"Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage." - H.L. Mencken
On our 4th day, we will be tackling features of a democracy. Specifically, the features of British Parliament which are democratic.
Yesterday we talked about voting systems- First Past the Post, its alternatives, voting by referenda and the importance of voter turnout. Voting is a key feature of a democracy and the right for citizens to vote enables people to hold the government to account on all levels.
We live in a representative democracy. That means that we elect people to represent our views on our behalf. Every so often, we will see features of direct democracy when the country is offered a referendum on a particular issue. We saw that last year in the EU referendum, in 2014 with the Scottish Independence referendum and in 2011 with a referendum to change our voting system to Alternative Vote.
Here's what we can tell you about direct vs representative democracy (followed by a little summary of yesterday's material):
Yesterday's series on voting systems sparked a lot of debate - especially since initially many people opposed First Past the Post. Then when given the alternative, more complex systems, some people reverted back to believing that FPTP was an easier system. Moreover, for some people, FPTP ensured more times than not that a government could get in with a majority and actually make changes.
However, others still favoured a system of Proportional Representation so that smaller parties could properly influence policy.
We also talked about referendums which led to a massive - but respectful- debate on the EU referendum. Many people believed that we should be able to vote by referendum but that the EU referendum was conducted poorly. Additionally, it was common consensus that a 'yes' / 'no' referendum was too simplistic for an EU referendum and that the public should have been given further options.
I then mistakenly wrote beer instead of the word bill. Which led to the # of the day which is #itsthebeer. It then developed into an idea of talking politics over a pint. So now we are going to hold a Simple Politics in the Pub event either on 10th or 11th May in London.
Save the date.
Here's what we covered:
FPTP: The system used for the British General Election
"I think that FPTP's strengths outweigh the weaknesses. It delivers a strong single party government that is able to return on their manifesto commitments." John, WhatsApp
Alternative Vote: once a possibility, now a distant memory...
Favourite quote: "I voted "for", but I'd rather have actual proportion representation. Still, this was better than FPTP, and could have maybe paved the way for other, better voting systems." Becki, Facebook
STV: Mixed feelings
"Now we are talking! PR feels like a much fairer way to ensure everyone's vote counts" Emily, WhatsApp
To which Josh, WhatsApp, said:
"it would delay decision making because instead of having your local mp decide on the key issues you'd have a few, they'd disagree and argue and any policy put forward would take a lot longer to get passed if ever, this would also transition to Westminster level"
AMS: the Scots are a big fan
"Didnt know there was so many different options" Dan, WhatsApp
We haven't even covered all of them Dan.
Referendum: where have we heard that word before?
"Agree with then in principal. Disagree with how they are usually advertised (lack of information/misinformation)." Sam, WhatsApp
Voter turnout: a problem to be addressed?
"Do you think we would have more voter turnout if we were to introduce digital voting?" Bryce, WhatsApp
A little helper to compare voting systems.
So that's it for today folks, I hope you've learned a little.
If you need anything clarifying, drop me a line on email@example.com or join our WhatsApp debate group :
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help.