Blog 009. (English version)
Whether you live abroad or not, when there is an opportunity to talk to someone (or some people) whose nationality is (are) different from yours,
having some knowledge of the culture or the system of where he or she has come from will be a great help to open a conversation or to be able to join in them.
Since the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union (EU) in early 2020 (with the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic), the effect of it has gradually started to show lately,
and it will be interesting (or rather worrying) to see how the nation will be changing in the near future…
But anyhow, I thought this could be a good timing to revise the UK’s current national structure… so, here I have done a summary of it …
Please have a look!
British monarch system
First of all, there is a monarch in Great Britain (currently the Queen Elizabeth II), therefore the framework of the nation is called “Monarchy”,
while the system for the countries such as America, Russia, or Germany whose governor is to be chosen by the nations and have no monarch or emperor, is called “Republic”.
When it comes to the country with a monarch, we might imagine like…
a family heritage is handed down to their descendants
➡︎ eventually they get spoilt and use up all the asset their ancestor had once created
➡︎ in order to continue their luxurious lifestyle, hefty taxation is imposed on the nation
➡︎ the nation’s discontent increases to the max
…as we learnt in the school.
…or considering the fact that lots of countries nowadays are applying “Republic’ as a form of government,
young people might simply regard the countries with a monarch in 21st century as fairly dated or shady…
(oh… I almost forgot that… we, too, had the Emperor in Japan!)
But anyway, so far, it looks like things are more or less balanced, and the county’s face as “democracy” seems to have been sustained somehow…
This is basically because even if the UK has kept the system of “Monarchy”,
the actual form of it is…
as the sentence “The sovereign reigns but does not rule” appears in its constitution.
By the way, the Japanese Emperor has got a very similar position.
“The Chapter I”of the Japanese constitution says…
“The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.” (Article 1.)
“The Emperor shall perform only such acts in matters of state as are provided for in this Constitution and he shall not have powers related to government.” (Article 4.)
The story behind this similarity attributes to the fact that when GHQ was set in Tokyo after the World War II in order to occupy and supervise the country, they made a decision to keep the Emperor system in Japan after the model of “constitutional monarchy” in the UK.
So, the Queen Elizabeth II is the main representative of the United Kingdom buthas no power over any political matters.
The head of the government is the Prime Minister. (currently Boris Johnson / Leader of Conservative Party)
and all the political decisions are made by the government in Parliament.
However…. once the prime minister has been elected by the members of his party, he or she will need to visit and greet the Queen.
And it will probably goes like…
Hello dear. Lovely to meet you.❤️
Would you like a cup of tea… bra bra bra …and by the way, would you like to form the government under my name?❤️
Therefore, it is called “Her Majesty’s government”.
The Queen and the prime minister have a weekly (confidential!) meeting and discuss about current issues.
The prime minister lives and works at “10 downing street” (as we often see it in the news)…
and leads the government with the help of the cabinet and ministers.
When elected, the prime minister must appoint the members of his or her Cabinet.
There are 21 cabinet ministers (including the prime minister) and the cabinet is made up of senior members of the government.
I suppose the familiar ones are…
“Chancellor of the Exchequer” (aka “Treasury”) / *in charge of the UK’s economy
“Foreign Secretary” / *in charge of sustaining good relationships with other countries around the world
“Home Secretary” / *in charge of immigration, the country’s security and so on
“Secretary of state for Health and Social Care” / *in charge of overall financial control and oversight of NHS delivery as well as social care policy
(We see the Secretary of State Matt Hancock quite often in the news these days due to current pandemic situation, don’t we?)
*Soon after I wrote this one, he resigned his post.
Sajid Javid has become a new minister.
and so on…
These cabinet ministers can be moved to different positions or sacked when their performance is regarded to be poor by prime minister…
This is called “Cabinet reshuffle”.
(the equivalent of “Naikaku kaizou”in Japan)
The UK Parliament is consisted of three major components…
House of Lords
House of Commons
…and is taken place at the Palace of Westminster
It is formally known as the “Houses of Parliament” (Kokkai gijidou” in Japan)
(The “Parliament” in the UK, is equivalent to the “Diet” in Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, and so on, and also to the “Congress” in the US and other middle and south American countries’)
House of Commons
The “House of Commons” is made up of 650members of parliament (MPs).
There are 650 constituencies in the UK, and when we have a General election (every 5 years), people who have registered for voting can choose and vote for a candidate from their local constituency.
The majority of candidates for MPs belong to one of the Political parties.
Well-known ones are…
Conservative Party (aka Tories, or Tory Party),
UKIP (UK Independence party),
and so on…
And, in addition to these, there are National Parties from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
Out of 650 seats, the party who occupies the most will be the winner of the election (Ruling party / currently Conservatives) and forms the “Government”, and the leader of that particular party becomes the Prime Minister.
The largest political party in the House of Commons that is not in government is called the “Opposition” (currently Labour Party) and with its Shadow Cabinet, they will question, scrutinise, and criticise the work of the Government.
And it is said that this structure helps keeping the balance of Democracy.
House of Lords
The “House of Lords” is the upper house of the UK parliament.
It is consisted of 800 members who have been selected by the Queen (but as advised by the prime minister) and they all come from different walks of life.
They have successful careers in their particular fields such as business, law, science, education, culture,sports, public service, etc. and their experience and professional knowledge are used to examine the government’s plan and activities.
The role of the House of Lords is to scrutinises bills that have been approved by the House of Commons. (Any decisions made by one of the Houses need to be approved by the other.)