Discussion of free accommodation available to senior members of the government crops up every year in my British Politics lessons. The Independent’s Big Question covers it as part of the ongoing debate about MP’s expenses. For students who want to know more, and for teachers who want to be well armed with information, read on.read more...»
The tactics used by the police during the G20 demos raise important questions about the right to protestread more...»
Students have to go the extra mile to impress examiners on this highly popular topic
The G20 summit in London on 2 April is likely to attract widespread protestread more...»
An important topic for discussion if you are looking at civil liberties, the judiciary, or constitutional reformread more...»
My media Monday material is drawn from the rather excellent Total Politics magazineread more...»
An area not covered by some Politics courses is the issue of quangos. These non departmental public bodies are a source of great controversy since they are unelected and therefore unaccountable, and spend a great deal of public money.read more...»
When I read the headline to this story in today’s Indy I was expecting a tale of government will being frustrated by administrative won’t. Reading the article I was disappointed to find that there was little evidence of senior mandarins deliberately frustrating government ministers. But it does serve as a useful piece on the role of a minster - a frequently confusing area for students of UK Politics.
A controversial report by a bunch of university chiefs has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy on student funding.
This article will probably form the basis of my Media Monday session this week, unless I come across anything on the web between now and then. Of course, students covering UK Issues or Ideologies at A2 will have loads to discuss on the recent attacks in Northern Ireland by Irish nationalists.
Rawnsley’s article is ostensibly about the Tory leader, but acts as a useful primer on PM/Cabinet relations during the Blair and Brown premierships.
There’s a short report in the Evening Standard tonight about Gordon Brown giving his stamp of authority to proposals the Labour Party is considering which are designed to usher in a new era of party politics. With party membership in long term decline (although there has been a slight blip upwards for the Tories since David Cameron became leader) parties are considering new ways of connecting to supporters who may help out with campaigning.
Students quite often give me quizzical looks when they see me ploughing through newspapers, scissors at the ready. Quite simply I am looking for those nuggets of information that will hopefully find their way into a new first past the post article, or one of the tutor2u revision guides. Here are details of one I filed this morning, which is a corker. Vernon Bogdanor, one of the most respected authorities on British politics penned an article in The Times last week postulating the idea of a new coalition between a Brown led Labour Party and Lib-Dem rump led by Nick Clegg. Fantasy politics?
I’ve chosen this story as my backup for discussion for my Media Monday sessions, presuming perhaps that students may come prepared with stories about events in Ulster.
The front page of the Guardian presents a quite shocking report about police routinely engaging in surveillance of protestors and journalists, then uploading this information onto a searchable database.
This story may appear elsewhere on the tutor2u website, but the politics of it are what we are concerned with here. I have written previously about how Scotland has poughed a tartan furrow in a number of social and welfare policy areas (tuition fees, care for the elderly, etc) and this week the Scottish government laid out radical plans to tackle alcohol abuse.read more...»
The pick of the weekend’s press coverage of the latest developments in British politics has to be the focus on rights and liberties. The current government has shown something of a split personality when it comes to civil rights. On the one hand it has passed the Human Rights Act, but on the other has passed a raft of legislation that has been used to (deliberately or not) severely curtail liberties. Of course, the Tories before them were not exactly guilt free. Here we could think of death on the rock, union bans at GCHQ, Spycatcher, banning illegal raves (identified as events where “music with a repetitive beat” is played). But people from across the political spectrum (except Labour ministers) have expressed grave concerns about erosion of rights and liberties that took years of effort to establish have been swept away by government since 1997. This weekend a series of events launched by the Convention on Modern Liberty took place throughout the UK. According to the Observer, the event was the biggest convention on civil liberties ever held in Britain. Is this a sign that people are no longer satisfied to watch us sleepwalking towards a police state?read more...»
American Politics students will be familiar with the gap between the expectations placed upon the President and the powers he has at his disposal to enact legislation. The Constitution of course hands all power to initiate legislation to Congress but since the 1930s the occupant of the White House has effectively become de facto chief legislator. In other words, the President is essentially hamstrung by the separation of powers put in place by the Founding Fathers who were cautious about creating a new political system that could lend itself to executive tyranny. For this reason modern Presidents must employ a range of techniques that can assist their power to persuade. So how has Obama attempted to deal with this challenge?read more...»
Nick Robinson has written an excellent blog piece about comparisons between the first ever Prime Minister and the current one. Details of his related BBC Radio4 programme are here as well.
I would draw the attention of blog readers to two excellent comment pieces on the current state of the Conservative Party as in the eyes of many it moves closer to government. The first is by Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer. The second by former Cabinet minister Michael Portillo in the Sunday Times. Both provide the kind of context and analysis that Politics students should be exposing themselves to.
According to the Independent website:
‘The full extent of state powers to detain people without charge, cover up Government errors, hold the DNA of the innocent and share personal data between public bodies has been revealed in a devastating analysis of the erosion of civil liberties in Britain over the past decade.’read more...»
From the trailer this looks like a compelling production, so it’s recommended viewing for all Politics students.
26 Feb 2009, 21:00 on BBC Two
From the BBC press office:read more...»
I was asked this question by David Cameron this morning. Or at least I received an email from some lackey at Tory central office informing of a green paper published by the party which spells out plans to give councils more power.read more...»
The judiciary is easily the least favoured topic area for students tackling the government of the UK modules. Memory has it that the number of candidates who attempted to answer a question on this topic on a paper for one of the major examination boards could be counted on one hand. Partly this is because some centres have given up teaching it. I’ve gone on record in this forum previously in saying that I think this is a shame. Firstly, the topic is anything but dry. Judges have said some highly controversial things. Heard the one about the judge who said that immigrants might not be suitable jurors? Secondly, British judges have been hitting the headlines more in recent years in clashing with the executive than has ever been the case. This has largely been brought about by the massive increase in judicial review and the Human Rights Act.read more...»
Buried in the Education section of Tuesday’s Guardian is an interview with Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at Oxford. Bogdanor is one of the most established authorities on the constitution and some of his observations are useful when considering the impact of constitutional reforms undertaken by Labour post 1997.read more...»
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party was kind enough to give up some of his time and share some of his ideas on Britain’s relations with the European Union by coming to speak to my school’s Politics Society.read more...»
Yesterday I had one of the most animated group discussions in some time when discussing the relative effectiveness of crime strategies which focused on prevention versus tougher deterrants in the shape of stiffer prison sentences. It seems incredibly difficult to square a circle which desires more liberalisation in the shape of personal freedoms versus an approach to solving crime that doesn’t come straight out of a Daily Mail editorial page.
Today there is an agency report suggesting that certian class A drugs be downgraded. More food for thought when discussing civil liberties, law and order, etc.
See the Big Question as a starting off point.
Wag economists are inclined to say that the difference between a recession and a depression is that in the former your neighbour loses his job, in the latter you lose your job. But it seems that Gordon is doing his best to put himself out of work by lurching into depression territory in what can only be described as a Freudian slip.read more...»
I make a big play to students thinking of signing up for Politics in the sixth form (and we don’t do too badly for numbers - roughly a quarter of the lower sixth take the subject, and we are the 4th most popular in terms of bums on seats in that year group) that at the very least they will end one year of study with a good understanding of how their country’s governmental systems works. But do they? The conscientious class student should end up with more ability than the man in the street to discuss the workings of the single transferable vote, or be able to recognise that the introduction of a new Parliament at Holyrood has thrown into sharp relief the problems of asymmetrical devolution.
But when it gets to the nuts and bolts of legislating and governing, what then?read more...»
The new edition of first past the post, tutor2u’s digital Politics magazine, has been posted on the site.
Given the importance of the recent American elections, there is a bit of a US slant, but there are great articles covering UK politics, the EU, UK issues, as well as political ideologies.read more...»
A great starting point for starting study of House of Lords reform is this feature in the Independent’s Big Question series.