Glossary

Here are the definitions to some commonly used political words

  • 10 Downing Street – where the Prime Minister lives
  • austerity – measures taken by the government to reduce the deficit (an example is raising taxes and lowering public spending.)
  • bill – a proposed law before it actually becomes law
  • budget – the money the government have to spend
  • by-election – the election of a single MP if they leave their role
  • cabinet – the most senior government ministers
  • capitalism – the belief that a country’s trade and industry should be privately owned
  • centre: a balance of left-wing and right-wing beliefs
  • chancellor of the exchequer – the person in charge of the budget
  • coalition – where two or more parties join together to form a government if no party has an overall majority
  • communism – the belief that a country’s trade and industry should be state-owned
  • conservative – holding traditional values
  • constituency – an area that each has its own MP (there are 650 constituencies in the UK)
  • deficit – if the government are spending more money than they are receiving in tax
  • democracy – where the people have the right vote for their leaders
  • election – where people vote for their leaders
  • EU – the European Union
  • first past the post – the voting system the UK currently has where an MP is elected if they receive more votes than the other candidates in their constituency
  • government – the party who are in power and have a majority
  • hansard – the official transcript of Parliament which contains every single word that is said in Parliament each week
  • head of state – the highest rank in a country who must sign a bill before it becomes a law (in the UK, The Queen is our head of state)
  • house of commons – the ‘lower house’ of Parliament where MPs meet
  • house of lords – the ‘upper house’ of Parliament where Lords meet
  • hung parliament – if no party has an overall majority after an election
  • left-wing: the belief that we should work with each other as a community to help everyone (read more here: http://idontgetpolitics.co.uk/right-left-wing)
  • law – the rules of a particular country
  • liberal – open to new, modern ideas
  • lord – a member of the house of lords
  • maiden speech – the first speech an MP makes in the House of Commons
  • MEP – a member of the European Parliament
  • minister – a senior position in a government department
  • MP – a member of Parliament
  • opposition – the parties who are not in power who aim to oppose and scrutinise the government
  • palace of westminster – the building in Westminster featuring Big Ben, the Elizabethan Tower, The House of Lords and The House of Commons
  • parliament – the House of Lords and the House of Commons
  • poll – a survey taken, usually to see which party has the most public support at that time
  • prime minister – the elected Head of Government
  • proportional representation – another voting system where the number of seats is proportional to the number of votes that party gets overall
  • prosperity – having success and money
  • referendum – a public vote on a political issue (for example, the Scottish Referendum which took place in 2014)
  • right-wing: the belief that we should look after ourselves and if we have money then we will be okay (read more here: http://idontgetpolitics.co.uk/right-left-wing)
  • scrutinise – where the opposition inspect and question the government on certain issues
  • secretary of state- the head of a particular government department (eg. education, health etc.)
  • shadow cabinet – the most senior ministers of the opposition
  • socialism: the money in the country should be shared fairly so everyone is equal
  • speaker – in charge of maintaining order in the House of Commons (a bit like a referee in sport)
  • surplus – if the government are receiving more money in tax than that they are spending
  • swing – the change of results after an election
  • tax – the money that people pay which goes towards the government to be spent on things such as health care
  • Westminster – the part of London featuring Parliament, the River Thames and the London Eye
  • whip – a member of a party assigned to make sure that members of their party vote with the party on a particular issue and do not vote against their party

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