Tag Archives: curriculum

Let’s make it easier for young people to vote!

You can lead a young person to the polling station but you still can't make them vote: How do we get our youth to exercise their democratic right? [Image: theday.co.uk]

You can lead a young person to the polling station but you still can’t make them vote: How do we get our youth to exercise their democratic right? [Image: theday.co.uk]

Have you noticed how the mainstream media have glossed over the fact that so few people voted in the European elections?

Only about one-third of the electorate bothered to shift their backsides from the sofa to the polling station, and only a quarter of those gave UKIP its resounding (if you believe the BBC) victory.

That’s just nine per cent of the electorate!

The other nine-tenths of the country – including both voters and non-voters – didn’t want UKIP to win, and it is delusional of that party’s supporters to say the whole country got behind them.

The problem is, far too many people didn’t get behind anybody else.

My cousin’s daughter, at 18, voted for the first time last week. She said she found it extremely difficult to form any definite opinion on which party to support because it was almost impossible to find reliable information.

You see, she’s not stupid; she wasn’t going to take the parties at face value. She wanted independent validation of their claims, and that’s hard to find.

Obviously the mainstream media are a lost cause. They all have their favourites and it is impossible to get any useful policy information from them. If you were watching the BBC, you would know that UKIP want Britain out of Europe and an end to what party leaders see as indescriminate immigration.

What did Auntie say about Conservative policies, other than that they were offering an in/out referendum in 2017 if they won a general election next year, which is nothing to do with the vote we’ve just had? What was said about Labour? What was said about the Liberal Democrats?

I’ve got no idea, and I spend my life commenting on politics! What chance do these teens have?

The problem is that there simply isn’t a resource that can provide easy answers for young people. If they want it on a website, it would have to feature not only listings of what the parties say they’ll do, but information on the philosophies behind those plans – so readers can understand the proposed direction of travel. It would have to carry detailed information on each candidate, in each constituency and ward, to enable our young people to judge the character of the people they were being asked to trust.

It would be unwieldy and it would be controversial. Candidates would be accusing it of bias within five minutes of any such website going up.

My cousin-once-removed thought that local councils should have information on their websites but I pointed out that they would only be allowed to publish material from the parties themselves, without any kind of commentary at all; as such it would be nothing more than propaganda.

So what’s the answer?

That’s not a rhetorical question; it’s a call for suggestions.

Schools don’t teach politics in any meaningful way. Citizenship was supposed to have gone onto the curriculum years ago but this writer hasn’t seen any increase in political awareness amongst the young. Political representatives aren’t allowed to discuss politics with students unless members of other parties are also present, which means they can each obstruct the others from doing so.

Courses on politics at further or higher education institutions really are biased according to the lecturers’ own beliefs – look at Oxford’s neoliberal PPE course.

Young people don’t have time to cut through all of the babble.

So most of them walk away.

How do we get them back – or do we simply not bother, and watch as democracy is quietly euthanised within the next generation?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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The Queen’s Speech (translated) – brief words signifying so much harm

A true pro: It is a testament to the Queen's skill that she is able to get through her speech at the annual opening of Parliament without either laughing at the stupidities or choking in horror at the implied threats to her citizens.

A true pro: It is a testament to the Queen’s professionalism that she is able to get through her speech at the annual opening of Parliament without either laughing at the stupidities or choking in horror at the implied threats to her citizens.

Today the Queen made her speech at the official opening of Parliament. Her words were, as always, written by the government of the day, and therefore it seems appropriate to provide a translation, as follows:

“My government’s legislative programme will continue to focus on building a stronger economy so that the United Kingdom can compete and succeed in the world.” Focus on it, but do nothing about it.

“It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.” If you haven’t got a job, you’re shafted.

“My government’s first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness. To this end, it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.” There is no intention to take any action in this regard; the government will simply applaud actions taken by others.

“My ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit – ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses.” Interest rates are nothing to do with the government. It is easy to make promises when no action is required.

“My government is committed to building an economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded. It will therefore continue to reform the benefits system, helping people move from welfare to work.” My government is committed to building a low-wage economy where people have to work hard simply to keep what they’ve got. It will therefore continue to erode the benefits system, forcing people to move from welfare to destitution as a warning to those who’ve got jobs, that this will happen to them if they make a fuss.

“Measures will be brought forward to introduce a new employment allowance to support jobs and help small businesses.” A bung for our friends.

“A bill will be introduced to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses. A further bill will make it easier for businesses to protect their intellectual property.” Deregulation worked so well with the banks in 2007, we thought we’d give other businesses a chance to ruin the economy. And it’s not enough that Facebook now owns everybody’s photographs – corporations want everything else as well.

“A draft bill will be published establishing a simple set of consumer rights to promote competitive markets and growth.” The rights of the consumer will be restricted to what we say they’re allowed, to protect corporate freedoms.

“My government will introduce a bill that closes the Audit Commission.” We don’t want the public to know the facts about our spending and where it goes (into our pockets).

“My government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.” But we’re not saying where the money will go (into our pockets).

“Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the High Speed Two railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities.” Future economic growth, of course – we won’t see the benefit for many, many years.

“My government will continue with legislation to update energy infrastructure and to improve the water industry.” At huge cost to everybody who has to pay the bills.

“My government is committed to a fairer society where aspiration and responsibility are rewarded.” This is meaningless.

“To make sure that every child has the best start in life, regardless of background, further measures will be taken to improve the quality of education for young people.” This is meaningless.

“Plans will be developed to help working parents with childcare, increasing its availability and helping with its cost.” Private childcare organisations, starting cheaply but costing more as they get a grip on parents.

“My government will also take forward plans for a new national curriculum, a world-class exam system and greater flexibility in pay for teachers.” We’re going to stamp on teachers hard. And the new national curriculum means nobody from state education will be able to compete with our children at Eton.

“My government will also take steps to ensure that it becomes typical for those leaving school to start a traineeship or an apprenticeship, or to go to university.” We’ll shoehorn the state-school mob into something under threat of destitution, and save university for people who can pay for it (like us).

“New arrangements will be put in place to help more people own their own home, with government support provided for mortgages and deposits.” More second homes for Tory voters, as set out in the Chancellor’s Budget speech in March.

“My government is committed to supporting people who have saved for retirement.” If they have savings, they won’t need the national pension and can give it back, like Iain Duncan Smith suggested.

“Legislation will be introduced to reform the way long-term care is paid for, to ensure the elderly do not have to sell their homes to meet their care bills.” They can die there instead.

“My government will bring forward legislation to create a simpler state pension system that encourages saving and provides more help to those who have spent years caring for children.” It’ll encourage saving because it won’t be enough; and carers can have the kids taken away from them.

“Legislation will be introduced to ensure sufferers of a certain asbestos-related cancer receive payments where no liable employer or insurer can be traced.” Otherwise we’ll get the blame for abandoning them.

“My government will bring forward a bill that further reforms Britain’s immigration system. The bill will ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not.” We’re scared that UKIP is taking our voters away.

“My government will continue to reduce crime and protect national security.” We will privatise the police, MI5 and MI6.

“Legislation will be introduced to reform the way in which offenders are rehabilitated in England and Wales.” If you thought our prisons were schools for criminals before, we’re turning them into universities.

“Legislation will be brought forward to introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, cut crime and further reform the police.” We will privatise the police and introduce curfews.

“In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.” We want to know how it works so we can make money off the internet.

“Measures will be brought forward to improve the way this country procures defence equipment, as well as strengthening the reserve forces.” We’ll buy the cheapest equipment we can find and ask the reservists to do it for no pay.

“My ministers will continue to work in co-operation with the devolved administrations.” Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will get even less cash.

“A bill will be introduced to give effect to a number of institutional improvements in Northern Ireland.” It’s too peaceful over there and we need something to distract the plebs from the mess we’re making in the rest of the country.

“Draft legislation will be published concerning the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.” If we give the sheep the vote, they might vote Tory.

“My government will continue to make the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.” We want their money; we want their oil.

“Members of the House of Commons, estimates for the public services will be laid before you.” Prior to privatisation.

“My government will work to prevent conflict and reduce terrorism. It will support countries in transition in the Middle East and north Africa, and the opening of a peace process in Afghanistan.” We want their money; we want their oil.

“My government will work to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide.” We can’t even stop it here.

“My government will ensure the security, good governance and development of the overseas territories, including by protecting the Falkland Islanders’ and Gibraltarians’ right to determine their political futures.” They’re strategically important so we’ll rattle the sabre for them.

“In assuming the presidency of the G8, my government will promote economic growth, support free trade, tackle tax evasion, encourage greater transparency and accountability while continuing to make progress in tackling climate change.” We’ll blame the other nations when none of these things happen.

“Other measures will be laid before you.”

That’s not a promise; it’s a threat.