Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition

Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, or the Official Opposition, is the party with the second largest number of seats in the House of Commons. The role of the Opposition is to question and challenge the Government - the Government proposes, the Opposition opposes - and constantly to call the Government to account for its actions. The Opposition also seeks to establish itself in the eyes of the electorate as a credible alternative Government. The effectiveness of the Opposition depends on the calibre of its MPs and of the Leader of the Opposition. However, probably the most important of all is the size of the Government's majority in the Commons. An Opposition confronted with a huge Government majority such as that enjoyed by the Thatcher Government in the 1983-87 Parliament can do little to prevent the passage of legislation desired by the Government and can hope only to use parliamentary time to expose deficiencies in the Government's policies and shortcomings in Government Ministers, while waiting for the next General Election.

contributed by user Mark Ward