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.