Mr Mark Chesterton, Head of Politics, led the recent session with the Year 10 Athenaeum in which the students considered some of the problems currently faced by the UK Political System. This was not so much an examination of specific political or perhaps party/political issues but more structural or procedural concerns about how the Democracy functions or some claim, doesn’t function as well as it might.
The three major issues that were considered were: Voter turnout, the role and nature of the House of Lords and issues surrounding Private Members Bills. Mr Chesterton expertly outlined the perceived problems, and the students were asked to consider the viability of different possible solutions. It was interesting to look at the systems operated by other democracies around the globe.
Interestingly, it was not the intricacies of PR or possible Root and Branch reform of the Lords that they saw as the number one issue, but the fate of so many Private members Bills, historically the source of groundbreaking legislation but more often than not lost because of insufficient Parliamentary time. They were also supportive of a Swiss type of system where sufficient numbers in a petition could trigger a referendum.
Perhaps the power of social media gives extra energy to ideas of “People Power”, and it has been evident both in the UK over Brexit and in the USA the extent to which social media can facilitate a different way of doing politics?
This Year’s group visited the Parliament when they were in Year 8 and readily recalled their surprise at the size of the two chambers and the problems that might arise, especially in the Lords if a large percentage of the members turned up on a regular basis.
Much has changed in the UK on the Party-Political front; it is interesting to speculate what structural or procedural changes may follow.