All posts filed under: Unit 1

Weekly Parliament Roundup:4th-11th December 2013

Parliament Roundup: 4/12/13-11/12/13 MPs to receive 11% pay rise: Click for a video explanation IPSA(Independent Parliament Standards Authority) have recently proposed to provide MPs with a pay rise of 11% which will increase their salary to £74,000. They have stated that there will be changes to the pension scheme which will save tax payer 2.5 billion pounds if the rise is to take place. Even though this might be seen as a great thing for the MPs, lots of them are scared to state publicly that they think it is a good idea. The main issue with this proposal is that it might be the wrong time to make such high rises in MP’s salaries when other public sectors are facing difficult freezes. However, of this proposal is to go ahead, it will take legislation in 2015 to stop this from occurring. The public might not like the sound of the proposal at first because many might feel that the MPs don’t deserve such a high pay rise as they have failed to improve costs …

Labour Leader Ed Miliband – Does he have what it takes?

 Does Ed Miliband have what it takes to be Prime Minister?     The views of the public depict conflict when addressing Ed Miliband as a leader, not only concerning his strength and influence within the Labour Party but whether he is indeed, too “weak” to act as Prime Minister. With those who are in favour of Miliband such as the likes of  political thinker Anthony Barnett who argues provocatively that “Ed Miliband is an exceptionally effective opposition leader, brave and an adroit party manager” and present PM David Cameron often highlighting his disproval of Miliband  and asserting his leadership as poor by stating “We know Labour’s approach, you go in with your hands up and a white flag” , the public are found torn between choosing Labour for their policies or abandoning the idea of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister out of uncertainty and scepticism. Following the conclusion of the Miliband brothers’ pyscho-drama in the battle to become leader of the Labour party, the aftermath of Ed’s victory seemed strangely anticlimactic. It didn’t seem …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 27th November – 4th December 2013

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 27/11/13-4/12/13 Autumn Statement George Osborne released an Autumn statement on which was said to concentrate on delivering a responsible recovery.  The statement aims to turn the political conversation back to the economy and to emphasise the fact that we are making considerable improvements as our growth forecast is upgrading and how we are now borrowing less. Coalition action on Energy Bill Crisis Recently, there have been Coalition plans to reduce energy bills by an average of £50 per year. In addition to this, the cost of insulating homes will be spread over a longer period and there are plans for a new £1000 incentive scheme given to new home buyers to help them insulate their homes. The government is hoping that this plan will turn attention away from Ed Miliband’s proposed plans to resolve the cost of living crisis which he has not failed to emphasise upon successfully for the last few months. However, there are many rising issues associated with the plans and the most important one is that the coalition …

Old Labour vs New Labour: Labour’s ever-changing colours

Old Labour vs New Labour   At the start of this year, Ed Miliband had set a clear path for the Labour Party to follow. Fearing that a radical approach would further alienate voters, he declared that his ‘One Nation’ Labour would acknowledge the lack of relevance that both strands in his party’s post-war history hold in 21st century Britain. Miliband professed that his Labour will reach out to voters alienated by the party in the 1980s, while also standing up to the vested interests courted by the party in government over the past decade. “New Labour”, he continued, “rightly broke from Old Labour to celebrate the power of private enterprise to energise the country … From crime to welfare to antisocial behaviour, New Labour was clear that we owe duties to each other as citizens.” He went on to criticise New Labour’s feebleness under the influence of big businesses, declaring:

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-20th November

Weekly Parliament Roundup – 13/11/13-20/11/13 Geneva II Conference November 2013   Over the last few weeks, the Geneva conference has taken centre stage in the news, in regards to Iran’s nuclear projects. The conference was postponed to the 20th and has resumed over the past few days. Even though definite decisions have not yet been made, following his visit to Geneva, Foreign Secretary William Hague states that Britain’s aim is to create a “Interim first step agreement with Iran that can then create the confidence and the space to then create a comprehensive and final agreement”. The main question is however, is it too late for Britain to step in and try to give Iran guidance on the decision that it should make? The country seems set on making the brave choice to go ahead with their plans without the restrictions from America. Hopefully, Hague will make an influential effort to try and impose financial and energy sanctions against Iran, with the help of other countries such as France and Germany. Increase in Tax Thresholds …

Pressure Groups

Unit 1: Pressure Groups A Pressure Group is an organised group that does not hold candidates for election, but seeks to influence and change government policy or legislation. They are also described as ‘interest groups’, ‘lobby groups’ or ‘protest groups’. In Britain, the number of political parties is on the small scale compared to the mass number of pressure groups that run into their thousands. Pressure Groups can be distinguished in a variety of different ways including; local/national/European/transnational groups and temporary/permanent groups, however the most common distinctions are between: Interest and cause groups / Insider and outsider groups   Interest groups (sometimes called ‘sectional’, ‘protective’ or ‘functional’ groups) are groups that represent a particular section of society, for example, workers, employers, consumers, an ethnic or religious group. Interest groups have the following features: They are concerned to protect or advance the interests of their members Limited membership to people in a particular occupation, career or economic position Members that are motivated by material self-interest Examples of this type of group are trade unions, business corporations, trade associations …

Who’s Who – The Shadow Cabinet

Who’s Who – Shadow Cabinet The Shadow Cabinet consists of only Labour MPs. It is the Shadow Cabinet’s job to criticise and challenge the policies and actions of the leading government, including the likes of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron. Here’s a list of the members and their roles. Why not check the links for recent news updates, it may just help you to learn about their past history and present position in politics…   David Miliband MP (Labour) Role: Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party. Education: Studied PPE at Oxford and at the London School of Economics. Political Career: Elected MP for Doncaster North since 2005. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change from 2008 to 2010.  Leader of the Labour Party since 2010 having won against his brother. Extra Information: Click for the Miliband fact file  Harriet Harman MP (Labour) Role: Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Education: Studied Politics at the University of York. Political Career: Elected MP for …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-13th November 2013

Weekly Parliament review – 6th -13th November 2013 Commonwealth Summit Prime Minister David Cameron will still attend the Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka despite India and Canada boycotting the event. There have been calls for the PM to boycott the event, especially from Labour members who proposed that they would strongly support the Prime Minister if reversed his decision to attend. On the other hand, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that if the Prime Minister decided not to attend the summit, it would damage the commonwealth without making any positive change in Sri Lanka. The summit will concern the country’s Human Rights records and Cameron has pledged to put ‘serious questions’ to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda  Rajapaksa  about his regime’s widely condemned Human Rights records and allegations of war crimes against the Tamil minority. Concerns over rise in personal debt in the UK The Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee Mark Garnier has raised concerns over the level of personal debt in the UK. He recently stated on The World This Weekend on …

News Report: Labour Party becomes media target after Falkirk investigations

Union within Labour party creates false memberships in order to rig voting process in Falkirk.   The Labour party came under fire after it was found that Unite, Labour’s biggest union backer was accused of coercing members to join the Labour Party and signing up unsuspecting families without their knowledge to ensure the union’s favoured, now with drawn candidate, Karie Murphy was selected as the Falkirk MP. The investigation was first brought up by two families who suddenly found that they had become members of the labour party despite never signing the forms to join the party. The general secretary of the Unite union Len McClucky, denied fresh claims that the union was involved in the forgery and coercion and stated that it was a poor attempt from the Tories to discredit Ed Miliband, as the Conservatives take it upon themselves to leak emails of internal Labour reports of the Falkirk investigations to the Sunday Times. Allegations: In an interview with presenter Andrew Neil on BBC’s Sunday Politics Len McCluskey defends Unite by claiming “We didn’t thwart anything. The …

UKIP: U-keep Or U-Gone?

UKIP, the UK Independence Party is a right-wing political party that was established in 1993. Their views are often seen as being more radical than the other political parties, like their immigration policies and proposed EU referendum. There is constant controversy surrounding UKIP due to its proposal of radical changes to immigration, such as implementing a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement and disallowing immigrants to apply for public housing and benefits until they have paid tax for five years. Some argue they are racist, as they are exploiting immigrants’ rights. UKIP deny that, claiming they are not against race but against an ‘open-door’ policy. Nigel Farage stated that in the past 10 years, there has been more migration into Britain than between 1066 and 1950. Anna Soubry, the defence minister, said that Nigel Farage was ‘scaremongering’ and putting ‘fear in people’s hearts’ with his anti-immigration rhetoric and ‘prejudice’. Farage hit back at Soubry’s remarks by calling them ‘abusive’ and it showed how the Conservatives were ‘terrified’ about the rise of UKIP. Its policy to end …

Energy Bill Crisis: Cameron’s dilemma

Energy Bills – Is Cameron ‘panicking‘ yet? Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed politicians persistently speaking of energy prices rocketing and of the ‘Big Six’ making huge profits from the bills of their overcharged customer’s, of whom are without any knowledge of they came to be so high in price.  Many individuals who are unable to afford these high prices are left confused and deceived by their energy supplier and blame PM David Cameron for not taking action against this ever increasing issue. Recently, the problem has been addressed by Cameron in parliament and of who has even been in discussion with Neck Clegg in order to find a way to get household bills down and made sustainable. The “big” questions are;  how soon and how will he make changes to the British taxpayer’s energy bill? According to research by uSwitch, energy bill suppliers such as the likes of British Gas have a current bill at around £1,340 and the new bill is said to raise to a staggering £1,465 – an increase of £125 which …

Brand Vs Paxman: Can apathy change the democratic system?

Setting aside Russell Brand’s notorious eccentric persona, his interview with Jeremy Paxman that aired 23rd October on Newsnight, highlighted his perspective that the UK’s current democratic system ‘favours the elite’. Brand has indeed never voted nor is showing any signs of wanting to participate in the future. He firmly believes that “Government is not working” and there is great and evident need for change in how the UK’s “democracy” works. “It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations” Despite his radical approach to the interview, he was able to articulate his strongly felt discontentment with the current system. Presenting elitism, not only by politicians, but suggesting that it is occurring within the Houses of Parliament itself. Brand says that it is “decorated for a certain type of people” that excludes part of the population and causes their disillusion. However farfetched this specific reason may be for a declining political …

Changing relationship between Labour and the Unions

Over the summer Ed Miliband announced drastic reinvention of his party’s relationship with the trade unions.  He wants affiliation to the party on the basis of individual choice, rather than a collective affiliation in which the union member has no say. What has led Miliband to make these changes? For a long time, the Conservative Party has criticised the Unions’ power within the Labour Party, this is one possible reason. Or perhaps these reforms are driven by the Falkirk controversy, where Ed Miliband accused Unite (Britain’s largest union) of tampering with the candidate selection procedures for the Falkirk By-election. Dave Prentis (Unison’s General Secretary) believes reforms are a “knee-jerk” reaction to Falkirk and describes the changes as “off the wall”. Ed Miliband admits that these changes to the link with the Unions are a “risk” and a “massive challenge”. In his speech in Bournemouth he described how he was “proud of the 3 million working men and women affiliated with his party, but they’re affiliated in name only” and that “We can be a Labour …

AS Politics News Roundup 8/2/13

A weekly roundup of the three big news stories of the week   1 The Commons voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by 400 to 175, a majority of 225, at the end of a full day’s debate on the bill. Voting lists show that 136 Conservatives opposed the bill, This figure includes two cabinet ministers, eight junior ministers and eight  whips. Opening the debate was Equalities Minister Maria Miller who’s against gay adoption rights. Not David Cameron.

A Summary of the Labour Conference – Autumn 2012

The quote ‘One Nation’ has become a National mantra for supporters of the Labour party after the recent party conference in Manchester came to a close this week. Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour party, demonstrated what some critics have described as being the ‘utmost resilience and determination’, in an attempt to restore the Labour party to its former glory. Miliband spoke candidly about his hopes to advocate a ‘One Nation’ party, which to many people is a simple reminder of an earlier broadcast by the post – 1945 One Nation group of Tories led by Tory Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli had hoped to unite the country through fiscal discipline, self-reliance and building on historic strengths, unlike Miliband’s hope of leading the country on the basis of sufficient support from active trade unions and diligent Labour supporters.

A Summary of the Liberal Democrat Conference – Autumn 2012

As the recent Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton drew to a close last week, supporters and critics of the party have been left wondering how the party’s proposals will affect the decline in support two years into the coalition government. On the one hand, Nick Clegg’s heartfelt apology for breaking his promise on those tuition fees; on the other hand, however, recent reports questioning Nick Clegg’s credibility as leader of the Liberal Democrat party have surfaced, as the Independent newspaper recently reported that the majority of members of the Liberal Democrat party have lost complete faith in their leader. So, was Clegg right to make a public apology or should he have focused more on ensuring that the 2012 Liberal Democrat conference was a success and not a reflection of his unpopularity amongst his fellow Lib Dem Cabinet supporters?

Question Time Review – Thursday 5 October 2012

It was quite an interesting Question Time tonight. Not necessarily the most relevant to the course, although a few good points were made, but it seems that there were quite deep moral questions being put out there too. On the panel tonight: Willie Walsh CEO of British Airways, Liberal Democrat Baroness Kramer, Cabinet Minister Ken Clarke, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander and broadcaster Janet Street Porter.

How important is turnout and the role of the media?

Low turnout is quickly becoming one of the biggest problems facing British democracy, especially as, in light of the local elections, Labour’s share of the vote only went up by 1% most probably due to the extremely low local election turnout of 32%, the lowest since 2000. These low turnout figures go a small but still apparent way to undermining Labour’s win, highlighting the importance of the party not becoming complacent. The growing inequality in turnout can also be seen to massively affect election results. According to Ipsos-Mori, at the last general election, 76% of voters from the top social class voted, whereas just 57% of voters in the bottom social class did. Unequal turnout matters because it reduces the incentives for governments to respond to the interests of non-voting groups. Pensioners have huge electoral clout and as a result, free TV licences, bus passes and pensions are often seen as deal-breakers for many governments. When we see spending cuts in the UK having a disproportionate affect on young people and the poor, it’s because they don’t vote! …

What the local election results mean

For the Tories ‘A tough night’ was what Conservative chairman Sayeeda Warsi predicted for her party, and so it proved true as the party  faced a mass rejection from voters across the country as they lost 403 council seats, 12 council majorities and 2 London assembly seats. With articles questioning Cameron’s competency floating around, these elections alongside a disastrous response to the mayoral system across the country, have served a severe blow to the Conservatives in moving forward. These loses have provoked Tory backbenchers to demand that the Prime Minister drop unpopular policies such as gay marriage and House of Lords reform. Senior Conservatives blamed the results on “mid-term blues” and said that the turnout was just 32 per cent nationally. Party strategists pointed out that Tony Blair lost more than 1,000 council seats in the late 1990s but still won a landslide majority in the 2001 general election. The London mayoral contest provided some respite for the Prime Minister with Boris Johnson winning, although the results were far closer than expected and much of …

The Mayoral Elections – a fair system?

On Thursday, the electorate took to the polls to decide on the new mayor of London and with Boris Johnson reclaiming the title we can now look at the vote from an electoral point of view. The Mayor of London is elected through a system called supplementary vote, a majoritarian system. The voter gets one vote with a first and second preference. If no candidate wins a majority of first preferences, all but the top two candidates are eliminated, and the second preference votes for the remaining two eligible candidates are added to their first preference votes. The advantages of this system are that the winning candidate must achieve broad support as they are appealing for not only first preference votes but second preference votes as well, they also need broad support to ensure a majority. Another advantage is that the second preference of voters who supported minor parties are counted (as long as their second preference is for a party that’s most likely to be within the top two), suggesting that most votes count. …

“A Boris for every city” – Mayoral system rejected across the country

Along with a series of local election defeats the coalition’s localism agenda took a battering during their round of referendums. With people in Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bradford, Coventry, Sheffield, Leeds, Wakefield and Newcastle voting against the idea in local referendums, only Bristol voters bucked the trend and provided the Prime Minister with some comfort.

Democracy under the Coalition

Following calls for greater US-style openness from public figures, Nick Clegg has stated he has ‘no objection in principle’ to publishing his tax return. This came after the four main candidates for London mayoral elections revealed their personal tax affairs due to Jenny Jones suggesting the move during a newsnight debate. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said he would have “no problem” in making his tax return public. An aide to Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the minister had “no intention to publish but his only sources of income are in the public domain”. An aide to Ed Miliband said the Labour leader and Shadow Cabinet would match anything the Government did, adding: “The real issue is ministers coming clean about whether they benefit themselves from the tax cut for millionaires introduced by George Osborne.” John Redwood however had something else to say, branding a move to publish MP’s tax returns ‘an invasion of privacy’ saying ‘everyone avoids some tax’ moving instead that people standing for the conservative party should sign …

Audio: Will elected police commissioners work?

From November 2012, voters will change the way the police are held to account, electing 41 police and crime commissioners across England and Wales. Lord Prescott, former deputy PM and standing for nomination as Labour candidate as Police and Crime Commissioner in Humberside, and Tim Brain, former chief constable of Gloucester and visiting professor of Criminology at Gloucestershire University, debate the idea of elected police commissioners. Today Programme Wednesday 15th February. Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS

Prayer in a Pickle

A ruling following a legal challenge from the National Secular Society this Friday stating that the saying of prayers during Bideford council meetings was unlawful has ignited criticisms from the Communities and Local Government Minister, Eric Pickles. He commented that the judgment was “surprising and disappointing” and he believed that under the Localism Act councils ought to be allowed to say prayers. Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS

John Prescott – The Commissioner

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has announced his intentions to become one of Britain’s first elected police and crime commissioners. Prescott who will face the polls in November if selected to stand following being nominated, said he would spend the next few months consulting the public before drafting the manifesto he would use to campaign for the up to £100,000 a year job.