Business Studies can have the Biz Quiz, so here comes the Politics Quiz, a weekly round up of news and interesting political stories in the form of 10 questions! Helping you to live the Subject!
The Hansard Society have been in touch with us to let us know about a new project they're running this year designed to encourage and stimulate debate about key political and economic issues.
Headsup is an online forum for under 18's to debate political issues with their peers up and down the country, and with influential decision-makers. According to the Hansard Society, Headsup is:
a safe, student-oriented space where young people become more informed about political issues, improve their discussion skills and let adults with political influence know what they think. Debate topics are chosen by the young people and have included a range of subjects, such as; immigration, crime, the NHS, climate change and international aid
Someone once said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes.
Talking to a colleague the other day, she suggested this could be a YouTube feature.
To start with then we have Black Wednesday. In the 1992 election the Tories pledged that membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) was at the heart of economic policy. For instance their manifesto of that year stated: “Membership of the ERM is now central to our counter-inflation discipline.” Several months later, the Chancellor Norman Lamont announced that Britain would cease to be part of it. From then on, all the way through to the 1997 election, Labour were well ahead in the polls. That the economy was powering ahead mattered little to the British electorate. Essentially the Conservative government never recovered its reputation for sound economic management until Labour then wrecked any credibility they had after the 2008 financial crisis.
What is interesting (and I am disappointed I couldn’t find a clip on YouTube of the individual standing behind Lamont on the day it was announced that interest rates would soar) is the identity of a young man acting as a special adviser to the Chancellor. Who was it? Where could he possibly be now? See if the picture below the BBC 6 o’clock news on Black Wednesday gives you any clue…read more...»
Can you do better than Rory?
With party conference season in full swing I thought of a good teaching and learning exercise on political parties after watching Rory Weal’s speech in Liverpool yesterday. It is essentially a combination of student tasks that I would do on party ideologies at AS anyway, with what candidates in mock elections would be doing in school. But this year we have a standard to beat. Personally I thought Rory delivered a great speech and clearly does not merit most of the flak that he has received from the kind of obviously unhinged people who post comments on YouTube.
If you have yet to see the speech, here is the BBC clip.read more...»
This is not intended to be an exhaustive journey through Barack Obama’s career, but instead to end the series on Politics via YouTube by bringing blog readers access to a step by step tour of some key points in the story of an individual with the kind of charisma and oratorical skill that comes around perhaps only once in several generations.
I have tried wherever possible to link to versions with the best combination of audio visual quality.
Put some time aside, and enjoy…read more...»
Having covered a fair amount of UK highlights, I thought I’d link to some top clips I use in US politics teaching.
These are all pre-Obama. I’m working on bringing video material on the current POTUS together for a future posting.
Happy viewing!read more...»
Intra school cooperation at its best as the Bradford Grammar Politics Department offered up these examples to the Social Science Faculty as part of my quest for more ideas on introducing British Politics via YouTube.read more...»
Gordo’s famous smile didn’t quite make it
Any ideas as to what should complete the 10?
Here are my 9 so far…read more...»
I frequently get asked for an easy to understand guide to the UK political system. Until recently I lacked an adequate answer. But BBC’s Democracy Live page has a whole host of simple guides to UK institutions. Useful for citizenship, lower school PSHE (for teachers and pupils) and those new to AS looking to do a bit of home research.
This is essentially a posting about the virtues of the CNN app for US Politics students
On Twitter I have been posting links to news stories that are an essential daily read for students of Politics that I have come across as part of my personal reading on the web.
This type of heads up on what is in the news is not a substitute for students doing their own reading, but I know that for many students it is the case that there is so much information freely available on the web that it is not always easy to discriminate between items in terms of their direct relevance to the syllabus. This is where the posts are supposed to fill the gap. Just a couple of links each day, and if students have time to read more then they can use these stories as a starting point for further browsing.
My students have already said they find it useful, and I hope more can.
Follow me on @bgsmacca
Some interesting insights on powers/role of the PM, relations with Cabinet, and role of Cabinet in last night’s Dispatches.
These up-to-date examples should help strengthen answers on this, the most popular Unit 2 topic area.
A Californina sized hat tip to Ben on the Economics blog for highlighting the existence of this excellent graphic which compares US states to nations in terms of the size of their economies and populations.
I know this is thinking ahead, but after the AS exams any potential A2 American Politics groups I have are offered the chance to enter the post AS competition on America’s geography, demography and population - regular readers may have read about this exercise in previous postings.
Are politicians getting posher? This week Andrew Neil investigates whether Britain’s political class is once agaim dominated by those coming from privileged backgrounds. Here he is on the One show.
BBC blurb: “David Cameron and Nick Clegg seem made for each other: Eton and Oxford meets Westminster School and Cambridge. But does the return of public school boys to the top of our politics say something worrying about the decline of social mobility in Britain?
Andrew Neil goes on a journey from the Scottish council house he grew up in to the corridors of power to ask if we will ever again see a prime minister emerge from an ordinary background like his.
In this provocative film Andrew seeks to find out why politicians from all parties appear to be drawn from an ever smaller social pool - and why it matters to us all.”
A Times article on Clegg and Cameron.
Wednesday, 21:00 on BBC Two (England, Northern Ireland, Wales only)
Reapportionment and redistricting takes place after each decennial census. Figures for the 2010 census are due to be released shortly, and this USA Today video gives a short and helpful explanation of the reapportionment process.
A heads up on a great site for checking up on the ballot measures at next week’s polls (what one commentator is calling indecision day).
Interesting stuff. You probably know Californians will decide on marijuana use, but what about states considering a ban on affirmative action?
I think I blogged on this previously, but here is a reminder of a neat little exercise for teachers and students. It doesn’t take long, and proved highly popular with my students last year.
If you are a student of American politics, then this post early in the academic year could well be my most important…
These are the sites I most frequently plunder when trying to keep abreast of developments in US politics. These are also the places therefore that I suggest students of the subject try to access as much as possible when trying to get to grips with the politics of the USA. In the same way as linguists recommend immersion learning when studying a new language, getting stuck into some of the US sites really does help.read more...»
I’ve come across a link to a host of documentaries that can be accessed online.
Lots of developments recently regarding arms treaties and the control of nuclear weapons. This neat interactive graphic summarises which nation states currently have nuclear weapons, and also provides a summary timeline of the Arms Race
A little while back I penned an article for t2u’s digital politics magazine outlining the steps that would need to be taken for electoral reform to become a reality for Westminster. In summary, these were: a possible hung parliament; a PM committed to change; a majority of Cabinet; MP support; safe passage through the Lords; and at some stage in all of this a plebiscite of the people.
Like an alignment of the stars, this seems to be taking shape.
Yesterday’s vote on a vote in the Commons on AV brings us closer to moving from simple plurality than at any stage in recent history.
The BBC has some great graphics on how a remodelled election would have played out over the past three decades. Useful stuff for considering the merits of change. From a personal perspective, this move by Labour continues the British tradition of tinkering with the constitution for reasons of short term political expediency. In other words, Brown is trying to cuddle up to the Lib Dems—a horrible image for all sorts of reasons.
I’m sure teachers of American Politics won’t need reminding about the virtues of watching the Daily Show, but students may need a gentle reminder.
The episode broadcast in the UK last night contained a hilarious analysis of Sarah Palin’s major speech at the Tea Party conference in Nashville. Palin is a phenomenon and never quite manages to steer herself away from unintended controversy. If you’re not sure what I’m on about watch a replay from the Channel 4 website. Of course, Jon Stewart is presenting from a left wing perspective and I share many of his personal biases, so it may not be to everyone’s taste!!
There’s a useful two page spread on Obama’s presidency one year on in today’s Independent—here is the link to the web version.
The BBC devotes a special section to the one year anniversary.
And see how you get on with the one year quiz!!!
I’m definitely going to use all the abundant material for students to do a webquest presentation on his first year. A nice way to start Unit 4C having just completed the 3C exam. Andy Lawrence has posted details of a similar exercise on Cameron the t2u Pol teachers forum.
A stunning online slideshow here from Reuters tells the story of a decade of global terror and violence. Many of the images are hard-hitting. All are thought-provoking. An amazing resource to use as stimulus material for Politics units covering global issues.
A super new interactive resource here from the BBC which allows users to track the trends, data and events behind the opinion polls over the last 20-30 years.
I wonder if this clip by Tim Harford will provoke debate among students about race, whether in the UK or the USA.
Want to get a flavour of the degree of partisanship in modern American politics?
Say the Observer:
“Glenn Beck is a TV host, bestselling author and the most influential voice on the rightwing Fox channel. Now, even some Republicans worry that the extreme and maverick views of Beck and his supporters will make their party unelectable. Is the TV tail wagging the political dog?”
Read the rest of the article and listen to this classic five minute radio rant by the man himself. It takes a little time to load up, but it is hilarious. And just a little bit scary!read more...»
The BBC has launched a new online service that should make tracking politics on film easier.
There’s also a very useful section on the various governing institutions, what powers they have, and so forth.
I also came across a section on the online archives on Mrs Thatcher. Lots of clips and Panorama interviews that I once stored on VHS tapes.
Watch this report by Lyndsey Hilsum from Wednesday’s Channel 4 news.
For fans of the classic comedy series “The Day Today”, you may think that this is the work of another set of comedians of a similarly twisted disposition.read more...»
I can recommend visiting the Politics and History blog at Nonsuch High School. Fresh and topical - a great example of how to maintain an excellent departmental blog.
I’ve put together a list of resources on President Obama. This could be accessed by students or teachers for a host of purposes.read more...»
How one of this blogger’s favourite TV shows may help with revision
On YouTuberead more...»
Race relations in the US Politics is probably the most interesting topic as far as my current crop of students are concerned. What better time to consider whether pursuit of the American Dream is a realistic proposition for African Americans than now. The inauguration of the first ever black President suggests that equality is possible, but a couple of the YouTube clips I use when considering the issue of race in America here suggest that race remains the main dividing line issue in the USA.read more...»
A heads up for Saturday’s Independent which comes with a free DVD of the original Frost v Nixon interview. This coincides with the release of the Ron Howard film ‘Frost/Nixon’ which is due for general release on Friday. I managed to catch it when in the US recently and it really is superb - a Politics class night out to the cinema?
Also in today’s paper, with Bush’s departure and Obama’s inauguration just days away, is the start of a seven part series on the lives of the presidents. Another reason to go out and get a copy. If you want to access the info online, the web link is here.
I have been doing some legwork for a forthcoming article for first past the post on campaign finance in the USA. Browsing the Open Secrets site I have been fascinated by their feature on the revolving door.
As the site states:
"Although the influence powerhouses that line Washington's K Street are just a few miles from the U.S. Capitol building, the most direct path between the two doesn't necessarily involve public transportation. Instead, it's through a door—a revolving door that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers. While members of the executive branch, Congress and senior congressional staffers spin in and out of the private and public sectors, so too does privilege, power, access and, of course, money."
On the site you can track movement between congressional and executive offices and lobbying firms. The scale and degree of activity is quite staggering.
This is an excellent site for consolidating knowledge on this much discussed, but often misunderstood phenomenon. Note for instance, that lobby firms seek to attract those with agency/executive experience as well as congressional staffers, not just ex-congressmen.>
I wonder if you have been watching this TV miniseries on Channel 4. The next show is on Saturday 10 January at 5.15 pm.
It really is quite excellent and essential viewing for students of American Politicsread more...»
To help key students keep up to date with current affairs (and be successful in tutor2u’s Question Time!), the BBC website hosts a whole range of clips from its political programming.
Here for instance is a short clip from the programme that can be used in lessons on political parties. Personally I think its important that I keep persevering with this topic even though my students have told me today (yet again) that they are unlikely to answer a question on it in the exam. This is one of the most exciting times in years to be studying politics given the current economic backdrop.
See the clip here
There was an excellent documentary at the weekend on the possibly declining influence of the religious right. You can access for the next 29 days on Channel 4’s catch up site
I can’t find any way to download it permanently, so if there are any technophiles out there who know how…!
I have also included the first part here from YouTuberead more...»
It may have escaped your attention that Saturday was not only the 45th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, but also the 18th anniversary resignation of Mrs Thatcher as PM.
Perhaps an opportune time to consider the importance of each historic figure.
There is almost unlimited information out there on the web on both, but my contribution is the link to a clip of Oliver Stone’s film on JFK’s shooting. I think it is some of the best politics on film.read more...»
I bet these three words had readers salivating at the prospect of what was to come. Probably not. I once made the mistake of admitting that I liked electoral systems as a topic. My colleague showed no mercy.
Anyway, on my travels through electoral reform websites I have come across some computer generated graphical explanations. Useful teaching aids.
It is unlikely that news that Rahm Emanuel has been chosen as Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff has escaped the attention of blog readers.read more...»
How many presidents were over 6ft tall? Which have had their faces on bank notes?
Find out via this jpg file, which would make a handy wall display:
I can’t seem to find the victory speech by Obama in Grant Park in full on YouTube, but this is the link to the BBC version:
As I write this it is 4 days and 17 hours until polling opens. This is just enough time for readers new to American Politics to get their head round the way US voters elect their President.read more...»
I have written an article for first past the post on the factors which may determine the outcome of the presidential election, and it should be out shortly. Meanwhile I would draw your attention to details of an article which popped up in my email inbox this morning from the New York Times. It covers news that the economy has had a huge impact on the contest. It starts:
“The turmoil on Wall Street and the weakening economy are changing the contours of the presidential campaign map, giving new force to Senator Barack Obama’s ambitious strategy to make incursions into Republican territory, while leading Senator John McCain to scale back his efforts to capture Democratic states.”
The article also contains some great links to multimedia maps: a useful teaching resource if you are covering voting behaviour.
Read the rest here
What the papers said about the first contest between McCain and Obamaread more...»
Sunday 9.00 pm BBC4 is showing ‘How to Be a Good President: Time Shift’. The blurb from their website states:
‘In a whistle-stop tour through the history of the US presidency, journalist and author Jonathan Freedland asks what qualities make a great president and what we can learn from the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, JFK or even Richard Nixon about what it takes to make a mark in the White House.
Freedland is helped by distinguished contributors including James Naughtie, Shirley Williams, Douglas Hurd, Simon Hoggart and Bonnie Greer, who give frank assessments of some of America’s greatest presidents.’
A hat tip to Jack Barnes on this one.
A clip from the BBC of Nixon campaigning in 1972
I have come across another very useful video on Brown’s year.read more...»
Another video from the barely political gangread more...»
The revelation that protestors who climbed to the top of the House of Commons used Google Earth to plan their protest has got me thinking. Could you use Google Earth to help in the teaching of politics?read more...»