The country is divided into 650 areas, called constituencies. Each constituency elects a member of parliament (MP) to sit in the House of Commons, which is the elected lower chamber. The unelected upper chamber is the House of Lords.
In the UK, we use a system called first past the post, where the person with the largest number of votes in each constituency is the winner. In a safe Labour/Conservative, etc seat, where there is a large majority for a particular party, a vote for a different party is therefore essentially a lost vote, unlike with a system of proportional representation, where every vote counts towards the number of MPs a party will have.
Before an election, each party will prepare a manifesto, a document which gives a description of what the party will do if it wins. Politicians will put a lot of effort into their election campaign, often helped by party members or other supporters. Ordinary political activists are often referred to as grass roots supporters or simply the grass roots. Read the rest of this entry »