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United Kingdom

Yearbook 2008

UK. The revelations in 2007 that several leading Labor politicians did not report money they received for their election campaigns led in January to Peter Hain, minister responsible for pensions and Wales, being forced to resign. According to Countryaah reports, Hain was reported to have received over 100,000 in conjunction with his candidacy for the post of Deputy Party Leader for Labor. Other parties were also affected by disclosures about fraud, which made it difficult for them to make any big deal of Hain's departure.

2008 United Kingdom

In April, the Privy Council in London approved a new constitution for Sark, the smallest of the four Channel Islands. General voting rights were introduced for the approximately 600 residents. The first election was held on December 10, when 57 candidates attempted to win one of the 28 places at stake.

2008 United KingdomBillionaires David and Frederick Barclay, from neighboring Brecqhou, pleaded for continued reform; that hereditary offices should be abolished. But only a few of the candidates supported by the brothers were elected, and the Barclay brothers decided to close all their hotels, stores and other business operations at Sark.

The decision to abolish the 10 percent tax rate that applies to low-income earners caused great dissatisfaction with the local elections in May. Many Labor members protested that the government did not plan to compensate those affected. The issue was a major cause of Labor's decline in the elections. In the municipal elections in England and Wales, the party made its worst election in 40 years; both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats got more votes. At the same time, Conservative Party candidate Boris Johnson was elected new mayor of London by defeating Labor's Ken Livingstone, who has been in office since 2000. Conservatives also gained a majority in the London regional assembly, GLA. The xenophobic British Nationalist Party (GDP) won a total of 37 municipal seats, which was ten more than in the previous election.

In late May, the Conservatives won their first election since 1982, defeating Labor in English Crewe and Nantwich.

The same month, Finance Minister Alistair Darling presented a proposal that would offset the low-income earners affected by the "10 percent tax" being removed. But all attempts by the government, and not least Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to recapture the political initiative did not pay any dividends in public opinion and the Prime Minister's leadership was increasingly questioned within his own party. Ahead of the party's congress in September, a number of Labor politicians tried to fire Brown from the party leadership post. It was speculated that Foreign Minister David Miliband would take over.

In Scotland, in May, Scottish Labor leader Wendy Alexander called on the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to announce a referendum on Scottish independence as soon as possible. During the election campaign in 2007, SNP leader Alex Salmond promised that such a vote would be held in 2010. Alexander resigned the month after due to criticism from SNP that she had broken the rules when she did not report all campaign contributions.

As the capital of United Kingdom shown by Abbreviationfinder, the London Parliament approved the EU's Lisbon Treaty in June. In March, the Conservatives had made an unsuccessful attempt to get a referendum on the treaty. The debate around this clearly showed the major cracks the issue created within the three major parties.

In June, the lower house approved an extension of the time that suspected terrorists can be held without detention from 28 days to 42. The margin was only nine votes when 36 Labor members voted against the government, which could, however, enforce the decision after a deal with the Northern Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). It was speculated that the DUP voted with the government in exchange for higher grants to Northern Ireland as well as promises that the new abortion legislation would not include the province, which would thus be allowed to retain its abortion ban. To appease some Labor members, Interior Minister Jacqui Smith promised, among other things, that the law would only be used in particularly serious cases. In the fall, the upper house said no to the 42-day limit. However, Brown had wanted 56 days.

Carol Thatcher, the daughter of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, published her memoirs in August, revealing that her mother had suffered from dementia for seven years.

Britain was hit hard by the US financial crisis in September and the UK economy deteriorated rapidly. For the first time since the end of 1992, the country's GDP shrunk. At the end of the year, unemployment approached six percent, the highest figure since 1997. During the fall, the government presented a series of measures to counter the crisis, including 200 billion to save the country's major banks, which in effect meant that several of them were nationalized. Already in February, the state had taken over the crisis-hit loan institution Northern Rock. Special efforts would also be made to create new jobs and to help pensioners, families with children and small businesses. To finance the crisis packages, the state would take large loans (about 118 billion in 2009).

Brown and the Labor government claimed that with their long experience of government work, they were best equipped to deal with the crisis. The prime minister also took a leading role outside the domestic scene as, among other things, he proposed creating a new regulatory system for the international financial market. His way of dealing with the crisis made Labor start to tap into the lead of the Conservatives, who had reached double-digit figures in opinion polls during the summer. Brown's critics within his own party also remained silent. In November, Labor won a filling choice for the lower house in Scottish Glenrothes.

In January, the Department of Defense presented a report claiming that there was no evidence that British forces had committed any systematic abuses in Iraq, but that, among other things, leadership and education deficiencies had led to the use of force by individuals. Later in the year, a report by Parliament's Committee on Human Rights claimed that higher-level persons within the command system sanctioned the use of interrogation methods not permitted by the Geneva Convention.

According to the House of Commons Defense Committee, British efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq would cost over 3 billion from 2007 to 2008, which was almost twice as much as the year before. The large increase was said to be due to the purchase of new and better equipment for the soldiers. Forty British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan during the year.

In December, it was announced that the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq would begin in March 2009. 400 people would have left the country before the summer of that year. In 2008, Britain had over 4,000 soldiers in Iraq.

The jury in the investigation into the police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes after the 2005 terrorist attack made its decision in December. The 27-year-old Brazilian was shot dead because of mistaken suspicions that he was a suicide bomber. The jury, however, had failed to reach a uniform ruling, but a clear majority considered that the Menezes had not acted suspiciously and that a policeman named C12 had not called "armed police" before shooting the man. The investigating judge had previously made it clear to the jury that the state of evidence meant that it could not conclude that the unlawful killing was unlawful.

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