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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 12:37 GMT
Your political highlights of 2005
Here is a review of the political year as seen by BBC News website users after we asked for suggestions for your moments of the year.

JANUARY

Robert Kilroy-Silk
Robert Kilroy-Silk set up his own party
A busy year gets off to a quiet start for the main parties. But another - the UK Independence Party - undergoes ructions with its most famous member, the former TV host Robert Kilroy Silk, who quits after failing to become leader. It was the most read political story of the month on the BBC News website.

The best read policy announcement story, as the parties geared up for the forthcoming election campaign, was the Conservatives unveiling their plans for annual quotas for refugees.

FEBRUARY

After years of controversy, the ban on hunting with dogs in England comes into force, with supporters of the sport vowing to fight on.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone gets into a row when he accuses a Jewish journalist for the London Evening Standard of behaving like a "concentration camp guard".

Mr Kilroy Silk is back in the news as he sets up his own Eurosceptic party - Veritas - with himself as leader.

Away from hunting, the best read political story of the month was Tony Blair's whistle-stop tour of the UK to sign his party's six pre-election pledges.

MARCH

The main political argument of the month was about anti-terror measures, with the House of Lords and Commons in deadlock over plans for control orders, which would give the home secretary the power to place Britons and foreign citizens under effective house arrest, without them having a trial. In the end, the deadlock was only broken by the promise of giving MPs a vote in a year's time on whether to scrap or keep the new measure.

Meanwhile, TV chef Jamie Oliver helps persuade the government to pledge 280m to improve the quality and nutritional standards of England's school dinners.

APRIL

Charles Kennedy launches his party's manifesto

After months of being the worst-kept secret at Westminster, Tony Blair calls a general election for 5 May. The announcement is delayed by the death of Pope John Paul II.

The month is dominated by the election campaign, with Gordon Brown and Tony Blair inseparable. Highlights of the campaign include a Question Time special in which Tony Blair is flustered by a question about the difficulty of getting a GPs appointment; Greenpeace protesters scaling John Prescott's house's roof and the birth of Charles Kennedy's first child - which he blames for a hesitant performance when discussing his party's taxation plans.

"Not the most significant moment of the year, but certainly a humorously memorable one... he looked clueless and exhausted", said BBC News Website reader Paul, of Durham, who chose this as his moment of the year.

The issue of Iraq is mentioned many times, and in the end the attorney general's legal advice is published in full after a number of leaks - but opinion polls continue to give Labour a big lead.

MAY

Tony Blair and Reg Keys

Mr Blair is elected for an unprecedented - for a Labour leader - third successive term in Downing Street. But the government's majority is reduced to from 167 in 2001 to 66. The Lib Dems take 62 seats and the Conservatives 198. Former Labour MP George Galloway - now leader of the Respect party - unseats Labour's Oona King.

Mr Blair promises to "focus relentlessly" on the key issues affecting the public.

Cherie and Tony Blair arrive back at Downing Street

Reg Keys, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, stands against Mr Blair in his Sedgefield constituency, winning 10% of the vote. In his speech, with the prime minister watching in the background, he says: "I hope in my heart that one day the prime minister will be able to say sorry, that one day he will say sorry to the families of the bereaved."

This moment was a popular choice with BBC News Website readers. Daniel Entwisted, of Bolton, said Mr Keys' speech "really brought Blair back down to our planet - to see his face when Mr Keys basically opened his heart was as priceless as it was poignant".

On the morning after the election, Tory leader Michael Howard says he will resign, giving rise to the lengthy race to become his successor, which goes on for another seven months.

George Galloway

Mr Blair promises an "agenda of respect" for his third term, focusing on law and order. Plans include ID cards and laws against religious hatred.

Mr Galloway faces his detractors on a US Senate committee, who accuse him of receiving credits to buy Iraqi oil from Saddam Hussein. Mr Galloway denies the claims and, in more than an hour of invective, says the senators have created the "mother of all smokescreens".

Mr Galloway's performance was a very popular choice with BBC News Website readers.

Adam Johannes, of Cardiff, Wales said it "has to be the political moment of the year. It was as if the new kid walks into school and takes on the chief bully and wins. He wiped the floor and his oratory was stunning."

JUNE

The UK begins its six-month presidency of the European Union, with Mr Blair warning that it faces a "crisis in political leadership" and must change to win back public support.

He also says the UK's 3bn annual EU rebate is an "anomaly that has to go" - but makes clear that its removal has to be linked to farm subsidy reform.

JULY

The mood of the political world goes from jubilation to one of shock and horror within 24 hours, as London wins the right to host the 2012 Olympics one day and suffers Britain's worst terrorist attack the next.

World leaders gather as the G8 summit in Gleneagles ends

"It's not often in this job that you punch the air and do a little jig and embrace the person next to you," Mr Blair says after the Olympic announcement on 6 July.

Within 24 hours, four explosions occur on the Underground and on a bus.

Mr Blair, flanked by world leaders attending the G8 summit, hosted by Britain at Gleneagles, says: "Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world."

Ex-pat Stuart, of Turku, in Finland, nominated the British public's reaction to the bombings as his moment of the year. "I felt that Britain's reaction reinforced an image of a nation that keeps its head in a crisis," he said.

The G8 leaders agree to a $50bn (28.8bn) aid and debt-cancellation deal for Africa. The meeting coincides with the worldwide Live8 concerts co-organised by singer Bob Geldof.

"The key mobilisation of a campaign that's been backed by 10 million people in the UK... there could be no stronger political message!," said reader Nicholas Kafka, of London.

Robert Kilroy Silk quits as Veritas leader, claiming the party, which did not win any seats at the election, has "failed".

AUGUST

Robin Cook

Two of Labour's most prominent figures die within a few days of each other.

Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary regarded as one of the finest parliamentarians of his generation, collapses on a walking holiday in the Highlands.

Mo Mowlam, once the Northern Ireland Secretary and one of the most popular figures in UK politics, dies after a long illness.

"The death of a brave, intelligent and engaging woman was a tragedy for British politics," said reader Matt Stephenson, of Manchester.

SEPTEMBER

Security staff tackle hecklers

Conference season gets under way, with the Liberal Democrats celebrating winning 62 seats in May's election. But some party members wonder whether the result could have been better.

Labour, meeting in Brighton, is accused of being heavy-handed when peace campaigner Walter Wolfgang, 82, is manhandled from the conference hall for shouting "nonsense" during a speech by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. After furore in the media and among party activists he is readmitted to the hall the following day, to loud acclaim.

Stephen Thurgood, of Findern, Derby, said this moment showed "how Labour's hold on the country is starting to crumble, even their own party members are rebelling publicly".

OCTOBER

David Cameron, with wife Samantha after his speech

The Conservative conference in Blackpool sees a change in mood among the party's membership over who should be its new leader. David Cameron's speech, given without notes, is well received. Meanwhile, that of David Davis, the frontrunner, is criticised for being dull and workmanlike.

"If Cameron eventually becomes PM, that speech will be seen as historic," said reader Tom O'Gorman, of Dublin, Ireland.

But some thought Ken Clarke, who would go on to lose the contest, made the best speech, especially the section where the former chancellor said: "We're searching for a leader who is a Prime Minister in waiting.....Well boy have you kept me waiting!".

"Typical arrogance and confidence of the man rolled into one, priceless," said Gareth Davies, of Anglessey, in North Wales.

The Cabinet decides to push ahead with a partial smoking ban in England's public places - exempting members-only clubs and pubs which do not serve food. But several ministers, including Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, are said to be unhappy that there will be no blanket ban, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Tory MPs vote on who should replace Michael Howard. Former chancellor Ken Clarke and shadow foreign secretary Liam Fox are eliminated from the race. Mr Cameron overtakes Mr Davis in the second round of voting.

NOVEMBER

Tony Blair

After eight years, Tony Blair suffers his first Commons defeat, as Tories, Lib Dems and Labour rebels vote against allowing terror suspects to be detained for up to 90 days without charge. MPs instead opt for 28 days.

"This was the day that the steady encroachment of British civil liberties was finally halted and our elected representatives finally started fighting for our freedoms in Parliament, said reader Jonathan Clark, of Manchester.

A concerted effort by the opposition to scupper longer licensing hours for pubs in England - amid fears of rising crime and violence - fails.

David Blunkett, the work and pensions secretary, is compelled to quit the government for the second time in less than a year, after breaking the ministerial code of conduct over paid work he took while out of the Cabinet.

Tory members around the UK start voting for their new leader, with Mr Cameron by now the firm bookmakers' favourite.

DECEMBER

New Tory leader David Cameron, pictured in the Commons

David Cameron is named leader of the Conservative Party, beating David Davis by a margin of more than two to one among the membership. He promises to change the image of the party, encourage more women to become MPs and tackle environmental issues.

He brings William Hague, a predecessor as leader, into his team as shadow foreign secretary. Mr Davis also keeps his job as shadow home secretary.

Mr Cameron's first confrontation with Mr Blair at prime minister's questions, sees the former taunt the latter: "I want to talk about the future...you were the future once."

This was many readers' moment of the year.

"The moment has to be when the media showed the slowed down look on the prime minister's face the exact second that he realises that his career has come to an end and that the Conservatives might just win the next election, delivered with the killer line "you were the future once," said Matt, of Notts.

But Phil, from Market Drayton, was less impressed, saying "Hague was far more impressive in the Commons but look what happened to him!".

In contrast to Mr Cameron, Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy ends the year uncomfortably, as senior members of the party question his "laid back" style. Mr Kennedy, however, vows to fight on, to create a party "thirsting and thrusting" for electoral success. But Mr Cameron urges Lib Dems to defect to his cause.

Tony Blair agrees to a cut to the UK's European Union rebate, in exchange for future discussions on EU funding, including spending on agriculture. Tories brand the agreement a "surrender", but Mr Blair says the deal is the best possible "in the circumstances".


VOTE RESULTS
What was your moment of 2005?
Reg Keys' speech
 6.91% 
Galloway in Washington
 53.44% 
Blair winning election
 10.92% 
Labour heckler ejected
 10.17% 
Cameron at PMQs
 18.55% 
4414 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion



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