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Questions Answered

What is confidence and supply?

Confidence and supply is the name given to an arrangement between two or more political parties in the event of a hung Parliament.

A hung Parliament is when no party has more than half the number of MPs after a general election, meaning the party with the largest number of MPs didn’t secure a big enough majority to form a workable government.

If this happens, parties can start negotiating with each other to see if they’d be able to work together to form a coalition government.

However, parties can also talk to each other about going into a looser agreement with each other known as a confidence and supply deal.

In a confidence and supply deal, one or more smaller parties would support a minority government in return for some of their policies being given the green light.

The smaller parties would agree to vote for the Queen’s Speech – when the government sets out its plans for the next 12 months. Alternatively, the smaller parties might abstain (not vote either way). If a government loses a vote on a Queen’s Speech, the Prime Minister must resign and a new government must be formed.

The smaller party or parties in a confidence and supply deal would also support the minority government if a vote of no confidence was proposed. Again, if a government loses a vote of no confidence the Prime Minister must resign and a new government has to take over.

They would also vote for, or abstain from voting, on any budget proposed by the minority government.

Unlike in a coalition, the smaller parties in a confidence and supply deal, do not have to agree to support other laws proposed by the government.

And, unlike a coalition, politicians from the smaller parties do not form part of the government and are not ministers.

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What is a hung Parliament?

What is a coalition government?

What is a general election?

How do laws get made?

What is Parliament?

Who is the Prime Minister?

What is the eurozone?

The eurozone is made up of the countries whose currency is the euro.

All these countries are members of the European Union (EU). However, not all members of the EU are members of the eurozone.

The UK is a member of the EU, for example, but its currency is the pound.

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What is the European Union?

What is the European Parliament?

What is an MEP?

What are European elections?

What is Prime Minister’s Questions?

Prime Minister’s Questions, or PMQs, is an opportunity for MPs to put questions to the Prime Minister.

PMQs happens every Wednesday at midday in the House of Commons. It is broadcast live on television.

During this time, the Leader of the Opposition has an opportunity to ask the Prime Minister six questions.

If the Prime Minister is away for PMQs, the Deputy Prime Minister will take his or her place and the Opposition questions will be asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

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Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

What is an MP?

What is the House of Commons?

Who is the Prime Minister?

What is Parliament?

What is a manifesto?

A manifesto is a document that political parties outline their policies in ahead of a general election.

Parties hope that the policies set out in their manifesto will convince the electorate to vote for them.

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What is a general election?

What is a policy?

What is the electorate?

How do I vote?

What is a political party?

What is a hung Parliament?

A hung Parliament is when no political party has more than half the number of MPs in the House of Commons after a general election.

This means that the party that won the largest number of MPs didn’t secure a big enough majority to form a government that would work. In this situation, the government would constantly need the support of other parties to help it pass laws and this is not likely to happen.

In this case, an unstable minority government can run the country, or parties can start negotiating with each other to see if they’d be able to work together and form a coalition.

For example, after the UK general election in 2010, the Conservative Party got the most MPs. But its majority was not large enough to form a workable government. The Labour Party had the second largest number of MPs.

The party with the third highest number of MPs, the Liberal Democrats, held talks with both the Conservatives and Labour to see if they could strike a deal with one of them.

The Lib Dems decided to go into government with the Conservatives. This meant that the Conservatives could rely on the Liberal Democrats to support them on important issues and help them to get laws made.

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What is a coalition government?

How do laws get made?

What is a general election?

What is a government?

What is Parliament?

What is the House of Commons?

Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

The Leader of the Opposition is usually the leader of the political party with the second highest number of MPs in the House of Commons.

The Opposition is the group of politicians in Parliament who are the alternative to the Government.

One of the responsibilities of the Leader of the Opposition is to hold the Government to account. One of the opportunities to do this is at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), which happens in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister’s Questions takes place every Wednesday at midday and is broadcast live on television. During this time, the Leader of the Opposition is allowed to ask the Prime Minister six questions.

The Leader of the Opposition is supported by a Shadow Cabinet, which is made up of shadow ministers. These are the politicians who would take up roles like Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary if their party was to win a general election and get into government.

The current Leader of the Opposition is Ed Miliband, who is the leader of the Labour Party.

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What is the Opposition?

What is the Shadow Cabinet?

What is a shadow minister?

What is the Foreign Office?

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is a government department responsible for the UK’s interests overseas and supporting its citizens and businesses around the world.

It is also responsible for safeguarding the UK’s national security by countering terrorism and working to reduce conflict.

The Foreign office is led by the Foreign Secretary.

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Who is the Foreign Secretary?

What is a government?

What is the Cabinet?

Who is the Foreign Secretary?

The Foreign Secretary is a senior member of the Government who has responsibility for the UK’s foreign affairs.

He or she is in charge of the government department called the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and is a senior Cabinet minister.

Philip Hammond is the current Foreign Secretary in the UK.

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What is the Foreign Office?

What is the Cabinet?

What is a government?

What is a by-election?

A by-election takes place when a seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant between general elections.

A local authority by-election takes place if a seat on the council becomes available between local elections.

The most common reasons for a by-election are the resignation or death of an MP or councillor.

Each political party can put forward a candidate to stand in a by-election. Candidates don’t have to represent a party to stand for election. Those who don’t are called independents.

The candidate who wins a by-election becomes the new MP or councillor for that constituency or ward.

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What is a general election?

What are local elections?

What is a seat?

What is the House of Commons?

What is an MP?

What is a councillor?

 

 

What is a ward in politics?

An electoral ward is part of a local authority area. They are represented by one or more councillors depending on their size.

Councillors are elected at local elections or by-elections. In these elections, the people who live in each ward vote for who they want their councillor or councillors to be.

Each political party can put forward candidates to stand for election as a councillor in a ward. Candidates don’t have to represent a party to stand for election. Those who don’t are called independents.

Councillors make decisions on things like council housing, rubbish collection, recycling, parking, transport, roads and footpaths, parks, leisure centres and libraries.

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What is local government?

What is a councillor?

What are local elections?

What is the electoral register?

The electoral register is a list of all the people who are registered to vote in elections and referendums in the UK.

You cannot vote if you are not on the electoral register.

You can register to vote online.

Related content:

How do I vote?

What is a general election?

What are local elections?

What is a referendum?

What is an independent politician?

An independent politician is a politician who doesn’t represent a political party.

Independent candidates can stand in general elections, local elections and by-electionsIf an independent wins an election, he or she will become an independent MP or councillor.

Once they are elected, it can be difficult for independents to make a big impact. Because they don’t belong to a political party, it can be difficult for them to get support from other politicians.

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What is an MP?

What is a councillor?

What is a general election?

What are local elections?

What is a political party?

What is a constituency?

A constituency is a part of the country that is represented by a Member of Parliament (MP). There are 650 constituencies across the UK.

The people who live in a constituency are called constituents. In a general election, constituents vote for who they want their MP to be.

Each political party can put forward a candidate to stand for election as an MP in a constituency. Candidates don’t have to represent a party to stand for election. Those who don’t are called independents.

Politicians sometimes refer to constituencies as seatsThis is because each constituency represents a seat in the House of Commons.

After a general election, the political party that has won the vote in the most constituencies, and therefore has the most seats, usually forms a government.

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What is an MP?

What is a seat?

What is the House of Commons?

What is a general election?

What is a Trade Union?

A Trade Union is a group of workers which aims to protect the employment rights and improve the working conditions of its members.

They aim to help their members in a number of different ways such as:

  • Negotiating better pay
  • Negotiating better working conditions, like more holidays or improved health and safety
  • Providing training for new skills
  • Offering support in disciplinary and grievance meetings
  • Providing legal and financial advice

Employers which recognise a union will negotiate with it over members’ pay and conditions.

Employers can recognise a trade union voluntarily or they can be forced to recognise it by law. It is a legal requirement for employers to recognise unions if more than 50% of its workers belong to a union.

If less than 50% of workers at a company or organisation are part of a trade union then the employer does not necessarily have to recognise it and therefore does not have to negotiate with it over pay and working conditions.

However, there are still some benefits of being part of a trade union in a company that doesn’t recognise one. For example, all members still have full access to the support structure offered by a union – such as legal experts – for help with any work-related issues. It is also a legal right to be accompanied by a union official in any disciplinary and grievance meetings regardless of whether an employer recognises a union or not.

Union members have to pay a subscription fee. There is often a discount for trainees and part-time workers.

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What does left wing mean?

What is socialism?

What is the European Union?

The European Union is a group of 28 countries in Europe whose governments work together. It is often referred to simply as the EU.

Countries that are members of the EU agree to follow a set of shared rules and they receive certain benefits in return.

One of the main aims of the EU is to make it easier for countries in Europe to do business with each other. It can also help with things like making it easier to catch criminals.

The UK is a member of the EU.

Each of the countries in the EU are represented in the European Parliament by politicians who are called MEPs.

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What is the eurozone?

What is the European Parliament?

What is an MEP?

What are European elections?

What is an MEP?

An MEP is a politician who represents their country in the European Parliament. It stands for Member of the European Parliament.

There are 751 MEPs in the European Parliament and 73 of them represent the UK.

MEPs debate and vote on laws that affect the 28 countries in the European Union.

People vote for MEPs at European elections.

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What is the European Parliament?

What is the European Union?

What are European elections?

What is the European Parliament?

The European Parliament is where politicians meet to debate and make laws that affect countries in the European Union. It is based in the French city of Strasbourg and the Belgian city of Brussels.

The European Union is a group of 28 countries in Europe whose governments work together. The UK is one of those countries.

People from each of the 28 countries are elected to the European Parliament in European elections. When they are elected they become an MEP, which stands for Member of the European Parliament.

The European Parliament makes decisions on things like the environment, workers’ rights, international trade, animal rights and consumer rights.

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What is the European Union?

What are European elections?

What is an MEP?

How do European elections work in Northern Ireland?

Unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland uses a system called the Single Transferable Vote to elect politicians to the European Parliament.

This is when voters rank candidates in order of preference.

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What is the Single Transferable Vote?

What is the European Parliament?

What are European elections?

What is the European Union?

What are European elections?

European elections decide who represents the UK in the European Parliament.

The UK is split up into 12 regions – one each for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and nine covering England. The people who live in each region vote for which political party they want to represent them in the European Parliament.

Between three and 10 candidates are elected in each region depending on their size.

European elections use the Party List voting system, except in Northern Ireland.

The Party List system is a form of Proportional Representation. This means people vote for a party rather than an individual candidate.

Each party makes a list of candidates for each region, with the people it most wants to be elected at the top of that list. The more votes a party gets, the more people on its list get elected.

So if a party gets one person elected in a region, then the person at the top of that party’s list is elected. If a party gets two people elected in a region, then the top two people on the list are elected, and so on.

Each person who is elected becomes an MEP, which stands for Member of the European Parliament.

European elections are not to be confused with general elections or local elections.

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What is the European Parliament?

What is an MEP?

What is the European Union?

What is the Party List system?

What is Proportional Representation?

What is a mayor?

Many councils have a civic mayor or chair of the council. They carry out ceremonial duties and chair meetings but can’t make decisions about council business.

However, some councils have a directly elected mayor. They’re responsible for the day-to-day running of local services.

Some councils have both civic and elected mayors.

Some have a civic mayor and a chair and some fuse the two roles. These mayors can make some decisions, most notably by using their casting vote.

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What is local government?

What is the Supplementary Vote?

What are local elections?

What is an MLA?

Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs for short, are politicians who represent people in Northern Ireland.

Each MLA represents people from a particular part of the country. These areas are called constituencies. There are six MLAs from each of the 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland. The people who live in these areas are called their constituents.

MLAs hold regular meetings, known as surgeries, where their constituents can talk to them about their concerns or any problems they are having. Constituents can also get in touch with their MLA by writing to them or contacting them at their office.

When an MLA is not in his/her constituency, they are in Belfast at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Here, they can tell the Northern Ireland Executive about the issues that are affecting their constituents.

In the Northern Ireland Assembly, MLAs take part in debates and vote on whether new laws should be made.

MLAs also help to make sure the Northern Ireland Executive is doing its job properly by scrutinising it and asking questions.

Constituents get to decide who their MLAs are by voting at elections. The elections use a voting system called the Single Transferable Vote.

MLAs usually represent a political party. However, this is not always the case. Those who don’t represent a political party are called independent MLAs.

Anyone can stand for election as an MLA as long as they are at least 18 years old and are registered to vote.

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What is the Northern Ireland Assembly?

What is the Northern Ireland Executive?

What is the Single Transferable Vote?

What is devolution?

What is the Northern Ireland Assembly?

The Northern Ireland Assembly makes laws in Northern Ireland on devolved matters like health, education and the environment. It is located on the Stormont estate in Belfast.

It does not have any control over issues like defence, national security and foreign policy, which are dealt with by the UK Parliament and UK Government.

It is made up of 108 politicians called MLAs, which stands for Members of the Legislative Assembly. There are six MLAs from each of the 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland. MLAs are voted for by the Northern Irish public.

MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly also help to make sure the Northern Ireland Executive is doing its job properly by scrutinising it and asking questions.

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What is the Northern Ireland Executive?

What is an MLA?

What is devolution?

What is the Northern Ireland Executive?

The Northern Ireland Executive is responsible for running devolved matters like health, education and the environment in Northern Ireland.

It does not have any control over issues like defence, national security and foreign policy, which are dealt with by the UK Parliament and UK Government.

It is formed by the political party or parties who have the most MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Ministers of the Executive are nominated by the political parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The number of ministers a party can nominate is determined by how many seats it has in the Assembly. Each minister has responsibility for a specific Northern Ireland government department.

The Executive is led by the First Minister, who is nominated by the largest party, and the Deputy First Minister, who is nominated by the second largest party.

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What is devolution?

What is the Northern Ireland Assembly?

What is an MLA?

What is an Assembly Member?

An Assembly Member, or AM, is a politician who represents people in Wales.

Each AM represents people from a particular part of the country. These areas are called constituencies. Some AMs represent larger areas which are called regions and are made up of several constituencies put together. The people who live in these areas are called their constituents.

AMs hold regular meetings, known as surgeries, where their constituents can talk to them about their concerns or any problems they are having. Constituents can also get in touch with their AM by writing to them or contacting them at their office.

When an AM is not in his/her constituency or region, they are in Cardiff at the National Assembly for Wales. Here, they can tell the Welsh Government about the issues that are affecting their constituents.

In the National Assembly for Wales, AMs take part in debates and vote on whether new laws should be made.

AMs also help to make sure the Welsh Government is doing its job properly by scrutinising it and asking questions.

Constituents get to decide who their AMs are by voting at elections.

AMs usually represent a political party. However, this is not always the case. Those who don’t represent a political party are called independent AMs.

Anyone can stand for election as an AM as long as they are at least 18 years old and are registered to vote.

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What is the National Assembly for Wales?

What is the Welsh Government?

What is devolution?

What is the National Assembly for Wales?

The National Assembly for Wales, often referred to as the Welsh Assembly, makes laws in Wales on devolved matters like health, education, the environment, transport and housing. It is based in the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay.

It does not have any control over issues like benefits, police and criminal justice, which are dealt with by the UK Parliament and UK Government.

It is made up of 60 politicians who are each an Assembly Member, or AM for short. AMs are voted for by the Welsh public.

AMs in the Welsh Assembly also help to make sure the Welsh Government is doing its job properly by scrutinising it and asking questions.

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What is an Assembly Member?

What is the Welsh Government?

What is devolution?

What is Parliament?

What is a government?

What is the Welsh Government?

The Welsh Government is responsible for running devolved matters like health, education and the environment in Wales.

It does not have any control over issues like benefits, police and criminal justice, which are dealt with by the UK Parliament and UK Government.

It is formed by the political party or parties who have the most Assembly Members, often referred to as AMs, in the National Assembly for Wales.

All the AMs vote for which AM they want to be in charge of the Welsh Government. The AM with the most votes becomes the First Minister and leader of the Welsh Government.

The UK Government hands the Welsh Government a pot of money. The UK Government decides how much money it hands over but it’s up to the Welsh Government how it spends it.

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What is devolution?

What is the National Assembly for Wales?

What is an Assembly Member?

What is Parliament?

What is a government?

What is an MSP?

A Member of the Scottish Parliament, or MSP, is a politician who represents people in Scotland.

Each MSP represents people from a particular part of the country. These areas are called constituencies. Some MSPs represent larger areas which are called regions and are made up of several constituencies put together. The people who live in these areas are called their constituents.

MSPs hold regular meetings, known as surgeries, where their constituents can talk to them about their concerns or any problems they are having. Constituents can also get in touch with their MSP by writing to them or contacting them at their office.

When an MSP is not in his/her constituency or region, they are in Edinburgh at the Scottish Parliament. Here, they can tell the Scottish Government about the issues that are affecting their constituents.

In the Scottish Parliament, MSPs take part in debates and vote on whether new laws should be made.

MSPs also help to make sure the Scottish Government is doing its job properly by scrutinising it and asking questions.

Constituents get to decide who their MSPs are by voting at elections.

MSPs usually represent a political party. However, this is not always the case. Those who don’t represent a political party are called independent MSPs.

Anyone can stand for election as an MSP as long as they are at least 18 years old and are registered to vote.

Related content:

What is the Scottish Parliament?

What is the Scottish Government?

What is devolution?

What is the Scottish Government?

The Scottish Government is responsible for running devolved matters like health, education, the environment, housing and the police and fire services in Scotland.

It does not have any control over issues like benefits and immigration, which are dealt with by the UK Parliament and UK Government.

It is formed by the political party or parties who have the most MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

All the MSPs vote for which MSP they want to be in charge of the Scottish Government. The MSP with the most votes becomes the First Minister and leader of the Scottish Government.

The First Minister of Scotland is currently Nicola Sturgeon from the left-leaning Scottish National Party.

The UK Government hands the Scottish Government a pot of money. The UK Government decides how much money it hands over but it’s up to the Scottish Government how it spends it.

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What is devolution?

What is the Scottish Parliament?

What is an MSP?

What is Parliament?

What is a government?

What is the Scottish Parliament?

The Scottish Parliament makes laws in Scotland on devolved matters like health, education, housing and the police and fire services. It is located in Holyrood in Edinburgh.

It does not have any control over issues like benefits and immigration, which are dealt with by the UK Parliament and UK Government.

It is made up of 129 politicians who are each a Member of the Scottish Parliament, or MSP for short. MSPs are voted for by the Scottish public.

MSPs in the Scottish Parliament also help to make sure the Scottish Government is doing its job properly by scrutinising it and asking questions.

Related content:

What is devolution?

What is the Scottish Government?

What is an MSP?

What is Parliament?

What is a government?

What is devolution?

Devolution is when a country or region is handed extra decision-making powers so it can run itself more independently.

If an area is devolved, it remains under the overall control of a central government. However, it has freedom to make some of its own decisions.

For example, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government make their own decisions on things like hospitals, schools, housing and the police and fire services. Matters that aren’t devolved like benefits and immigration remain controlled by the UK Parliament and UK Government in London.

Other examples of devolution in the UK include the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Related content:

What is the Scottish Parliament?

What is the Scottish Government?

What is the National Assembly for Wales?

What is the Welsh Government?

What is the Northern Ireland Assembly?

What is the Northern Ireland Executive?

What is the Supplementary Vote?

The Supplementary Vote is a type of voting system. In the UK, it is used in votes for directly elected English mayors like the Mayor of London.

It is a shortened version of the Alternative Vote (AV).

Under the Supplementary Vote, there are two columns on the ballot paper – one for voters to mark their first choice candidate and one in which to mark their second choice. Voters mark one ‘X’ in each column, although they do not have to make a second choice if they don’t want to.

All the first choices are then counted and, if a candidate has a majority, they are elected. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two candidates continue to a second round and all other candidates are eliminated.

The second choice votes of everyone whose first choice has been eliminated are then counted.

Any votes for the remaining candidates are then added to their first round totals. Whichever candidate has the most votes after these second preferences have been added to the overall count is declared the winner.

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What is the Alternative Vote?

What is Proportional Representation?

What is a mayor?

What is the Alternative Vote?

The Alternative Vote is a type of voting system. In the UK, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats use it to elect their leaders. It is often abbreviated as AV.

Under the system voters rank candidates in order of preference.

Voters put a ‘1’ by their first choice, a ‘2’ by their second choice, and so on, until they no longer wish to express any further preferences.

Candidates are elected outright if they gain more than half of the first preference votes. If not, the candidate who got the least first preference votes is eliminated and the second preferences of their voters are added to the overall total. This process continues until one candidate has half of the votes and is elected.

In a UK-wide referendum in 2011, the British public were asked if they wanted to replace First Past The Post with the Alternative Vote for UK general elections. The referendum produced a No vote against AV.

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What is Proportional Representation?

What is First Past The Post?

What is the Additional Members System?

The Additional Members System is a type of voting system. In the UK it is used to elect politicians to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. It’s often abbreviated to AMS.

It is considered a hybrid voting system because it is a mixture of First Past The Post (FPTP) and Proportional Representation.

In AMS voters have two votes. The first vote is for an individual candidate and the result is decided using a FPTP system.

The second vote is for a political party and some of the seats are awarded using a Party List system.

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What is Proportional Representation?

What is the Party List system?

What is the Scottish Parliament?

What is the National Assembly for Wales?

What is the Party List System?

The Party List System is a type of voting system. In the UK, it is used in European elections.

It is a form of Proportional Representation. The idea is that it better reflects the wishes of voters and leads to fewer votes being ‘wasted’.

Under the Party List system, the number of politicians elected to Parliament are roughly in proportion to the number of votes cast for each political party.

So, to make things simple, if there were 100 seats in Parliament and a party received 10% of the vote, that party would win 10 seats in Parliament.

Each party draws up a list of candidates, with those it most wants to be elected at the top. If a party wins 10 seats in Parliament, the top 10 on its list would become MPs. The 11th candidate on the list would miss out on a seat in Parliament.

It’s not possible to stand in Party List elections as an independent candidate.

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What is Proportional Representation?

What are European elections?

What is the Single Transferable Vote?

The Single Transferable Vote is a type of voting system. It is used in local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It is a form of proportional representation. The idea is that it better reflects the wishes of voters and leads to fewer votes being ‘wasted’.

Under the Single Transferable Vote, voters rank candidates in order of preference. So they put a 1 on the ballot paper next to their first choice candidate, a 2 next to their second choice candidate and so on.

They can rank as many candidates as they like. So if they only want to vote for one candidate, all they have to do is put a 1 next to their name.

In order to be elected, a candidate must reach a set amount of votes known as a quota.

The votes are counted in stages. In the first stage only first preferences are counted. Anyone who reaches the quota is elected. Any votes received over the quota are not needed by the elected candidate and so are transferred to that voter’s second preference.

If not enough candidates have then reached the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the second preference of everyone who voted for that candidate is then added to the tally.

This process is repeated until three or four candidates have been elected.

Related content:

What is proportional representation?

How do local elections work in Scotland?

How do local elections work in Northern Ireland?

What is Proportional Representation?

Proportional Representation, often abbreviated as PR, is a type of voting system where the number of politicians elected to Parliament are roughly in proportion to the number of votes cast for each party.

The idea is that it better reflects the wishes of voters and leads to fewer votes being ‘wasted’.

There are numerous forms of Proportional Representation. The most popular ones are the Party List system, and the Single Transferable Vote.

Related content:

What is the Party List system?

What is the Single Transferable Vote?

What is First Past The Post?

First Past The Post is a type of voting system. It is used in UK general elections and local elections in England and Wales. It is often abbreviated as FPTP.

In FPTP, the candidate who receives the most votes wins. It’s as simple as that.

All remaining votes for candidates other than the winner don’t count towards anything.

Related content:

What is a general election?

How do local elections work in England and Wales?

What is a referendum?

A referendum is when a government asks the general public to make a decision on an important issue.

Voting in a referendum is a bit like voting in an election. People visit their nearest polling station and respond to a question with a Yes or No answer by putting an X in a box next to the option they prefer.

The government can decide to call a referendum on any issue. But in the UK referendums tend to be quite rare and are reserved for major issues.

For example, the last referendum to be held in the UK was in September 2014 when the people of Scotland were asked the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?

Related content:

How do I vote?

What are the different ways of voting?

What is a polling station?

 

What is a polling station?

A polling station, also called a polling place in Scotland, is where you go to cast your vote in an election or referendum.

If you’re registered to vote you’ll receive a poll card in the post telling you where your local polling station is. They will often be at a nearby school or community centre.

Polling stations are open on election day from 7am to 10pm.

There will always be members of staff at a polling station to help if you’re not sure what to do.

Related content:

How do I vote?

What are the different ways of voting?

What is the electorate?

What is a general election?

What are local elections?

What are European elections?

What are the different ways of voting?

In UK elections, there are three different ways you can vote. You can visit a polling station, vote by post or vote by proxy (someone votes on your behalf).

    1. In person: Most people vote in person by visiting a polling station. It is straightforward and a member of staff will always help if you are not sure what to do.

You will receive a poll card in the post telling you where your polling station is. It is often a nearby school or a community centre. If you do not receive your poll card, contact your local council to find out where your polling station is.

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. It is always a good idea to arrive in plenty of time.

    1. By post: You can apply to vote by post. You will need to fill in an application form and send it to your local electoral registration office. You can find details of your local electoral registration office and get an application form at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

Your local council can send your ballot paper to your home address or any other address you give.

  1. By proxy: If you can’t go to the polling station and don’t wish to vote by post, you can apply to vote by proxy. This means allowing someone you trust to vote on your behalf.

You will need to fill in an application form and send it to your local electoral registration office. You can get an application form at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

When you apply for a proxy vote you have to state why you can’t vote in person. Anyone can be your proxy as long as they are 18 or over and are also registered to vote. They must also be willing to vote on your behalf. You will have to tell them how you want to vote.

If you have a medical emergency, or are unexpectedly or unavoidably called away because of your job, you may be able to appoint an emergency proxy. Contact your local electoral registration office for more information. You can find their details at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

Related content:

How do I vote?

What is a polling station?

What is a referendum?

How do I vote?

To vote in UK elections and referendums, you need to be on the electoral register.

You can register to vote onlineIt takes about five minutes.

Or you can register by using the form you receive in the post from your local electoral registration office each year.

You have to be aged 18 or over to vote in the UK.

In UK elections, there are three different ways you can vote. Most people vote in person by visiting a polling station (also called polling places in Scotland). However, you can also vote by post or vote by proxy (someone votes on your behalf).

Related content:

What are the different ways of voting?

What is a referendum?

What is a polling station?

What is the electorate?

What is a political party?

A political party is a group of like-minded people which aims to achieve goals through political power.

It’s impossible for all members of a political party to have exactly the same opinions and completely agree on all issues. However, they do tend to agree in more general terms about how a country should be run.

Most politicians stand for election as a representative of a political party.

Voters should be able to gain a basic understanding of a politician’s values and beliefs just by seeing what party he or she represents.

The main parties in UK politics are the Conservatives, who are also sometimes referred to as the Tories, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip), the Green Party, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru.

Related content:

What is a general election?

What are local elections?

What are European elections?

What is capitalism?

Capitalism is a political ideology in which individuals and businesses are free to make money with little or no interference from the government.

This lack of regulation is often referred to as ‘free market economics’ and is a key principle of right wing political theory.

Profit is of huge importance in a capitalist society, which operates on the economic principle that the more there is of something, the cheaper it becomes to buy.

Profit comes from selling something for more than it costs to make or provide. In capitalist theory, the bigger a company’s profits are, the more goods it will be able to produce, meaning prices will fall and things will become more affordable. As a result, this is supposed to improve living standards.

Privatisation, which is where private companies run services or industries that were once controlled by the government, is a key part of capitalism. An example of privatisation in the UK is the telecommunications company, British Telecom (BT), which was privatised by a Conservative government in 1984 to make it more efficient.

In a capitalist society, the only real role of the government, or state, is to keep peace and order so the economy can work without interference. When the state plays a minimal role in society this is sometimes referred to as ‘small government’.

There is a strong emphasis on competition in a capitalist society. The idea is that it motivates people to work harder and make bigger profits that will ultimately benefit everyone. This is unlike socialism, which claims co-operation is more beneficial to society.

Critics of capitalism say it creates inequality and is unfair on people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Related content:

What does right wing mean?

What is privatisation?

What is a government?

What is socialism?

Socialism is a political ideology in which wealth is spread evenly across all areas of society so that everyone has the same opportunities in life.

It is based on left wing economic values where people who are rich would be taxed more to support those who aren’t as well off such as sick and vulnerable people.

Egalitarianism is an important part of socialism. This is a belief that everyone is equal and should therefore be treated as such in the society they live in.

In a socialist society, the government – often referred to as the state – plays a large role in providing services and controlling industries. Any profits that are made in doing so are then pumped back into the country so they benefit everyone rather than just a few. This is what is known as nationalisation.

An example of nationalisation in the UK is the National Health Service (NHS), which was set up by a socialist Labour government in 1948 to provide free healthcare for everyone in the country.

When the state plays a big role in providing services and controlling industries, this is sometimes referred to as ‘big government’.

There is a strong emphasis on co-operation in a socialist society. The idea is that people work together for everyone’s benefit. This is unlike capitalism, which claims competition is more beneficial to society.

Critics of socialism say it is unfair on wealthy people who should not have to pay so much tax.

Related content:

What is egalitarianism?

What does left wing mean?

What is nationalisation?

What is a government?

What is privatisation?

Privatisation is where something that was once publicly-owned – run by the government or state – has been sold off to private companies who become responsible for their operation.

Private companies who provide these services are then pitted against each other in direct competition.

The idea is that this sense of competition drives up standards and leads to members of the public getting better value for money.

An example of privatisation in the UK is the telecommunications company, British Telecom (BT), which was privatised by a Conservative government in 1984 to make it more efficient.

Privatisation plays a key part in right wing ideologies like capitalism.

Critics of privatisation argue that the biggest priority for private companies is to make a profit for their shareholders so they can’t claim to put their customers or service users first.

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What is capitalism?

What does right wing mean?

What is nationalisation?

What is nationalisation?

Nationalisation is where an industry or service is under the control of the government Something that is nationalised is said to be publicly-owned.

The government, or state, runs a nationalised service on behalf of the general public. Any profits that are made come back to the country as opposed to shareholders.

Nationalisation aims to put the needs of the people before profit. The idea is that nationalisation benefits everyone, not just the few who own shares in those industries.

An example of nationalisation in the UK is the National Health Service (NHS), which was set up by a Labour government in 1945 to provide free healthcare for everyone in the country.

Nationalisation plays a key part in left wing ideologies such as socialism and communism.

Critics of nationalisation argue that a lack of choice, and therefore a lack of competition, leads to complacency and a poor service being provided to the public.

Related content:

What is socialism?

What does left wing mean?

What is egalitarianism?

What is a government?

What is privatisation?

What is egalitarianism?

Egalitarianism is a belief that everyone is equal and should therefore be treated as such in the society they live in.

In a truly egalitarian society, everyone would have the same opportunities in life regardless of factors like where they live or who their parents are and so on.

An egalitarian society would be based on left wing economic values where people who are rich would be taxed more to support those who aren’t as well off such as sick and vulnerable people.

Egalitarianism also applies to social – as well as economic – issues. People would not be discriminated against because of their race, gender or sexuality in an egalitarian society.

Socialists and communists believe in egalitarianism.

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What does left wing mean?

What is socialism?

What is nationalisation?

What does right wing mean?

The terms ‘right wing’ and ‘left wing’ refer to different types of political ideology – how people think society should be run. They are best summed up in relation to people’s views on the economy.

People who are right wing are in favour of ‘free market economics’. This is where private companies are unregulated so they are free to go about their business without any interference from the government, which is sometimes referred to as ‘the state’.

Right wing societies are based on a ‘survival of the fittest’ model where it is believed that the most talented and hard-working individuals will eventually become successful.

Right wing people believe that those who have earned lots of money should not be taxed disproportionately and deserve to enjoy the benefits that their wealth can bring such as being able to pay for a higher quality of education or healthcare.

People with right wing views argue that some inequality in society is a good thing because it gives people something to aspire to and encourages them to work harder for the benefit of themselves and their communities.

Right wing ideology argues that tax breaks for the rich benefit all members of society, including the poor. So because they get to keep more of the money they have earned, they will end up using it in ways that will help to grow the economy like buying more goods or employing someone, for example. This is sometimes referred to as ‘trickle down economics’.

Privatisation is a key feature of right wing ideology. This is where something that was once publicly owned – run by the government or state – has been sold off to private companies who become responsible for their operation.

Capitalism is a right wing ideology.

People with right wing values often have traditional ideas about what society should look like. They may have strong beliefs about traditional gender roles, the make-up of the family unit or the part religion has to play in society, for example.

However, it must be stressed that there are many people with right wing economic views who are also big supporters of equality when it comes to issues such as race, gender and sexuality.

Related content:

What does left wing mean?

What is privatisation?

What is capitalism?

What does left wing mean?

The terms ‘right wing’ and ‘left wing’ refer to different types of political ideology – how people think society should be run. They are best summed up in relation to people’s views on the economy.

People who are left wing think how much tax people pay should be in proportion to the amount of money they earn. So those who are very wealthy should pay a lot more in tax than those who are on low wages.

The money that is paid in taxes should then be pumped into public services such as health, education, transport etc. so that it benefits all of society.

They argue that this will create a more equal and therefore more prosperous society that everyone contributes to and benefits from in equal measures.

Equality – sometimes also referred to as egalitarianism – is a central theme of left wing thought. People with left wing views believe that everyone is equal and should have the same opportunities in life irrespective of their background.

Left wing ideology believes that the rich should be taxed more to support those who are aren’t as well off such as the sick, vulnerable and disabled. They argue that a strong welfare system means people will be healthier and more able to work and will contribute more to society and put more back into the economy as a result of this.

Left wing people think more rules are needed to ensure big businesses and banks play fair and don’t exploit and take advantage of those who are employed by them or save with them.

Nationalisation is a key feature of left wing ideology. This is where services or industries are run by the government on behalf of the taxpayer – ordinary members of the public. Any profits made go back to the country.

Socialism and communism are left wing ideologies.

As well as believing in economic equality, left wing people are usually passionate about social equality as well. So they are often strongly in favour of equal rights when it comes to issues like race, gender and sexuality.

However, it must be stressed that there are many people with right wing economic views who are also big supporters of equality on these kinds of social issues.

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What does right wing mean?

What is egalitarianism?

What is socialism?

What is nationalisation?

How do laws get made?

Laws, which are also sometimes referred to as legislation, are debated and made in Parliament.

Politicians propose laws in Parliament. Before they become law, they are first debated and then voted upon in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

If more MPs in the House of Commons vote against a proposal than in favour of it, it will be thrown out and will not become law.

Related content:

What is Parliament?

What is the House of Commons?

What is the House of Lords?

What is an MP?

What is a policy?

A policy is something a political party wants to achieve.

If the party is in government it will attempt to turn its policies into law. If the party is not in government it hopes that its policies will persuade people to vote for it in an election.

Parties set out their policies in a document called a manifesto in the run up to a general election.

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What is a political party?

How do laws get made?

What is a general election?

What is a government?

What is the Civil Service?

The Civil Service does the practical and administrative work of government. It helps to implement government policy.

Around half of all civil servants provide services direct to the public such as paying benefits and pensions, running employment services, staffing prisons and issuing driving licences.

Civil servants have to be politically neutral. They remain in their jobs regardless of who is in government and what political party is in power. It is crucial that they do not let party politics or their personal opinions influence their work.

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What is a government?

What is a policy?

What is a peer?

A peer is a politician who sits in the House of Lords – that’s the place with red leather seats that you sometimes see on the news.

The main job of the House of Lords is to ‘double check’ new laws to make sure they are fair and will work.

It is made up of politicians who are either appointed by the Government or are there because their parents were Lords or Ladies.

Those who inherited their position from their parents are called hereditary peers.

The House of Lords is not as powerful as the House of Commons. The House of Lords and House of Commons make up Parliament.

The politicians in the House of Lords have not been voted for by the public. Some people don’t think this is right and want to see a more democratic House of Lords filled with people who have been elected.

Some famous peers include Lord Sugar from The Apprentice, who is a Labour peer, and composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, from TV talent shows Any Dream Will Do and How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? for the Conservatives.

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What is the House of Lords?

What is Parliament?

How do laws get made?

What is Westminster?

What is the House of Commons?

What is the House of Lords?

The main job of the House of Lords is to ‘double check’ new laws to make sure they are fair and will work.

It is made up of politicians who are either appointed by the Government or are there because their parents were Lords or Ladies.

The politicians in the House of Lords are often referred to as peers. Those who inherited their position from their parents are called hereditary peers.

It is the place with red leather seats that you sometimes see on the news.

The House of Lords is not as powerful as the House of Commons.

Proposed laws arrive in the House of Lords after coming from the House of Commons. The Lords cannot stop a new law from being made if the House of Commons wants it to happen. But it can delay the law from being made.

It can do this by pushing a law back to the House of Commons. When this happens, it can ask the Commons to make certain changes to it. However, the Lords can only reject a law three times. After this, it must become law.

The politicians in the House of Lords have not been voted for by the public. Some people don’t think this is right and want to see a more democratic House of Lords filled with people who have been elected.

The House of Lords and House of Commons make up Parliament.

Related content:

What is Parliament?

What is a peer?

How do laws get made?

What is the House of Commons?

What is Westminster?

What is the House of Commons?

The House of Commons is where MPs meet up to debate issues affecting the United Kingdom and vote on new laws.

It is the place with the green leather seats that is often shown on the news.

There are currently 650 MPs in the House of Commons.

MPs in the House of Commons can also help to make sure the country is being run properly by asking the Government questions.

It is more powerful than the House of Lords.

Both Houses make up Parliament.

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What is an MP?

What is Parliament?

What is the House of Lords?

How do laws get made?

What is Parliament?

Parliament is where politicians meet to decide laws and make decisions for the United Kingdom.

It is made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Parliament is located in the Palace of Westminster in London.

Related content:

What is the House of Commons?

What is the House of Lords?

What is Westminster?

What is an MP?

What is a peer?

How do laws get made?

What is Westminster?

Westminster is a district of central London.

When Westminster is mentioned in political terms, it usually refers to the Palace of Westminster, which is where politicians meet to make laws and run the country.

It’s where the House of Commons and House of Lords is located. This is otherwise known as Parliament.

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What is Parliament?

What is the House of Commons?

What is the House of Lords?

What is an MP?

What is a peer?

How do laws get made?

What is a seat?

Seats usually refer to MPs. When an MP is elected he or she is said to have won a seat in the House of Commons.

If a political party wins more than half the seats in the House of Commons it forms a government.

If a party traditionally wins elections in a particular constituency by a big majority then it will often be referred to as a ‘safe seat’ for that party. Or if a party doesn’t have an MP elected in a certain constituency but it thinks there is a good chance that it will win that seat in the next election, it might call it a ‘winnable seat’.

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What is an MP?

What is the House of Commons?

What is Parliament?

What is the Home Office?

The Home Office is a government department that is responsible for crime policy, counter-terrorism, immigration and passports.

It is led by the Home Secretary.

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Who is the Home Secretary?

What is a government?

What is the Cabinet?

Who is the Home Secretary?

The Home Secretary is a senior member of the Government who has overall responsibility for crime policy, counter-terrorism, immigration and passports.

He or she is in charge of the government department called the Home Office and is a senior Cabinet minister.

Theresa May is the current Home Secretary in the UK.

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What is the Home Office?

What is the Cabinet?

What is a government?

What is the Treasury?

The Treasury is a government department that is responsible for the country’s money and finances.

It is led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

It controls how much money is spent on things like schools, hospitals, emergency services and housing.

The Chancellor, with the help of the Treasury, draws up the Government’s plan for how it’s going to raise its money for the year and what it’s going to spend it on. This is called the Budget.

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What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

What is the Budget?

What is a government?

What is the Budget?

The Budget is the Government’s plan for how it’s going to raise its money for the year and what it’s going to spend it on.

It is worked on by a government department called the Treasury, which is led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

One of the ways the Government raises its money through taxation. There are three different types of taxes:

Income tax: Everyone in the country who earns money has to pay some of it to the government.

VAT: When you buy things, a proportion of that money goes to the government.

Duties: Extra charges are added to certain things like cigarettes, alcohol and petrol.

The Budget sets out how much money people will pay in income tax, VAT and duties.

Related content:

What is the Treasury?

What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

What is a government?

What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is in charge of Britain’s finances.

He or she is responsible for raising money for the Government through taxation and decides how much money each government department receives.

The Chancellor sets out the government’s Budget each year. The Budget explains how the Government is going to raise its money for the next 12 months and what it’s going to spend it on.

The Chancellor is in charge of the government department called the Treasury and is a senior Cabinet minister.

George Osborne is the current Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK.

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What is the Budget?

What is the Treasury?

What is a government?

What is the Cabinet?

Who is the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister is the leader of the political party which has the most MPs and forms the Government.

So David Cameron is the Prime Minister of the UK because he is the leader of the Conservative Party, which currently has the most MPs in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister leads the Government and has final responsibility for all policy and decisions.

He or she is helped and advised by their Cabinet, which is a group of senior ministers, many of whom are in charge of government departments like the Department of Health or the Department for Education.

Unlike the USA, where citizens vote for a president, we in the UK do not vote for our Prime Minister. In general elections we vote for who we want to be our MP and represent our constituency.

The Prime Minister appoints members of the Government and oversees the Civil Service.

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What is a government?

What is the Cabinet?

What is a minister?

What is an MP?

What is an MP?

A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a politician who represents people from a particular section of the country. These areas are called constituencies and the people who live there are called their constituents.

MPs hold regular meetings in their constituencies, known as surgeries, where their constituents can talk to them about their concerns or any problems they are having. Constituents can also get in touch with their MP by writing to them or contacting them at their office.

When an MP is not in his/her constituency, they are in Parliament in the House of Commons. Here, they can tell the Government about the issues that are affecting their constituents.

In the House of Commons, MPs can also take part in debates and vote on whether new laws should be made.

Constituents get to decide who their MP is by voting at elections. This happens during a general election. However, if an MP resigns, is sacked or dies, constituents vote for their new MP at a by-election.

MPs usually represent a political party. However, this is not always the case. Those who don’t represent a political party are called independent MPs.

Anyone can stand for election as an MP as long as they are at least 18 years old and are registered to vote.

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What is Parliament?

What is the House of Commons?

What is a government?

What is a general election?

What is a coalition government?

A coalition government is usually formed when no political party has more than half of the MPs after a general election. This is called a hung parliament.

This means that the party that won the largest number of MPs didn’t secure a big enough majority to form a government that would work. In this situation, the government would constantly need the support of other parties to help it pass laws and this is not likely to happen.

So when this happens, parties start negotiating with each other to see if they’d be able to work together to form a coalition government.

For example, after the UK general election in 2010, the Conservative Party got the most MPs. But its majority was not large enough to form a workable government. The Labour Party had the second largest number of MPs.

The party with the third highest number of MPs, the Liberal Democrats, held talks with both the Conservatives and Labour to see if they could strike a deal with one of them.

The Lib Dems decided to go into government with the Conservatives. This meant that the Conservatives could rely on the Liberal Democrats to support them on important issues and help them to get laws made.

A coalition agreement was signed which meant that the Conservatives promised to drop some policies that the Lib Dems didn’t like and support some policies that the Lib Dems were keen on.

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What is a general election?

What is a government?

How do laws get made?

What is Parliament?

What does ‘shadow’ mean in politics?

You may hear the word ‘shadow’ used in relation to prominent members of the Opposition.

The Opposition is usually formed by the political party with the second highest number of MPs in the House of Commons. It is not part of the Government. It is the Opposition’s job to present an alternative to the Government and hold it to account.

Each member of the Government has an opposite number whose job it is to scrutinise them. The word shadow is used to refer to these politicians. If the party in Opposition wins a general election, shadow ministers replace the members of the Government.

So, for example, the Shadow Home Secretary is the member of the Opposition who would deal with home affairs if their party was in Government.

It is the Shadow Home Secretary’s job to make sure the Home Secretary is performing to the best of their ability. This is often done by asking the Home Secretary difficult questions in Parliament.

The Shadow Home Secretary will present voters with an alternative way of doing the job. He or she will criticise the Home Secretary if they disapprove of the work they’re doing.

You may also hear references to the Shadow Cabinet.

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What is the Opposition?

What is the Shadow Cabinet?

What is a shadow minister?

What is a shadow minister?

A shadow minister is a politician who is a member of the Opposition and has been appointed to speak about how an alternative government would do things differently.

Each member of the Government has an opposite number whose job it is to scrutinise them. If the party in Opposition wins a general election, shadow ministers replace the members of the Government.

So, for example, a shadow Home Office minister would help to deal with home affairs if their party was in Government.

One of the jobs of shadow ministers is to make sure Government ministers are performing to the best of their ability. This is often done by asking ministers difficult questions in Parliament.

Shadow ministers will present voters with an alternative way of running the country. They will criticise ministers if they disapprove of the work they’re doing.

Senior shadow ministers make up the Shadow Cabinet.

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What is the Opposition?

What does ‘shadow’ mean in politics?

What is the Shadow Cabinet?

What is a minister?

What is the Shadow Cabinet?

The Shadow Cabinet is a group of politicians from the political party with the second highest number of MPs in the House of Commons.

It is the alternative to the Cabinet.

It is made up of shadow ministers. These are the politicians who would take up roles like roles like Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary if their party was to win a general election and get into Government.

The Shadow Cabinet is part of the Opposition and is led by the Leader of the Opposition. This is the leader of the political party with the second highest number of MPs in the House of Commons. The current Leader of the Opposition is Ed Miliband, who is the leader of the Labour Party.

Related content:

What is the Cabinet?

What is the Opposition?

What does ‘shadow’ mean in politics?

What is a shadow minister?

What is the Opposition?

The Opposition is the group of politicians in Parliament who are the alternative to the Government.

It is usually made up of the political party with the second highest number of MPs in the House of Commons.

As well as presenting the electorate with an alternative, it is the Opposition party’s job to hold the Government to account.

The Opposition includes a Shadow Cabinet, which is made up of shadow ministers. These are the politicians who would take up roles like Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary if their party was to win a general election and get into Government.

The Leader of the Opposition is the leader of the political party with the second highest number of MPs in the House of Commons. The current Leader of the Opposition is Ed Miliband, who is the leader of the Labour Party.

Related content:

What is the Shadow Cabinet?

What is a shadow minister?

What does ‘shadow’ mean in politics?

What is a government?

What is a minister?

A minister is a politician who is a member of the Government.

Ministers run government departments like the Department of Health and the Department for Education.

There are senior ministers and junior ministers. Senior ministers are often heads of government departments and are part of the Cabinet.

Related content:

What is a shadow minister?

What is a government?

What is the Cabinet?

What is a reshuffle?

What is a reshuffle?

A reshuffle is when the Prime Minister changes who does what job within the Government.

This can involve promoting and demoting ministers to jobs within different Government departments.

A reshuffle usually includes politicians moving to different roles in the Cabinet, which is a group of senior ministers who help and advise the Prime Minister.

Related content:

What is a minister?

What is the Cabinet?

What is a government?

Who is the Prime Minister?

What is the Cabinet?

The Cabinet is a group of senior ministers who help and advise the Prime Minister.

Many of them are in charge of government departments like the Department of Health or the Department for Education.

The most senior figures in the Cabinet are the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is in charge of the country’s finances, the Home Secretary, who is responsible for the country’s internal affairs such as immigration, the police and matters of national security, and the Foreign Secretary, who takes care of all the UK’s affairs overseas.

The Cabinet meets up once a week to discuss government policy.

Occasionally, the Prime Minister changes who does what job within the Cabinet and can fire politicians or promote them to the Cabinet. This is what they mean by a ‘Cabinet reshuffle’.

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What is the Shadow Cabinet?

What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Who is the Home Secretary?

What is a minister?

Who is the Prime Minister?

What is a government?

How do local elections work in Northern Ireland?

Local elections decide who runs local councils, which are also sometimes referred to as local authorities.

Councils control things like council housing, rubbish collection, recycling, parking, transport, roads and footpaths, parks, leisure centres and libraries.

Each council area in Northern Ireland is split up into different sections, which are called wards. Wards are represented by councillors.

People who live in each ward vote for who they want their councillors to be.

Councillors are elected using a voting system called the Single Transferable Vote. This is where voters rank candidates in order of preference. So they put a 1 on the ballot paper next to their first choice candidate, a 2 next to their second choice candidate and so on.

They can rank as many candidates as they like. So if they only want to vote for one candidate, all they have to do is put a 1 next to their name.

In order to be elected a candidate must reach a set amount of votes known as a quota.

The votes are counted in stages. In the first stage only first preferences are counted. Anyone who reaches the quota is elected. Any votes received over the quota are not needed by the elected candidate and so are transferred to that voter’s second preference.

If not enough candidates have then reached the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the second preference of everyone who voted for that candidate is then added to the tally.

This process is repeated until three or four candidates have been elected.

Each political party can put forward candidates to stand for election as councillors. Candidates don’t have to represent a party to stand for election. Those who don’t are called independents.

If a council ends up with a majority of councillors representing one political party, then that party runs that council. If there is no clear majority, the council is said to be under no overall control.

Local elections are not to be confused with general elections or European elections.

Related content:

What is the Single Transferable Vote?

What is local government?

What are local elections?

How do local elections work in England and Wales?

How do local elections work in Scotland?

How do local elections work in Scotland?

Local elections decide who runs local councils, which are also sometimes referred to as local authorities.

Councils control things like council housing, rubbish collection, recycling, parking, transport, roads and footpaths, parks, leisure centres and libraries.

Each council area in Scotland is split up into different sections, which are called wards. Wards are represented by three or four councillors depending on their size.

People who live in each ward vote for who they want their councillors to be.

Councillors are elected using a voting system called the Single Transferable Vote. This is where voters rank candidates in order of preference. So they put a 1 on the ballot paper next to their first choice candidate, a 2 next to their second choice candidate and so on.

They can rank as many candidates as they like. So if they only want to vote for one candidate, all they have to do is put a 1 next to their name.

In order to be elected a candidate must reach a set amount of votes known as a quota.

The votes are counted in stages. In the first stage only first preferences are counted. Anyone who reaches the quota is elected. Any votes received over the quota are not needed by the elected candidate and so are transferred to that voter’s second preference.

If not enough candidates have then reached the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the second preference of everyone who voted for that candidate is then added to the tally.

This process is repeated until three or four candidates have been elected.

Each political party can put forward candidates to stand for election as councillors. Candidates don’t have to represent a party to stand for election. Those who don’t are called independents.

If a council ends up with a majority of councillors representing one political party, then that party runs that council. If there is no clear majority, the council is said to be under no overall control.

Local elections are not to be confused with general elections or European elections.

Related content:

What is the Single Transferable Vote?

What is local government?

What are local elections?

How do local elections work in England and Wales?

How do local elections work in Northern Ireland?

How do local elections work in England and Wales?

Local elections decide who runs local councils, which are also sometimes referred to as local authorities.

Councils control things like council housing, rubbish collection, recycling, parking, transport, roads and footpaths, parks, leisure centres and libraries.

Each council area in England and Wales is split up into different sections, which are called wards. Wards are represented by councillors. Each ward is represented by either one, two or three councillors depending on how big they are.

People who live in each ward vote for who they want their councillor or councillors to be. The number of votes each person has is the same as the number of councillors that will represent that ward.

For example, if the ward is small and is represented by just one councillor, the voter will have just one vote. But if the ward is big and is represented by three councillors, the voter will be able to vote for up to three candidates. There will always be instructions on the top of ballot papers telling you how many candidates you can vote for.

Local elections in England and Wales use a voting system called First Past The Post. This means that the candidates who get the most votes are elected as councillors.

So in a ward represented by one councillor, the candidate with the most votes is elected. In a ward represented by three councillors, the candidates with the second and third highest number of votes will also be elected.

Each political party can put forward candidates to stand for election as councillors. Candidates don’t have to represent a party to stand for election. Those who don’t are called independents.

If a council ends up with a majority of councillors representing one political party, then that party runs that council. If there is no clear majority, the council is said to be under no overall control.

Local elections are not to be confused with general elections or European elections.

Related content:

What is First Past The Post?

What is local government?

What are local elections?

How do local elections work in Scotland?

How do local elections work in Northern Ireland?

What are local elections?

Local elections decide who runs local councils, which are also sometimes referred to as local authorities.

Councils control things like council housing, rubbish collection, recycling, parking, transport, roads and footpaths, parks, leisure centres and libraries.

Local elections are not to be confused with general elections or European elections.

The way local elections work is slightly different in England and Wales to how they work in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Click on the links below to find out more.

How do local elections work in England and Wales?

How do local elections work in Scotland?

How do local elections work in Northern Ireland?

 

Related content:

What is local government?

What is a councillor?

What is a general election?

What are European elections?

What is a political party?

What is a councillor?

Councillors are local politicians who are voted for by the public at local elections.

The country is split up into different areas and each area has a council that takes care of local issues. Councils are also sometimes referred to as local authorities.

Councils are split up into different geographical sections, which are called wards. Wards are represented by councillors. Each ward is represented by either one or more councillors depending on their size.

Councillors make decisions on things like council housing, rubbish collection, recycling, parking, transport, roads and footpaths, parks, leisure centres and libraries.

Councillors sit on different committees within their council that focus on specialist areas of interest like social care or children.

Councillors are elected every four years. Each four-year period they serve is referred to as a term. If a councillor resigns, is sacked or dies, people who live in the ward they represent vote for a new councillor at a by-election.

A councillor usually represents a political party. However, this is not always the case. Those who don’t represent a political party are called independents.

They are not paid employees of the council but they do receive an allowance and expenses to cover the cost of their public duties.

Anyone can stand for election as a councillor as long as they are at least 18 years old and are registered to vote.

Related content:

What is local government?

What are local elections?

What is an MP?

Where do local councils get their money from?

Councils, which are sometimes also referred to as local authorities, get their money from three different sources. These are central government, council tax and business rates.

Central government provides councils with money to help them to deliver certain services. It is up to central government how much money it hands over to councils.

Local authorities also get money from council tax. Each household pays a certain amount of council tax depending on how much their home is worth.

Business rates are a property tax on businesses and other properties that aren’t homes.

Related content:

What is local government?

What is a councillor?

What are local elections?

What is local government?

Local government refers to local councils, which are also sometimes called local authorities.

The country is split up into different areas and each area has a council that takes care of local issues.

Councils control things like council housing, rubbish collection, recycling, parking, transport, roads and footpaths, parks, leisure centres and libraries.

They are made up of councillors, who are voted for by the public in local elections, and paid council staff, called officers, who provide the services the council delivers.

Councillors are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the local community. They come up with policies and officers are responsible for making them happen. This is similar to central government where ministers come up with policies and civil servants are responsible for making them happen.

Related content:

What is a councillor?

Where do local councils get their money from?

What are local elections?

What is the electorate?

The electorate is the name given to all the people in a country or area who are entitled to vote in an election.

To vote in UK elections and referendumsyou need to be on the electoral register.

Related content:

What is a general election?

What are local elections?

What are European elections?

What is a referendum?

What is a government?

The Government runs the country. It is led by the Prime Minister who has final responsibility for all policy and decisions.

The Prime Minister is helped and advised by his or her Cabinet, which is a group of senior ministers, many of whom are in charge of departments like the Department of Health or the Department for Education.

Government departments are staffed by civil servants. Ministers decide on policy and civil servants are responsible for making this happen.

All ministers who work for a department are part of the Government.

Ministers are chosen by the Prime Minister from members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The Government will sometimes be referred to as central government. It is not to be confused with local government.

Related content:

Who is the Prime Minister?

What is the Cabinet?

What is a minister?

What is the Civil Service?

What is a general election?

General elections are held in the UK every five years. The result of a general election decides who gets to form a government and run the country.

The UK is divided up into 650 sections, called constituencies. Each constituency is represented by an MP, which stands for Member of Parliament.

In a general election, the people who live in each constituency vote for who they want their MP to be.

Each political party can put forward a candidate to stand for election as an MP in a constituency. Candidates don’t have to represent a party to stand for election. Those who don’t are called independents.

General elections use a voting system called First Past The Post. This means that the candidate who gets the most votes is elected as the MP for their constituency.

The political party which ends up with the most MPs after each constituency has voted usually ends up forming a government.

If that party only has slightly more MPs than its rivals, then a coalition government may be formed.

General elections are not to be confused with local elections or European elections.

Related content:

What is an MP?

What is a political party?

What is First Past The Post?