The Monarchy The monarchy is the symbolic head of state – the oldest enduring institution in Britain. Constitutional powers are almost entirely symbolic but permeate the decision-making process. The Queen has in theory the formal legal authority to designate prime ministers, remove governments, call elections, and all legal Acts require her signature. The Queen is also symbolic head of the armed forces and head of the British Commonwealth.
Profile of Margaret Thatcher Margaret Thatcher’s eleven year tenure as Conservative prime minister marks a counterrevolution in British politics, much in the way that Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election ushered in a new Conservative era in the United States.
Profile of Tony Blair Tony Blair’s New Labour was critical in reviving the party after years of conservative rule. Blair advocated for a “third way” - a middle ground between Thatcherism and old labour welfare politics. Tony Blair 1997-2007
Conservative Party Leader and PM David Cameron Liberal Democratic Party Leader Nick Clegg Ed Miliband Labour Opposition Leader
Main British Political Parties Conservatives or Tories – right Labour Party -left Liberal Democrats – centrist (descendants of old liberal party)
Other parties include Scottish National Party advocating independence for Scotland The Welsh Nationalist Party (Plaid Cymru Plide Kumree) wants greater autonomy for Wales but not independence.
In Northern Ireland there are two protestant parties The radical Democratic Unionists and the moderate Ulster Unionists. The Catholics in Northern Ireland are divided between support of Sinn Fein (we ourselves) the political wing of the IRA and the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party.
Devolution Following a referendum in 1997, Scotland established its own Parliament in 1999 and Wales established a National Assembly. Both Wales and Scotland now have shared and separate powers from the House of Commons
Following IRA disarmament in 2006, the NI Stormont legislature was reconvened and Northern Ireland currently holds 18 seats in the British House of Commons.