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.
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.
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.
Billionaires 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.
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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
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
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
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.