What do Political Parties Stand For?
Britain is described as having a 2 party system - there are 2 major parties, each of which has a strong chance of obtaining a majority of seats in the legislature and winning political power. Two party systems tend to flourish when the 'First Past the Post' electoral system is used. - Not necessarily the case in 2015 with SNP, Lib Dems and UKIP. IDEOLOGY = Broad principles a party is based on.
Conservative Party - Traditionally RIGHT WING. However it can argued David Cameron made it less right wing. He is socially liberal on gay issues, shows concern for minority groups, shows concern for some poorer people in society and protecting the NHS.
Labour Party - Traditionally LEFT WING. Tony Blair = New Labour. More tough on welfare benefit, Curb spending. Ed Miliband most recently.
Ideology does not stay the same, they have become less extreme and more central. Majority of votes are not left and right wing, they are somewhere in the middle.
Does Ideology matter? - YES = Idea that there are some basica broad ideas that the party share means it attracts members and voters. NO = Voters are not ideological, ideologies are changing all the time so are not important.
What is Parliament?
- Refers to both House of Commons and House of Lords
- House of Commons - Most powerful part of Parliament = elected by the people. Where MPs sit. Party with majority of the MPs get to form the government and run the country. MPs in the house of commons can suggest laws but majority are suggested by the government. Laws have to be passed by The House of Commons to become law.
- The House of Lords - It is unelected and not as powerful. Members are appointes by an appointments committee. It includes experts in particular fields eg. people form buisness, medicine, politics, the media etc. Main function is to scrutinize legislation passed by HOC and see if they can spot mistakes. Also, to stop governments from stopping elections to prevent a dictator.
How Effective is Parliament at holding Gov. to Acc
1. - There are committees in both the HOC and the HOL that scrutinize all laws suggested by the government and their actions
2. - Debates allow the ideas and the behaviour to be discussed
3. - Prime Ministers Question Time - Every Wednesday the PM answers questions for 30 mins in the HOC, this allows Government's actions to be checked.
4. - House of Lords - Lords are less attached to their political party and are therefore more likely to go against their party if they think a mistake is being made.
But... The effectiveness is limited because the Government has a majority. MPs usually vote in line with their party so Gov. usually gets what it wants. BUT... The size of the Gov's majority matters. Smaller the majority = more effective parliament is at keeping check on them.
Do We Have a Prime Ministerial Government?
Evidence for Prime Ministerial Government
- PM appoints the cabinet and can sack them at any time. This may lead to them simply doing what the PM says.
- The PM decides if cabinet will meet/what will discuss and take the minutes.
- The PM is the face of UK politics - he/she has an international role
Evidence for Cabinet Government
- One man/woman couldn't possibly run the country alone - it takes a team of people.
- The cabinet meets regularly to discuss how the country should be run
- The PM can't risk excluding his Cabinet - they may turn against him and elect someone else as leader.
UN - The UN is a body of 192 countries who meet in New York City to discuss important issues and hopefully work together. The UN is central to global efforts to solve problems that challenge humanithy. eg. Worked to improve gender equality and keep peace in areas of conflict
NATO - The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a defence alliance of 28 countries including the UK, USA, Iceland, France, Canada... Members agree that an armed attack against one is an attack against all and that they will come to each others' aid.
G8 - No headquarters, budget or permenant staff they are an informal but exclusive body who try to tackle global issues through discussion. Leaders meet face to face at an annual summit. Important countries including China, India are not represented. No african or Latin American members.
IMF - 186 Member countires including the UK. Works to keep economies of all memeber countries stable. There is policy discussion and analysis. Also a fund that all member countries with economic problems can access to stabalise the economy.
The European Union
- Established as an economic partnership to promote prosperity and peace.
- It has expanded its focus and has created its own foreign and security policy.
- 27 member countries
- Doesn't have its own army - relies on forces contributed by EU countries
- eg. EU Deployed a 1900 strong justice and police force in Kosovo in 2008 to help ensure law and order.
- Foreign and security policy is one area where power remains with EU members individual governments.
- The EU can't force countries to be involved with international issues
- The unanimous support of all countries is needed for any decision to use EU military action
Benefits of the EU
- Nearly 60% of our trade is with the rest of the EU
- 3.5 million British Jobs depend on those exports
- Its the world's largest market (480 million people)
- 2.75 million extra jobs created
- New export markets for small businesses that they previously struggled to enter
- Right to live/work/study and retire anywhere in the EU
- Consumer Protection
- Increased human,civil, emloyment rights eg. Reducing phone calls abroad, Cracked down of misleading food labelling and stopping iTunes from charging British people more.
- Common minimum standards - eg. working time rules and paid holidays
- Biggest porvider of international development aid and takes the bulk of third world exports
- Agreed common rules on recycling, protecting migratory birds, pollution control etc.
- NGOs are private organisations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services or undertake community development.
- NGOs include both charities and pressure groups
- They get their money from donations, membership fees and government funding. eg...
Oxfam - Fights poverty internationally by campaigning to governments for change, helping people following an emergency, helping develop communities
Amnesty International - Non-governmental organisation. Its mission is to 'conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated. Some specific aims are to abolish death penalty, promote religious tolorence and to stop torture and ill-treatment.
How can we as citizens effect change? - Writing to an MP, Setting up pressure group. School involvement and promoting it in schools.