There has been a lot of talk in the office recently about the upcoming general election and to be quite honest some of us have been left confused by some of the terms used!
To help with this NCC have decided to write a series of blogs to give a background on the general election including the main political parties, the leaders and how the election works.
To start we will be producing 2 Jargon Buster blogs on common political terms. These will help you understand the confusing terminology used in the media. If we have missed any terms from our list please let us know and we will do our best to include them next time!
Left Wing – This terms comes from the French Revolution where supporters either chose to support the existing king (right) or support the revolutionaries (left). It is generally applied to political parties who are looking to the future and want to promote equality for every individual in the system. Left wing parties are usually labelled as socialist as they look to redistribute wealth across the whole country rather than to a select few.
Right Wing – As with Left Wing this term originates from the French Revolution. Right wing beliefs are generally applied to parties who are looking to preserve tradition and who believe in individualism. Right wing parties are usually labelled as conservative as they look to promote individuals rights and believe that people should look after their own interests.
Parliament – This term has two political meanings and one general:
1. Parliament can refer to the parliament buildings. Parliament buildings contain the two main bodies of government, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Commons is where the Members of Parliament meet and the House of Lords is where Peers and Lords meet.
2. Parliament can refer to the body who have the power to make changes to law and legislation in the UK. This is made up of the MP’s and Lords who decide what changes to make.
3. Parliament outside of politics is also the collective noun for a group of Owls.
MP – also Member of Parliament. This is the name given to the person elected to represent an individual constituency in the House of Commons. The difference between an MP and a member of the House of Lords is that every MP has been elected by the public whereas Lords are chosen to sit by the party in power.
Cabinet members – These are MP’s who have been voted into government and hold an office in government. It consists of the Prime Minister and 21 cabinet members. An example of a cabinet post is the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary of Work and Pensions.
Shadow Cabinet – Each cabinet member has a corresponding member in the opposition party who take the Shadow role. In effect if the opposition were in power then the Shadow Cabinet would make up the Cabinet. E.g the current Chancellor of the Exchequer is George Osborne (Conservative Party), the Shadow Chancellor is Ed Balls (Labour Party).
Hung Parliament – This means that after a general election there is no party with an overall majority of MP’s (more than half). This usually leads to a coalition government with two or more parties working together to run the country.
Coalition – This is when two or more parties enter into an arrangement to form a government. This usually happens when there is a hung parliament.
Electorate – These are the people who vote or are able to vote in the election.
Backbencher – This is a type of MP who does not hold a position in the government or opposition cabinets. The term is used as backbench MP’s generally sit behind the MP’s who hold offices.
First past the post – This is the type of voting system that is used in the election. The system works when the winner is decided by the candidate who has the most votes in each area. All other votes cast from that area don’t count towards anything further.
Whitehall – This term is used to describe the British Civil Service.
Civil Service – These are the people who are employed to work for the government but they have no party affiliation and are not voted into roles.
Westminster – This term, when used in politics, refers to the Government of the UK. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster where Parliament is located.