Politics Uk


Published on

Published in: News & Politics

Politics Uk

  1. 1. Politics… and political institutions in the UK
  2. 2. The political history of the British Isles in a nutshell <ul><li>It all started with an aristocratic and non-democratic structure: monarchy </li></ul><ul><li>But then the power was continuously taken away from the monarchs (and some of them didn’t like it) </li></ul><ul><li>Now the monarch have very little power, and it is the Parliament that holds all the cards </li></ul>
  3. 3. Early English monarchs <ul><li>They were quite sensible and OK – they were fairly balanced and had considerable power but accepted advice and some limitations on their authority </li></ul><ul><li>Then cam King John and made a mess </li></ul>
  4. 4. 1199-1216 King John <ul><li>He didn’t like restrictions but loved the idea of having lots of power </li></ul><ul><li>He ignored limitations and ended up having to sign Magna Carta in 1215 </li></ul>
  5. 5. Magna Carta <ul><li>It restricted the monarch’s power, forced him to take advice, increased the influence of aristocracy and stipulated that no citizen could be punished or kept in prison without a fair trial </li></ul>
  6. 6. 1295 – Model Parliament of Edward I <ul><li>It was the first representative English parliament </li></ul><ul><li>It was an example for future structures </li></ul><ul><li>It consisted of 2 sections: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lords and Bishops </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Commons </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Quick death <ul><li>Unfortunately this new parliament was too big to rule effectively and so the Privy Council was created. </li></ul><ul><li>The Privy Council was made up of royal advisers </li></ul><ul><li>The Council lost power to the present parliamentary structures in the late 18 th , early 19 th centuries </li></ul>
  8. 8. Tudor England <ul><li>Return to royal dominance </li></ul><ul><li>Monarchy controlled parliament and summoned it only when they needed to raise money </li></ul>
  9. 9. Stuart Monarchy <ul><li>Parliament grew stronger and stronger as it was in control of the finances </li></ul><ul><li>Unfortunately Charles I didn’t like that, especially since the Parliament refused him when he asked for money and for taxes to be raised </li></ul><ul><li>Annoyed, he decided to arrest everyone in the House of Commons </li></ul><ul><li>He failed and got banned from entering the House of Commons ever again </li></ul>
  10. 10. Civil War - 1642 <ul><li>Oliver Cromwell was sick of Charles I and managed to overthrow him (Charles I was beheaded) </li></ul><ul><li>The monarchy was abolished and the Parliament consisted only of the House of Commons </li></ul><ul><li>Unfortunately a lot of people wanted to go back to monarchy and so it was re-established in 1660. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Then came the Whigs and the Tories <ul><li>In 17 th century 2 political parties were developed (first organized parties): Torries and Whigs. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Walpole <ul><li>Was called Britain’s first prime minister. </li></ul><ul><li>He was chosen by George I to join his Privy Council </li></ul><ul><li>He was the leader of the Whig party, and the leader of the Commons. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Voting? What voting? <ul><li>18 th and early 19 th centuries were a big step towards democracy BUT democracy was still far away with not so many people having the right to vote. </li></ul><ul><li>First Reform Act of 1832 – voting rights given to the middle class </li></ul><ul><li>1884 – right to vote for all men </li></ul><ul><li>1928 – women can have a say too </li></ul>
  14. 14. More changes in the 19 th century <ul><li>House of Commons gradually achieved dominance over the House of Lords and eventually became the dominant element in the parliamentary system </li></ul><ul><li>H of L became responsible to the H of C rather than to the monarch </li></ul><ul><li>Prime ministership developed from the monarch’s leadership to “first among equals” to the leadership of al ministers </li></ul><ul><li>The central force of government became the parliamentary Cabinet of senior ministers, which had grown out of Privy Council </li></ul><ul><li>The government was formed from the majority party in the House of Commons </li></ul><ul><li>The largest minority party became the Official Opposition, which attempted through its policies to become the next government chosen by the people. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Parties <ul><li>Tories became known as Conservatives around 1830 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Believed in established values and the preservation of traditions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supported business and commerce </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Had strong links with the Church of England </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Whigs became Liberal Party and eventually Labour Party </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More progressive force </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wanted social reform and economic freedom without government restrictions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted enlightened policiesin the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Constitution <ul><li>Britain has no written constitution contained in any one document </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional system consists of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statute law (Acts of Parliament) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Common law (Judge-made law) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventions (or principles and practices of government which are not legally binding, but have the force of law) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ancient documents such as Magna Carta </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EU law </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Governmental model <ul><li>The governmental model that operates in Britain today is a constitutional monarchy, or parliamentary system, and is divided into: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislative branch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Executive branch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Judicial branch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formally the monarch is the head of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary but in practice has nothing to do with them </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Criticism of the constitutional system <ul><li>No constitutional safeguards for the individual citizen against state power, especially since there are few legal definitions of civil liberties in Britain </li></ul><ul><li>Governments and their administrative bodies are too secretive </li></ul><ul><li>The British political system is too centralized: government is too removed from regional concerns </li></ul>
  19. 19. The monarchy <ul><li>The English monarchy was interrupted only once from 1649 to 1660 </li></ul><ul><li>From the beginning of times the monarch’s rights and privileges were continuously reduced </li></ul><ul><li>Still, the monarch has a variety of formal constitutional roles: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Serves as head of state, head of the executive, judiciary, and legislature, commander in chief of the armed forces, and ‘supreme governor’ of the Church of England </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ministers, and officials of the central government are the monarch’s servants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Judges, military officials, bishops of the Church of England all swear allegiance to the Crown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The monarch personifies the British state and is a symbol of national unity </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>The monarch also: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Summons, opens and dissolves Parliament </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gives Royal Assent to bills which have been passed by both Houses of Parliament </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appoints government ministers and other public figures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grants honours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leads proceeding of the Privy Council </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fulfils international duties as the head of state </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In theory could make a free choice on who the next prime minister should be </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has the right to encourage, warn, and advise ministers </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>The monarch can’t: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Act on practical purposes without the advice of political ministers and cannot ignore them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make laws </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Impose taxes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spend public money </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contemporary Britain is therefore governed by </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Her Majesty’s Government in the name of the Queen </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Against or for monarchy? <ul><li>Against: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Out of date </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-democratic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too expensive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too exclusive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too closely associated with aristocratic privilege and establishment thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contributes to class division </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too closely identified with an English, rather than British role </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. For <ul><ul><li>It’s popular </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adapted well to changing times and modern requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personifies the state </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrates stability and continuity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has a higher prestige than politicians </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is not subject to political manipulations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plays a worthwhile role in national institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Possesses a neutrality with which people can feel secure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performs important ambassadorial function in Britain and oversees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has certain glamour </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. The Privy Council <ul><li>Developed from a small group of royal advisers into the main executive branch of the monarch’s government but then was weakened and its functions were gradually transferred to parliamentary Cabinet. </li></ul><ul><li>Today its main role is to advise the monarch on a range of constitutional matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Most importantly, Privy Council’s main task is performed by its Judicial Committee. This is the final court of appeal for some Commonwealth countries and the remaining dependancies. </li></ul><ul><li>There are about 400 Privy Councillors </li></ul>
  25. 25. Parliament <ul><li>Is also known as ‘Westminister’ as it is housed in the Place of Westminister in London. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s the supreme legislative authority in Britain </li></ul><ul><li>It can create, abolish or amend laws for all or any parts of Britain on any topic. </li></ul><ul><li>Its main functions are </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To pass laws </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vote on financial bills so that government can carry on its legitimate business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examine government policies and administration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scrutinize EU legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debate important political issues </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. So can the Parliament do whatever they want? <ul><li>No – they have to legislate according to the rule of law, precedent and tradition. </li></ul><ul><li>Formal and informal checks and balances, such as party discipline, the Official Opposition, public reaction and pressure groups, normally ensure that the Parliament legislates according to its legal responsibilitie </li></ul>
  27. 27. Structure of the Parliament <ul><li>Parliament consists of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The House of Lords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The House of Commons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The monarch (formally) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They all meet on ceremonial occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament by the monarch in the House of Lords </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. How long? <ul><li>A Parliament has a maximum duration of 5 years, but it is often dissolved and a general election called before the end of this term. Sometimes the maximum is prolonged, but only in emergency situations such as the two World Wars. </li></ul>
  29. 29. House of Lords <ul><li>Lords Spiritual </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Archbishops of York and Canterbury </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>24 senior bishops of the Church of England </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lords Temporal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some 760 hereditary peers and peeresses who have kept their titles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>About 380 life peers and peeresses, who have usually been created by political parties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Lords of Appeal (Law Lords), who become life peers on their judicial appointment </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Money <ul><li>Peers receive NO salaries and probably that’s the reason why the active daily attendance varies from a handful to a few hundreds (even though their travel expenses are covered…) </li></ul>
  31. 31. The best part <ul><li>The House is presided over by the Lord Chancellor, who sits on a Woolsack (or stuffed woollen sofa) to control the procedure and meetings of the House </li></ul>
  32. 32. Main roles of the House of Lords <ul><li>to be a safeguard against over-hasty legislation by the Commons </li></ul><ul><li>As an experienced and less partisan group they are a corrective to the House of Commons </li></ul><ul><li>They tend to be more independently minded and do not suffer rigid party disciplines </li></ul><ul><li>Although there is Conservative majority in the total membership, Conservative governments cannot automatically count on this support </li></ul>
  33. 33. House of Commons <ul><li>651 MPs who are elected by the adult suffrage of the British people </li></ul><ul><li>524 parliamentary seats are for England </li></ul><ul><li>72 for Scotland </li></ul><ul><li>17 for Northern Ireland </li></ul><ul><li>MPs are paid salaries but are said to be underpaid </li></ul>
  34. 34. Parliamentary electoral system <ul><li>Britain is divided for parliamentary electoral purposes into 651 constituencies </li></ul><ul><li>Each constituency returns one elected MP to the House of Commons </li></ul><ul><li>General elections for parliamentary seats are by secret ballot, but voting is not compulsory </li></ul><ul><li>People not allowed to vote include: members of the House of Lords, mentally ill patients detained in hospital or prison, and persons who have been convicted of corrupt or illegal election practices. </li></ul><ul><li>The party which wins most parliamentary seats in the House of Commons at a general election usually forms the new government </li></ul>
  35. 35. Labour Party <ul><li>They are a left of centre party with its own internal right and left wing </li></ul><ul><li>Historically emphasised social justice, equality of opportunity, economic planning, and the state ownership of big industries and services. </li></ul><ul><li>It is supported by the trade unions, the working class and has some middle class backing </li></ul><ul><li>Its electoral strong holders are in South Wales, Scotland and the Mainland and Northern English industrial cities </li></ul>
  36. 36. conservative Party <ul><li>Right of centre party, which also has its right and left wing sections. </li></ul><ul><li>Regards itself as a national party and appeals to people across the class barriers </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasises personal, social and economic freedom, the individual ownership of property and shares, and the importance of law and order. </li></ul><ul><li>They are mainly supported by the middle and upper classes. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Other parties <ul><li>The Social and Liberal Party </li></ul><ul><li>Scottish National Party </li></ul><ul><li>Plaid Cymru (the Welsh National Party) </li></ul><ul><li>The Greens </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic Unionists </li></ul><ul><li>The Protestant Northern Irish parties of the Official Unionists </li></ul>
  38. 38. WHIPS <ul><li>Whips are people who inform members of their parties of forthcoming parliamentary business, and maintaining the party’s voting strength in the Commons by making sure their members attend all important debates. </li></ul><ul><li>MPs receive notice from the Whips’ office of how important a vote is, and the information will be underlined up to three times. “A three line whip” signifies a crucial vote </li></ul><ul><li>Every party has to have some Whips. They are chosen by the party leaders. </li></ul><ul><li>Whips are under the direction of a Chief Whip. </li></ul>