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United Kingdom

Yearbook 2004

Flag - United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandUK. The war on Iraq continued to create domestic political tensions. In January, Judge Lord Hutton presented his report on the so-called Kelly affair, in which he investigated the circumstances of biochemist David Kelly's suicide in 2003. The BBC media company has accused the government of deliberately misleading the British about the threat of Iraq's possible weapons of mass destruction. Kelly, who had been a weapons inspector in Iraq, was identified as the BBC's source and shortly thereafter took his life. The Ministry of Defense was accused of having leaked his name. According to CountryAAH, the total population in United Kingdom is 67,886,022 people in 2020. Neither Prime Minister Tony Blair nor the Department of Defense had made any mistakes. Hutton instead criticized the BBC for, among other things, lack of control of sources. Several British media challenged the conclusions drawn by Lord Hutton from his material.

2004 United KingdomShortly thereafter, the government appointed a new and independent inquiry whose task was to examine how the intelligence service worked. This was led by upper house member Robin Butler, who would not, however, investigate how politicians had acted. The Liberal Democrats declined to participate in the inquiry and in March, the Conservatives also withdrew.

In January, the government seemed to have difficulty pushing through a proposal to raise university fees by up to 3,000 a year due to strong opposition within Labor. After hard pressure, they managed to get a majority for their proposal, but with only five votes.

2004 United Kingdom

Finance Minister Gordon Brown said in the spring that the UK was not yet ready for accession to the EU's monetary union EMU. Blair promised in April that the British would decide the issue in a referendum. He stressed that such a vote was also an opportunity for voters to decide what role they want Britain to play in EU cooperation. No date for voting was provided, but most assessors thought it would be delayed until after the next parliamentary election.

Islamic priest Abu Hamza al-Masri was arrested in May. He had been requested to be extradited by the United States accused of terrorism-related crimes. Hamza was deprived of his British citizenship, but could not be extradited to the United States as he risked being sentenced to death there. Hamza denied the crime.

British soldiers were accused in May of torturing and committing other abuses against Iraqi prisoners. It was revealed that the year before, human rights organizations had been trying to draw attention to how the Iraqis were treated at the prisons run by the British. Judicial investigations began in June against nearly 80 British soldiers.

On June 10 elections were held for municipalities and the European Parliament. Labor went back strongly in the municipal elections, where both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives did better. Labor's poor performance was believed to be due to the fact that many of its traditional voters had taken the opportunity to protest the government's Iraq policy. In the mayoral election in London, however, Ken Livingstone, who this time ran for the ruling party, won.

Labor lost votes even in the European elections, but there the Conservatives returned even more. The UK Independence Party (UKIP), which wants the UK to leave the EU, received just under 17% of the vote. Sinn Fein, the political branch of the IRA, won a seat in the European Parliament for the first time.

In July, Lord Butler presented his report, criticizing some of the intelligence service's sources, but emphasizing that the material had largely been properly reported. This time, too, there was no strong criticism of Blair personally. Butler claimed that no individual could be identified as responsible for the mistake. Instead, the criticism was directed at the informal power structures that make important decisions by a smaller circle in the presence of the Prime Minister.

During the summer, it was speculated whether Prime Minister Blair would hand over power to Finance Minister Brown. That did not happen, and during the summer the power struggle between them reached the front pages of the newspapers. In a government reshuffle in September, Blair put his finance minister in place by giving Brown's opponent Alan Milburn the task of writing the party's election manifesto, a task that had previously been handled by Brown.

Kenneth Bigley, a British civil engineer, was kidnapped in Iraq on September 16. Ahead of Labour's party conference on September 26-30, the Arab television channel al-Jazira broadcast a video in which Bigley pleaded for assistance to Blair in person. In October, Kenneth Bigley was killed by his kidnappers.

The Iraq War weakened the Prime Minister's position both among voters and within his own party. Before the party conference came revelations that, among other things, Foreign Minister Jack Straw in March 2002 had explicitly warned Blair to go to war with Iraq. However, the party managed to show a united front outward. The Prime Minister apologized that the government's information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had not been accurate, but not for the war itself.

Holyrood, the new Scottish Parliament building, was inaugurated on October 10. The building had then cost 431 million, about ten times more than planned.

During the fall, the Supreme Court began its trial of the 2001 British Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows terrorist-suspected foreign nationals to be detained indefinitely without trial. A dozen men were then imprisoned in accordance with the law. An Algerian man had been released earlier this fall without any reason as to why he had been jailed.

A step towards a ban on fox hunting with dogs was taken in November, when a majority of the lower house rejected a compromise proposal that would allow some hunting for a license. A ban was expected to enter into force in England and Wales in February 2005 and would then also include deer and deer hunting with dogs. Scotland banned fox hunting as early as 2002. Earlier in the fall, protesters had entered Parliament to protest the plans for a ban. This raised concerns about shortcomings in Parliament's security. Outside Parliament, hunting advocates met with police.

The BBC announced in December that the media company must save and that almost 3,000 jobs would disappear. Around 1,800 employees would also be relocated from London to Manchester.

In the fall, Interior Minister David Blunkett ended up in windy weather. He was accused of exploiting his position to speed up a visa application for a child girl who would work with a woman whom Blunkett had a love relationship with. An inquiry was set up to investigate whether the minister was guilty of misuse of power. It showed that the matter had been handled much faster than usual, but that it was not possible to determine if it was due to any involvement by Blunketts.

On December 16, the House of Lords decided that the 2001 law that allowed terrorist-suspected foreign nationals to be detained indefinitely without trial violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The law applied to people who could not be deported because of the risk of being sentenced to death or tortured. Human rights organizations had already previously harshly criticized the law. Eight of the nine teams were in agreement. The nine prisoners who had appealed against the law to the upper house were allowed to remain in prison for the time being. Most of the prisoners, who came from countries in North Africa or the Middle East, were held in the Belmarsh prison south of London.

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