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Modern Britain: New Realities and Challenges 2000-2020

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This textbook presents authentic English-language materials covering the major incidents and facts in British society since 2000. We begin with several important events that have had a lasting impact on the evolution of the British state, such as the Magna Carta, the creation of Parliament, and the establishment and expansion of the British Empire, and the retreat from it. Subsequent chapters provide discussion materials on contemporary topical issues, such as the 2016 referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (‘Brexit’), political and social history since 1945, and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, with its heavy toll on human life and the reputation of the British political establishment. The book ends with a text speculating on the United Kingdom as viewed from a foreign perspective as a failed state that has succumbed to nationalism, social division and consequent economic decline. The book includes extensive background notes and suggestions for group and individual study. This textbook is intended for students in higher educational institutions studying English language, life and society, and for the general reader interested in modern Britain.
Modern Britain: New Realities and Challenges 2000-2020 : учебное пособие / D. Gillespie, S. Gural, V. Smokotin, M. Korneeva. - Tomsk : TSU Press, 2021. - 248 с. - ISBN 978-5-94621-980-8. - Текст : электронный. - URL: https://znanium.com/catalog/product/1865098 (дата обращения: 22.05.2024). – Режим доступа: по подписке.
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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION NATIONAL RESEARCH TOMSK STATE UNIVERSITY







David Gillespie, Svetlana Gural, Vladimir Smokotin, Marina Korneeva

MODERN BRITAIN:
NEW REALITIES
AND CHALLENGES 2000-2020

Textbook





Tomsk
TSU Press
2021

UDC 378.016:811.111(410)
LBC 74.268.1Англ
      G47

       Gillespie David, Gural Svetlana,
G47 Smokotin Vladimir, Korneeva Marina
       Modern Britain: New Realities and Challenges 2000-2020 :
       Textbook. - Tomsk : TSU Press, 2021. - 248 p.
       ISBN 978-5-94621-980-8

       This textbook presents authentic English-language materials covering the major incidents and facts in British society since 2000. We begin with several important events that have had a lasting impact on the evolution of the British state, such as the Magna Carta, the creation of Parliament, and the establishment and expansion of the British Empire, and the retreat from it.
       Subsequent chapters provide discussion materials on contemporary topical issues, such as the 2016 referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (‘Brexit’), political and social history since 1945, and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, with its heavy toll on human life and the reputation of the British political establishment.
       The book ends with a text speculating on the United Kingdom as viewed from a foreign perspective as a failed state that has succumbed to nationalism, social division and consequent economic decline. The book includes extensive background notes and suggestions for group and individual study. This textbook is intended for students in higher educational institutions studying English language, life and society, and for the general reader interested in modern Britain.
UDC 378.016:811.111(410)
LBC 74.268.1Англ


Reviewers:
D. Sc. (Education), Professor O. G. Polyakov
D. Sc. (Education), Professor K. E. Bezukladnikov




ISBN 978-5-94621-980-8

               © Tomsk State University, 2021
               © Gillespie David, Gural Svetlana, Smokotin Vladimir, Korneeva Marina, 2021

CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION ...................................... 4

UNIT I: THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY: CHALLENGES
AND MODERNITY ..................................... 6

UNIT II. BRITISH POLITICAL HISTORY 1945-2020:
THE END OF EMPIRE ................................. 55

UNIT III. BREXIT 2016-2020: THREE PRIME MINISTERS
IN FIVE YEARS ................................... 129

UNIT IV. BRITISH SOCIAL HISTORY 1945-2020: WORKERS’
RIGHTS, ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS AND THE GIG ECONOMY ... 148

UNIT V: CORONAVIRUS AND THE FUTURE
OF AN ISOLATIONIST BRITAIN ........................ 172

CONCLUSION: IS THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 2020 A STATE
IN DECLINE? ..................................... 183

INDEPENDENT WORK: HOME READING
AND RESEARCH ASSIGNMENTS .......................... 189


3

                INTRODUCTION:
                BRITISH IDENTITY: WHAT IS IT?





    The following definitions of ‘identity’ are relevant to the orientation of subsequent chapters.
    •      ‘Historically, British identity is a relatively recent construct and was gradually superimposed on earlier national identities of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish.’ (UK Government website)


   •    ‘Although the term “Britishness” came into political and academic prominence only in the late 20th century, its origins lie in the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.’ (Wikipedia). This is a reference to the Acts of Union between England, Scotland and Wales of 1707, creating ‘Great Britain’.

   •    There are 10 generally accepted rules of “Britishness”: the rule of law; sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament; the pluralist state; personal freedom; private property; institutions; the family; history; the English-speaking world; the British character.

BREAKDOWN OF THE RESULTS OF THE 2011 CENSUS


   In 2011 the census carried out among the population of the UK revealed the ethnic make-up of the UK population as follows:

Total     56,075,912 100% +7.8% since 2001 
White     45,209,395 86%  +1.4% since 2001 
Mixed     1,244, 400 2.2% +85.2% since 2001
Indian    1,412,958  2.5% +36,3% since 2001
Pakistani 1,124,511  2%   +57.3% since 2001

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Bangladeshi       447,201   0.5% +59.2% since 2001 
Black African     989,626   1.8% +106.3% since 2001
Black Caribbean   594,825   1.1% +5.5% since 2001  
Other ethnicities 2,072,994 3.7% +164.4% since 2001

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                UNIT I. THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY IN THE MODERN ERA




A. From the History of English and British Monarchy

   Discussion Questions:
   The roots of Great Britain’s monarchy can be traced to the period of the Anglo-Saxon invasion and settlement in Britain in the 5th century following the end of the Roman rule. But long before the British Isles experienced a series of Germanic invasions, starting with the invasion by Angles, Saxons and Jutes, they were inhabited by Celtic tribes.
   Note down the following points:
   1.    What do you know about the culture and religious beliefs of the Celtic tribes that inhabited the British Isles before the Roman invasion in the 1st century?
   2.    What legacy was left by the Romans when they left their Province of Britain in the early 5th century?
   3.    Where did the Germanic peoples of Angles, Saxons and Jutes that invaded the island of Great Britain come from, and what were their cultural and religious traditions?
   Reading Exercises:
   You are going to read Texts I through VI dedicated to the evolution of monarchy in Great Britain from early Anglo-Saxon kings to modern Britain. As you are reading, note down the following:
   1)    the first Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the rise of the Kingdom of Wessex as the centre of unification in the 9th-10th centuries;
   2)    the Norman Conquest and its consequences for the English monarchy;
   3)    the first steps towards democracy and individual rights under the Plantagenets;


6

   4)    the emergence and growth of the British Empire starting from the reign of the Tudors;
   5)    the revolutionary upheavals under the Stuarts that put England and Scotland on the road to constitutional monarchy;
   6)    the expansion of the British Empire into the largest empire in the world in the 19th century;
   7)    the collapse of the British Empire in the 20th century.

Text I
The Origins of Monarchy in Great Britain: the Heptarchy of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms and the Kingdom of England

   The history of the monarchy in Great Britain covers a period of almost 1200 years, and the list of its monarchs makes up 61 sovereigns. The roots of monarchical rule can be traced to the times of Germanic invasions after the last Roman legions left the Province of Britain and returned to Rome. The Anglo-Saxon invasion and settlement in Britain in the 5th century, following the end of the Roman rule by 410 AD, led to the emergence of the first seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, which eventually unified into the Kingdom of England in the early 10th century. The Heptarchy of the petty kingdoms included East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex and Wessex. As the main kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England, one should single out East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex. In fact, the number of kingdoms and the balance of power between them were constantly changing due to incessant warfare and to invasions by Vikings, taking under their control parts of Anglo-Saxon lands. Viking raids began in England in the late 8th century. A large Viking army, known from Anglo-Saxon chronicles as “the Great Heathen Army”, invaded England in 865 AD. The Army was a coalition of mostly Danish Vikings, and the campaign of invasion aimed at occupying and conquering all English Kingdoms lasted for 14 years. The Danish army eventually took under their control all the English Kingdoms except the Kingdom of Wessex ruled

7

by King Alfred. The part of England that came under Danish sway in the period of 865-954 AD is known in history as ‘The Danelaw’.
   The unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms came in 829 AD, when Egbert of Wessex brought most of them under his rule. However, Egbert’s control of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms was not complete, and, therefore, modern historians give credit for forming the Kingdom of England to Athelstan, who in 927 AD defeated the Norse warrior-kings of Southern Northumbria, the last remaining stronghold of resistance to his rule over the whole of England. King Alfred’s role in defending his kingdom against the Danish invaders as well as his reputation as a learned and merciful man who contributed to improving his people’s quality of life resulted in his going down in history as Alfred the Great. Surprisingly, the only other king in English history to be given the epithet ‘Great’ was the Danish King Cnut, who ascended the throne of the English Kingdom in 1016, and from 1018 to 1035 he ruled as the king of the North Sea Empire, which eventually included also Denmark, Norway and Southern Sweden. However, the North Sea Empire proved to be short-lived as Cnut the Great’s heirs died within a few years after his death, and the English throne returned to the Anglo-Saxon kings.
   The Scandinavian invasion and occupation of the English kingdoms have left an enduring impact on the resulting hybrid culture and new English national identity. The most important legacy of the Norse settlers can be found in the English language. Contact of English with Old Norse, two branches of Germanic languages, launched the process of language change, as the result of which English morphed from a highly inflective language with a free word order into an analytical language with extreme reduction in the inflective forms and strict word order. The most notable grammatical changes were the collapse of all grammatical cases into genitive and common, and the loss of most old patterns of conjugation of verbs. Also, English, through its contact with Old Norse, borrowed about 400 words, including numerous fauna terms (names of animals and birds), natural and topographical terms, Norse

8

Mythology terms etc. Unlike later borrowings from French, Scandinavian borrowings abound in words expressing all kinds of negativity. Examples of negative terms include: angry, grief, sorrow, awkward, clumsy, dumbfounded, dirty, ill, rotten, ugly, weak, wrong etc. In the words of the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen about the importance of Scandinavian borrowings in everyday speech in the English language: “An Englishman cannot thrive or be ill or die without Scandinavian words; they are to the language what bread and eggs are to the daily fare”.
   The rule of Anglo-Saxon kings of Wessex over the Kingdom of England was restored with Edward the Confessor, who ascended the throne in 1042. King Edward’s piety and support for the church led to his canonization by Pope Alexander III, and he is revered as Saint Edward both by the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
adapted from Ben Johnson,
“Kings and Queens of England & Britain”


            BACKGROUND NOTES


Monarchy: the form of government in the United Kingdom, where the reigning monarch is the head of state.

Sovereign: the reigning monarch and head of state.

Province of Britain: part of the Roman Empire between 43 and 410AD, comprising England and Wales.

Anglo-Saxon Invasion of Britain: the arrival and colonization by the tribes of Angles, Saxons and Jutes from north-western Europe from about 449AD.

Vikings: Norsemen from Scandinavia who raided English and Scottish lands between about 793 and 850 AD.


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Alfred the Great: lived 849-899 AD, king of the Anglo-Saxons 886-899 AD, defeated the Vikings and encouraged peaceful coexistence between Vikings and Saxons and thus the establishment of modern ‘England’.

Cnut the Great: only one of two monarchs to be so titled, king of England 1016-1035, united the thrones of England, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.


Old Norse: the language of Old Scandinavia spoken in parts of northern and eastern England colonized by the Vikings in the 9 to 11th centuries AD.


Edward the Confessor: King of England 1042-1066, penultimate Anglo-Saxon king of England and known to be very pious, thus the nickname.


QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITIES


            Comprehension Questions:


   1.    What made it possible for Angles, Saxons and Jutes to settle in Britain and establish the first Anglo-Saxon kingdoms?
   2.    What was the outcome of the invasion of Danish Vikings in the 9th century?
   3.    When did the unification of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms begin, and who became the first king of the Kingdom of England in the 10th century?
   4.    How did the Scandinavian invasion of the English kingdom affect the English national identity?
   5.    Why was the last Anglo-Saxon king Edward canonized by the Roman Pope?


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Text II
The Norman Conquest and the profound political, social and cultural changes in the Kingdom of England (1066-1154)

   The history of the Kingdom of England from the Norman Conquest of 1066 to the unification of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain is conventionally described in periods named after successive ruling dynasties, that is, Norman (1066-1154), Plantagenet (1154-1485), Tudor (1485-1603) and Stuart (1603-1707). However, the changing dynasties were just the background against which profound changes were taking place, transforming the very nature of the English monarchy from absolute to constitutional and laying the foundations of the largest empire in history, “the empire on which the sun never sets”. It was during this period that important changes to the constitutional law were made, starting with the signing in 1215 of the Magna Carta, the formation of the first parliament in 1264 under Henry III, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which turned England into the “cradle of democracy”.
   The fortunes of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of England ruled by the Wessex dynasty changed dramatically in 1066 with the death of Edward the Confessor, who died childless. The new king, Harold II’s right to the throne was challenged by a number of pretenders, the most notable of whom was the Duke of Normandy, William. Normandy, the most northern-western part of France, received its name from the Scandinavian settlers (Northmen), whose right to the territory was confirmed by treaty in the 10th century between King Charles III of France and the first ruler of Normandy, Rollo. As an ethic group, Normans emerged as the result of contact between Norse Viking settlers and indigenous Francs and Gallo-Romans. William invaded England with a large fleet in September 1066 and defeated and killed Harold at the battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066. Following his victory, it took William some ten years consolidating his power by way

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