Democratic Unionist Party

DUP Logo

DUP Logo

The Democratic Unionist Party was formed in 1971 by Desmond Boal, and the man who led the party for much of its history, Reverend Dr Ian Paisley, and is currently the largest of all political parties in Northern Ireland with 8 seats.

It initially found success within the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1973, where it had 8 representatives, and also gained 1 seat in the 2 General Elections held in 1974, the sole representative being Dr Paisley, who gained a majority of 27,631 votes in the February vote and 34,497 in the election held in October.

During the next 4 elections, the DUP held 3 seats within the 17 that were available within Northern Ireland, Dr Paisley and Peter Robinson retaining their seats in all 4, with John McQuade winning in 1979, before losing in 1983, and William McCrea winning in 1983, 1987, and 1992.

The DUP lost another of it’s seat in the 1997 General Election, with Paisley and Robinson, the Westminster representatives of the DUP, and this election saw major changes in Northern Ireland after the many years of “The Troubles”.

After the election, the DUP were involved in the negotiations to try to reunite Northern Ireland, but withdrew as Sinn Féin were invited to the discussions, while the Irish Republican Army (IRA), with whom Sinn Féin had links, had failed to surrender all of their weapons.

In the 2001 General Election, the DUP increased their seats to 5, and then to 9 in 2005, the highest number of seats in their history, and representing 50 per cent of the seats available in Northern Ireland.

Subsequently, the number of seats has been reduced to 8, in the 2010, and 2015 General Elections.

Dr Paisley led the party until 2008, when he stepped down, before leaving Parliament in 2010.  His long time deputy, Peter Robinson took over as leader until 2015, when he also stepped down, and Arlene Foster was elected as leader, taking the role from 17 December 2015.

CATS Reflection – Electoral System

Within the United Kingdom, there are various different electoral systems used.  Each of them have their advantages and disadvantages, and I have looked at each system separately, and the way in which they are used.

First Past The Post – Used in Parliamentary General and By-Elections

Supplementary Vote – Used to elect 12 Town and City Mayors, and 4 London Borough Mayors, and 41 Police and Crime Commissioners, all of which are based in England and Wales.

Single Transferable Vote – Used to elect representatives in local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and European Parliament elections in Northern Ireland.  The system is also used to elect Deputy Speakers within the House of Commons.

Additional Member Vote – Used to select members to the National Assembly for Wales, London Assembly and the Scottish Parliament

Closed Party List – Used to elect Members of the European Parliament in the United Kingdom, except for Northern Ireland

Although not used, the Alternative Vote Plus system has been suggested as a new electoral system by the Jenkins Commission

 

 

 

 

CATS Reflection – Electoral System – Closed Party List

The Closed Party List system is used in the majority of the United Kingdom to elect Members of the European Parliament.  The only exception to this is in Northern Ireland, that uses the Single Transferable Voting system.

In the Closed Party List, the electorate is asked to vote for a Political Party, for which there maybe several candidates.

Once voting has closed, and the ballot papers have been counted, each of the parties gets a number of seats that is in proportion to the number of seats that it received in an area.

For example, in the 2014 European Parliament elections for Yorkshire and the Humber, the UK Independence Party received 403,630 votes from a combined total of 1,296,701 votes, a share of 33.5 per cent.

With that total of votes, they were entitled to have 3 elected representatives to go the European Parliament, from a total of 6 candidates that stood for election. The Labour Party have 2 elected representatives from their 6 candidates, and The Conservative Party have 1 elected representative from their 6 candidates.

The political parties decide in which order the candidates appear on the ballot paper, and, for example, the UKIP MEP’s elected were those listed first, second and third on the ballot paper.

 

CATS Reflection – Electoral System – Alternative Vote Plus

The Alternative Vote Plus (AV+) system is a hybrid system, first suggested in the Independent Commission on the Voting System, led by Roy Jenkins, which reported in 1998.

AV+ works in two ways, with a group of MP’s elected via a preference scheme, ranked in order of choice, and then the additional part would elect further members through regions of the UK.

There are various advantages and disadvantages to the system, compared to the First Past The Post system, currently used in General and By Elections.

The Jenkins Commission received a mixed reaction from commentators and politicians, on all sides of the political spectrum.  The then Prime Minster, Tony Blair, was warm to the changes proposed, but other members of the Cabinet, notably Jack Straw, John Prescott, and Gordon Brown, were fiercely opposed to the system.

When a referendum on political voting systems was put to the UK population, it was the Alternative Vote system that was proposed, rather than Alternative Vote Plus.  AV was soundly rejected, so the First Past The Post system remains in place.

CATS Reflection – Electoral System – Additional Member Vote

In order to elect members to the National Assembly for Wales, London Assembly and the Scottish Parliament, these institutions use the Additional Member System of election.

Under this system, each eligible voter is given two separate votes, one for an individual candidate, and one for a parliamentary party.

The individual candidates are elected to a constituency using the First Past the Post system, as used in National Parliamentary Elections.

The votes cast for the parliamentary party are to elect additional members to a larger region than an individual constituency.  For example, in the Scottish Parliamentary elections, a further 7 members are elected from each of the 8 regions of Scotland.  These then sit with the 59 constituency MSP’s to form the Scottish Parliament.

 

CATS Reflection – Electoral System – Single Transferable Vote

The Single Transferable Vote system is used to elect representatives in local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and European Parliament elections in Northern Ireland.  The system is also used to elect Deputy Speakers within the House of Commons.

Under the this system, voters are asked to rank the total number of candidates on a ballot paper.  For example, if there are 10 candidates, then in an ideal situation each would be ranked 1-10.  However, the voters can rank as many as they like, up to the maximum.

To be elected, each candidate requires a minimum number of votes, which is decided on the number of available seats, and the total number of votes that have been cast.  This figure is known as the quota.

The first preference votes are first totalled, and anyone who has met their quota is automatically elected.

Once a person has received their quota, their votes then transfer to the next person who the second preference and so on.

If candidates do not receive enough votes to meet the quota, then the candidate who has received the fewest first preference votes is eliminated, and the second preference votes then count for the other candidates.

CATS Reflection – Electoral System – Supplementary Vote

The Supplementary Vote system is that used to elect Mayors around England and Wales, most notably in London, where the incumbent Mayor is Boris Johnson.  It is also used to elect Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales.

In the Supplementary system of voting, eligible voters are given a ballot paper on which all candidates are listed with a box to indicate the individual vote.  Where this differs from the “First Past The Post” system, is that the voter has to make a cross to indicate a first choice, and also another cross for their second choice, if indeed they wish to make an additional vote.

Once voting has closed, ballot boxes are then taken to be counted under strict supervision.

 

If in the first round of counting, a candidate receives over half of the votes indicating a first preference, then they are elected to the position for which they are contesting.

If no-one has 50 per cent or more of the first preference votes, then the second preference votes are used.

In this scenario, the two candidates with the highest share of the vote are kept in the ballot, and the ballot papers for the eliminated candidates are then counted.  The second preference votes for the two remaining candidates are then added to the first preference votes, and it is only then that a winner can be declared.

CATS Reflection – Electoral System – First Past The Post

For parliamentary elections, the system used is referred to as “First past the post”.  Within the House of Commons there are 650 elected Members of Parliament (MP’s) that each represent a constituency.  A constituency represents an average number of people eligible to vote, and therefore can vary in geographical size.

According to the Office for National Statistics, England has a median number of voters within a constituency of 72,400 voters, Scotland has 69,000, 66,800 in Northern Ireland and 56,800 in Wales.

Each constituency votes for one MP, and these elected representatives take up a seat in the House of Commons.

In the voting process, each person who is listed on the Electoral Roll is eligible to place a cross next to the person listed on a ballot paper that they wish to elect as their MP.  These ballot papers are then transported to a counting station, usually located in the main town of the constituency.

As there are 650 constituencies, the political party that reaches 326 elected members, can then form a Government.  For example, in the 2015 General Election, the Conservative party won 330 seats, and by virtue of having a greater number than the sum of the other parties, could then form a Government without outside assistance from another political party.  If there is no overall control of the House of Commons, the largest party can seek assistance from another Political party, as happened in the 2010 General Election, when the Conservative Party only gained 306.  This was resolved when the Liberal Democrats, who had won 57 seats, agreed to work in a coalition Government.

Parliamentary Elections, either as part of a General Election, or a By-Election, which occurs when the incumbent MP has ceased to be an MP for whatever reason, take place on a Thursday.

I have always been aware that election of MP’s took place on a Thursday, but I was unsure as to the reason why this is the case, and as part of my reflection, I felt that I needed to fully understand why.

Reading books and papers, and research online, there seems to be a variety of reasons put forward for why Thursday is the day of choice for Parliamentary elections.

Until I commenced my research, I was unaware that the choice of Thursday is a relatively new occurence.  Prior to World War 1, Elections were held over a period of up to a month, until the first “one day” election was held on 14 December 1918, one month after the Armistice was signed to signal the end of the Great War.

That first “one day” election was actually held on a Saturday, and the following 5 General Elections were held Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  From 1935 until the present day, every General Election has been held on a Thursday.

There are various stories as to why Thursday was eventually selected as the polling day.  One reason I found is that with Thursday being the day before Friday, which was traditionally pay day for workers, that workers would be more likely to be “in drink” if the polls were held on a Friday.  Sunday was mooted to be a polling day, but potential voters may have decided not to vote, because they would be in church.

One of the more likely scenarios put forward, is that Thursday was, and in some areas, is a traditional day for a market, and that there would be lots of people who would do their shopping within a town.  As people would be away from their homes, they would feel more obliged to vote in an election while they were out and about.

The date of a General Election is now fixed following the introduction of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which decreed that there is a fixed term of office for a Government of 5 years.  As part of that act, the date of the General Election, bar any votes of no confidence in the Government, will be on a date on or before the 7th May 2020.

 

CATS Reflection – Current Cabinet Members (November 2015)

Cabinet of the United Kingdom - 2015

Cabinet of the United Kingdom – 2015

The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is formed by the Prime Minster of the current Government.  It consists of 21 Members Of Parliament with senior roles within Government and together with the Prime Minster, they collectively make decisions about Government policy, that the Government then take to the House of Commons for the chamber to debate.

In addition to the 22 cabinet ministers, there are another 8 people who attend cabinet meetings, but are not members of the cabinet.

In the session, we discussed about the role that the cabinet have in decision making, and how many of the names that the group could identify.  There weren’t many we could name from memory, but the names are recognisable, and will become more so as this parliament continues through to 2020 and the next General Election.

As part of the reflection, I was asked to research a cabinet minister, and reflect on it here.  However, in my thirst for knowledge about the subject, I decided to research all 22 current members (November 2015), and the additional 8 people who attend cabinet meetings as part of their current roles.

Members of the Cabinet

Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service Rt Hon David Cameron MP (Con)
Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State Rt Hon George Osborne MP (Con)
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal The Rt Hon. the Baroness Stowell of Beeston MBE (Con)
Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP (Con)
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Rt Hon Michael Gove MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Defence Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Health Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Rt Hon Greg Clark MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (Con)
Secretary of State for International Development Rt Hon Justine Greening MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Transport Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Scotland Rt Hon David Mundell MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Wales Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP (Con)
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP (Con)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP (Con)
Minister for Government Policy and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP (Con)

Politicians who attend Cabinet Meetings

Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP (Con)
Minister of State for Universities and Science Rt Hon Jo Johnson MP (Con)
Chief Whip in the House of Commons and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Rt Hon Mark Harper MP (Con)
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rt Hon Greg Hands MP (Con)
Minister without Portfolio Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP (Con)
Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP (Con)
Minister of State for Employment Rt Hon Priti Patel MP (Con)
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Rt Hon The Baroness Anelay of St John’s DBE PC (Con)

Members of the Cabinet – Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP – Profile

Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond is the incumbent Member of Parliament for Runnymede and Weybridge, and holds the position of Foreign Secretary having being appointed in July 2014.

Born in Epping, Essex in 1955, he was educated at state schools in Brentwood, before reading for a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at University College, Oxford, where he graduated with a first class honours degree.

On leaving Oxford, Hammond worked for Speywood Laboratories, eventually becoming a director in Speywood Medical.  After leaving Speywood, he was a director at Castlemead, a healthcare and nursing company.  He also worked for CMA Consultants, as a consultant to various organisations including the World Bank, and to the Government of Malawi, a role he held until entering Parliament in 1997.

His polticial career started as chairman of the Lewisham East Conservative Association in 1989, and also ran for Parliament in the Newham North East by-election in 1994.  He was selected as the parliamentary candidate for Runnymede and Weybridge, a new constituency created from the former seats of Chertsey and Walton and North West Surrey.

At the 1997 General Election, he won by a majority of 9,875 from the Labour candidate Ian Peacock.  Hammond has retained the seat ever since, with the 4 elections of 2001, 2005, 2010, and 2015.

On entering Parliament, he served on the Environment, Transport and the Regions Select Committee, before roles as Spokesman for Health, and then Trade and Industry followed, before working in the Shadow Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.  After the 2005 General Election, Hammond was given the role of Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury under Michael Howard, but was moved to Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by David Cameron upon his election to the leader of the Conservative Party.  In the July 2007 reshuffle, he was moved back to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Following the 2010 General Election, he was appointed as Secretary of State for Transport, replacing Lord Adonis, a role he held until October 2011, when he was moved to be Secretary of State for Defence, after the resignation of Liam Fox over allegations about allowing a close friend access to the Ministry of Defence.

In the July 2014 reshuffle, David Cameron moved Hammond from Defence to the role of Foreign Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The role of Foreign Secretary has overall responsibility for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  Their remit includes British nationals overseas, The Commonwealth, and UK Overseas Territories.