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POLITICAL PROCESS

LOCAL AND REGIONAL ELECTIONS


-In local elections, councilors are elected forming the local administrations of the
United Kingdom.
-A number of tiers of local council exist, at region, county, district/borough and
town/parish levels.
-A variety of voting systems are used for local elections. In Northern
Ireland and Scotland, the single transferable vote system is used, whilst in most
of England and Wales the single member plurality system is used. The remainder
of England (including all of the London Boroughs) and Wales use the plurality atlarge system, except for the elections of the Mayor and Assembly of the Greater
London Authority (GLA).
-Local elections are held in different parts of the country each year. In years with
a general election it is usual practice to hold both general and local elections on the
same day. In 2004, for the first time, local elections were held on the same day
as European elections, and London Mayoral and Assembly elections. The date was
referred to as 'Super Thursday'.
-The only Region of England which has a directly elected administration is
London. London Assembly elections began in 2000, when it was created. The Additional
Member System is used for elections to the Assembly. The Mayor is elected via
the Supplementary Vote system.

NATIONAL ORGANISATION
- The Scottish Parliament - The devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland.
- The Parliament is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known
as Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs),
- elected for four-year terms under the additional member system: 73 MSPs represent
individual geographical constituencies elected by the plurality ("first past the post")
system, while a further 56 are returned from eight additional member regions, each
electing seven MSPs.

-The most recent general election to the Parliament was held on 5 May 2016, with
the Scottish National Party winning a plurality.
- The Scottish Parliament has the power to legislate in all areas that are not explicitly
reserved to Westminster.

-National Assembly for Wales (the 'Welsh Parliament') - is a devolved assembly with power to make legislation in Wales. It is commonly also
known as the Welsh Assembly.
-The Assembly comprises 60 members, who are known as Assembly Members, or AMs.
Since 2011, Members are elected for five-year terms under an additional members
system, where 40 AMs represent geographical constituencies elected by
the plurality system, and 20 AMs represent five electoral regions using the d'Hondt
method of proportional representation.
-The Assembly had no powers to initiate primary legislation until limited law-making
powers were gained through the Government of Wales Act 2006. Its primary law-making
powers were enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March 2011,
making it possible for it to legislate without having to consult the UK parliament or
the Secretary of State for Wales in the 20 areas that are devolved.

- The Northern Ireland Assembly - is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland.


-It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the
Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive. It sits
at Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast.
- The Assembly is a unicameral, democratically elected body currently comprising 108
members known as Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs. Members are
elected under the single transferable vote form of proportional representation. In turn,
the Assembly selects most of the ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive using the
principle of power-sharing under the D'Hondt method to ensure that Northern Ireland's
largest voting blocs, unionists and Irish nationalists, both participate in governing the
region.
PARTIES IN THE PARLIAMENT

- Parliamentary Candidate selection


Almost any registered elector is entitled to stand for election to parliament, provided
they are able to submit nomination forms signed by ten voters from the constituency
which they wish to contest. The selection of candidates standing for political parties is
the responsibility of the party itself, and all parties follow different procedures. Political
party candidates must be authorized to stand for election for their party by their party's
"nominating officer", or someone authorised in writing by the nominating officer. The
requirement for a candidate to be authorised by their party was introduced in 1998 to
prevent candidates using ballot paper descriptions intended to mislead voters into
believing they were standing for a party with whom they actually had no connection.
In the Conservative Party, Constituency Associations dominate the selection of
candidates (although some associations have organised open parliamentary primaries).
A Constituency Association must choose a candidate using the rules approved by, and
(in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) from a list established by, the Committee on
Candidates of the Board of the Conservative Party. Prospective candidates apply to
the Conservative Central Office to be included on the approved list of candidates, some
candidates will be given the option of applying for any seat they choose, while others
may be restricted to certain constituencies. A Conservative MP can only be deselected
at a special general meeting of the local Conservative association, which can only be
organised if backed by a petition of more than fifty members. [52]
In the Labour Party, the Constituency Labour Parties (CLP) select the parliamentary
general election candidates using procedures agreed by the National Executive
Committee (NEC). The selection will always involve a "one member, one vote" ballot
where all members of the CLP are entitled to select their candidate from a shortlist. The
methods used to draw up the shortlist will vary according to the structure of the CLP, the
time available before the election, and the number of candidates who express an
interest in the selection. All selected candidates must attend and pass an interview
conducted on behalf of the NEC - most candidates will do this before starting to apply
for selections, though the interview can occur after a candidate is selected. Different
procedures apply when a sitting Labour MP indicates they wish to stand for re-selection.
On very rare occasions, the NEC may withdraw their endorsement of a candidate
(including sitting MPs) after the selection process is complete. They exercised this
power with regards to some of the MPs involved in the expenses scandal prior to the
2010 General Election.
The Liberal Democrats operate an assessment process for members wishing to join the
party's list of potential candidates. Once on the list, candidates are free to apply for

selection in any constituency. The candidate in each seat is selected by local party
members following a hustings.
The United Kingdom Independence Party, Scottish National Party and Plaid
Cymru select their candidates in a similar manner to the Liberal Democrats.
The Green Party's selections are open to all members to apply. Applicants are not
shortlisted, so local parties vote directly on the full list of applicants.

PARTY LEADERSHIP
LEGISLATURE

HOUSE OF COMMONS
- The House of Commons, located in London, England, is the primary governing
body in the United Kingdom responsible for creating and upholding national law, except
for areas devolved to the constituent nations, and with the power to alter and repeal
those brought into effect by its devolved counterparts. Elections to the House of
Commons take place once every five years under a first-past-the-post system.
-This is the lower chamber but the one with the most authority.
-The Commons is chaired by the Speaker. Unlike the Speaker in the US House
of Representatives, the post is non-political and indeed, by convention, the political
parties do not contest the Parliamentary constituency held by the Speaker.
-The House of Commons currently comprises 650 Members of Parliament or
MPs (the number varies slightly from time to time to reflect population change). This is a
large legislature by international standards. For instance, the House of Representatives
in the USA has 435 seats but, of course, each of the 50 US states has its own
legislature. Before the General Election of 2010, the Conservative Party said that it
wished to reduce the number of Commons seats by around 10% (65 seats) and the
Liberal Democrats said that the Commons should be reduced by 150 MPs. The
Coalition Government of 2010-2015 passed legislation to reduce the number from 650
to 600, as part of a wider change to the number and size of constituencies, but
Parliament blocked the process of redrawing boundaries that is necessary before an
General Election can be held with fewer seats.

-Rather oddly (but deliberately), there is insufficient seating capacity in the


chamber of the House of Commons for all the MPs. Members do not sit at desks (like
most legislatures) but on long, green-covered benches and there is only seating
capacity for 437 MPs out of the total of 650. The origin of this strange arrangement is
that the Commons first home was the medieval St Stephen's Chapel in the Palace of
Westminster which could only fit around 400 Members.
-Each member in the House of Commons represents a geographical
constituency. Typically a constituency would have around 60,000-80,000 voters,
depending mainly on whether it is an urban or rural constituency. The largest
constituency in the country is the Isle of Wight with around 110,000 electors, while the
smallest is Na h-Eileanan an Iar (formerly known as the Western Isles) with an
electorate of only arouind 22,000. The Coalition Government of 2010-2015 intended to
make the size of constituencies more equal in terms of electors, but so far the
legislation has not been implemented.
-Every citizen aged 18 or over can vote once in the constituency in which they
live. Voting is not compulsory (as it is in Australia). In the last General Election of May
2015, 66.1% of the electorate actually voted. Most democratic countries use a method
of election called proportional representation (PR) which means that there is a
reasonable correlation between the percentage of votes cast for a particular political
party and the number of seats or representatives won by that party. However, much of
the Anglo-Saxon world - the USA, Canada, and the UK but not Australia or New
Zealand - uses a method of election called the simple majority system or 'first past the
post' (FPTP). In this system, the country is divided into a number of constituencies each
with a single member and the party that wins the largest number of votes in each
constituency wins that constituency regardless of the proportion of the vote secured.
The simple majority system of election tends to under-represent less successful political
parties and to maximize the chance of the most popular political party winning a majority
of seats nationwide even if it does not win a majority of the votes nationwide.
HOUSE OF LORDS
-The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK Parliament. It is
independent from, and complements the work of, the elected House of Commons. The
Lords shares the task of making and shaping laws and checking and challenging the
work of the government.
-This is the upper chamber but the one with less authority. Its main roles are to
revise legislation and keep a check on Government by scrutinizing its activities. Since
1911, its power to block "money bills" is limited to one month and its power to block

other bills is limited to one session, so ultimately it cannot block the will of the House of
Commons. Furthermore, since 1945, there has been the Salisbury Convention that the
House of Lords will not oppose a measure that was specifically mentioned in the last
election manifesto of the political party forming the Government.
-The House of Lords is an utterly bizarre institution that has no parallel anywhere
in the democratic world. Indeed the only other country with an unelected second
chamber is Lesotho. The explanation for the unusual nature of the Lords goes back to
the beginning of this essay: the British political system has evolved very slowly and
peacefully and it is not totally logical or democratic.
-There is no fixed number of members in the House of Lords, but currently there
are 826 members - many more than in the House of Commons, more than the
combined houses of the American Congress or the Indian Parliament (although both of
these nations have a federal system), and the second biggest legislative body in the
world (after the Chinese National People's Congress which is effectively a rubberstamping body). The number was actually halved to 666 in the reforms of 1999 but,
since then, succesive Prime Ministers (especially David Cameron) have been adding
new life peers much faster than members are dying. Indeed the last (Coalition)
Government added over 100. Ironically the size of the House of Lords continues to rise
at the same time as the House of Commons has legislated to reduce its size.
-Historically most members of the House of Lords have been what we called
hereditary peers. This meant that years ago a king or queen nominated a member of
the aristocracy to be a member of the House and, since then, the right to sit in the
House has passed through the family from generation to generation. Clearly this is
totally undemocratic and the last Labour Government abolished the right of all but 92 of
these hereditary peers to sit in the House.
-Almost all the other members of today's House of Lords are what we call life
peers. This means that they have been chosen by the Queen, on the advice of the
Government, to sit in the House for as long as they live, but afterwards no member of
their family has the right to sit in the House. Almost 200 are former Members of
Parliament. Others are distinguished figures in fields such as education, health and
social policy.
-A small number of other members - 26 - are archbishops and bishops of the
Church of England. The archbishops of Canterbury and York and the bishops of
London, Durham and Winchester automatically take seats in the Lords, while the further
21 seats are allocated on the basis of length of service. Iran is the only other country in
the world that provides automatic seats for senior religious figures in its legislature.

-At the last count (1999), two-thirds of peers were aged over 65 and 15% were
aged over 80. There is no retirement age.
WHO BECOMES AN MP?
- MP is the person who will represent their local area (constituency) in the House
of Commons for up to five years.
- A candidate to become an MP must be a British or Irish or Commonwealth
citizen, over 18 (reduced from 21 in 2006), and not be a public official or officeholder.
- There is normally a choice of several candidates in each constituency, some of
which are the local candidates for national political parties. People can only vote for one
of the candidates and the candidate that receives most votes becomes their MP.
MPs AND POLITICAL PARTIES
-Most MPs are members of one of the three main political parties in the UK Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. Other MPs represent smaller parties or are
independent of a political party.
-To become an MP representing a main political party a candidate must be
authorized to do so by the party's nominating officer. They must then win the most votes
in the constituency.
-The UK Parliament has MPs from areas across England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. In addition, there is a Parliament in Scotland, a National Assembly in
Wales and a National Assembly in Northern Ireland.
-Separate elections are held for these devolved political bodies (which have been
granted powers on a regional level that the UK Parliament was formerly responsible for)
- candidates who win seats in these elections do not become MPs in the UK Parliament.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE MP?
PUBLIC POLICY
- THE WELFARE STATE SOCIAL SECURITY
-Social Security for unemployed people. The term "welfare to work" refers to a
series of measures intended to encourage unemployed people into work, including
advice, training and supervision. The programme of "welfare reform" is based on three
principles. The first is conditionality, or subjecting unemployed people to sanctions for
non-compliance with the rules. The second is personalization, giving people support to
speed their return to work. This kind of individualized response has two main problems:
imposing responsibility on benefit claimants for the general lack of employment, and
trying to deal with millions of claimants as if they could all be dealt with flexibly and

individually. The third principle is contracting out, an attempt to provide services to large
numbers of people through engaging private contractors. There have been major
problems in getting adequate services this way: contractors have been accused of
'creaming' (picking out only the most likely candidates for placement), 'parking' (not
providing services to unlikely prospects but getting credit when they return to work
anyway) and playing a numbers games, throwing people at jobs in the hope that some
of them will stick.

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICES


- The right to welfare. The NHS is seen by many people as the core of the
'welfare state'. People receive health care as a right. There is no right to health care on
demand. The principal rights are a right to be registered with a general practitioner, and
the right to be medically examined, though out of practice hours that has been
substantially delegated to NHS 24, a telephone-based service. There is no formal right
to receive any treatment. This is within the discretion, or 'clinical judgment', of the
doctor.
-Comprehensiveness. The NHS is held to protect all citizens. Access to health
services depends on registration with a general practitioner. Homeless people in
particular have great difficulty gaining access to primary care, because without an
address it is generally impossible to register.
The service itself has never been comprehensive. The NHS does ration resources
according to priorities. Not only are there not regular checkups for everyone, but there
are long waiting lists, and people with quite serious needs - like those from the 1950s
onwards needing renal dialysis - may die, because the cost of treatment is greater than
the NHS is ready to bear. NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence,
approves medicines for use on the basis of the cost per Quality Adjusted Life Year or
QALY; approval seems to depend on cost not exceeding 20-30,000 per QALY, though
the level is higher for end-of-life care.
-A free service at the point of delivery. The initial idea was that no-one should be
deterred from seeking health services by a lack of resources. Charges were first
introduced by the Labour government in 1950. They were substantially increased by the
Conservative government after 1979. The 1988 Act removed free eye tests, later
restored in Scotland.
-Social protection. The NHS offers all citizens - whether or not they actually use
the service - the equivalent of medical insurance. This has a clear and direct financial
value, but that value is rarely recognised, and it does not feature in national income or
distributive assessments.