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In the News

Anywhere but Westminster? Does refurbishment give Politics a chance to re-engage?

Jonny Clark

25th April 2016

The very thorny issue of how to undertake urgently needed refurbishment of Westminster Palace has reared its head again this week, as David Cameron calls for MPs to remain in Parliament whilst repairs are carried out around them. The problem with this idea is that it could have a significant impact on Parliamentary business and, consequentially, an impact on representative democracy in the UK. The Parliamentary Committee investigating the matter is about to issue a report (FT report here) and wants Cameron and the Government to remain neutral and wait for recommendations.

There may be some area for discussion with your students about how confidence in the perceived representation of UK MPs is facing greater and greater cynicism and the argument about repairs to Westminster may be seen as yet another decision being made by politicians caught in a bubble that divorces them from their electorate. The clip below is a fascinating summary of the findings of Guardian reporters John Harris and John Domokos, who have been travelling around the UK, deliberately avoiding Westminster, to find out the views of many people who feel disillusioned or disenfranchised. Their findings give some insight into the growth in popularity of parties that have less to do with established politics, such as UKIP and the SNP. The report also suggests that an anti-establishment buzz is being mirrored around the world, explaining the growth in popularity of politicians such as Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and the Syriza party in Greece alongside the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. Factors such as the decline in major industries employing large numbers of people and the growth of unpopular employment practices such as zero hours contracts are adding to a malaise towards the established parties in London. The argument here is that with such cynicism among voters, questions about the established order (such as membership of the EU and Scottish independence) are now more likely to be put on the table.

It may be more costly, but would a temporary move away from Westminster aid a political re-engagement in the UK?

Jonny Clark

Jon Clark has been teaching economics and business studies for over 25 years primarily in the Further Education sector. Before joining tutor2u, he was a senior manager at South Cheshire College in Crewe.

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