People, Politics and Participation

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Politics is concerned with developing a knowledge and understand of government and society. In particular about the struggle for power and influence.

A unitary state it where power lies in one national institution, the UK is under Parliamentary Sovereignty, the Parliament has the ability to pass any laws without restrictions.

The Parliament have delegated some of its powers to local governments, councils, and more recently devolved institutions which have elections of their own. The powers of local government are only only delegated to it by Westminster and Parliament. They can take back powers from local government to itself. The Parliament delegated many of its powers to the European Union, they now have more force than the Parliaments laws in the UK. The UK has allowed some power to go to Brussels the main city for EU administration. The turmoil and cost of withdrawing from the EU mean that Parliament would give away some of its power, or sovereignty forever.

The UK has no written constitution as there hasn't been a time when the political system has to restructure itself all over again.

Britain was the first country to industrialise, Industrial Revolution, they became the richest nation in Europe. They covered a quarter of the globe. 

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Two world wars weakened their economic position, in debt to America for war provision.

Since then they have undergone considerable social change. Urbanisation moving from countryside to towns and cities. Uniformity in the way people live and experience life. 

1950s onwards, increase in immigration, more varied and diverse, created influence from other cultures and beliefs.

At the end of the second world war, generally high consensus about the direction the nation should take. Great demand for better working conditions, free health and education.

60/70s people began to erode from their social class because their respect for their leaders and their actions were challenged. Britain was in economic decline and faith as the existing political settlement fell away. This helped make politics more combative, newspapers became more willing to criticise. Trade union prolonged disputes.

1979 Margaret Thatcher became PM, willing to make radical changes to the relationship between the state and the people. This altered the way some people saw the government and interacted with it, instead of supporting one political party or another, people began to concentrate on individual issues that concerned them. As the country's wealth grew, people starting making voting decisions on different criteria.

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Power is the ability to get things done, if necessary making others do what they wouldn't be free choice. 

People can have political power if they have charisma, are rhetoric, have incentives and coercion. 

Politics is dealing with the allocation of resources, who gets what, when and how. Having to negotiate and share out resources is absolutely necessary for collective action.

The State is the permanent institution, ultimately controlled by the government which exercises power over citizens in a country. Including police, civil service and the armed force as they continue to exist regardless of who's in government. 

Territorial Boundaries is any functioning state must be able to clearly delineate the extent of its research. The geographical boundaries in which it operates. Every person living within these boundaries is subject to the laws of the state.

Exclusive Power is within its boundaries the state has exclusive right to exercise power over the population. This means that the state is a sovereign, it doesn't share power. The state alone is allowed to resort to force and coercion to implement its will, anyone else using violence is not acting legitimately

A constitution is a rule book which states must obey

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The Legislature, Judiciary and Executive

The Government is the body which has the power and authority to run the state. The government isn't really part of the state as it changes periodically following elections. 

The Legislature is a branch of the government which creates laws, it's in Parliament that new laws are debated, changed and voted on.

The Judiciary is a branch of the government is also known as the legal system and is the one that ultimately decides whether a citizen has broken a law, and what the punishment ought to be.

The Executive is part of the government that overseas the workings of the state in accordances with the laws passed by the legislature, it's very common for people to refer to this branch as the government, as in reality it's the executive and not the legislature which decides which laws are passed.

25 members of the Houses of Parliament led by the PM are called the Cabinet.

Checks and Balances are power of each brand of government is balanced and kept in check by the powers of the other branches. The aim of separation of powers to ensure that no one person or branch could monopolise power. Fusion of powers in the UK, the executive is drawn from the legislature and in practical terms have a high degree of control over law making.

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Who makes the decisions

Monarchy is one person who is a king makes all the decisions.

Tyranny is a dictator who seizes power and makes all the political decisions.

Oligarchy is a handgul of billionaires and their politician friends who have all the power.

Aristocracy is the few finest or best in society to make the best decisions.

Democracy is people power/

Direct democracy is when citizens are directly involved in thinking about and making decisions.

Representative Democracy is when people choose representative to make decisions for them by voting for them.

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Equality and Authority

Equality is the belief that people should be treated equally and give equal opportunities, as long as there are no grounds for treating them differently. In most representative democracies people are left to choose for themselves whether they want to vote or not.

A government that wins an election in which only a few people have voted. Legally speaking they have won the election, but they can't literally claim to be the representatives of all the people.

Authority is the ability of governments and individuals to direct others and achieve their goals because the majority of people accept that it's the government right to tell them what to do.

Authority implies that others will obey without force, based on respect and recognition.

Authoritarian regimes are non democratic countries in which there's very strong central direction and control. Campaigning is made very difficult for those who take alternative views to those in power.

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General elections are the election of the MPs who make up the government that sits in the House of Commons in the Westminster Parliament in London.

Electorate is all the people who are allowed to vote in an election 18+.

Turnout is the number of people who vote.

In the 1980s labour had bitterly opposed many conservative policies, especially to do with the economy and there was 'clear blue' water between the two parties positions.

1997 labour had accepted much of Conservative economic policy and indeed the Conservative PM of the time, John Major, went into the election complaining that the labour party had  'stolen the clothes' of this party. 

In the UK, between 1950 and 1970, social class was a very good indicator of which party someone would support. That is working class would vote for Labour party and middle class would vote for Conservative party. 

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Influences and People Participation

Newspapers and internet sites are still extremely important in helping people to decide who they'll vote for, perhaps more influential than people realise. Without strong party identification, more and more votes will make up their minds who to support on an election by election basis, using the information they have about each party to make their decision.

Sociologists have found, there are distinctly different levels of turnout and voting preference among different sections of society: Age- younger people are less likely to vote. Education- educated have a better level of interest. Ethnic background- Jewish voters are most likely to vote, less likely Africans and Carribbeans, Family background, Gender, Region. Voting is not the only measure of political participation, there are other ways in which citizens may choose to engage with the state or the political process.

Membership of a political party- more than just voting, can get more involved with a party, help it to win elections. 

Membership of a pressure group- people are more and more willing to support non party campaigns to influence the government over a particular cause. This is reflected in the high numbers of people who sign petitions, rallies, marches, protestors and write letters.

Seek election- democracies rely on people putting themselves forward to be elected. By election.

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