Earn Your Stripes

The Explain It! Series – How the UK Government Works

Over the Explain It! series of articles we will attempt to explain politics and government in a way that hopefully makes sense for you and will allow you to understand how things work in the world around you 

Starting with:

The UK Parliamentary System – From Election to Law

As you might be aware from history, Kings and Queens used to have much more power than they do now and that got pretty messy! So, it’s one of Parliament’s jobs to make sure no individual (King, Queen or Prime Minister) can make all the decisions.

We follow a system known as a Parliamentary Democracy.  A democracy is a system in which the public vote for their leaders.  Every 5 years, the Government calls a General Election.  On election day, registered voters aged over 18 go to a voting station and vote for a new Government. 

The UK is divided into around 600 areas called constituencies. Unlike countries like the USA who vote directly for their president, UK voters vote for the Political Party that they feel best matches the things they believe in.  Each political party puts forward a candidate for each constituency. The candidate that receives the most votes is then elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for that constituency.  

The Leader of the Political Party that has the most MP’s is invited (by the Queen) to form a Government.  That party leader is then known as the Prime Minister.  The Prime Minister lives at 10 Downing Street and has a country house called Chequers. The political party which has the second most MP’s elected becomes the Opposition.  

MP’s sit in the House of Commons this is a room in the Palace of Westminster and is not to be confused with Big Ben which is the famous bell in the clock tower of the same building!  

At the beginning of each year, the Government sets out all the policies it wants to enact.  They then produce a white paper which sets out the detail of the proposed law.  The laws are then debated in Parliament and voted upon by the MP’s. 

If a majority of MP’s vote for the law it is enacted and an Act of Parliament is written. It receives Royal Assent and then becomes law, which often takes a while! 




We know this topic is hard to understand so let us know what you thought of the article in the comments below. Did it make things clearer for you or is there more we could explain?

In upcoming instalments of the Explain It! Series we will cover why it is important to vote, about the public sector and about how the economy works.

If you have any input into these we would love to hear and let us know any further topics you would like covered in the Explain It! Series HERE.

The Live Laugh Giraffe Team x

(Photo Credit: Jamie Street on Unsplash)





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