Фондові лекції викладачів факультету іноземної філології - Частина V - 2017
РОЗДІЛ 1. Лекції з дисциплін мовознавчого циклу і методики їх навчання
О.О. Барбанюк, кандидат філологічних наук, доцент кафедри
Political system of the UK
Вид лекції: тематична.
Навчальні: ознайомити студентів з особливостями політичного устрою Великої Британії; з'ясувати роль Британської монархії в формуванні англійської нації.
Розвиваючі: розвивати навички аналізу політичного устрою країни, мову якої вивчають студенти.
Виховні: формувати науковий світогляд шляхом мотивації навчальної діяльності; виховувати інтерес до вивчення історичної та культурної спадщини Великої Британії.
Міжпредметні та міждисциплінарні зв'язки: історія Англії, культурологія, стилістика, лексикологія, теорія і практика перекладу, практичний курс усного та писемного мовлення першої іноземної мови.
Основні поняття: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Crown, Royal family, political peculiarities, monarchy, Parliament, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Cabinet, government.
Навчально-методичне забезпечення: мультимедійна презентація.
1. The Crown. The Monarchy.
2. The Royal Family.
3. The Houses of Parliament.
4. British government.
5. Major political parties.
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2. Кузнецова В. С. England. History, Geography, Culture / В. С. Кузнецова, Л. М. Хохарина-Семерня, Р. А. Когосова. - К. : ВШ, 1976. - 250 с.
3. Bromhead P. Life in Modern Britain / P. Bromhead. - UK : Longman, 1991. - 198 p.
4. Crowther J. Oxford Guide to British and American Culture / J. Crowther. - Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. - 600 p.
5. Darlington R. A Short Guide To British Political System / R. Darlington. - Режим доступу: http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/ Britishpoliticalsystem.html.
6. Satinova V. F. Read and Speak about Britain and the British / V. F. Satinova. - Мн. : Виш. шк., 1998. - 255 р.
1.The Crown. The monarchy
Officially Great Britain is constitutional monarchy. That means that monarch (Queen or King) is the head of the state, but the power of the monarch is not absolute, it is greatly limited by the Parliament. British political system comprises three main ruling bodies - monarchy, parliament and government. The oldest of them is monarchy. It is the most ancient secular institution in the UK, which dates back to the 9th century. The today's Queen can trace her descent from the Saxon King Egbert, who united all England under his sovereignty in 829.
Monarchy is founded on hereditary principle and it has never been abandoned. The successesion passed automatically to the oldest male child or, in the absence of males, to the oldest female offspring of the sovereign. Quite recently the rules have been changed, so the oldest child irrespective of sex is to become the Queen or King.
The coronation of the monarch follows some months or even a year after the accession. The very ceremony of the coronation is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and held at Westminster Abbey in the presence of the Lords, the Commons and all the great public interests in the UK, the Prime Minister and leading members of the Commonwealth countries, representatives of foreign states.
By the Act of Parliament, the monarch is to be a Protestant.
The Queen today bears the title «Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith».
The monarch in law is the head of the executive, judiciary branches of power, the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of the Crown, the temporal governor of the Church of England. The functions of the monarch are politically important. The powers of the monarch are: to summon, suspend and dissolve Parliament; to give royal assent to legislation passed by Parliament; to pardon or show mercy to convicted criminals; to confer peerages, knighthoods and other honors; to appoint ministers, judges, governors; to appoint bishops; to conclude treaties, declare wars and make peace.
The Queen and the Royal family have remained popular as the symbol of the state, the symbol of the unity of nations and stability.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952, the Monarchy has gone from strength to strength causing great national and international interest.
2. The Royal Family
Elizabeth II, daughter of King George VI, was born in 1926, April, 21. In 1947 she married Philip Mountbatten. His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the son of Prince and Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark. The Duke is Queen Elizabeth's third cousin; they share Queen Victoria as a great-great-grandmother. In the British monarchy, the husband of a female monarch does not have any recognized special status, rank, or privileges.
Prince Philip was a prince from birth. Upon his marriage to then- Princess Elizabeth in 1947, Philip was given the title «Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merion, and Baron Greenwich», and was made a Knight of the Garter. (He became a British citizen around this time and renounced his Greek and Danish titles). Elizabeth granted Philip the title «Prince of the United Kingdom» after her coronation.
In 1952 George VI died and Elizabeth, his oldest daughter, became the Queen. The official Coronation Ceremony took place in June, 2, 1953. The Queen does not normally use a surname (she doesn't need a passport or a driving license for example), but on the few occasions where it has been necessary she has used the surname «Windsor». The British royal family changed their last name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in 1917. Why? World War I broke out in 1914 and anti-German sentiment was its height in 1917. In protest, King George V renounced all the German titles belonging to him and his family and adopted the name of his castle, Windsor.
From 8 February 1960, all The Queen's descendants who do not bear the «style, title or attribute of HRH, and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess» have the name of Mountbatten-Windsor (Mountbatten as Prince Philip's surname).
The Queen has four children: Prince Charles (the Prince of Wales) was born in 1948; Princess Anne was born in 1950; Prince Andrew (The
Duke of York) was born in I960; Prince Edward (the Earl of Wessex) was born in 1964.
PRINCE CHARLES (Charles Philip Arthur George) and his family.
Prince Charles was born in 1948, the eldest son of then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, the traditional titles for the heir to the throne, when his mother became Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. In 1977 he met Lady Diana Spencer while visiting her family home in Althorp, and they were married on 29 July 1981 in St Paul's Cathedral. She became Princess of Wales and soon became the star attraction of the World's press who relentlessly followed her. Following the birth of their two sons, Princes William and Harry, the marriage was in trouble. Charles and Diana were divorced on 28 August 1996. Camilla Parker Bowles became Charles's companion and following her divorce they were married on 9 April 2005. She became the Duchess of Cornwall.
Charles's interests include architecture, inner city renewal, environmental issues and gardening. He takes a keen interest in philosophy, alternative medicines, religion. He is president and patron of many charities and foundations. As well as heir to the British throne, Charles is Heir Apparent, equally and separately, to the thrones of sixteen sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms. He may, but not necessarily, become Head of the Commonwealth. In April 2011 he became the oldest and longest waiting heir to the throne in British history.
Prince William was born on 21 June 1982 in London, and is the eldest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. In January 2006 he became an officer cadet at Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He passed out on 15 December 2006 at a parade attended by the Queen and the Prince of Wales and received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Blues and Royals regiment. In January 2009 he started training as a pilot of Sea King search and rescue helicopters, and from June 2010 to September 2013 he was an operational pilot at RAF Valley in North Wales which is one of the 6 UK based RAF Search and Rescue flights. His interests include sport and he is president of England Football Association and Vice Royal Patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.
As one of the world's most eligible bachelors, his relationship with Catherine (Kate) Middleton whom he met at University in 2001 was closely followed by the media. The engagement was announced on 16 November 2010, and they were married on 29 April 2011 in Westminster Abbey. Prince William and Catherine were made Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by the Queen on their marriage. He is also Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.
Prince William is second in line to the British throne after his father Charles, Prince of Wales. If he accedes to the throne after his father he will become King William V and his wife Queen Catherine. Their first child Prince George was born on 22 July 2013 and is 3rd in line to the throne. Their second child Princess Charlotte was born on 2nd May 2015 and is 4th in line to the throne. Now the couple are expecting their third offspring.
Prince Henry, commonly known as Prince Harry, was born on 15 September 1984, and is the second son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in May 2005 as an officer cadet. He served with his regiment in Afghanistan from December 2007 to February 2008. He returned to his duties in the UK as a Lieutenant in Blues and Royals regiment. In 2009 he started training as an Army helicopter pilot. He is now a qualified Apache helicopter pilot and in 2013 served a 20 week tour of duty in Afghanistan.
He takes a particular interest in the Sentabale Charity for children in Lesotho, and in the Invictus Games a Paralympic-style sporting event for injured servicemen and women. Like his brother, his social life attracts considerable media interest including his on-off relationship with his girlfriends. He is fifth in line to the throne and if he becomes the King he will probably be known as Henry IX.
PRINCESS ANNE (Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise) and her family.
Princess Anne was born on 15 August 1950 at Clarence House in London. She is the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. She is styled Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Edinburgh. On 13 June 1987, the Queen bestowed her with the title of Princess Royal the title traditionally given to the monarch's eldest daughter. She carries out the most engagements of any member of the Royal Family, and holds a number of honorary appointments with the British Armed Forces and of several Commonwealth countries.
On 14 November 1973 Princess Anne married a Lieutenant and later Captain in the Queen's Dragoon Guards, Mark Phillips. He was offered but turned down an Earldom so their children have no courtesy titles. Their son Peter Phillips was born in 1977 and daughter Zara in 1981. In 1989 the Princess and Mark Phillips announced their intention to separate and they were divorced on 28 April 1992. She remarried Timothy Laurence, a naval Commander, on 12 December 1992 at Crathie Kirk a Church of Scotland church near the Balmoral Estate.
She is a British representative in the International Olympic Committee, and a member of the London organizing committee for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Peter Phillips was born on 15 November 1977. He is the eldest child of Princess Anne and her first husband Mark Phillips. He is a keen sportsman and played rugby for the Scottish Schools team. He went on to Exeter University and graduated with a degree in Sports Studies. Since September 2005 he has worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland. On 3 August 2007 his engagement was announced to Autumn Kelly, a Canadian management consultant. Peter and Autumn were married on 17 May 2008. He is the first of the Queen's grandchildren to marry.
Autumn Kelly was a Roman Catholic so that under the 1701 Act of Settlement Peter would have had to give up his place in line of succession to the throne. However she renounced her Catholic faith and converted Church of England, so he remains 11th in line to the throne. The couple do not undertake any royal duties. Their daughter Savannah was born on 29 December 2010, and is the first great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II. On 29 March 2012 their second daughter Isla Elizabeth Phillips was born.
Zara Phillips is the daughter of Princess Anne and her first husband Mark Phillips. She was born on 15 May 1981 and is the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. She does not hold a royal title and is not referred to as Her Royal Highness. She carries out duties on behalf of the Royal Family and attends various events for equestrian and children's charities.
Mike Tindall and Zara were married on 30 July 2011, three months after the wedding of her cousin Prince William. Their first child Mia Grace Tindall was born on 17th January 2014. Mia is Queen Elizabeth's 4th great grandchild, and is 16th in Line to the throne. Like Zara she does not hold a royal title and will be known as Miss Tindall.
PRINCE ANDREW (Andrew Albert Christian Edward) and his family
Prince Andrew is the second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. He was born on 19 February 1960 in Buckingham Palace, and was named after his paternal grandfather Prince Philip's father Prince Andrew of Greece. He was the first child born to a reigning British monarch since Queen Victoria's youngest daughter Princess Beatrice.
On 23 July 1986 Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were married in Westminster Abbey. He was created Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killyleagh titles previously held by his maternal grandfather George VI. Sarah became Duchess of York. They have two children Princess Beatrice born in 1988, and Princess Eugenie born in 1990. Sarah received considerably media attention but he was frequently away on naval
duties and the marriage broke down. They were divorced on 30 May 1996 although their friendship continues and they remain on good terms.
The Duke of York currently works for the UK Department of Trade and Industry, and travels throughout the world representing the UK at trade and export events. He is Commodore of the Royal Yacht club, Trustee of the National Maritime Museum, and patron of charities including the Deaf Association, and National Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He also attends official ceremonies on behalf of the Queen.
Princess Beatrice is the eldest daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York. She was named after Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In September 2008 she started a three year course studying for a BA in History and History of Ideas at Goldsmiths College, London. She graduated in 2011 with a 2:1 degree. She is reported to be considering moving to New York where her sister Eugenie is also living..
Princess Eugenie is the second daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York. She was born in London on 23 March 1990. In 2012 she completed a 3 year course at Newcastle University studying English literature, history of art and politics. In 2013 she moved to New York to work for an online auction firm as a benefit auctions manager.
PRINCE EDWARD (Edward Antony Richard Louis) and his family
Prince Edward is the third son and youngest child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. He was born at Buckingham Palace on 10 March 1964.
He met Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1993 while she was working in public relations, and they were married on 19 June 1999. On their wedding Edward was created Earl of Wessex, and Sophie became Countess of Wessex. They have two children Lady Louise Windsor born in 2003, and James Viscount Severn born in 2007.
Edward has taken over several of the public roles of his father including President of the Commonwealth games, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme founded by his father Prince Philip. It is believed that Prince Edward will eventually inherit the title Duke of Edinburgh.
3. The Houses of Parliament
The British Parliament sits in the building, which is called the Palace of Westminster. It's also called the Houses of Parliament because there are two Houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. You can go in the buildings, if you make arrangement.
The palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to other government buildings
in Whitehall. The Palace dates from medieval times. Westminster Hall, the oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster, was erected in 1097. The Hall has a huge wooden roof decorated with carved angels. If has been used for Royal banquets and State trials.
Victoria Tower is the tallest (98.5m) square tower at the south-western end of the Palace. Now it is home to the Parliamentary Archives. Millions of government documents are kept here. A flag flies on the tower when Parliament is sitting during the day.
Big Ben is the huge bell in the Clock Tower on the eastern end of the Houses of Parliament It is 96,3 metres high. The bell may have been named after Sir Benjamin Hall, who supervised the rebuilding of Parliament. The booming 13,5-ton bell first rang out in 1859.
The Palace of Westminster includes over 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8 km of passageways. The building includes four floors; the ground floor includes offices, dining rooms and bars. The «first floor» houses the main rooms of the Palace, including the Chambers, the lobbies and the libraries. The top-two floors are used for committee rooms and offices.
The first room you enter is called the Royal Robing Room. This is where the Queen puts on a special robe and the Imperial State Crown, which has been brought here from the Tower of London, on special occasion of the State Opening of the Parliament.
HOUSE OF LORDS
The Chamber of the House of Lords is located in the southern part of the Palace of Westminster. The benches in the Chamber, as well as other furnishings in the Lords' side of the Palace, are coloured red.
The Woolsack is a seat stuffed with wool on which the Lord Speaker sits. It was introduced by King Edward III (1327-77) and originally stuffed with English wool as a reminder of England's traditional source of wealth - the wool trade - and as a sign of prosperity.
There is no fixed number of members in the House of Lords, but currently there are about 770 members. Historically most members of the House of Lords have been what we called hereditary peers. This mean that years ago a king or queen nominated a member of the aristocracy to be a member of the House and, since then, the right to sit in the House has passed through the family from generation to generation.
Almost all the other members of today's House of Lords are what we call life peers. This means that they have been chosen by the Queen, on the advice of the Government, to sit in the House for as long as they live, but afterwards no member of their family has the right to sit in the House. There is no fixed number of life peers, but the current number is 629.
Many are former senior politicians. Others are very distinguished figures in fields such as education, health and social policy.
The full, formal title of the House of Lords is The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.
Each session of Parliament is usually opened in the House of Lords by the Queen (King), who is attended by heralds, officers of the Court and members of the Diplomatic Corps. The peers sit comfortably on their red leather benches as the MPs stand awkwardly huddled together below the bar while the Queen reads the throne speech, which outlines the Government's programme of legislation for the coming session.
Members of the Government and their supporters sitting to the right of the throne, and those of the Opposition to the left. The bishops always sit on the Government side of the House. Cross-benches, set near the bar of the House, are for the use of peers who sit as Independents.
The House of Lords consists of the Lords «Spiritual and Temporal». The Lords Spiritual are the two archbishops (Canterbury and York) and twenty-four bishops of the Church of England. The Lords Temporal include peers by hereditary right, peers by virtue of their office (the Law Lords), and Life peers created under the Life Peerages Act: 1958.
Thus the House of Lords - a hangover from a past age with the principle of hereditary rule as its basis, stands for all that is backward and undemocratic in present-day society.
HOUSE OF COMMONS
The Chamber of the House of Commons is at the northern end of the Palace of Westminster. The benches, as well as other furnishings in the Commons side of the Palace, are coloured green.
The House of Commons is divided into two sides. Government MPs (Members of Parliament) sit on one side. MPs who are not part of the Government sit on the other side; they are called the Opposition. The House is presided over by the Speaker. On one side, to the Speaker's right, sits Her Majesty's Government and its supporters, and on the other Her Majesty's Opposition, composed of all Members who oppose the government. Behind them and further down the chamber sit MPs from their own party, known as ‘back-benchers'.
The House of Commons currently comprises 650 Members of Parliament or MPs (the number varies slightly from time to time to reflect population change). This is a large legislature by international standards. Each member in the House of Commons represents a geographical constituency.
In each House of Parliament, a proposed piece of legislation - called a Bill - goes through the following stages: first Reading - the Bill is introduced with simply a reading by a Minister of the long title of the Bill; second Reading - the general principles of the Bill are debated by all the members of the House and a formal vote is taken; third Reading - the final version of the Bill is considered by the whole House in a short debate (in the Commons without the facility for further amendments). Then the Bill passes to the House of Lords where it goes through the same phases, and only afterwards to the Queen for her Royal Assent.
The full, formal style and title of the House of Commons is The Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.
The Commons is a democratically elected body. Members are elected, through the first-past-the-post system, by electoral districts known as constituencies, and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved (a maximum of five years after the preceding election).
The day's work in the Commons begins with prayers the one ceremony visitors are never permitted to witness.
By an unwritten law the House of Lords is never referred to in the Commons otherwise than as «another place», for the Commons theoretically do not admit the existence of the House of Lords. MPs are always addressed in the Commons as «Sir», irrespective of sex, the reason being that all remarks uttered within the Chamber are supposed to be directed at the Speaker.
Consequently MPs are always spoken of in the Chamber in the third person - «the honourable member for». A political opponent is described as «honourable gentleman» and a member of the same party as «my honourable friend».
4. British government
The British government, commonly known as «Her Majesty's Government», is the central government of the United Kingdom. The government is headed by the Prime Minister, who appoints other ministers. The premier and other senior ministers form the Cabinet which is the topmost decision making committee. The ministers are accountable to the Parliament, which they also sit in while the government is dependent on the Parliament for policy making.
The UK's general election is held after every five years to elect the House of Commons. The monarch selects as Prime Minister the person who commands a majority of support in the House of Common.
The Cabinet is a formal body composed of the most senior government ministers chosen by the Prime Minister. Most members are heads of government departments with the title «Secretary of State».
Formal members of the Cabinet are usually drawn from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Cabinet has no legal existence, beyond the powers of the ministers of the Crown. It is merely a Committee, whose very existence was originally secret, formed from the majority party of the House, to carry out this business of Government.
A Government consists altogether of about seventy politicians - about a ninth of the members of Parliament - in eluding such unlikely people as the Solicitor-General for Scotland and five junior Lords of the Treasury. There are also nine ministers who, although heads of important departments, including Pensions, Health and Power, are not in the Cabinet. But it is the Cabinet which forms the heart of decisions, and between the Cabinet and the rest is a great divide. Non-cabinet ministers are occasionally invited to the Cabinet room to discuss their topics, but the ordeal is alarming.
The Cabinet meets in a long white room at the back of 10, Downing Street. The Prime Minister opens the meeting, and Ministers address their remarks to him, referring with careful impersonality to their colleagues: «I can't quite agree with the Lord Privy Seal...»
The Prime Minister in Cabinet is officially no more than primus inter pares (lat. first among his equals) - just one member of a committee, but in fact, apart from his political advantage, he has a strong hand. He is Chairman of the Committee: he appoints it, summons it, guides it, and can eventually dissolve it. Cabinet-making is probably the most important part of a Prime Minister's job: but the scope is not as great as might appear from outside.
Theresa May is the new Conservative Party leader and second female Prime Minister, taking charge of the UK at one of the most turbulent times in recent political history. The 59-year-old home secretary's carefully cultivated image of political dependability and unflappability appears to have made her the right person at the right time as the fallout from the UK's vote to leave the EU smashed possible rivals out of contention. She entered Parliament in 1997 and under Prime Minister David Cameron was the longest-serving Home Secretary in 50 years.
5. Major political parties
England has the oldest parliament in the world. The English parliament met for the first time at the Palace of Westminster in the year 1265, but it took more than four centuries before the concept of «political parties» gave a new dimension to political life in Britain.
Before the birth of political parties in the seventeenth century, the English parliament consisted of aristocrats and wealthy men who formed alliances and majorities based on specific factors or loyalties. During the years from 1678 to 1681, and the constitutional crisis known as the Exclusion Crisis, most members of the English parliament formed into two «parties», named Whigs and Tories.
Initially, the Whigs were the party of the liberal and reforming aristocracy. In contrast to the Tories, the Whig Party attracted people more favorable to constitutional reforms, and in 1832 led the most significant modernization of the British Parliament, the Reform Act, which rebalanced parliamentary constituencies, and greatly expanded the electoral base to the middle classes.
The word Tory designated early supporters of strong royal power; Tories were monarchists and traditionalists, especially at the time of the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. During the eighteenth century, the Whigs dominated British politics, and the Tory party played a relatively small role in the political life of the United Kingdom.
The contemporary situation with the major political parties is as follows.
The Conservative Party
This is the British party of the right, including a broad range of traditional conservatives and royalists, neo-liberals and social conservatives. For the last forty years, the party has been deeply divided over issues of sovereignty and the role of Britain in the European Union. A majority of party members are in favour of a revision of the terms of Britain's membership of the European Union, and the holding of a referendum on withdrawal. But other Conservatives are strongly pro-European.
The Conservative Party is made up of local Associations, which play a major role in the selection of candidates and the appointment of the party leader. In her short speech to the press, on taking up her job as Prime Minister, Theresa May positioned herself very clearly as a «one-nation» moderate Conservative, keen to build a new Britain for ordinary people, not just for the wealthy. It was a speech that could equally well have been made by David Cameron, or most of the recent leaders of the Labour Party.
The Liberal Democrat party - the Liberal Democrats, or Lib Dems
A party of the centre, formed in 1988 by the merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The Lib Dems are thus a mixture of social conservatives and social democrats. The Liberal-Democrats are starting to appear as the only credible party at the Centre of British politics, as the Conservative party moves to the right, and the Labour Party moves increasingly to the left.
In the June 2017 election, the Lib-Dems increased their number of MPs from 8 to 12, taking seats from the Conservatives and the Scottish Nationalists. However they did not emerge as the new party of opposition, and as well as gaining seats, they lost some
The Labour Party
The Labour party covers virtually the whole spectrum of left wing politics in Britain, and includes a smaller party known as the Co-operative party. The party is supported and funded by the British trade unions, but it is not controlled or significantly influenced by them, and this influence was further reduced in 2015. The party was largely reformed by Tony Blair, who transformed it into a modern social democratic party.
The Labour Party is made up of local parties (Constituency Labour Parties), most British trade unions and other associations. These structures send delegates to party conferences, depending on the number of their members.
In September 2015 party members and other electors chose as the new leader of the labour Party a radical left-winger, Jeremy Corbyn - the most left-wing leader the party has ever had.
In April 2017, polls showed the Labour party to be at a historic low level of around 25% - with many traditional Labour voters moving towards the Conservativeson account their support for Brexit and their rhetoric on immigration.
Main regional and nationalist parties
England does not have any serious regional parties, however, regional or nationalist parties are now very important in the political landscape of other countries that make up the United Kingdom.
SNP - Scottish Nationalist Party
Currently the most important political party in Scotland, and the party in power in the Scottish Parliament. A left-of-centre nationalist party, that organized a referendum on Scottish independence in autumn 2014. In the referendum, Scots voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. However the SNP still holds an absolute majority of Scottish seats in the UK parliament.
Plaid Cymru - Welsh nationalist party
Major Welsh party, which did control the Welsh Assembly, but is now on a par with the Labour Party, which is also very well established in this part of the United Kingdom. In 2017 Plaid Cymru (pronounced Plied Coomry) has three MPs in the UK parliament.
Democratic Unionist Party
The DUP, the conservative Protestant majority party in Northern Ireland (Ulster), is very favorable to the maintenance of Northern Ireland
within the United Kingdom, but not to Britain remaining in the European Union. They are in favour of Brexit, and reject the idea that Northern Ireland could have special status in the UK after Brexit; however they want Britain - or at least Northern Ireland - to retain full access to the European market (in the framework of a «Comprehensive free trade and customs agreement with the European Union»), positions that may be hard to reconcile.
As from June 2017, the DUP has agreed to support the Conservatives in the Westminster Parliament, allowing Theresa May to form a new government in spite of losing her absolute majority in the House of Commons. The DUP has 10 MPs.
The majority party among the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland, in favour of the withdrawal of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom, and the reunification of Ireland.
Social Democratic Party and Labour Party of Northern Ireland, a non-sectarian social democratic party made up of both Catholics and Protestants.