginning in the 9th century, Vikings began invading England from the east, and these invasions continued through the 11th century. The Anglo-Saxons were unable to prevent the Scandinavian invasions, and for a time England was all but split down the middle, with the Anglo-Saxons in the western portion, and the Vikings in the east. Eventually the country was united under Anglo-Saxon kings, until William of Normandy conquered England and subjected it to Norman rule. During this period, Britain like other European countries was operating under a feudal system . In 1215 the Magna Carta was signed by King John, this established the foundation of personal rights and freedoms, although feudalism was slow to diminish until the 14th century.
Other significant events followed that slowly shaped the country as the Medieval period closed out. Britain as well as some other parts of Europe underwent an economic recovery. One such event that contributed to this was the invention of the horseshoe, which improved commerce and small towns, grew into larger commerce points for the trade of goods and information. One of the most significant social events to take place was the Bill of Rights in 1689. This document confirmed the principles of “The Glorious Revolution” of 1688 , including free speech, parliamentary supremacy and Protestant succession. The most significant event of the 18th century that took place in British history was the industrial revolution. With the invention of the steam engine, and later refinements by James Watt , the country underwent a major positive transition. This was also a time when the British colonization was underway in the Americas, Bermuda, Honduras, Caribbean, East Indies, and the Far East. With the access to foreign materials and labor, a vast merchant shipping fleet and the industrial ability to process these goods, Britain asserted its economic dominance throughout the world . Other critical junctures that shaped the country from 1914 through 1945 were; World War I (1914-1918), the Great Depression (1929-1939), and World War II (1939-1945). In 1982 there was the Falkland Islands war with ArgentinaThatcher. This undeclared war lasted 72 days and claimed almost 1000 lives (236 British and 655 Argentine).
Throughout the above events that occurred, the United Kingdom has had stable political leadership. The Conservative and Labour parties have for the most part successfully survived these historical events. However, a major political destabilizer in the United Kingdom today, is establishing a peace process with Northern Ireland. This process is very complex, in that it involves power sharing between multiple groups, and political factions of Northern Ireland and the British government. The political representation of Northern Ireland’s only previous experience of shared government was in the 1970s – and that lasted for only five months. Most recently, the peace process was on an upturn with the beginnings of an arrangement to restore power to N. Ireland. This came to an abrupt halt when splinter faction groups of N. Ireland along with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) refused to totally disarm.
The overall political stability of the United Kingdom is very good. The fact that the U.K. has the resiliency to recover from major events such as World wars, and economic depression supports this stability. Additionally, the 2 party system has been essentially stable since the 19th century. The United Kingdom has for the most part, effectively dealt with “normal” problems that face countries such as, inflation, unemployment, immigration, and trade deficits.
10 year prediction of political stability:
If there is one “chink in its armor”, it would be the political problems it faces with Northern Ireland. If this problem cannot be resolved soon, there is the potential for serious political and social fallout. It is difficult to predict with 100% accuracy the political stability of the U.K. over the next 10 years, but based on current information and past performance it is very likely that the U.K. will continue to have a stable political system.
The Humanistic Tradition by Gloria K. Fiero, Brown ; Benchmark, 2nd Ed., pages. 40-41.
The Day the Universe Changed by James Burke, 1995, Back Bay Books, Pages 29 – 40.
Introduction to Comparative Politics, 2nd edition, Houghton ; Mifflin, Page 31
Introduction to Comparative Politics, 2nd edition, Houghton ; Mifflin, Pages 32-42.