7 must-know facts about British politics

Winston Churchill

British politics is a vibrant library of information - here are seven facts about it you should know.

1. The largest landslide since 1945

The largest landslide election victory since the end of the Second World War took place in 1997 when Tony Blair’s New Labour swept to power in a ground-shaking election. Labour won a total 418 seats on 43% of the vote, securing them a hefty majority of 179 seats. The government went on to introduce the National Minimum Wage and devolve powers right across the country, creating legislative assemblies and parliaments in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.

Prime Minister Tony Blair

The party went on to win striking election victories in 2001 and 2005, but were chucked from office by David Cameron’s Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in 2010.

SEE ALSO: 7 biggest UK election landslides since 1945

2. The people of Buckingham do not have a true political voice

This is kind of like America’s silenced D.C - the current MP for Buckingham is John Bercow, who serves as Speaker of the House. This means that he cannot vote in the Commons, disenfranchising a whole constituency. On top of that, because he is the Speaker, due to parliamentary convention the Labour Party, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats do not challenge him in elections.

Say what now?

SEE ALSO: It's time for the people of Buckingham to be represented

House of Commons Chamber: Speaker's table

3. The elections where lack of success led to victory

Due to Britain’s struggling FPTP voting system, some rather strange anomalies can occur, not least significant disproportionality of results. However, there is one striking outcome that can be overlooked, which is that on three occasions in the last century, the party that came first in terms of seats has come second in terms of vote.

In February of 1974, Wilson’s Labour won the most seats while Heath’s Conservatives won the most votes. The same thing happened in 1951 – Attlee’s Labour secured more votes than Churchill’s Tories, but it was the latter who won the most seats. It also happened in 1929 in another tight election.

SEE ALSO: The UK elections where failure was rewarded

4. Britain’s referendums

The UK has held a series of referendums – or referenda – in recent years, the most recent on being the Brexit vote in 2016. Twelve referendums have taken place in the previous 44 years, with only three having been held UK-wide - the EEC vote in 1975, the AV referendum in 2011, and last year’s vote to leave the EU.

Brexit

SEE ALSO: 7 referendums that shaped the UK

5. The shortest-serving UK prime ministers

As it stands, Theresa May is the UK’s shortest serving prime minister in modern times. However, when looking at the entirety of British political history, there are plenty of PMs that have lasted less time than May. The shortest serving UK prime minister was Tory George Canning who lasted just 199 days in the top job.

SEE ALSO: 7 shortest-serving UK prime ministers

Theresa May PM statement on Westminster attack

6. Britain’s oldest prime minister

In terms of when they finally left office, Britain has had a decent handful of old political leaders. The oldest person to have served in the top job was Liberal giant William Gladstone, who served a total of four non-consecutive terms as prime minister, ending his final one at the age of 84 years old.

SEE ALSO: 7 of the oldest UK prime ministers

7. Independent MPs are very rare

At the 2017 general election, the only independent MP elected was Lady Silvia Hermon, a unionist from Northern Ireland. She is now joined by Anne Marie Morris who was suspended from the Tory party after using the “N-word”, according to the Guardian. The country’s FPTP voting system makes it difficult for MPs from smaller parties and independent candidates to gain footholds in the House of Commons.

Very few independent MPs have been elected in recent decades, with many only coming into being following a defection from a mainstream political party.