History - Britain 1951-2007

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Major - Politcal

Major gave the impression of a genuinely likeable man - being viewd as a 'new generation' of Tories.

1992 election, won over 14 million votes, but only a majority of 21 seats

Sleaze - Mp's such as Craham Riddick and David Tredinnick accused of cash for questions whereby they received a payment in order to ask questions in the Commons to promote the particular interests of companies.In an attempt to rally the party Major introduced a new campaign, 'Back to basics'. This move backfired as it made him seem out of touch with the electorate in comparison to Labour. 

A divided party over Europe - Eurosceptics often made it difficult for Major to pass legislation through the commons. Euro rebels, large g of conservative mps fought against the ratification of the Maastricht Treatu, in dear of losing Bitish sovereignty. Major put the bill forwards as a formal vote of confidence. By 1995, 12% public though Cons = unifified.

When rumours were beginning to circulate that there would be a challenge to his leadership, Major seized the initiative and offered himself for re-election in the summer 1995. He told his critics to 'put up or shut up'. Major won 218 seats. Redwood just 89

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Major - Economic

Major inherited a difficult economic situation at the end of 1990, facing a recession marked by declining manufacturing output, high interest rates and high unemployment. The government had also entered the ERM, which limited it's economic monetary policies as the pound was closely tied to the Dutch Mark.

Dropped poll tax and replaced it with a new council tax

Declining economy - interest rates at 10%, unemployment 2 million in 1991, 48,000 businesses went bankrupt in 1993. Housing prices decreased = negative equity. 

Coal privatised in 1993, 31/50 pits would close and 30,000 miners out of work - argued as being negative for economy as would have to import extensive foreign coal. 

Unpopular - extension of VAT to domestic fuel. Lamont forced to resign.

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Major - ERM

During Major's election campaign Major had emphasised that Britain's membership into the ERM was central to his strategy for defeating inflation and making Britian competitive again. However, in 1992 Britain was forced to pull out of the ERM; it appears the problems as soon as Britian had entered the ERM as some historians argue that the pound had been overvalued at 2.95 german marks. In 1992, speculation led to a run on the pound. The bank of England began to use its reserved (£15bn) to defend the pound and secured a large foreign currency loan of £7bn. Interest rates also rose to 12%, with the suggestion of rising to 15%. On black wednesday the pound fell to 2.63 DM and Britain pulled out of the ERM allowing the pound to find it's own value, effectively being devalued by 11%. 

"Honey i shrunk the pound"

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During Major's time in office poverty was rife, and crime and violence appeared to be the order of the day. In 1993 James Bular, a two year old was taken by two older boys and murdered, the subsequent outcry was hysterical. The murder became representative to the British society as a whole being explicitly linked to the 'under class' of society, being desribed by Blair as the ' ugly manifestations of a society that is becoming unworthy of that name.'

In contrast, their was some social and cultural progress during Major's time as PM; the first non white mps elected into the Conservative prty in 1992

Insitutional racism - Stephen Lawrence

End of 1990s 1/10 London Asian or Afro-Caribbean households had suffered racial harassment in or around their home. 

1994 polic Act - Home Secretary set polic obj and published results. Measured 999 calls, response times, satff on duty and recorded crimes. 

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Social (2)

BSE crisis - many people started eating beed following the outbreaks of 'mad cow disease.' There was outrage when it was discvered that Thatcher had relaxed controls so that animal feed could be processed at lower temperature, causing theoutbreaks of the disease. Major introduced new hygience regulations, but did not effectively control this, leading to further outbreaks of the disease. 

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Major International

Gulf war 1990 - 91 : Saddam leader of Iraq sent troops into Iraq's bordering state of Kuwait as needed money and Kuwait  had 10% of world's oil. Killed 5000 Kurds with chemical weapons. Major sent 45,000 troops to join Desert storm to join America, this was successful. 

A bitter and complex civil war was fought in the early 1990s in the troubled Balkans where the break up of the former federal state of Yougoslavia had left a set of fiercely competing national, religious nd ethnic groups. fighting had become so vicious that between 1992 and 1995 international powers became involved in order to prevent the genocide of the largely Muslim Bosnians by the largely christian Serb forces. The initial European reluctance to initiate a NATO attac was eventually overcome and Britain contributed to a massive series of NATO aerial attacks on Serbian forces in August and September 1995. Operation Deliberate Force, as it was code named brough the Serbs to the negotiating table. In the Dayton Peace agreement, singned 1995, the warring parites agreed to keep to certain designated areas, which were to be monitored by UN and NATO forces.

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Major - Northern Ireland

Lynch "Northern Ireland was the bitter challice that was passed to Major." Two months into his time as pm, the IRA lobbed mortar sheels at 10 downing street. March 93', two young boys were killed at a Shopping mall in Warrington and 50 injured. Public opinion of the IRA were beginning to change, thus they put out disclaimers. 

The Downing Street Declaration 1993 - Br and republic of Ireland

  • British government announced that it had no selfish strategic interest in NI
  • Accepted it was for the people of the island of ireland alone
  • Reynolds declared that the Irish Republic accepted the right of the majority in NI

Ira announced a ceasefire in 1994, loyalists also announced a ceasefire. The ceasfire did not hold, between 1996-98 frequent bursts of renewed violence

The Mitchell report Jan 1996

  • Involvement of the USA. in 1995 Clinton visted both Dublin and Belfast. In 1996 Senator George Mitcheel chaired an international commission set up to consider the irish issue. The main principles= total disarmament, agreement of all parties. impossible without decommissioning.
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The Maasticht Treaty 1992 - committed Britain to greater integration within Europe by establishing a common European Foreign and defence policy and european central bank, Major achieved opt out of the social chapter and also the integration of one currency. Eurosceptics demanded referendum - Major refused.

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