People of a constituency (a particular area) elect members of parliament to represent them in that parliament. Most members of parliament are members of a political party, but a few are independent.
There are 2 different parliaments. You could be a:
Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) – meeting in Edinburgh, during normal office hours
Member of Parliament (MP) – meeting in the House of Commons at Westminster in London, usually starting in the afternoon and continuing into the evening and night.
There is also the European Parliament in which the UK currently has representatives. However, this will change when the UK leaves the EU in 2019. The UK will no longer have Members of the European Parliament.
In any case, you could be:
taking part in debates and making speeches
asking questions in Parliament and voting on proposed new laws
meeting constituents to discuss their problems
answering letters and emails from constituents
speaking at public meetings and events in your constituency and elsewhere
giving interviews to newspapers, radio and television
campaigning locally and nationally for yourself and your party.
Current salaries for MPs are as follows:
MSP – £62,149 a year (as of 1 March 2018).
MP – £77,379 a year (as of 1 April 2018).
MEP – €8,757.70 (euros) a month (as of 1 July 2018).
You would get an extra payment if you had a special responsibility, such as being a party 'whip'.
You also get payments for certain staff and office costs and expenses.
You would work many additional hours, including evenings and weekends.
You have to travel a lot, at home and sometimes abroad.
You may have to live in London during the week.
You often work under pressure, and you may have to make difficult or unpopular decisions.
You have to do a lot of background reading and research.
Most parties run training courses on subjects such as election law and procedures, public speaking and personal presentation.
With experience, you could move on to become a party 'whip' (ensuring that fellow members follow party policy) or a spokesperson on a particular subject.
If your party is in government you could become a junior minister or cabinet member.
You could lose your job at any election, but if you do, you will probably be able to use your contacts to find a related job, perhaps in the media or as a business consultant.
Each parliament deals with different issues. These are summarised below.
The Scottish Parliament passes laws on domestic matters including health, education, housing, transport, local government, justice, agriculture and fisheries, the environment and economic development.
The UK Parliament passes laws on matters such as defence, taxation, welfare benefits, energy and immigration, as well as domestic affairs for England and sometimes Wales. It also has responsibility for UK foreign policy.