The Political Declaration confirms the ambition to conclude an FTA with zero tariffs and quotas between the EU and the UK, and states that robust. An exploration of political traditions and their usage in explanations of British politics. This book includes an evaluation of both classical and critical approaches. UK politics: local government & politics - related words and phrases | Cambridge SMART Vocabulary.
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The UK political system is a two party system. Before the Labour Party rose in British politics, the Liberal Party was the other major political party, along with the Conservatives.
While coalition and minority governments have been an occasional feature of parliamentary politics, the first-past-the-post electoral system used for general elections tends to maintain the dominance of these two parties, though each has in the past century relied upon a third party , such as the Liberal Democrats , to deliver a working majority in Parliament.
A Conservative—Liberal Democrat coalition government held office from until , the first coalition since With the partition of Ireland , Northern Ireland received home rule in , though civil unrest meant direct rule was restored in Support for nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales led to proposals for devolution in the s, though only in the s did devolution happen.
Today, Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland each possess a legislature and executive, with devolution in Northern Ireland being conditional on participation in certain all-Ireland institutions.
The UK government remains responsible for non-devolved matters and, in the case of Northern Ireland, co-operates with the government of the Republic of Ireland.
It is a matter of dispute as to whether increased autonomy and devolution of executive and legislative powers has contributed to the increase in support for independence.
The principal Scottish pro-independence party, the Scottish National Party , became a minority government in and then went on to win an overall majority of MSPs at the Scottish parliament elections and forms the Scottish Government administration.
A referendum on independence led to a rejection of the proposal but with In Northern Ireland, there are also Irish nationalist parties.
The constitution of the United Kingdom is uncodified , being made up of constitutional conventions , statutes and other elements such as EU law.
This system of government, known as the Westminster system , has been adopted by other countries, especially those that were formerly parts of the British Empire.
The United Kingdom is also responsible for several dependencies, which fall into two categories: the Crown dependencies , in the immediate vicinity of the UK, and British Overseas Territories , which originated as colonies of the British Empire.
Though she takes little direct part in government, the Crown remains the fount in which ultimate executive power over government lies. These powers are known as royal prerogative and can be used for a vast amount of things, such as the issue or withdrawal of passports, to the dismissal of the Prime Minister or even the declaration of war.
The powers are delegated from the monarch personally, in the name of the Crown, and can be handed to various ministers, or other officers of the Crown, and can purposely bypass the consent of Parliament.
The head of Her Majesty's Government , the prime minister, also has weekly meetings with the sovereign, where she may express her feelings, warn, or advise the prime minister in the government's work.
According to the uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom, the monarch has the following powers: . The monarch appoints a Prime Minister as the head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom , guided by the strict convention that the Prime Minister should be the member of the House of Commons most likely to be able to form a Government with the support of that House.
In practice, this means that the leader of the political party with an absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons is chosen to be the Prime Minister.
If no party has an absolute majority, the leader of the largest party is given the first opportunity to form a coalition. The Prime Minister then selects the other Ministers which make up the Government and act as political heads of the various Government Departments.
About twenty of the most senior government ministers make up the Cabinet and approximately ministers in total comprise the government.
In accordance with constitutional convention , all ministers within the government are either Members of Parliament or peers in the House of Lords.
As in some other parliamentary systems of government especially those based upon the Westminster System , the executive called "the government" is drawn from and is answerable to Parliament - a successful vote of no confidence will force the government either to resign or to seek a parliamentary dissolution and a general election.
In practice, members of parliament of all major parties are strictly controlled by whips who try to ensure they vote according to party policy.
If the government has a large majority, then they are very unlikely to lose enough votes to be unable to pass legislation. They are responsible for chairing Cabinet meetings, selecting Cabinet ministers and all other positions in Her Majesty's government , and formulating government policy.
The Prime Minister being the de facto leader of the UK, he or she exercises executive functions that are nominally vested in the sovereign by way of the Royal Prerogatives.
Historically, the British monarch was the sole source of executive powers in the government. However, following the lead of the Hanoverian monarchs, an arrangement of a "Prime Minister" chairing and leading the Cabinet began to emerge.
Over time, this arrangement became the effective executive branch of government, as it assumed the day-to-day functioning of the British government away from the sovereign.
Theoretically, the Prime Minister is primus inter pares i. While the Prime Minister is the senior Cabinet Minister, they are theoretically bound to make executive decisions in a collective fashion with the other Cabinet ministers.
Cabinet meetings are typically held weekly, while Parliament is in session. The Government of the United Kingdom contains a number of ministries known mainly, though not exclusively as departments, e.
These are politically led by a Government Minister who is often a Secretary of State and member of the Cabinet. He or she may also be supported by a number of junior Ministers.
In practice, several government departments and Ministers have responsibilities that cover England alone, with devolved bodies having responsibility for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for example - the Department of Health , or responsibilities that mainly focus on England such as the Department for Education.
Implementation of the Minister's decisions is carried out by a permanent politically neutral organisation known as the Civil Service.
Its constitutional role is to support the Government of the day regardless of which political party is in power.
Unlike some other democracies, senior civil servants remain in post upon a change of Government. Administrative management of the Department is led by a head civil servant known in most Departments as a Permanent Secretary.
The majority of the civil service staff in fact work in executive agencies , which are separate operational organisations reporting to Departments of State.
This is because most Government Departments have headquarters in and around the former Royal Palace Whitehall. The Scottish Government is responsible for all issues that are not explicitly reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster , by the Scotland Act ; including NHS Scotland , education , justice , rural affairs, and transport.
The First Minister then appoints their Ministers now known as Cabinet Secretaries and junior Ministers, subject to approval by the Parliament.
They are collectively known as "the Scottish Ministers". The Welsh Government and Senedd Cymru — Welsh Parliament have more limited powers than those devolved to Scotland,  although following the passing of the Government of Wales Act and the Welsh devolution referendum , the Assembly can now legislate in some areas through an Act of the Senedd.
The Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly have powers closer to those already devolved to Scotland. Parliament is bicameral , consisting of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
There are also devolved Scottish and Welsh Parliaments and a devolved Assembly in Northern Ireland, with varying degrees of legislative authority.
The Countries of the United Kingdom are divided into parliamentary constituencies of broadly equal population by the four Boundary Commissions.
Each constituency elects a Member of Parliament MP to the House of Commons at general elections and, if required, at by-elections. As of there are constituencies there were before that year's general election.
At the general election, of the MPs, all but one - Lady Sylvia Hermon - were elected as representatives of a political party.
However, as of , there are currently 11 independent MPs, who have either chosen to leave their political party or have had the whip withdrawn.
Alec Douglas-Home resigned from his peerages days after becoming Prime Minister in , and the last Prime Minister before him from the Lords left in the Marquess of Salisbury.
One party usually has a majority in Parliament, because of the use of the First Past the Post electoral system , which has been conducive in creating the current two party system.
The monarch normally asks a person commissioned to form a government simply whether it can survive in the House of Commons, something which majority governments are expected to be able to do.
In exceptional circumstances the monarch asks someone to 'form a government' with a parliamentary minority  which in the event of no party having a majority requires the formation of a coalition government or 'confidence and supply' arrangement.
This option is only ever taken at a time of national emergency, such as war-time. A government is not formed by a vote of the House of Commons, it is a commission from the monarch.
The House of Commons gets its first chance to indicate confidence in the new government when it votes on the Speech from the Throne the legislative programme proposed by the new government.
The House of Lords was previously a largely hereditary aristocratic chamber, although including life peers , and Lords Spiritual.
It is currently midway through extensive reforms, the most recent of these being enacted in the House of Lords Act The house consists of two very different types of member, the Lords Temporal and Lords Spiritual.
Lords Temporal include appointed members life peers with no hereditary right for their descendants to sit in the house and ninety-two remaining hereditary peers, elected from among, and by, the holders of titles which previously gave a seat in the House of Lords.
The House of Lords currently acts to review legislation initiated by the House of Commons, with the power to propose amendments, and can exercise a suspensive veto.
This allows it to delay legislation if it does not approve it for twelve months. However, the use of vetoes is limited by convention and by the operation of the Parliament Acts and : the Lords may not veto the "money bills" or major manifesto promises see Salisbury convention.
Persistent use of the veto can also be overturned by the Commons, under a provision of the Parliament Act Often governments will accept changes in legislation in order to avoid both the time delay, and the negative publicity of being seen to clash with the Lords.
However the Lords still retain a full veto in acts which would extend the life of Parliament beyond the 5-year term limit introduced by the Parliament Act Though the UK parliament remains the sovereign parliament, Scotland and Wales have devolved parliaments and Northern Ireland has an assembly.
De jure , each could have its powers broadened, narrowed or changed by an Act of the UK Parliament. The UK is a unitary state with a devolved system of government.
This contrasts with a federal system, in which sub-parliaments or state parliaments and assemblies have a clearly defined constitutional right to exist and a right to exercise certain constitutionally guaranteed and defined functions and cannot be unilaterally abolished by Acts of the central parliament.
All three devolved institutions are elected by proportional representation : the Additional Member System is used in Scotland and Wales, and Single Transferable Vote is used in Northern Ireland.
England , therefore, is the only country in the UK not to have its own devolved parliament. However, senior politicians of all main parties have voiced concerns in regard to the West Lothian Question ,   which is raised where certain policies for England are set by MPs from all four constituent nations whereas similar policies for Scotland or Wales might be decided in the devolved assemblies by legislators from those countries alone.
Alternative proposals for English regional government have stalled, following a poorly received referendum on devolved government for the North East of England , which had hitherto been considered the region most in favour of the idea, with the exception of Cornwall , where there is widespread support for a Cornish Assembly , including all five Cornish MPs.
The government has no plans to establish an English parliament or assembly although several pressure groups  are calling for one.
One of their main arguments is that MPs and thus voters from different parts of the UK have inconsistent powers. Currently an MP from Scotland can vote on legislation which affects only England but MPs from England or indeed Scotland cannot vote on matters devolved to the Scottish parliament.
Indeed, the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown , who is an MP for a Scottish constituency, introduced some laws that only affect England and not his own constituency.
This anomaly is known as the West Lothian question. The policy of the UK Government in England was to establish elected regional assemblies with no legislative powers.
The London Assembly was the first of these, established in , following a referendum in , but further plans were abandoned following rejection of a proposal for an elected assembly in North East England in a referendum in Unelected regional assemblies remain in place in eight regions of England.
The Scottish Parliament is the national, unicameral legislature of Scotland , located in the Holyrood area of the capital Edinburgh.
The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood"  cf. Members are elected for four-year terms under the mixed member proportional representation system.
As a result, 73 MSPs represent individual geographical constituencies elected by the plurality "first past the post" system, with a further 56 returned from eight additional member regions, each electing seven MSPs.
The current Scottish Parliament was established by the Scotland Act and its first meeting as a devolved legislature was on 12 May The parliament has the power to pass laws and has limited tax-varying capability.
Another of its roles is to hold the Scottish Government to account. The "devolved matters" over which it has responsibility include education , health , agriculture, and justice.
A degree of domestic authority, and all foreign policy, remains with the UK Parliament in Westminster. The public take part in Parliament in a way that is not the case at Westminster through Cross-Party Groups on policy topics which the interested public join and attend meetings of alongside Members of the Scottish Parliament MSPs.
The resurgence in Celtic language and identity, as well as 'regional' politics and development, has contributed to forces pulling against the unity of the state.
Nationalism support for breaking up the UK has experienced a dramatic rise in popularity in recent years, with a pivotal moment coming at the Scottish Parliament election where the SNP capitalised on the collapse of the Liberal Democrat support to improve on their performance to win the first ever outright majority at Holyrood despite the voting system being specifically designed to prevent majorities , with Labour remaining the largest opposition party.
This election result prompted the leader of the three main opposition parties to resign. Also in the wake of the referendum, Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, stood down and Jim Murphy was elected to replace her.
Mr Murphy was the leader of Scottish Labour Party until the general election in in which he lost his seat in Westminster, after the defeat he resigned his position and her deputy MSP Kezia Dugdale became leader of the party and leader of SLP in Holyrood.
The Senedd Cymru is the devolved legislature of Wales with power to make legislation and vary taxes. Members are elected for four-year terms under an additional members system , where 40 MSs represent geographical constituencies elected by the plurality system, and 20 MSs from five electoral regions using the d'Hondt method of proportional representation.
The Welsh Parliament was created by the Government of Wales Act , which followed a referendum in On its creation, most of the powers of the Welsh Office and Secretary of State for Wales were transferred to it.
The Welsh Parliament had no powers to initiate primary legislation until limited law-making powers were gained through the Government of Wales Act Its primary law-making powers were enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March , making it possible for it to legislate without having to consult the UK parliament , nor the Secretary of State for Wales in the 20 areas that are devolved.
This created the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly is a unicameral body consisting of 90 members elected under the Single Transferable Vote form of proportional representation.
The Assembly is based on the principle of power-sharing, in order to ensure that both communities in Northern Ireland, unionist and nationalist , participate in governing the region.
It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas and to elect the Northern Ireland Executive cabinet. It sits at Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast.
The Assembly has authority to legislate in a field of competences known as "transferred matters". These matters are not explicitly enumerated in the Northern Ireland Act but instead include any competence not explicitly retained by the Parliament at Westminster.
Powers reserved by Westminster are divided into "excepted matters", which it retains indefinitely, and "reserved matters", which may be transferred to the competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly at a future date.
Health, criminal law and education are "transferred" while royal relations are all "excepted". While the Assembly was in suspension, due to issues involving the main parties and the Provisional Irish Republican Army IRA , its legislative powers were exercised by the UK government, which effectively had power to legislate by decree.
Laws that would normally be within the competence of the Assembly were passed by the UK government in the form of Orders-in-Council rather than legislative acts.
The United Kingdom does not have a single legal system due to it being created by the political union of previously independent countries with the terms of the Treaty of Union guaranteeing the continued existence of Scotland's separate legal system.
Recent constitutional changes saw a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom come into being in October that took on the appeal functions of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords.
Both English law, which applies in England and Wales , and Northern Ireland law are based on common-law principles.
The essence of common-law is that law is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedent stare decisis to the facts before them.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest court in the land for both criminal and civil cases in England , Wales , and Northern Ireland and any decision it makes is binding on every other court in the hierarchy.
Scots law, a hybrid system based on both common-law and civil-law principles, applies in Scotland. The chief courts are the Court of Session , for civil cases, and the High Court of Justiciary , for criminal cases.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom serves as the highest court of appeal for civil cases under Scots law. Sheriff courts deal with most civil and criminal cases including conducting criminal trials with a jury, known that as Sheriff solemn Court, or with a Sheriff and no jury, known as Sheriff summary Court.
The Sheriff courts provide a local court service with 49 Sheriff courts organised across six Sheriffdoms.
The use of the first-past-the-post to elect members of Parliament is unusual among European nations. The use of the system means that when three or more candidates receive a significant share of the vote, MPs are often elected from individual constituencies with a plurality receiving more votes than any other candidate , but not an absolute majority 50 percent plus one vote.
Elections and political parties in the United Kingdom are affected by Duverger's law , the political science principle which states that plurality voting systems , such as first-past-the-post, tend to lead to the development of two-party systems.
The UK, like several other states, has sometimes been called a "two-and-a-half" party system, because parliamentary politics is dominated by the Labour Party and Conservative Party, while the Liberal Democrats, used to, hold a significant number of seats but still substantially less than Labour and the Conservatives , and several small parties some of them regional or nationalist trailing far behind in number of seats, although this changed in the general election.
No single party has won a majority of the popular vote since the Third National Government of Stanley Baldwin in On two occasions since World War II — and February — a party that came in second in the popular vote actually came out with the larger number of seats.
Electoral reform for parliamentary elections have been proposed many times. Under this proposal, most MPs would be directly elected from constituencies by the alternative vote , with a number of additional members elected from "top-up lists.
The general election resulted in a hung parliament no single party being able to command a majority in the House of Commons. This was only the second general election since World War II to return a hung parliament, the first being the February election.
The Conservatives gained the most seats ending 13 years of Labour government and the largest percentage of the popular vote, but fell 20 seats short of a majority.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats entered into a new coalition government , headed by David Cameron. Under the terms of the coalition agreement the government committed itself to hold a referendum in May on whether to change parliamentary elections from first-past-the-post to AV.
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