GB Briefing Paper

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Michael Jimenez
AP Comparative Government
3rd Period

Great Britain Briefing Paper
On June 15, 1215, the Magna Carta was signed by King John. This represented the first time that defined limitations to royal rights were established in written law. Many of the laws written in the Magna Carta are not used today and don't apply to the current system of democracy . However, the act of citizens being able to guarantee their own rights was a major step in forming modern democracies. This would begin the path for Great Britain to becoming one of the most influential and powerful political systems in world history. At its pinnacle in the
19th century, the British Empire stretched over one­fourth of the earth's surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the Great Britain’s strength seriously depleted in two world wars and the
Irish Republic's withdrawal from the union. The postwar years were a time of great moral disillusionment. In addition to disarmament, reparations , and war deb ts, came domestic economic problems, the task of reorganizing the
British Empire
, and the conflict with Ireland.
The wartime alliance of Great Britain, the USSR, and the United States led to the formation of the
United Nations
. Leadership in world trade, shipping, and banking had passed to the United
States, and overseas investments had been largely liquidated to pay the cost of the world wars causing a serious blow to Britain’s economy.The second half witnessed the dismantling of the
Empire and the Great Britain rebuilding itself into a prosperous European nation and redefining

its place in the world. In 1945, the first general elections in ten years were held and the Labour party were put into power. The Labour government pursued from the start a vigorous program of nationalization of industry and expansion of social services such as the National Health
Service. This began the process of Great Britain developing to a welfare state and to solidifying the tradition of noblesse oblige. In May, 1979, the Conservatives returned to power under the leadership of Margaret
, who set out to reverse Britain’s acceptance of a welfare state by cutting social services significantly. She would led the Conservatives to victory again in 1983 and an unprecedented third consecutive general election win in 1987. Thatcher's economic policies resulted in a marked disparity between the developed southern economy and the decaying industrial centers of the north. After her resignation in in 1990, John Major, her successor, would slow down social cutbacks set by Thatcher. This indecisiveness by the
Conservative party allowed Tony Blair and his promise of a “New Labour” Party to gain power in 1997. Blair loosened ties with labour unions and worked a “Good Friday” Agreement in
Northern Ireland. This “third way” approach to governing would set a precedent for political attitudes entering the 21st century. Both parties will incline to a middle line, encouraging compromise between the two. This would lead to the coalition of government in 2010, bringing together the Conservative and Labour party for the first time since 1945.
Great Britain is located in Western Europe and includes England, Wales, Scotland and
Northern Ireland with England holding the greatest proportion of the entire population. Diversity is relatively seen among 63,742,977 citizens: white 87.2%, black 3%, Indian 2.3%, Pakistani
1.9%, mixed 2%, other 3.7%. It's location and accessibility to major trading partners was a key factor to their early economic development. Great Britain is now a leading trading power and the

third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. Agriculture accounts for .7% GDP, industry with 20.5%, and services with the largest percentage of