All posts tagged: political participation

To what extent is there a political participation problem in the UK?

In the UK, the level of political participation is measured by the turnout in general elections that take place every 5 years, although there are other means by which a person can be politically active. As a representative democracy, elections are the cornerstone of democracy in the UK. The level of electoral turnout must therefore be an important indication of the health of the larger democratic system. However, in recent years, the percentage of the general public voting in general elections has reached new lows since universal voting was introduced in the UK. It could be argued that the UK is suffering from a ‘political participation crisis’ where the public are becoming increasingly disengaged with UK politics. But, this diagnosis may be a little premature as the problem might not be about a decline in the overall level of political participation but instead about a shift from one kind of participation to another. Thus, it is difficult to decide whether the problem is about the apathetic nature of society or a more fundamental issue surrounding …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-12th September 2014

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th -12th September By Gloria Ganda 0.7% of national income to be given to foreign aid? MPs have backed a new law which commits to spending 0.7% of national income on foreign aid. This means that roughly £11bn per year will be given to international aid and development after the Tories have finally backed the Liberal Democrat bill which is also supported by Labour. The legislation was opposed by just seven Conservative MPs and both the Tories and the Liberals are one step ahead of fulfilling one of their manifesto promises to put the 0.7% measure into law. Despite the majority agreeing to the new legislation, the Tories primarily were hesitant towards the legislation as they thought it was unpopular with their grassroots in the difficult economic climate which we are in. However, it looks as though the Legislation could soon come to force. Polls tighten on Scottish Independence Referendum With the Scottish Independence Referendum only days away (18th September), the polls are illustrating that for now, it is too close to …

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 …

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 …

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! …