Politics in England is completely different to politics in the United States, and while you might not be terribly interested in politics, it might be wise to have an understanding about the way that the political system works. As usual, you will find that there are a number of words that you’ll find people using in conversation that mean something completely different, so you if you want to be in the know, then this is the pace to go for everything London. Living in London and settling in to your new London apartment is only a small part of getting to grips with moving to London.
Politics is tied inextricably to the Monarchy, which is one of the biggest differences between England and the rest of the world. The Monarch, who is at present, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth the second, is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of the government. With a constitutional monarchy, the reigning monarch does not wield much political power and is at time a mere figurehead. It has been said recently though that the present Queen has an immense knowledge of world politics, having consulted with so many heads of state and presidents over the past 50 years. She meets with the Prime Minister of the day at least once a week, so you can be sure she has her royal finger on the pulse of what is happening in English politics.
The Executive power rests with the government of the day, and legislative power resides with the government as well as the two houses of parliament. These two houses are known as the House of Commons and the House of Lords. If you are looking for a similar comparison to politics in the United States, the Senate and the House of Representatives is the closest thing. The judiciary is run independently of the government and the highest court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom enjoys a multi-party political system, although there are really only two political parties that have dominated the political scene over the last century. In the most recent elections though, it was so close that the third political party, the Liberal Democrats held the swing vote, which made for a close race. The biggest parties are known as the Conservative Party (you may hear them referred to as “Tories”) and the Labour party. Again, in a loose comparison with American politics, you could link the Republican’s with the Conservative Party and the Democrats with the Labour Party.
The House of Commons is the main parliament and although the House of Lord’s has an executive veto, they do not have much to do with the daily debates and legislation. A seat in the House of Lord’s is a life seat and is passed on from generation to generation through the male line of people who are nobility. The House of Commons members are also known as Members of Parliament and they are elected by during local elections and serve not only the country but their constituency as well.
Parliament is based in London and the Houses of Parliament are open to the public and are well worth a visit to see where one of the most powerful nations in the world governs.