On 8 December 1965, the British government passed the Race Relations Act, the first legislation to address racism and xenophobia in the United Kingdom. The act addressed significant disparities in the UK, like the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott, which demonstrated against income and work inequalities faced by West Indian and African communities. The act made it a civil offense to incite racial violence and for businesses to not serve people based on race.
Margaret Thatcher was reelected for her third term in 1987. One of the changes she promised to implement was to levy a flat tax that she called a “Community Charge,” although it became popularly known as the poll tax. A flat tax means that everybody, regardless of wealth, has to pay the same amount. The tax was to be set in the 1989-1990 financial year in Scotland, and in the 1990-1991 financial year in England. However, it was unpopular from the moment she proposed it, and she met resistance from both the people and her party.
In Dagenham, East London, 54,813 men, and only 187 women worked in Ford’s flagship factory. The women there were classified as “unskilled workers,” though male employees performing the same or similar jobs were classified as “skilled workers.” As a result the men were on a higher pay scale than the women. Female employees of the factory were deeply upset when they learned this fact, and even more enraged when they discovered that teenage boy floor-sweepers were paid higher wages than they were.
By 1986, Australian Rupert Murdoch was already well on his way to becoming the head of what would be the world’s largest news conglomerate, News International. His meteoric rise to the top, however, clashed with a centuries-old printing tradition in the United Kingdom, where he owned four of the company’s largest papers. The Fleet Street area of London, England had served as the iconic home to the nation’s printmaking industry since as far back as the 15th century. As Murdoch saw it, however, this history represented a method of printmaking that had long since passed its peak.
In the 1960s, Northern Ireland began a period of ethno-political conflict called the Troubles. Through a series of social and political injustices, Northern Ireland had become a religiously divided society between historically mainland Protestants and Irish Catholics. Furthermore, the Irish people had become a fragmented body over a range of issues, identities, circumstances and loyalties. The conflict between Protestants and Catholics spilled over into violence, marked by riots and targeted killings between the groups beginning in 1968.
Twyford Down, a small area in southern England, was the site of the Department of Transport's (DoT) plans to extend the M3 highway from London to Southampton Port in 1990. The DoT had used economic analysis to determine that the time saved from this more direct route, as well as the increased business in the cities connected by the motorway, made up for any lost economic value to the sites damaged by the extension. Winchester College, the town's public school, sold the land needed for the highway to the DoT for £300,000.
In 1996, there were 204 reported attacks on prison staff in English prisons. Ten years later, the number of attacks soared to 1,050 attacks. After a 400% increase in attacks, prison officers were more than outraged with their apparently dangerous working conditions.
The London Heathrow Airport was of the busiest airports in the world when the English government began to contemplate expansion in 2002. Considered to be one of the premier airports in the world, the English government wanted to preserve the airport’s place among the best airports by improving its efficiency through expansion, including a third runway.
Environmental Activists prevent construction of coal-fired power plant in Kingsnorth, England, 2007-2010
In December of 2006, Eon, an energy company, submitted an application to the Medway council in Kent, England to build coal-fired generating units, the first to be built in England since 1974. The plant would emit more carbon dioxide than the world’s thirty lowest emitting countries combined. Within a few months, two other companies were proposing similar projects, with even more to follow. Eon planned to implement Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), as per the government’s request.
Greenham Commons outside Newbury, England was purchased in 1939 by the Newbury District Council for the public use of Newbury inhabitants, including the collection of firewood. In 1941 this area was requisitioned by the Air Ministry for an airfield, which was later decommissioned. Despite the decommissioning of the airfield, public ownership of the land was not fully restored. Then in 1979 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization ) bought the land from the British government for the building of a military base that would house 96 Tomahawk Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs).
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) emerged in England in the late 1640's among those who challenged the standard doctrine of the Church of England. Quakerism began as a sect whose members believed that there was a piece of God within every person and that everyone could communicate with God directly. This was a radical view for the time. Out of this belief, Quakers developed a strong sense of equality and believed that every person could be a minister.
Working conditions and wage levels in England in the early 19th century generally made laborers unable to support themselves and their families. According to the estimates of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, the average laborer needed about fourteen shillings a week in order to pay his rent and purchase enough food for his family. Wages of nine or ten shillings “reduced families to starvation levels” unless wives or children were able to work as well. In the 1830s, however, the rate of pay for laborers in Tolpuddle, in Dorset County, England, was seven shillings a week.