Mastering Politics: What’s the Government?

29 November 2017

By Lauren E. White

As far as politics goes, there are no stupid questions. Even the question ‘what’s the government?’ actually often baffles the most clued-up person on politics you know.

So, what actually is the government?

Well, the government is made up of a huge number of individuals, many of whom work behind the scenes. You don’t see them on TV very often, if at all.

But we’ll start from those you do see right down to those you don’t.

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The Cabinet after the June 2017 general election

The government is, broadly speaking, the political party in power. As I’m writing this, it’s the Conservatives, so the Conservatives are in government.

From there, the government has certain departments. Think of it like IKEA: there’s bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, the lot. In government, there are departments for health, education, home security, foreign affairs and plenty of other important issues that help a country function. These departments make up the Cabinet, meaning that there are figureheads for each department.

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Boris Johnson

The figureheads for each department are Cabinet ministers, who are Secretaries of State. For instance, as I’m writing this, Boris Johnson is the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Usually, this title is shortened to Foreign Secretary as Johnson represents the Foreign Office. So, Boris runs that department of government.

Within each department are other Ministers. They are in the public eye, but less so than the Secretary of State and also help to manage the department. After all, one person running the whole of the health policy in this country, for example, would be one hell of a person.

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Civil servants

Under the other Ministers and the Secretary of State are civil servants. These are the people who work in the shadows and behind the scenes to carry out the work of the government. There are senior civil servants, who liaise with the Ministers and the Secretary and are higher up than normal civil servants who basically do the work and carry out the government’s policies.

See, that wasn’t so bad! If you’re interested in working for the government, check out these links below:

— To find out more about working for the civil service, click here.

— To check out why you might want to work for the government, click here.

— To check out what it’s like to work for the civil service, click here.

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