A Texas Girl’s Guide to British Politics

I can tell you many many things about American politics. American politics is EASY- we even have songs.

OK it isn’t easy in America, but it is familiar. The British parliamentary system? Notsomuch. I am learning so much every day and I am trying to get a grasp on the basics so that I can share them with you. Here are some tidbits:

When is the election? Ummmm I don’t know. Because no one does. The local elections for councillors (that’s how they spell it here) will be on 6 May, the current thinking is that the General Elections will be held on the 6th as well. For there to be a general Election, Gordon Brown must go to the Queen and ask her to dissolve Parliament and then an election will follow a few weeks later. The Prime Minister can ask the queen to dissolve Parliament at any time but we are coming up on the legal limit for length of a Parliament (5 years and 1 month) and so the election must be held by 3 June. The benefit/downside to this system is that the party in power can call the election at a time they feel will be most favorable to their own party.

Gordon Brown vs David Cameron. One of these men will be the Prime Minister in a few months. Gordon Brown is the current Prime Minster and the leader of the Labour Party and David Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party (the Tories). There is not an election between Brown and Cameron but rather whichever party has the most seats in Parliament after the election, their leader becomes Prime Minister.

Shadow fill in the blank. Right now the Labour is in power so all the positions are filled with Labour people, but for each position there is a Shadow Conservative. So there is a Minister for Education and a Shadow Minister for Education, a Minister for Health and a Shadow Minister for Health etc etc etc. I think being the Shadow Minister of things sounds so stealth and cool. I picture someone lurking in the shadows of Parliament snooping on the Minister and reporting back to his fellow shadows. Somehow I doubt it is that cool.

Hustings: what they call debates. Really anytime the candidates get in front of an audience and declares the principles on which he or she is running it can be a husting, but the way I hear it used most often is in reference to a debate. Also, this word always makes me picture the debate being held in a barn dance type atmosphere. Because it sounds like husking, maybe? I don’t know.

That is enough info to get you started. The whole system is totally different and a little bit nuts but incredibly interesting to learn about. I will try and keep you updated as I learn more during this adventure!

Note: The Schoolhouse Rock Videos were pointless. I just love them and thought you could use a refresher.


About fishandchipsandsalsa

This is the story of a newlywed-ish couple in Dallas about to pack up their lives and pups to move to jolly ol' England. They will miss good family, good friends and good fajitas.
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8 Responses to A Texas Girl’s Guide to British Politics

  1. Jamey says:

    I love School House Rocks, too! I wish we could do the Live version at the WLAC.

  2. I’m counting on you to help me sort it out. It’s pretty confusing, I think.

    Have fun doing this!
    Debi K

  3. jiji1 says:

    The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November sounds so much simpler 🙂

  4. Carolyn says:

    Is it just me or does the Conservative guy look a little like Chandler Bing? 🙂

  5. Chris Coker says:

    Hey, SchoolHouse Rock used to come on between my Saturday morning cartoon shows back in the 70s! That’s why I’m a teacher today…so I can sing all those songs at work!

  6. Nana says:

    The politics sound interesting but I just loved the SchoolHouse Rock videos.

  7. Lollie says:

    So, do the House of Lords have elections or just the House of Commons? Are you born into the House of Lords? Are they equivalent to our House and Senate? How many women are in the House of Lords? would they be called Ladies or Lords? Sounds like I learned alot from those old black and white movies, huh? Do they still wear wigs and robes? Does a powdered wig smell like Johnson and Johnson baby powder? Does it leave dust on the robe? Oh, King Ralph was also one of my reference points.

  8. Lollie says:

    Today I am in Austin and was able to see the Declaration of Independence in person at the LBJ library. I also viewed a film of the reading. Various American personalities stood and read 3 sentences of the document. It was very moving. I reflected back to my 8th grade American History class where we learned the first lines of the Declaration. “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for two…” . I stood (standing room only) in reverent reflection thinking of my dad who taught American History (Larry Dale is named after him ((Aunt Lola played basketball for my dad))) and to my students who are still fighting for the cause of freedom.
    I stood amazed that men could fashion such powerful words that still remain true today.

    Enjoy, absorb, learn through your association with British politics and come back to us with a vision of how the world looks at personal freedoms. Maybe Senator Andrea will soon be among us. “LBJ’s grandfather looked at the young baby and said “one day that boy will be a Senator” ‘

    With Mikey on Wall Street and Andrea in politics, our nation will be on the right track.

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