Learn about the UK political system & elections


Hello. I’m Gill at engVid, and today’s lesson is on the
British political system. So, this may be of interest to you if you’re interested
in politics or… And interested in this country. Maybe you’re living here in the UK and would
like to understand a little bit more about the system, about how the system works, and
what all the terminology is, all the vocabulary connected with it. So this is just a general
introduction to that, and also maybe you’re a native English speaker and you’re just interested
in the subject and would like to hear something about it, a sort of general summary.
So, here it is. So, first of all, to begin with the main,
big organization that runs the country, who make all of the political decisions, the national
parliament and the government. Okay? So, there are 650 MPs all representing different what
are called constituencies. Difficult word to say, constituency. So the whole country is
divided up into these parliamentary constituencies, and the people who live there register to
vote, so everyone has a vote. So depending on which constituency you live in, you get an
opportunity to vote for one of the candidates in each election. Okay, so a candidate is
when the elections are held and there may be five, or six, or seven, or more candidates
all wanting you to vote for them and they all represent different political parties, like
these which I’ve written here in different colours because those are the colours associated
with those parties. So you get to vote every… Usually every five years you can vote for
the person you want to have as your local MP, Member of Parliament. Okay. So there are 650 altogether MPs, members of
parliament representing 650 constituencies, which is a lot of people, millions of people.
Okay. So, out of all of those MPs they are all representing different parties. They’re not
all from the same party. So, usually these are the main parties, the ones who actually
have MPs in parliament. This party, they only have one MP, so it’s quite small. They’re a
fairly recent political party compared with the other ones. They only have one MP. The
Green Party, I think maybe only have one MP. This depends. I mean, we’re in 2017 at the
moment, so things can change in politics so it may be different by the time
you’re watching this lesson. So anyway, the main parties are the
ones in the middle here, really. The Liberal Democrats don’t have
quite so many MPs at the moment, but I’ve put them here
because they’re a fairly central party in political terms. What I’ve
done, you’ve probably heard of the term “left wing” and “right wing”, so I’ve put them
in the position, where they belong in terms of how… How their policies, their opinions
relate to left-wing and right-wing views. So UKIP are quite right wing; Labour or Socialist,
and Green are quite left wing; and then you have people who are in the middle,
Liberal Democrats are fairly middle; Conservatives are a little bit more right wing. And
these things do change from time to time. You could have a Labour government a few years ago which
was actually quite right-wing in the way it… In the things that it did. But at the moment
the Labour leader is quite a left-wing person. So you have the same name for the party, but
their ideas can change or their interests, or what they want
to do can change. So, the 650 MPs could come from any of those, as
well as national parties because the countries involved, it’s not just England; it’s Wales as
well, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Okay? So, there are national parties from Wales,
Scotland, and Northern Ireland specific to that country who are MPs for their national
party related to that country. And there are also a few independent MPs who don’t belong
to a party, but they have been a candidate, an independent candidate, and they were popular
enough to be voted for and become an MP. So, there are other parties, as well as the ones
I’ve written here, the national parties mostly. So, these four countries: England, Wales,
Scotland, Northern Ireland… Not the rest of Ireland, not the Republic of Ireland because
they are separate, they’re a republic, they’re not part of the UK so they have their own
system, their own political system. Okay. Right, so the six… 650 MPs all belong to
different parties, but you have to form a government from that. Usually it’s based on
who has the majority. At the moment, at the time… The time speaking now in 2017, the
Conservative party has… Is… Is the government because they have the majority. Majority of… Of
seats. These I’ll call seats because they sit. They sit down in their seat, so it’s
called a seat. But it means their… Their position as an MP.
They’re called seats. So the Conservatives had a majority of seats,
so they formed a government in 2015 when we had the last general election when the whole
country all on one day was voting for their MP, 2015. The one before that was 2010, so the
general elections are usually every five years. 2010, no party had a majority in 2010. So
the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats got together, and they formed a coalition.
So I’ll write it here, coalition, meaning they had to work together to form a government,
and to run the country basically. So that was a coalition in 2010, but then the general
election 2015 the Conservatives got more seats and they formed… Had a majority, so they
could form a government without the help of the Liberal Democrats who lost a lot of
seats. They lost a lot of popularity. Okay. So, there’s the Conservative government, and
then the Labour Party because they are the next biggest party, they are seen
and they’re called the opposition. They are called the opposition party because in a
democracy you have your government who are doing things, but you need the balance of a party to criticize
them and to question everything, and sometimes to try to stop them from doing things.
So you might wonder: “Does anything ever get done when you’ve got people trying
to do something and other people trying to stop them?” So that’s the democratic system. It’s a bit sort
of aggressive, really, but it means everybody’s opinion is heard that way. Okay, so you can imagine the Green Party is
very interested in the environment, that’s why they’re called Green. So, Labour traditionally
are more interested, really, in what they call “working people”, except lots and lots
of people are working people, but they have kind of a class view of that which is perhaps
a bit out of date nowadays. We’re not divided into three classes anymore, so it’s rather
difficult to… And they’re in a lot of confusion at the moment because of their new leader.
Not everybody is happy with him. Some people love him, some people hate
him, so there we are. Liberal Democrats, as I say, lost a lot of
seats, so they don’t have a lot of power at the moment. Conservatives have a small majority,
so they can do things but with a lot of people trying to stop them,
and so it goes on. U-K-I-P, UKIP as they’re called, United Kingdom
Independence Party, they were set up specifically to try to persuade people, the country to
leave the European Union. So they were set up years ago, and people
at first thought: “This was crazy. Why would we want
to leave the European Union?” but gradually they got more and
more, you know, people listening to them, and eventually there was a referendum.
So, referendum, where people were given an opportunity to vote: Did they want
to stay in the European Union or did they want to leave?
And it was very close, but the people who voted to
leave was slightly higher than the number who wanted to stay, so we are now
going through what’s called Brexit, which is British exit, the
British exit from the EU. It’s called Brexit
for convenience. So we’re now going through a process of Brexit
where we are gradually being extracted from the European Union, taken out of the European
Union, but I think it’s going to be a very long, slow, complicated process with a lot of
negotiations going on. But that’s a result of the referendum when everybody who wanted to
voted one way or the other, and the majority wanted to leave so that’s what’s being
done now at the moment. Okay, so… So UKIP set themselves up especially for this
purpose, and now they have succeeded, that is going ahead, people wonder: “What do they do now? Can
they continue as a party?” It’s not very clear, because one, their main leader
has stopped being leader and they’ve had two new leaders so far who have not been all that
successful, so people wonder now whether the UKIP party will continue or whether it will
just disappear gradually. Okay, so that’s the main national system there. We also have local political systems called
local councils. So the area where you live in London, for example, there are more than
30 local councils because London is so big. London is divided up into council areas. And
elections are every four years for councils. The people who are voted for are called councillors.
They… Again, each council is divided up into smaller areas called wards, so wherever
you live in London you are in a ward which is in a bigger council area, and each ward might
have two or three councillors for that ward. So there may be 20 wards in a council area,
so there are quite a lot of wards. They’re just smaller areas to help administration to
make it easier to deal with. And then with a council there is often a Mayor as well,
the Mayor who is either just chosen by the councillors or some local councils’ people can
elect the Mayor as well. They have a paper, voting paper where they can choose their
Mayor. And London itself has a much bigger… The London assembly, and we have a Mayor for London, an overall
Mayor of London for the whole London area, as well as having mayors in different
smaller councils. So there are lots of political systems, all one on top of another.
Okay. So, finally, just for fun I thought I’d tell
you about a party, a political party who have never had an MP, but they have had a few councillors
and mayors. They’re called the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. A raving loony is a crazy
person, so they were… They were called that because they wanted to appear crazy,
like very eccentric. Eccentric. So, somebody in 1963, a long time ago, started this party.
And his name, it wasn’t his real name, but he called himself Screaming Lord Sutch, and
he used to dress in very strange clothes, and it was just to make people laugh, really.
But it was also as a kind of a protest, and people would vote for them, what’s called a
protest vote. If people don’t like all the other candidates and they don’t like what
all the main political parties are doing, they might vote for a crazy party
like this as a protest vote to say: “Well, we prefer that crazy person in the funny
clothes to these serious political people who don’t seem to be
helping us very much.” So that’s sometimes what has happened.
So they’ve never had an MP in parliament, they’ve never had enough votes
for that, but sometimes in a local council people disliked the local councillors so much
that they decided to vote for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party instead, and a
few councillors were actually elected, and one of them, maybe one or two even became the
Mayor of their local council, and perhaps they did a good job. So when you see on television
sometimes when there has been an election and then people stay up very late at night and
into the early hours of the morning counting the votes, and then eventually all the candidates
are standing on a stage, and somebody from the local council is announcing how many votes
each candidate received. One of those candidates may be from this party, and they’re very easy
to spot, to notice because they are dressed in a very colourful costume usually of some
sort or another, very colourful and maybe with a big, funny hat or something. So, you
can spot the Raving Monster Loony candidate just by looking, and they stand there waiting
to hear how many votes they’ve received. So that sort of brightens things up when people
are a bit tired of politics, which is going on all the time, so it’s easy to get tired of
it because there’s always something happening. So, okay, so that’s just a very simple overview,
really, but I hope… I hope it’s been useful for you with a bit of vocabulary and a bit of
information you may not have known about before. So, do go to the website: www.engvid.com
where there’s a quiz on this subject. Thanks for watching, and
see you again soon. Bye.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Dear,Ms.Gill
    Your lesson is very helpful for foreign people living in UK ike me.
    Also your talking speed is very comfortable for us♡

  2. I really like how Jill pronounced "mayor." Jill seems "not too smiley" at this video, little strange perhaps due to the topic…

  3. You forgot to mention the FACT that the EU is overlord over the entire system you're explaining. It's a joke, we have no real power.
    But still there are those who think they're anti-government/establishment end up protecting the very system they claim to fight…

    Shame.

  4. I remember reading that Prince Charles supported the Green Party. Is it outspoken about political, social issues with a left-wing tendency? or just environmental issues? i would be very surprised to know that a prince supported a left-wing party!

  5. The entire political system should be scrapped and rebuilt to work for this century. First off, and most important, there should be a democratic one person, one voting system where the political party with the most single votes wins the election and leader of that party becomes our PM. When it comes to elections, or other serious matters that affects the British people, like pulling out of the eu, politicians DO NOT have a vote, ONLY the people's vote should count. The reasons politicians shouldn't have a vote on matters such as these is simple, they are corrupt and can be bought off. No more handing over votes to another party to assist in them winning the election. When a person votes for a particular party, they want their vote for that party, not some other party. Also, whenever a PM is either ousted or hands in his notice before his term is up, there MUST be a NEW general election ASAP, the PM's job should NEVER be handed over to someone else like they did with Gordon Brown and Theresa May, it's the people's democratic right to choose our PM, NOT politicians. Even our judicial system should be changed to suit this century as we are still using some law that were made in the seventeenth century and have no use in this century. I would also like to see, as most British people would, the death penalty brought back. It is costing the taxpayers tens of £millions every years keeping scum like killers, paedophiles and other anti-social scum alive, who will NEVER rehabilitate into society. We could save all the money and put it into the NHS if we brought back the death penalty. It time our leaders started to use common sense. We should also STOP ALL FOREIGN AID!!!

  6. Thanks for this precise yet understandable presentation! Perfect blend of facts without political jargon that can confuse people.

  7. i did not watch the video yet because i am in a place where the network is so bad but i'm so excited to see it
    through the comments i think i will love you teacher

  8. Hi Gill, it´s a great idea to interview people! it was very entertaining and at the same time very instructive! You are a very conscientious and friendly teacher to whom we can quickly build trust. That is fundamental in foreign language learning.Your student shows that you are doing a great job! I'm looking forward to the next video …. maybe about typical English foods? That would be very interesting! Greetings!

  9. Thank you for being so unbiased. It's so much easier to generate your own opinions when you're not being fed bias information.

  10. This was a very good video but you're very wrong and incredibly naive if you truly believe there is no longer a class system, in place, in the UK.

  11. Hi Gill. Thank you so much for this video, i am currently doing a social science course and this has just explained my democracy class for me

  12. thank you for your online classes! Could you make something similar about the system of education in UK, please?

  13. We are studying about British constitution it will be a great help for me.
    Love all the way from Nagaland, India.

  14. You speak so slow and clear which makes it really easy for me to understand what you’re saying and it helps me a lot since I’m not a native speaker ^^ so thank you for your video

  15. You have such an ability to explain and to teach! It’s amazing! Thank you so much for your videos because they are very helpful when it comes to practicing English, specially when you are not a native speaker. Your accent trains hearing skill so much, and the topics are interesting and useful; of course, the way you explain and develop them is just as great. Thank you!

  16. This video has been very informational and definitely brushed up my knowledge on the political systems in UK, so thank you very much 🙂

  17. I'm a passionate about the UK and everything related to this beautiful Land and I'm glad of this video, it helps me a lot to learn better how the British parliament works!
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

  18. i'm from Algeria and now i live here in the UK but may English still developing i just rely like you and i want to meet you because you relay help me and i always learning with you thank you Gill

  19. Uk politicians have destroyed all confidence in the politics of the uk I would rather vote for the monster raving looney party than vote for labour or conservative

  20. HI Gill,

    Thank you so much for your videos.
    This is my first glance at your channel and I finished watching this video. I've learned a lot from it and your ways of illustrating are so easy and enjoyable.
    Wish you the best!

  21. I don't usually sit through things like this but this good lady kept me watching. (Got a 100% on the linked quiz after.)

  22. The only people who have spoken any common sense and without a politician's filter are Trump and Farage. People need no nonsense politicians who says what needs to be said. Weak leaders are ruining the U.K..

  23. American people are lucky to have Trump in the hot seat. Wish we had a strong leadership. Political correctness has destroyed the U.K. Afraid to say no to immigration incase they're accused of racism. C,mon people stand up.

  24. My channel offers unbiased political education too, I have covered issues such as the UK electoral system and the role of the House of Commons. Check it out!

  25. Green, Labor Socialist and Liberal Democrat are all euphemisms for Socialist. Their slight distinctions are trivial at best.
    Looks like the Tories are battling the socialist welfare mob.
    Like being in the woods of Maine in July without bug spray.

  26. Im writing an essay for my english class about england, and i found this extremely helpful. Thank you

  27. Thanks I’m a young and I love politics so I want to know who I would vote for in the elections. Great video👍

  28. When I saw this beautiful old lady standing next to the board … I was really underestimating this video (with all the use of technology in videos now days)…
    But she is just what I needed! Very well structured, good pace, simple…
    Thank you!

  29. How can little differences in Brexit referendum make the final decision. It means there are just as many opposition. Dividing the country. Plus I know people who voted for Brexit by mistake and wanted to change it. Second referendum.

  30. I’m so thankful for this, I’m sixteen so I will be able to vote in two years, but schools seem to forget that we need to learn politics. Most people my age have no clue on politics. This should be shown in all schools!

  31. With so many accents throughout Britain, is it possible to get an answer to this question Why do most British politicians from both main parties sound upper class

  32. Thank you very much. I was doing a school project about UK and political oreder in UK. I am from Poland so it is very hard fom me to understand but thank you a lot

  33. Bless you Gill. You must have the patience of Job to peel the UK's political system back to such a level. Particularly while demonstrating such neutrality. More power to your elbow! I trust you won't mind me pointing out a very slight inconsistency? It's just that in the explanatory notes below the video, you rightly refer to the political system and elections of the UK. Whereas the title of the video (inaccurately) refers to the 'British' political system and elections. The Isle of Man (for example) forms an integral part of Great Britain, but is not a part of the UK. A small issue, but a fairly important one for the purposes of clarification regarding the subject.

  34. I am so surprised with the fact that I understand almost every word Gill says! I think that it's most probably because of her excellent pronunciation and her ability to say things in the most simple and clear way

  35. You are just a joy to watch and i can`t believe how good you are at your age. i am pretty sure now i understand UK politics and why it remained impossible for them to achieve and deliver Brexit they promised to their citizen.

  36. I have greatly apreciated this lesson. I had forgotten my lesson of British Civilization but this lesson helped me.

  37. Im going to build a spaceship look for jesus christ somewhere in the infinite space and bring him to planet earth to resurrect Adolf Hitler and his army to destroy great Britain

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