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1997 in the United Kingdom

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1997 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1997 in the United Kingdom.

Contents

Overview

1997 in the United Kingdom is noted for a landslide General Election victory for the Labour Party under Tony Blair, the transfer of Hong Kong, the largest remaining British colony, to China and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Incumbents

  • Monarch - Elizabeth II
  • Prime Minister – John Major (Conservative) (until 2 May), Tony Blair (Labour) (starting 2 May)
  • January

  • 15 January
  • Diana, Princess of Wales calls for an international ban on landmines.
  • The strengthening economy is reflected in a national unemployment total of 1,884,700 for last December – the lowest level since January 1991, although the Conservative government who oversaw it are still behind Labour in the opinion polls as the general election looms.
  • 16 January – The Conservative Party government loses its majority in the House of Commons after the death of Iain Mills, MP for Meriden.
  • 17 January
  • A jury at the Old Bailey rules that 86-year-old Szymon Serafinowicz is unfit to stand trial on charges of murdering Jews during the Holocaust.
  • East 17 singer Brian Harvey is dismissed from the band after publicly commenting that the drug Ecstasy is safe.
  • 20 January – Death of Labour Party MP Martin Redmond ends the government's minority. On the same day, the party vows not to raise income tax if, as seems likely, it wins the forthcoming general election.
  • February

  • 4 February - Moors Murderer Myra Hindley is informed by Home Secretary Michael Howard that she will never be released from prison. Hindley, who has now been in prison for more than 30 years, was originally issued with a whole life tariff by the then Home Secretary David Waddington in 1990, but not informed of the ruling until just over two years ago.
  • 6 February – The Court of Appeal rules that Mrs Diane Blood of Leeds can be inseminated with her dead husband's sperm. Mrs Blood had been challenging for the right to use the sperm of her husband Stephen since just after his death two years ago.
  • 22 February – Scientists at the Roslin Institute announce the birth of a cloned sheep named Dolly seven months after the fact.
  • 27 February – The government loses its Commons majority again after the Labour victory at the Wirral South by-election.
  • March

  • 10 March – 160 vehicles are involved in a motorway pile up on the M42 motorway at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. Three people are killed and 60 injured.
  • 17 March – John Major announces that the general election will be held on 1 May. Despite the opinion polls having shown a double digit Labour lead almost continuously since late 1992, Major is hoping for a unique fifth successive term of Conservative government by pinning his hopes on a strong economy and low unemployment – no incoming government since before the First World War has inherited economic statistics as strong as the ones that Labour will should they win the election.
  • 18 March – The Sun newspaper, a traditional supporter of the Conservative Party, declares its support for Tony Blair and Labour. It condemns the Conservatives as "tired, divided and rudderless" – a stark contrast to its support for them in the run-up to the 1992 election where it waged a high-profile campaign against the then Labour leader Neil Kinnock and, after the Conservative victory, claimed responsibility for the result.
  • 23 March – Unemployed continues to fall and now stands at just over 1,800,000 – its lowest level since December 1990.
  • 30 March – Channel 5, Britain's fifth terrestrial television channel and its first new one since the launch of Channel 4 in November 1982, is launched.
  • 31 March – BBC pre-school children's television series Teletubbies first airs.
  • April

  • April – Nursery Education Voucher Scheme introduced, guaranteeing a government-funded contribution to the cost of preschool education for 4-year-olds.
  • 8 April
  • BBC journalist Martin Bell announces that he is to stand as a candidate against Neil Hamilton in the Tatton constituency on an anti-corruption platform.
  • A MORI opinion poll shows Conservative support at a four-year high of 34%, but Labour still look set to win next month's general election as they have a 15-point lead.[5]
  • 29 April – The last MORI poll before the election tips Labour for a landslide victory as they gain 48% of the vote and a 20-point lead over the Conservatives.[6]
  • May

  • 1 May – General Election:
  • The Labour Party under Tony Blair defeat the incumbent Conservatives under Prime Minister John Major to win the election in a landslide result, winning 418 seats.
  • Several high-profile Conservative MPs, including seven Cabinet ministers lose their seats, as do all Conservative MPs in Scotland and Wales. Michael Portillo, who was tipped by many to be the next leader of the Conservatives, is among those who lose their seats.
  • The Conservatives fail to make any gains.
  • A record 119 women are now in parliament.
  • Mohammad Sarwar, elected for Labour in Glasgow Govan, becomes the first ever Muslim MP.
  • 2 May – Being the leader of the party holding a majority after the General Election, Tony Blair MP is appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by The Queen.
  • 3 May – Katrina and the Waves win the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Love Shine a Light, the first time the UK has won the competition since 1981.
  • 6 May – New Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown announces that the Bank of England, central bank of the UK, is to assume independent responsibility for UK monetary policy.
  • 19 May – The new Labour government announces that it will ban tobacco sponsorship of sporting events.
  • June

  • June – Ford enters the growing compact coupe market with its Puma, which uses the same chassis as the Ka and Fiesta.
  • 2 June – The Halifax Building Society floats on the London Stock Exchange. Over 7.5 million customers of the Society become shareholders of the new bank, the largest extension of shareholders in UK history.
  • 12 June – Law Lords declare that former Home Secretary, Michael Howard, acted illegally in raising the minimum sentence of the two juveniles who committed the murder of James Bulger, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, to 15 years. They also strip the government of setting minimum terms for prisoners aged under 18 who had received life or indefinite prison sentences.
  • 19 June – The High Court of Justice delivers judgement, largely in favour of McDonald's, in the libel case of McDonald's Corporation v Steel & Morris ("the McLibel case"), the longest trial in English legal history, against two environmental campaigners.
  • 25 June – An auction of dresses owned by Diana, Princess of Wales, in Manhattan raises more than £2million for charity.
  • 26 June – Publication of J. K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
  • July

  • 1 July – The UK transfers sovereignty of Hong Kong, the largest remaining British colony, to the People's Republic of China as the 99 years lease on the territory formally ends. This event is widely considered by historians and commentators to mark the end of the British Empire, the largest imperial endeavour in the history of mankind.
  • 2 July – Chancellor Gordon Brown launches the first Labour budget for nearly 20 years, which includes a further £3billion for education and healthcare, as well as a £3.5billion scheme to get single mothers, under 25's and long term unemployed people back into work.
  • 4 July – Russian carmaker Lada announces the end of imports to the United Kingdom after 23 years and some 350,000 sales of its low-priced, low-specification cars, which at their peak sold in excess of 30,000 cars a year, but managed just over 6,000 sales last year.[7]
  • 6–11 July – 1997 nationalist riots in Northern Ireland: There is violence in nationalist areas after an Orange Order parade is allowed down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown by the Royal Ulster Constabulary as part of the Drumcree conflict.
  • 19 July – The IRA declares a ceasefire.
  • 30 July – Sunderland's Stadium of Light, the largest football club stadium to be built in England since the 1920s, is opened by the Duke of York.
  • 31 July – Less than three months after the Labour landslide, Labour loses the Uxbridge by-election to the Conservatives.
  • August

  • 2 August – John Major's Prime Minister's Resignation Honours are announced.
  • 14 August – Derby County F.C. move into their new Pride Park stadium, but their inaugural match against Wimbledon in the FA Premier League is abandoned in the second half due to floodlight failure.
  • 21 August – The new Oasis album, Be Here Now, is released – selling a record of more than 350,000 copies on its first day.
  • 27 August –
  • – An international survey shows that British rail fares are the most expensive in the world and have risen by 12% since privatisation.
  • – Stoke City F.C. move into their new Britannia Stadium, which is officially opened by football legend Sir Stanley Matthews.
  • 31 August – Reports emerge in the early hours of the morning that Diana, Princess of Wales, has been injured in a car crash in Paris which has claimed the life of Dodi Fayed, the Harrods heir. Within four hours, it is confirmed that Diana has died in hospital as a result of her injuries. The United Kingdom and much of the rest of the world is plunged into widespread mourning.
  • September

  • 1 September
  • French investigators reveal that Diana's driver, Henri Paul, was over the drink-driving limit and had been travelling at speeds in excess of 100 mph before the crash that killed her. Lawyers for Mohamed Al-Fayed, father of Dodi Al-Fayed, lay the blame on the paparazzi who were pursuing the vehicle.
  • A new style of fifty pence coin is introduced.
  • Reebok Stadium, the new home of Bolton Wanderers F.C., is opened by deputy prime minister John Prescott.
  • 5 September – The Queen makes a nationwide broadcast in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, following widespread criticism of the Royal Family's response to her death.
  • 6 September – The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales takes place at Westminster Abbey, London followed by a private burial at the estate of the Earls Spencer in Althorp, Northamptonshire. The Earl Spencer, brother of Diana, attacks the Royal Family's treatment of Diana in his funeral eulogy. TV coverage of the funeral is hosted by both BBC 1 and ITV, attracting an audience of more than 32,000,000 which falls just short of the national TV audience record set by the England national football team's victorious World Cup final in 1966.
  • 7 September – Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow (the "armadillo"), designed by Foster and Partners, is completed.
  • 11 September – Referendum in Scotland on the creation of a national Parliament with devolved powers takes place. On two separate questions, voters back the plans both for a national Parliament and for it to have limited tax raising powers.
  • 13 September – Release of Elton John's Candle in the Wind remade as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. This will be the second best-selling single worldwide of all time.
  • 17 September – Police investigating the death of Diana, Princess of Wales reveal that the car in which she was travelling may have collided with a Fiat Uno seconds before hitting a concrete pillar.
  • 18 September
  • Welsh devolution referendum on the creation of a national Assembly takes place. Voters in Wales narrowly back the plans.
  • Opening of Sensation exhibition of Young British Artists from the collection of Charles Saatchi at the Royal Academy in London. A portrait of Moors murderer Myra Hindley created from children's handprints by artist Marcus Harvey is removed from display after vandal attacks.
  • 25 September – A Saudi court sentences British nurse Lucille McLauchlan to eight years in prison and 500 lashes for being an accessory to the murder of Australian nurse Yvonne Gilford in December last year. Fellow British nurse Deborah Parry is charged with murder and could face the death penalty if found guilty. Ms Gilford's brother Frank, is reported to be willing to accept £750,000 in "blood money" for Ms Parry's life to be spared if she is found guilty. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook condemns the sentence of flogging against Ms McLauchlan as "wholly unacceptable in the modern world".
  • 29 September – British scientists state that they have found a link between Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and eating of BSE-infected meat.
  • October

  • 1 October – The final LTI FX4 London cab is produced after 39 years.
  • 4 October – The BBC introduces its new corporate logo across the corporation. As well as new idents for BBC1.
  • 15 October – Andy Green driving the ThrustSSC sets a new land speed record of 763.035 mph (1227.99 km/h), the first time the sound barrier is broken on land.
  • 24 October – WPC Nina Mackay, 25, is stabbed to death in Stratford, London, when entering a flat to arrest a Somali asylum seeker who was due to be deported.
  • November

  • 4 November – BBC News launches a full-time online news service, having already created special websites for the 1995 budget as well as this year's general election and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
  • 6 November – Labour hold the Paisley South by-election despite a swing of 11.3% to the SNP.
  • 12 November – Brazil's Supreme Court refuses to extradite the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs to Britain.
  • 17 November – Six Britons are among the 58 people killed by terrorists in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt.
  • 20 November – The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • 24 November – The British Library opens its first public reading room at its new London site on the Euston Road.
  • December

  • 3 December – Andrew Evans, who was convicted of the 1972 murder of 14-year-old Judith Roberts in Tamworth, Staffordshire, has his conviction overturned by the Court of Appeal after the hearing is told he was being treated for depression when he confessed to the crime, and there is no other evidence against him.
  • 10 December – John E. Walker wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Paul D. Boyer "for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)".
  • 11 December – The Royal Yacht Britannia is decommissioned after 44 years in service.
  • 18 December – The bill to establish the Scottish Parliament unveiled by Secretary of State for Scotland Donald Dewar.
  • 19 December
  • William Hague marries Ffion Jenkins.
  • Moors murderer Myra Hindley loses a High Court appeal against the whole life tariff which was imposed on her by Home Secretary David Waddington in 1990 and later confirmed by Waddington's successor Michael Howard.
  • 22 December
  • The government announces an independent inquiry into the BSE crisis.
  • Twelve people are arrested during protests by disabled people outside Downing Street.
  • 23 December – Rover Group produces the final Rover 100 after 17 years.
  • 24 December – Will Straw, son of Cabinet minister Jack Straw, is arrested on suspicion of supplying cannabis.
  • 27 December – Ulster Loyalist leader Billy Wright is shot dead in the Maze Prison. Prisoners of the Irish National Liberation Army are believed to have been responsible for Wright's murder.
  • 31 December – Singer Elton John and football legend Tom Finney among the men receiving knighthoods in the New Year's Honours List.
  • Undated

  • The Weare prison ship is berthed in Portland Harbour as a temporary overflow facility.
  • Publications

  • Iain Banks' novel A Song of Stone.
  • Ted Hughes' poetry Tales from Ovid.
  • Ian McEwan's novel Enduring Love.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Jingo.
  • Philip Pullman's novel The Subtle Knife.
  • J. K. Rowling's novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
  • Births

  • 3 January – Thomas Byrne, actor
  • 7 January
  • Isaiah Brown, footballer
  • Kyle Stanger, actor
  • 10 January – Thomas Lewis Humphrey, judoka
  • 23 January
  • Shaheen Jafargholi, actor and singer
  • Sophie Hahn, athlete
  • Giorgio Rasulo, footballer
  • 31 January – Eva Sayer, actor
  • 8 February – Venus Angelic, singer and vlogger
  • 10 February – Lauren Mote, actress
  • 16 February – Charlie Green, singer
  • 17 February – Josef Craig, Paralympic swimmer
  • 14 March – Brad Taylor, cricketer
  • 23 March – Aidan Davis, dancer
  • 1 April
  • Asa Butterfield, actor
  • Olivia Smart, ice dancer
  • 7 April – Laura van der Heijden, cellist
  • 11 April – Tully Kearney, swimmer
  • 15 April – Maisie Williams, actress
  • 16 May – Cloe and Holly Mackie, actresses
  • 12 June – Gabrielle Jupp, artistic gymnast
  • 19 June – Molly Windsor, actress
  • 24 June – Beans Balawi, actor and chorister
  • 5 August – Clara van Wel, singer-songwriter
  • 25 August – Holly Gibbs, actor
  • 8 September – Kimberlea Berg, actress
  • 16 September – Oscar Lloyd, actor
  • 20 October – John Bell, actor
  • 24 October – Claudia Fragapane, gymnast
  • 27 October – Eden Taylor-Draper, actor
  • 6 November – Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, actor
  • 3 December – Hayley Okines, activist
  • 23 December – Aidan Alexander, actor
  • Full date unknown – Michael-Joel David Stuart, actor
  • Deaths

  • 10 January – Alexander R. Todd, Baron Todd, biochemist (born 1907)
  • 13 January – Iain Mills, Member of Parliament (born 1940)
  • 16 January – Martin Redmond, Member of Parliament (born 1937)
  • 20 January – Dennis Main Wilson, broadcast producer (born 1924)
  • 21 March – Rev. W. V. Awdry, children's writer (born 1911)
  • 23 April – Denis Compton, footballer and cricketer (born 1918)
  • 13 May – Laurie Lee, poet and author (born 1914)
  • 30 June – Dame Sylvia Crowe, landscape architect (born 1901)
  • 4 July – John Zachary Young, biologist (born 1907)
  • 24 July – Brian Glover, actor (born 1934)
  • 23 August – John Kendrew, molecular biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (born 1917)
  • 24 August – Louis Essen, physicist (born 1908)
  • 31 August – died in automobile accident in Paris
  • Dodi Fayed, Egyptian film producer and heir to Harrods department store (born 1955)
  • Diana, Princess of Wales (born 1961)
  • 6 September – P. H. Newby, novelist (born 1918)
  • 3 October – A. L. Rowse, historian (born 1903)
  • 6 October – Adrienne Hill, actress (born 1937)
  • 18 November – Joyce Wethered, Lady Heathcoat-Amory, golfer (born 1901)
  • 2 December – Shirley Crabtree, "Big Daddy", wrestler (born 1930)
  • 7 December – Billy Bremner, footballer and football manager (born 1942)
  • References

    1997 in the United Kingdom Wikipedia


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