Portal:British politics

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The politics of the United Kingdom, one of the oldest democracies in the world, take place within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, in which the Monarch is the head of state and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by Her Majesty's Government, on behalf of and by the consent of the Monarch, as well as by the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales, and the Executive of Northern Ireland. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as in the Scottish parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The highest national court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

The UK political system is a multi-party system. Since the 1920s, the two largest political parties have been the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. Before the Labour Party rose in British politics the Liberal Party was the other major political party along with the Conservatives. Though coalition and minority governments have been an occasional feature of parliamentary politics, the first-past-the-post electoral system used for general elections tends to maintain the dominance of these two parties, though each has in the past century relied upon a third party to deliver a working majority in Parliament.[1]

Support for nationalist parties in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales led to proposals for devolution in the 1970s though only in the 1990s did devolution actually happen. Today, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each possess a legislature and government alongside that of the United Kingdom, responsible for devolved matters. However, it is a matter of dispute as to whether increased autonomy and devolution of executive and legislative powers has contributed to a reduction in support for independence. The principal pro-independence party, the Scottish National Party, won an overall majority of MSPs at the 2011 Scottish parliament elections and now forms the Scottish Government administration, with plans to hold a referendum on negotiating for independence. In Northern Ireland, the largest Pro-Belfast Agreement party, Sinn Féin, not only advocates Northern Ireland's unification with the Republic of Ireland, but also abstains from taking their elected seats in the Westminster government, as this would entail taking a pledge of allegiance to the British monarch.

Unique throughout the world, the British constitution is not codified: it is a collection of legislation going back to medieval times.

More about British politics...

Current Structure of the British Parliament

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg

56th Parliament

HM Government HM Loyal Opposition
House of Commons
Speaker: John Bercow
Governing party: Conservative Party Opposition party: Labour Party
Prime Minister: David Cameron Leader of HM Official Opposition: Jeremy Corbyn
House of Commons current.svg
House of Lords
Speaker: The Baroness D'Souza
Governing party: Conservative Party Opposition party: Labour Party
Leader of the House of Lords: Baroness Stowell HM Opposition Leader in the Lords: Baroness Smith
House of Lords current.svg

Selected article

The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster.

The House of Lords is independent from, and complements the work of, the House of Commons – they share responsibility for making laws and checking government action. Bills can be introduced into either the House of Lords or the House of Commons and members of the Lords may also take on roles as Government Ministers.

Unlike the House of Commons, most new members of the House of Lords are appointed. Membership of the House of Lords is made up of Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal. There are currently 26 Lords Spiritual, who sit in the Lords by virtue of their ecclesiastical role in the established Church of England. The Lords Temporal make up the rest of the membership; of these, the majority are life peers who are appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister, or on the advice of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

Membership was once a right of birth to hereditary peers but, following a series of reforms, only 92 members (as of 1 July 2011) sitting by virtue of a hereditary peerage remain. The number of members is not fixed; as of 1 April 2012 the House of Lords has 786 members (plus 21 who are on leave of absence or otherwise disqualified from sitting), as against the fixed 650-seat membership of the House of Commons.

The role of the House of Lords is primarily to act as a body of specialist knowledge that scrutinizes in greater detail bills that have been approved by the House of Commons. It regularly reviews and amends bills from the Commons. While the House of Lords is unable unilaterally to prevent bills passing into law (except in certain limited circumstances), its members can severely delay bills that they believe to be misguided and thereby force the government, the Commons, and the general public to reconsider their decisions. In this capacity, the Lords acts as constitutional safeguard that is independent from the electoral process and that can challenge the will of the people when the majority’s desires threaten key constitutional principles, human rights or rules of law. In other countries this role would often be performed by a Constitutional Court or a Supreme Court, but the UK system's emphasis on parliamentary sovereignty – rather than judicial review – means that this function cannot be properly accomplished by the British court system as all judicial rulings can be overruled by parliament. (More...)

Selected biography


David William Donald Cameron (/ˈkæmərən/; born 9 October 1966) is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party. He represents Witney as its Member of Parliament (MP). He was defeated in his first candidacy for Parliament at Stafford in 1997, but was elected in 2001 as the Member of Parliament for the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney. He was promoted to the Opposition front bench two years later, and rose rapidly to become head of policy co-ordination during the 2005 general election campaign. With a public image of a youthful, moderate candidate who would appeal to young voters, he won the Conservative leadership election in 2005.[2] In the 2010 general election held on 6 May, the Conservatives won 307 seats in a hung parliament. After five days of intense negotiations, Cameron formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The 43-year-old Cameron became the youngest British Prime Minister since the Earl of Liverpool 198 years earlier. Cameron leads the first coalition government of the United Kingdom since the Second World War. (See more…)


In the news


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Guide to British politics articles

Wikipedia has many articles dealing with British politics. Below you will find an overview of the majority these articles.





Constituent Countries

Administrative geography


Foreign policy

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  1. ^ "General Election results through time, 1945–2001". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-05-19.