Tis the season to think about politics, and I wanted to share my thoughts on one of the stranger elements of the UK political landscape that I've encountered. This is probably just my American ignorance, but when I hear the term 'shadow government' I think of the well-manicured man from the X-Files sitting in a room with his cronies, making decisions that affect not only America but the entire human race with the help of secret alien overlords.
In the UK, a 'shadow government' is the government that follows - shadows - the current government around. It is often the largest opposition party (yeah, they have more than one political party here, what a concept!) and they have positions that correspond with the government-in-power: Shadow Secretary of Defence, Shadow Prime Minister, Shadow Intern, etc. So they follow the current government and from what I can gather they act as oversight, kind of keeping an eye on government affairs, and they are available to take over at a moment's notice.
This last bit is important because as I found out with the London mayoral elections earlier this year, governments pretty much change right after an election. And by 'right after,' I mean 'within a few hours after the votes are counted.' None of this two months Lame Duck business they do in America; if a General Election were called and the vote was tomorrow and David Cameron took over, he'd step into office on Saturday. Pretty efficient!
It's interesting because there just isn't anything like it in America, and it's one of those things that, in the UK, people don't think is at all strange.
Now try explaining the Electoral College to them over here!!