"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is a frequently referenced
part of William Shakespeare
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare> 's play Romeo and Juliet
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet> , in which Juliet seems to
argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her rival's house of
Montague, that is, that he is named "Montague." The reference is often used
to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, elections in the UK have been
contested and won by the two main political parties, the Conservative &
Unionist Party and the Labour Party, with a small coterie of Liberals and a
smattering of social democrats, and others of various ilks and flavours
participating, according to the fashion and obsessions of the times. The
Conservatives have been in charge the vast majority of this period with
Labour and the Liberals way behind. In the last couple of elections, a
change has taken place, where smaller parties have formed and started to
grow and participate in the elections and the two party system has become
unstable as a consequence, with the likelihood of coalitions being formed
between one of the mainstream parties and one of the small ones rather than
by a single party. There was a coalition with Labour and the Liberals for a
little while in the 1960s, and of course, the general election in 2010
resulted in a hung parliament finishing up with a coalition of Conservatives
and Liberal Democrats which lasted the full term of 5 years.
The Representation of the People Act governs everything to do with
elections in the UK.
For a list of the history of acts and subordinate regulations.
There are also a list of recommendations for electoral reform. See url:
The electoral voting system used for general elections is the majority
first past the post system. All one does is to put a cross in the box
next to your candidate of choice. There are 650 constituencies throughout
the United Kingdom, covering an average of 50,000 voters in each one.
Boundaries are drawn up by a Boundaries Commission, which makes
recommendations to Parliament for changes based on population changes,
geographical location and areas, size and in line with local city, town or
parish council ward boundaries, every 10 years or so. Anyone can make
representations to it, but it is mostly lobbied by the political parties to
try and gain electoral voting advantage.
Ballot papers are still paper based and contain the names of the candidates
and their political party who are standing for election in the constituency.
Voting takes place at polling stations or via postal vote. The voting is
supervised by a Returning Officer, usually the Chief Executive of the main
Town or City Council in the area, with a team of people taken on for the job
of making sure that the voting system is conducted properly, with full
accountability between individual vote being submitted at the polling
station and being counted at the counting hall. Each ballot paper has a
number which corresponds with the electoral number of the voter, and is
locked away afterwards, sealed under the Official Secrets Act for some
length of time.
At one time it was a good system and prevented impersonation of any
significance to affect the vote, but under reforms introduced by Tony Blair
making it easier to use postal voting, there is some concern about the
system breaking down. Also, the identification procedures are primitive by
Candidates can stand as Independents, or can be appointed via a selection
process organised by their political party, some are selected nationally and
some are selected locally. For a candidate to have his/her political party
affiliation included on the ballot paper, the political party must be
registered with the Electoral Commission as a bona fide organisation, which
keeps the law, public accounts and makes returns to the government on its
accounts. Otherwise the candidate is called an independent. The British
National Party got caught out and was banned from using its name on the
ballot paper because it had a racist constitution and wasnt given
recognition, once it changed the racist discrimination to discrimination
against religion, in particular Moslems, it was recognised as a party.
Whilst racial discrimination is against the law of the UK, religious
discrimination is not. As long as one does not threaten to hang, draw and
quarter religious people, one can advocate their deportation with or without
compensation if they are immigrants... J.
Candidates tend to be vetted closely by their constituency parties to make
sure that they arent naughty boys or girls, but, unfortunately a small
minority manage to pass the test, which is of a generally low standard. The
human lie detector, like the polygraph is very imprecise... J. Once a
candidate is elected, they are subject to further vetting and close control
by their party whip, to make sure that they carry out the policy of the
party, else they might finish up being the subject of headlines in a Sunday
newspaper, exposing their proclivities, much against their nature.... J.
The higher up the pecking order, the more vetting takes place, which is
organised by the state agencies, to make sure that they arent subversives,
or have some kind of personality disorder. Greed is not a criteria for
positive vetting... J. Prime Ministers are vetted informally
internationally. One cannot have a Prime Minister who isnt favourable to 5
Funding of political parties is also strictly controlled and they have to
declare donations and the identity of the donators over a certain amount.
At one time this wasnt so, and much money was secretly contributed from
many international organisations via conduits to help with advertising,
lobbying and such like. Nowadays, more subtle ways have to be found.
Membership of the House of Lords and appointment of ministers are within the
gift of the Prime Minister, and help and loyalty are much demanded.
Each candidate has to fill in a form and deposit £500, which will be lost if
a certain percentage of the vote isnt achieved. This discourages people or
organisations with little or no money from standing and saves on
administrative costs. The application of democracy has its limits... J.
Each candidate also needs to have an election agent, who can be him, or
herself, who makes the financial returns and declarations showing that the
candidate has kept within the expenditure allowed on his/her elections.
Once all of the votes have been counted, and the results tallied and any
challenges sorted out, the Returning Officer declares the result publicly
and the candidate then becomes a Member of Parliament. He/she then gets
paid from the date of appointment and has to take an oath to faithfully
serve the Queen, if not the country... J. And is subject to the many
parliamentary privileges, such as freedom of speech in parliament, which
comes with the office.
Once, or if, a political party reaches 326 seats in parliament, then the
monarch will summons the leader of the winning party and ask him/her to form
a government. In a case where there is no majority, the party with the
highest number of seats will be asked to form a government if possible, with
or without a coalition. If all goes well, the winning leader will be
appointed Prime Minister and asked to form a government. The unwritten
constitution allows the relationships with the monarch to be covered by
Convention, rather than law. A Convention is not a law and does not have to
be followed...but usually, the shit hits the fan if it is not.