So, unless you were sitting under a rock, you probably heard in June that the people of the UK voted in a Conservative Government. Despite what Test Tube, and the BBC say, it wasn’t by much.
To truly understand how narrowly they won, you need to understand how our government system works. So, in under two thousand words, I shall give you a brief précis of it all.
In the UK, laws are petitioned, drafted, discussed in the House of Commons, drafted again and then finally submitted to the House of Lords and the monarch. Currently that’s Elizabeth the Second, or Liz 2, as I nickname her.
Wait.. There are two Parliaments?
No, not exactly. The House of Commons is made up of publicly-elected officials, and there are six hundred and fifty of them. Each one of them represents their local area, or constituency, and some pull double-duty by taking up more responsibility. We call the ones that do “The Cabinet”. This form of hierarchy was created by Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1916, during World War 1. By and large, the cabinet ministers are friends and agree mostly with both the politics of their party and the personal politics of the Prime Minister.
Okay, this is getting confusing. How many parties are there?
Hundreds of parties, representing a broad scale of personal politics, from Communism to Fascism.
So who are the House Of Lords?
Well, this is where things start to smell of inequality, but it really is the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong with our government. Once a bill gets submitted to these guys, they decide whether it should go through and pass as law.
These guys are not elected into the House of Lords, they are appointed (often by political parties). They divide into three distinct categories.
- The twenty-six most senior clergy in the UK from the Church of England. These guys are called the Lords Spiritual.
- There are 90 hereditary peers of the realm. These guys had family in the House Of Lords. There used to be a lot more, but inheriting higher status has become somewhat unfashionable in more developed times.
- Then there are the ones appointed due to their jobs and/or what they have done. Notable examples include Doreen Lawrence, who brought about a change in the way the police in London viewed cases of racism, and former Commons politician, Neil Kinnock.
This doesn’t seem democratic. I thought Britain was a democracy?
Well, in a certain sense it is. It happens to be a very rare occurrence that the House of Lords vetoes something, but they did waver over a few controversial issues in the past few years. Good examples include the decision to aid the USA in their invasion of Iraq in 2004, and more recently, the decision to legalise same-sex marriage in the UK.
You said a few paragraphs above that this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flaws in your system. What are the others?
Firstly, and most importantly, we have a political ruling class in this country. To put it simply for you, there is a part of society, richer than anybody else, who are elected to Parliament on most occasions.
That doesn’t seem fair!
It isn’t. Nor has it been since before World War 2. We’ve had hopes and dreams about someone from a less well-off background becoming Prime Minister, and the closest we’ve had so far is current Labour Party politician, Jeremy Corbyn.
Okay, so what does this have to do with the Tories? And who are the Tories?
The word “Tory” derives from a political slang term for The Conservative Party, who won the General Election of 2015 with a very narrow 329 MPs. This is one of the smallest majority parties in UK history. Their party leader is a man called David Cameron.
Wait, the English guy with the chin who keeps hanging around with Barack Obama?
Yes, him. His party aren’t exactly a progressive political society, unfortunately. They may have got voted in more times than any other political party, but they do what their name implies- Conserve. Considering the mess that the UK is in, keeping things the same may not be such a good idea.
What’s the problem with them?
Well, Mr Cameron et al are all from this ruling class, and haven’t really got much of a clue of what goes on outside of London. (Actually, they’re pretty clued up on Scotland these days, after their bid to leave the UK). They certainly haven’t got a clue about what it’s like to live on the minimum wage in the UK (which is among the lowest in Europe). They’ve never had to experience it, as they have grown up in rich families.
So why are you peeved?
The Government that we have just had before was a Coalition between a middle-of-the-road party called the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. They got a country in a fairly large amount of debt, and squeezed public spending. However, as any person who does business will tell you, to make money, you have to spend some. By ignoring this, the last government raised the national debt up 50%. The larger party caused this to happen, and the party in question were the Conservatives.
That seems dumb, but not THAT bad…
The worst thing about the last five years is that the cuts have mainly targeted those most vulnerable. The young, the elderly, the disabled, the LGBT community, the unemployed, and people of colour. Whether it was meant to is a different matter, but over 80 people have killed themselves due to the stress it has caused them in the last 5 years.
Yeah, the United Nations are now investigating our government for “possible Human Rights violations”.
So, I’m an American, what can I do?
Well, what happens over the pond tends to ripple to us. Perhaps not vote in Donald Trump?
My family member/friend is British, what can they do next time?
Provided Jeremy Corbyn becomes the Labour Party’s leader, vote Labour at every opportunity. Failing that, vote anybody but the Conservatives. (Due to the Iraq War, a lot of people stopped voting Labour, as Tony Blair was a Labour Prime Minister).