Themes Through History
1) Uniting United Kingdom, Developing National Identity (highlighted in blue)
2) Conservatism to Liberalism > New Reforms (highlighted in yellow)
3) Nationalization to Privatization (highlighted in green)
4) Decolonization (highlighted in orange)


Margaret Thatcher, Cons.PM
Margaret Thatcher, Cons.PM


Tony Blair, Labour PM
Tony Blair, Labour PM


Gordon Brown, Current  PM
Gordon Brown, Current PM












Growth of Great Britain - 1979 through 2008



Winter 1978 and 1979 - "Winter of Discontent" Hospital staff members and trade unions go on strike, leading to distress in English
government and society. Caused by refusal of Labour Party head James Callaghan to give pay increases past 5 percent. (SOCIAL)
March 1, 1979 - Labour Party loses power in House of Commons, following decisions by Wales and Scotland to reject devolution. In the end, Scottish Nationalists joined with the Conservatives and Liberals in the House. Party leader since 1975, in May of the same year, Margaret Thatcher becomes PM, with promises of reducing unions' power and reducing income tax. (SOCIAL/POLITICAL)
April 1981 - Following the arrest of a black man in a bar in Brixton, massive riots break out, and the fractitious relationship between the police force and minority groups in England.(SOCIAL)
January 1982 - The United Kingdom's unemployment rates rise above 3 million, caused mainly by economic recession and the restructuring of industry. Factories started letting go of extra workers, forcing Margaret Thatcher to defend claims of a growing economy.(ECONOMIC) Check On This Day (BBC) for Citation
April 1982- Argentina invades the British territory, the Falkland Islands, causing Thatcher to send over troops. Following the deaths of nearly a thounsand Argentinian and British soliders, the former surrendered to the latter. The following year, Thatcher is reelected for a second term as PM. (POLITICAL)
October 1984 - Thatcher narrowly escapes an assassination attempt by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a Conservative Conference at the Grand Hotel Brighton. (SOCIAL)
December 1986 - The British government aims to reduce the amount it spends on aid for corporate enterprises. One of the first steps is the privatisation of British Gas, followed soon thereafter by that of British Steel, Britoil, British Telecom etc. The switch from state to private owenership was one of the landmark changes form the Conservative government. (POLITICAL/ECONOMIC)
June 1987- Margaret Thatcher wins a third term as British PM, but the Labour party continues to increase its seats in Parliament.
1989 - Tim Berners-Lee, while working in a physics lab in Switzerland, came up with the concept of the World Wide Web. (SOCIAL)
March 1990- Thousands take to the streets, eventually leading to violent rioting in Trafalgar Square, after the Conservatives try to push a poll tax through. The poll tax would have taxed people regardless of their incomes. In November of the same year, Thatcher was forced to retire was replaced by the Conservative party's John Major. He instead put in effect a council tax, based on the cost of one's house. (ECONOMIC) Check Citation On This Day (BBC)
January 1991- Along with American troops and a UN mandate, "Operation Desert Storm" was launched, with the liberation of Kuwait, but with Saddam Hussein still in power.(POLITICAL)
April 1992 - The Conservatives win the general election, and John Major returns as English PM. (POLITICAL)
September 1992- Great Britain pulls out of the European Union's Exchange Rate Mechanism, a step that Great Britain would take towards not adopting the euro along with the rest of the continent. (ECONOMIC)
1994 - By 1994, the Church of England allowed women to become ordained priests, a rather mdoern decision, causing some traditionalists to join the Catholic Church. (RELIGIOUS)
May 1997 - Following John Smith's sudden death, the Labour Party's Tony Blair, became the PM. As Prime Minister, one of his first actions was giving the Bank of England contr ol of interest rates. (POLITICAL)
July 1997 - As part of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy, The United Kingdom ended its 150 year rule of Hong Kong and returned it to the Chinese government. In September of the same year, Scotland and Wales voted in favor of devolution, allowing for the creation of national assemblies with legislative powers. (POLITICAL)
April 1998- Good Friday Agreement - Due to American and British pressure on the Sinn Féin, a wing of the IRA, the Irish nationalists and unionists made an agreement, by which it provided for the early release of terrorist prisoners and the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons (POLITICAL)
January 1999- Great Britain decides not to join the rest of the European nations in using the euro as the formal currency all through out Europe. (ECONOMIC)
January - March 2000 - Following the celebrations of the new millennium, the "dotcom bubble" bursts and global stock markets experience a minor crash, leading to a mild recession. (ECONOMIC)
2001 - In June, Tony Blair wins the election and remains British PM. Soon, the "foot-and-mouth" disease destorys large sections of the British economy and kills farm animals. It costs the government nearly £2.4 billion in losses (ECONOMIC). In October, following the September 11 attacks, British forces joined American troops in their first strike against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
March 2003 - Joining American troops, British forces entered Iraq, where soon Saddam Hussein was captured and overthrown. Even with the achivement of a democratically elected government, instability and rioting ran rampant. (POLITICAL)
May 2004 - Ten new countries joined the European Union, creating the largest trading bloc in the world by population. (ECONOMIC)
February 2005
- The Kyoto Protocol calls for the world's leaders to lead their respective nations int he fight reduce global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. (SOCIAL)
May 2005- The Labour Party wins a third consecutive win, with Tony Blair continuing as Prime Minister. (POLITICAL)
July 2005- Three men blow up London Underground trains, killing more than 50, and injuring more than 700. Initialy thought to be caused by Al-Qaeda members, it was believed that the three British Muslims acted alone. (POLITICAL)
December 2005 - Great Britain legalizes civil unions between same-sex couples, allowing them the same legal rights as married couples and the ability to hold weddings. (SOCIAL/RELIGIOUS)
June 2007 - Gordon Brown takes over from Tony Blair as PM representing the Labour Party. (POLITICAL)