UK politics AUA (Ask Us Anything) – no question too simple!

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Saracen's Fez
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#1
Report Thread starter 11 months ago
#1
Don't know your Lords from your Commons?

Think a Black Rod is something you buy at the hardware store?

Unsure how to tell an MP from an MS or an MSP?

This thread might just be for you!

If you've got questions about politics that you've always wanted to ask, that's what this new thread is for! No question is too simple, we'll try and get you an answer to anything about politics you've always wondered but never got round to asking!

I'll be keeping an eye on this thread, and will encourage other volunteer people to do the same, but other members of the TSR community are very welcome to answer as well as ask questions if they know the answer!

Please ask and answer in good faith. Trolls will (and should!) be ignored.
Last edited by Saracen's Fez; 11 months ago
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04MR17
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#2
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#2
Posting to subscribe. I'm not as knowledgeable as Mr Fez but I am happy to help.

Also a respectful, pre-emptive, note - this thread is for asking and answering questions - not debating the answers. If you're going to answer a question, make sure you're being as fair and balanced as you can. If a question has already had a response, then try to only be adding further information if you're going to contribute to that discussion.
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CheeseIsVeg
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#3
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#3
What's the difference between an MP and a local councillor? :beard:
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Saracen's Fez
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#4
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#4
(Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
What's the difference between an MP and a local councillor? :beard:
Ooh, what a question to start! This one could be an essay... :lol:

MPs sit in the UK Parliament, in the House of Commons. There are 650 of them, and each represents a constituency of roughly equal size somewhere in the UK. They are elected at general elections, at least every 5 years. They earn a salary of about £80k, and work full time, splitting their time between work in Parliament and in their constituency. They vote to make laws, and some will be chosen to become ministers, who run the government and propose most laws.

Local councillors belong to county, district and unitary authority councils. There are many thousands of them, and they represent wards that are much smaller than an MP's constituency. Each ward tends to have between one and three councillors representing it, depending on the council. Councillors are elected every 4 years in England and every 5 years in Wales and Scotland, though in England they aren't all elected on the same schedule, so there are local elections somewhere every year. Councillors tend not to be paid a full-time salary, and will work another job at least part-time. However again, some councillors on each council are chosen to become part of the cabinet as portfolio holders, and this usually brings a proper salary, albeit a much smaller one than a minister. Councillors are not able to make laws, but the laws in place give them some 'executive' powers to make some decisions on things like planning rules, education, social care and public services like libraries.
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sabinac2040000
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#5
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#5
who is more powerful hoc or hol (its an essay) just wanted some points
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Saracen's Fez
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#6
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#6
(Original post by sabinac2040000)
who is more powerful hoc or hol (its an essay) just wanted some points
That's a pretty simple answer, I think: the House of Commons is. To the point that I'm struggling to think of any arguments for the House of Lords being more powerful.

The House of Commons can override the Lords on most things (sometimes it takes some time, but it's generally possible) and has established dominance over the Lords during the 20th century.
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CatusStarbright
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#7
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#7
(Original post by sabinac2040000)
who is more powerful hoc or hol (its an essay) just wanted some points
(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
That's a pretty simple answer, I think: the House of Commons is. To the point that I'm struggling to think of any arguments for the House of Lords being more powerful.

The House of Commons can override the Lords on most things (sometimes it takes some time, but it's generally possible) and has established dominance over the Lords during the 20th century.
I'd definitely agree. The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 allow the House of Commons to push legislation through without the consent of the House of Lords. The Lords can only delay money bills (which concern tax, loans, public money) for a month, and other legislation can only be held up for one year.


There is also a House of Lords convention (the Salisbury Convention) under which the Lords agree not to vote down any primary legislation included in a winning party’s election manifesto. This rule is not binding, however, but it is well established so any attempt to go against it would likely be pretty controversial!

There are still some areas where the consent of the House of Lords is required though, e.g. legislation to extend the life of a Parliament past its five-year limit, a motion to remove a senior judge. However, the House of Commons could always force through a new Parliament Act to further strip powers from the Lords (the 1949 Parliament Act was forced through using the 1911 Parliament Act) - so ultimately the House of Commons does seem to be more powerful!
Last edited by CatusStarbright; 11 months ago
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CheeseIsVeg
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
Ooh, what a question to start! This one could be an essay... :lol:

MPs sit in the UK Parliament, in the House of Commons. There are 650 of them, and each represents a constituency of roughly equal size somewhere in the UK. They are elected at general elections, at least every 5 years. They earn a salary of about £80k, and work full time, splitting their time between work in Parliament and in their constituency. They vote to make laws, and some will be chosen to become ministers, who run the government and propose most laws.

Local councillors belong to county, district and unitary authority councils. There are many thousands of them, and they represent wards that are much smaller than an MP's constituency. Each ward tends to have between one and three councillors representing it, depending on the council. Councillors are elected every 4 years in England and every 5 years in Wales and Scotland, though in England they aren't all elected on the same schedule, so there are local elections somewhere every year. Councillors tend not to be paid a full-time salary, and will work another job at least part-time. However again, some councillors on each council are chosen to become part of the cabinet as portfolio holders, and this usually brings a proper salary, albeit a much smaller one than a minister. Councillors are not able to make laws, but the laws in place give them some 'executive' powers to make some decisions on things like planning rules, education, social care and public services like libraries.
Ooh thank you for such a detailed answer :hat2:

I was also wondering, what is the role of the Mayor? Are they part of the council or local authority? :hmmmm:
Do they have any political power at all? :beard:
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Saracen's Fez
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#9
Report Thread starter 11 months ago
#9
(Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
Ooh thank you for such a detailed answer :hat2:

I was also wondering, what is the role of the Mayor? Are they part of the council or local authority? :hmmmm:
Do they have any political power at all? :beard:
Ah, so this is a complicated one. The short answer is that it depends on the type of mayor.

Most mayors (including lord mayors) are ceremonial – one councillor is chosen each year to wear some funny clothes and a chain and take part in ceremonies on behalf of the town or city.

There are three exceptions that I'm aware of:

– The Mayor of London: They run the local government of London almost like a semi-dictator. The London Assembly exists, though it's not a parliament and can't make laws, and its main job is to scrutinise the mayor's decisions. Its powers to overturn decisions are highly limited.

– The 'metro mayors' of city regions, like Greater Manchester or the West Midlands: These are quite significantly different to the Mayor of London. They have some direct powers, over things like the police and fire brigade, but the city regions are made up of local councils who govern just like all other local councils. The metro mayor's job is to co-ordinate between the councils and try to get them to work more closely together on different projects.

– Directly elected mayors of other local authorities: These exist in a few places, and basically that means that rather than the council forming a coalition and electing a leader from among the councillors, who chooses a candidate, the voters choose the council leader (the mayor) by a direct election. They then choose who they want to be in their cabinet. That may mean that they come from a different party to the one with a majority on the council.
Last edited by Saracen's Fez; 11 months ago
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CheeseIsVeg
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#10
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#10
(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
Ah, so this is a complicated one. The short answer is that it depends on the type of mayor.

Most mayors (including lord mayors) are ceremonial – one councillor is chosen each year to wear some funny clothes and a chain and take part in ceremonies on behalf of the town or city.

There are three exceptions that I'm aware of:

– The Mayor of London: They run the local government of London almost like a semi-dictator. The London Assembly exists, though it's not a parliament and can't make laws, and it's main job is to scrutinise the mayor's decisions. Its powers to overturn decisions are highly limited.

– The 'metro mayors' of city regions, like Greater Manchester or the West Midlands: These are quite significantly different to the Mayor of London. They have some direct powers, over things like the police and fire brigade, but the city regions are made up of local councils who govern just like all other local councils. The metro mayor's job is to co-ordinate between the councils and try to get them to work more closely together on different projects.

– Directly elected mayors of other local authorities: These exist in a few places, and basically that means that rather than the council forming a coalition and electing a leader from among the councillors, who chooses a candidate, the voters choose the council leader (the mayor) by a direct election. They then choose who they want to be in their cabinet. That may mean that they come from a different party to the one with a majority on the council.
Haha wow I didn't know mayors had three different types! Quite glad that youtuber guy didn't win London mayor !

Sorry to steal the thread but was wondering as well when parties/candidates are campaigning, how restricted are they in what they can or can't do?
Last edited by CheeseIsVeg; 11 months ago
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Saracen's Fez
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#11
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#11
(Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
Haha wow I didn't know mayors had three different types! Quite glad that youtuber guy didn't win London mayor !

Sorry to steal the thread but was wondering as well when parties/candidates are campaigning, how restricted are they in what they can or can't do?
A good question, and one I must admit that I can't give a very full answer to. Basically what parties and candidates can and cannot do is regulated by the Electoral Commission, whose website is not set out very well to find a list of rules. Generally, truth be told, I tend to find out about what rules are in place when there's a scandal and someone breaks one of them! :lol:
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schildkroten
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#12
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#12
David Cameron or Theresa May
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The Mogg
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#13
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#13
What's a politic?
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Napp
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#14
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#14
Couple of questions'
1) Whats an MS (i cant say i remember this acronym?)
2) Whom is answering, or is it just you? and where do you draw your knowledge from - as a matter of interest
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Napp
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#15
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#15
(Original post by schildkroten)
David Cameron or Theresa May
Both rightly deserve to be lined up against the nearest wall...
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Saracen's Fez
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#16
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#16
(Original post by Napp)
Couple of questions'
1) Whats an MS (i cant say i remember this acronym?)
2) Whom is answering, or is it just you? and where do you draw your knowledge from - as a matter of interest
1) Member of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) – known as an Assembly Member (AM) until May 2020.

2) The idea with this thread is that it's an AUA rather than an AMA, so it's an information-sharing thread. While I will watch the thread and try to pick things up, the aim is that any member of the TSR community can ask a question and anyone can answer if they know the answer – so where I answer it comes from my pre-existing knowledge usually.
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CheeseIsVeg
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#17
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#17
(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
1) Member of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) – known as an Assembly Member (AM) until May 2020.

2) The idea with this thread is that it's an AUA rather than an AMA, so it's an information-sharing thread. While I will watch the thread and try to pick things up, the aim is that any member of the TSR community can ask a question and anyone can answer if they know the answer – so where I answer it comes from my pre-existing knowledge usually.
Hey sorry to bump this excellent thread
I was wondering with our current governmental situation, is there anything we the public can do or do we have to wait until the next general election?

Just wondering what the options are for I guess anyone, including mps now the confidence thing happened
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Saracen's Fez
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#18
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#18
(Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
Hey sorry to bump this excellent thread
I was wondering with our current governmental situation, is there anything we the public can do or do we have to wait until the next general election?

Just wondering what the options are for I guess anyone, including mps now the confidence thing happened
No, this is good, always nice to remind people that this exists! But what a question! :lol:

In terms of the general public, no, short of actual revolution people are probably going to have to wait this out until the next election, probably in spring/summer 2024. (There's a possibility that if the government is really polling badly they'll try and wait it out until the latest lawful point, which is January 2025, and cause both a campaign over Christmas and some baffled people in the future wondering why we jumped from 2019 all the way to 2025, but the next election date is likely the first Thursday in May 2024.)

With MPs, there are a couple of things:

– The Conservative MPs could have another go at a confidence vote. Under the current rules they have to wait a year to do this, but it's possible (indeed, likely) that if enough Tory MPs lose confidence in Boris Johnson that Boris Johnson will be told to resign under threat that that rule will be changed. My one bit of caution there is that we got to the confidence vote last week really due to a slow drip of MPs losing confidence rather than being catalysed by one particular incident. I suspect that if the backbenchers or the cabinet were going to tell Johnson to resign under threat of changing the rules, it would be in response to a big event. For example, this threat was made to Theresa May, but only once the Tories were routed in the European elections in May 2019. It's not clear to me what the equivalent big event would be (you could say the upcoming by-elections on 23rd June if they're lost, but expectations are probably so low now that two losses are expected) but if there is one this is potentially quite likely.

– Parliament itself has a vote of no confidence in the government. It's easy for the opposition to table one, but hard for them to win. This is because, even though a majority of MPs (opposition parties + Tory no-confidence voters) have no confidence in Boris Johnson, a majority still want the Tories to stay in power. The assumption in this country is that if there's a successful vote of no confidence in the government, either another party is invited to form the new government, or the question is put back to the people in a general election. The Tory majority in parliament doesn't want either of those things, and the Tory rebels' aim (keep the Tories in power but under an as-yet-unidentified new leader) isn't helped by supporting a vote of no confidence on the floor of the House of Commons.
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