Tag Archives: Politics

International Spotlight: Politics in the UK

These days, it seems like you can’t scroll through a social media stream without stumbling over a paparazzi photo of Princess Kate or a post on the latest Game of Thrones plot twist. However, despite the glitz and glam of sensationalized kingship, very few modern nations place their power in a monarchy-based system. Even in the United Kingdom, the inspiration for countless historical dramas and fictional television shows, real monarchs have little power of governance. To understand how political power distributes in the UK, we need to cut through the media romanticization and look at the facts.

 

Overview

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy; that said, similarly to Spain, the nation’s monarch serves as the ceremonial head of state rather than that of government. Hence, executive power is instead centralized in the government’s executive branch and its elected Prime Minister. As a unitary state, the UK holds governance over Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – however, most executive power is delegated to devolved governments in these countries. Each sub-government has its own legislature and executive, although all are subject to UK-wide rulings.

 

Branches of Government

The UK government is tri-part, consisting of executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

 

Executive Branch

Headed by the Prime Minister, this branch is responsible for exercising governmental power. The ruling monarch is responsible for appointing a Prime Minister from the House of Commons, and traditionally chooses the leading member of the political party with the largest majority to serve. The Prime Minister, in turn, selects ministers from the parliament or peerage to act as members of her cabinet and serve as heads of the various departments within Her Majesty’s government.

 

Legislative Branch

Parliament holds legislative power in the UK. This governing body is twofold: the (upper) House of Lords and the (lower) House of Commons. The latter is particularly important to the Prime Minister, who needs its support to continue holding office. The House of Commons is responsible for drafting bills and is comprised of 650 elected representatives who hold their positions until Parliament dissolves for elections. The House of Lords is similarly comprised of 650 members; 558 officials are appointed to lifelong membership by the ruling monarch, often on advice from the prime minister. The remaining 92 members hold similarly lifelong, hereditary appointments. Responsible for reviewing legislation before enactment, the House of Lords is capable of delaying bills it deems problematic. Ultimately, though, the government is responsible to the House of Commons.

 

Judicial Branch

As a united country of formerly disparate nations, UK judicial matters can seem somewhat confusing from the outside. English law applies to the mainland and Wales, while Scotland and Northern Ireland maintain semi-independent systems. In England and Wales, the Courts of England and Wales maintains the law and are in turn presided over by the Senior Courts of England and Wales. The latter consists of three sections, each handling a different subset of legal matters: the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice (for civil concerns), and the Crown Court (for criminal cases).

 

Political Parties

The UK has a multi-party system; however, the Labour and Conservative parties have maintained their frontrunner statuses over the past century. That said, both have relied on the support of various smaller, third-party political factions to rise above the other during election seasons.

 

In the press, on television, in glossy magazine pages; the monarchy is flashy. However, a monarch’s role in government is largely relegated to figurehead and master of ceremonies in Western nations. But while that might be disappointing to those who appreciate the allure of the throne, it can’t be denied that elected governments today are far more efficient, democratic, and fair than those in the past.

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Gauging the Political Weather: 4 Engaging News Sources

Gauging the Political Weather Header

Before the onset of predictive weather apps and televised meteorology programs, the easiest way to figure out whether it was raining was to stick your hand out the window and see if it got wet. In today’s tech-savvy world, though, such basic methods are inconclusive – even laughable! Now, we can source comprehensive information in a few keystrokes without ever having to leave our seats.

For those of us wanting to keep up with the political weather, as it were, it’s easier than ever to access current reports and predictions from our laptops, televisions, and mobile devices. We no longer have to risk inconvenience by sticking our metaphorical hands out the window, or rely on our own limited analyses; the information we need is already at our fingertips.

Or is it? One of the unfortunate side effects of our easy access to information is, ironically, the similarly easy access to misinformation. A quick Google search over morning coffee can turn into a frustrating, hour-long hunt for the truth through sensationalized headlines and unapologetically biased news stories. It’s become a trial to sort through the conflicting information, and on some days it can feel tempting to turn off your news apps altogether.

But amid all the misinformation and sensationalization, some sources still ring true for headline-wary conservative readers.

Washington Wire

Readers can expect thoughtful, quality, and timely work from reporters at the Washington Wire. This regularly updated and long-running blog is the Wall Street Journal’s answer to their readers’ need for reliable political news. The online publication consistently turns out about 22 stories per week.

The Hill

As a significant and far-reaching political news publication, the Hill not only owns a widely-read print newspaper, but also operates a website and six related blogs. This source primarily focuses its reporting attentions on Congress and provides its readers with daily news about the latest happenings on Capitol Hill.

Politico

Since its launch in 2007, Politico has consistently produced reliable content that considers both international and domestic current events from a centrist perspective. This source has a self-professed mission to inspire the reader to draw their own thoughtful conclusions, and to avoid writing boring or sensationalized stories at all costs.

National Review

Since its inception in 1955, the National Review has served as a significant driver for American conservatism by providing news and commentary upon current events. Today, the publication produces an impressive amount of content for both its printed editions and for its regularly updated online blog.

In an age rife with misinformation and sensationalism, it’s become more important than ever to source news from reputable, reliable publications. Tracking down accurate information might not be as easy as we thought it would be, or simple as logging a few keystrokes – but we can, to return to an earlier metaphor, invest a little effort by reaching out our digital hands and finding the truth for ourselves.

A Beginner’s Guide to Political Targeting

Political targeting involves identifying what group or groups of people a candidate wishes to appeal to the most and then working to get those votes. Depending on the election, area, and issue, different groups will be targeted by a candidate.

Traditionally, there are specific groups or areas that Republicans and Democrats target more than others. Plenty of data available on voter demographics shows which candidate the majority of a single group voted for in the election.

How do you use political targeting?

Originally, political targeting involved candidates making personal appearances in various places with potential supporters and presenting their best self to those voters. Now, there are so many voters all over the country that this technique could not have a substantial benefit. Candidates still rely on making appearances at large events and organizing rallies, but media has become the biggest way to target voters.

Deciding which demographic you want to appeal to and then crafting messages for them is the most efficient way of using political targeting in modern elections. Much more strategy goes into modern political targeting, with campaigns utilizing advertising and research to find out the best ways to appeal to their desired group.

How did Donald Trump use it to his advantage?

In the 2016 election, President Donald Trump used political targeting to win. While Democrats pandered to their usual groups, many voters felt it was disingenuous and looked to an alternative political candidate.

Trump and his team knew their target audience was white, middle-class Americans who felt they have been overlooked in previous years. The Trump campaign also searched out new or undecided voters, which led to his success with the silent majority, the group of people who do not frequently vote or openly express their opinions.

Trump was able to target these groups by acknowledging their desire for change and need to have more financial stability, and also their desire for security, whether abroad or in the United States. By using carefully crafted advertisements, commercials, and speeches, Trump and his team appealed to these groups and won the election.