SP ACADEMY DAY 2 SUMMARY/DAY 3 INTRO

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The Simple Politics Academy!
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Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?


Today, we will be tackling voting systems. In the UK, we use First Past the Post as our system to decide the government in a General Election. Many argue that this system is outdated and more suited to a 2 party system. Nowadays, with at least 5 major parties vying for a majority, perhaps a system using Proportional Representation might better reflect the country's voting patterns. 

In 2015 General Election, UKIP and the Green Party got approx. 4m and 1m votes respectively yet each party only managed to get 1 MP at Westminster (UKIP have since lost their only seat). Several people are outraged, therefore, that the current system doesn't acknowledge these parties which are growing in strength. In fact, a referendum was held in 2011 in the UK to ask the public if they wanted to change the voting system to what is called the Alternative Vote System but the public found it a little confusing so decided to stick with First Past the Post. 

Here's what we can tell you about FPTP (followed by a little summary of yesterday's material): 

 
Yesterday we learned about the roles in Parliament. Many people were sceptical, especially on social media, of how much MPs and other figures in Parliament actually work. This led to comments such as: 

"You missed newspaper editor, professional after dinner speaker, international corporate financial advisor..."
 
And 

"filling in expense forms with imagination and flair"


On our WhatsApp group, the conversation ranged from the constructive to the ridiculous. Mostly constructive. Participants unanimously agreed that the Prime Minister's wage was fairly low given her level of responsibility and the fact that people in other professions could earn that same amount but not have to give up their life entirely to their career. However, everyone also agreed that the perks of being PM outweighed the relatively low wage packet. After all, Theresa May gets to live in a swanky house on Downing Street with very few personal day-to-day expenses. 

Then I left the WhatsApp group for half an hour or so, leaving Tatton in charge, and came back to the hashtag of the day - #dodgydoug. Terrifying. 

In all seriousness, if you haven't yet managed to join the Whatsapp group, please follow the link at the bottom of this page. It truly is a safe space for participants to debate and discuss politics. I have never, ever seen anyone talk politics with such respect for one another. 

Here's the material we covered: 
Role of PM: lots of work to do but gets to live in a fancy house.

Favourite quote:

"PMs also get free accommodation and travel, a pension based on half their annual salary, and a lot of other benefits. When they leave office they can earn a lot more in consultancy and speeches - tens to hundreds of thousands." Lucy, WhatsApp

Role of an MP: Forever questioned

Favourite quote:
"I always think it's odd that MPs don't have to be particularly connected to the constituency they represent (i.e. London born MPs being parachuted into Northern constituencies). Makes me wonder how well they really voice their voters' concerns?" Laura, WhatsApp
What an MP does all day: still not trusted 

Favourite quote: 

"I think that the hours indicated in that diagram is perhaps a little kind" Emily, WhatsApp
The Speaker: hardly gets a word in edgeways

Favourite quote: 

"I believe you'd just have to trust them really, if they are blatantly not being impartial then they'll be removed" Douglas, WhatsApp
The Cabinet: not made of wood and designed to hold your favourite whiskey. 

Favourite quote: 
"Plenty of time is given for objections in cabinet meetings. If you can't win the argument there, you have to decide if it's a big enough issue to resign. If not, you have to swing behind the PM. You can't have it both ways." Tatton (Founder), WhatsApp
 
The Shadow Cabinet: not a shadow of a cabinet made of wood which is designed to hold your favourite whiskey. 

Favourite quote: 
"They look like a mirror to the Cabinet-do they scrutinise & critique the actions of the Cabinet? Other than saying "you don't wanna do that" or "we'd do it this way" they don't seem to have much sway-I can see the value in presenting the opposition's plans to the public." FeeBee, WhatsApp 
And finally, those wise people who sit in the Lords - who are they and how did they get there?

Favourite quote: 
"They should not be elected, the Lords aren't about who you like, they're about being competent, knowledgeable and being able to hold the govt to account" Josh, WhatsApp
So that's it for today folks, I hope you've learned a little. 

If you need anything clarifying, drop me a line on hattie@simplepoltics.co.uk or join our WhatsApp debate group : 

https://chat.whatsapp.com/H9StQ7z86nvACAku9iTab0

Hattie and the Simple Politics Academy Team. 
Are you a teacher? Are any of your friends teachers? 
We do loads of stuff for / with schools. We can really help with Citizenship / Politics / British Values etc in the new school year. Some free services, some paid for (but, I think, very good value).
Drop me a line at tatton@simplepolitics.co.uk to see how we can help.
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