Our survey this week aimed to uncover the political views of our students and in particular we wanted to know if it is true that the young are more radical than the old. We asked children which political parties they would vote for (if they were allowed!) in the next General Election and the results show a huge rift between the way that children think and the way that adults think.
At the time of writing, the Guardian Poll Tracker of adults shows that Labour get only two thirds the support of the Conservatives. Our poll of children shows completely the reverse – Labour get more than twice the support of the Conservatives.
Politically-minded people would say that this proves that the young are much more radical than the old but what does this word 'radical' really mean? Come to that, what does it mean to be more left wing, a Liberal or a Conservative with a capital C? Like it or not, we are going to be bombarded with political jargon over the next month, so for the benefit of our child readers (and all the adults who are not really interested in politics!) here is an overview of the most-used political terms that you are going to be hearing a lot about!
The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and the name that has been adopted for the process of doing this is “Brexit” - Britain’s Exit. There have been huge arguments between the different political parties and often amongst members of the same party about the best way to leave the EU. After over 3 years of haggling the MPs still cannot agree the best way to leave and that is the main reason that we are now having a general election.
Each of the parties have their own ideas about the best way forwards and opinion polls show that people believe that Brexit is the most important issue facing our country so that’s why you are going to hear a great deal about Brexit in the coming weeks!
The policies of a political party are the strategies that the party intends to implement and the courses of action that they intend to pursue. Political parties need to change their policies with changing times - it wouldn’t make sense for them to have the same policies now as they had 100 years ago.
Each of the parties publish a manifesto before a general election that sets out their policies for the term ahead.
The word “conservative” means a person who is averse to change. Such people are often referred to as traditionalist or conventional. You will often hear these people referred to as “conservative with a small c” whereas a “conservative with a big C” is a supporter of the Conservative Party.
You’ll often hear Conservative Party supporters referred to as “Tories” and the party referred to as the “Tory Party”.
Conservatives firmly believe that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should remain as part of the United Kingdom – the official name of the Conservative Party is the “Conservative and Unionist Party”.
Boris Johnson, the leader of the present government (Conservatives), wants to leave the EU with the deal he negotiated with them but the rest of parliament would not agree to it.
A labourite is a member or supporter of the Labour Party. Their slogan “For the many, not the few” is indicative of the fact that they believe that society unjustly favours the rich and the party hope to change this.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, wants to renegotiate the deal that Boris Johnson agreed with the EU and then let the people of the country vote to either approve the new deal or (probably) stay in the EU.
A Scottish Nationalist is a member or supporter of the Scottish National Party (SNP). They are the third largest party in the present parliament and needless to say they are all based in Scotland, where they are the largest political party.
Nicola Sturgeon is the leader of the party and she fervently campaigns for Scottish independence from the present UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) but within the European Union. Recently her party has been campaigning for another referendum on Brexit in the belief that many people have changed their mind since the original referendum in June 2016.
In its broadest sense, a liberal is a person who is open to new ideas and always willing to respect the opinions of others. The Liberal Party always have education and the environment high on their agenda.
Jo Swinson is the leader of the party and they are committed to ignoring the earlier referendum on Brexit and staying in the EU.
Currently there are 650 MPs and 597 of them are members of one of the above parties. It is very unlikely that any of the minor parties will make inroads into the overall make-up of the next parliament.
This is a very complicated subject but suffice to say that the Labour Party are generally considered to be left wing and the Conservative Party are considered to be right wing. Many political commentators believe that Jeremy Corbyn is the most extreme left wing party leader in recent times whilst Boris Johnson is the most extreme right wing leader in recent times. No wonder there have been fireworks in the House of Commons recently!
Here we have yet more words that are open to individual interpretation but if you don’t want to delve too deeply into the subject then think of it this way: A “Radical” is a person looking to fundamentally change the political system and will most often hold extreme left wing or extreme right wing views. A “Moderate” on the other hand is someone who is wanting to take a mid-way path between the political extremes.
Every day between now and election day you will hear and read about various polls. These are surveys, much the same as our weekly surveys here at Education Quizzes, that try to “take the pulse” of the country. The aim is to ask a very small section of the public what their views are and then assume that these are representative of the nation as a whole. From these results the “pollsters” try to predict what the election result will be.
More often than not these polls are accurate but there have been a number of instances where the polls have been dramatically wrong so don’t bet your shirt on them!
An Exit Poll asks people how they voted when they have left the polling station. History shows that these are a much more accurate predictor of an outcome than the polls leading up to election day.
A very significant part of what people earn goes to paying taxes that take many different forms such as income tax, inheritance tax, national insurance contributions, car tax, alcohol tax and Value Added Tax. All this money is used in the “Public Sector” to pay for things like education, healthcare, defence and local services such as dustbin collection. Public spending is the money spent by government and councils for the good of the community as a whole.
The “Private Sector” is best thought of as businesses but to complicate matters many businesses in the private sector supply goods and services to the public sector. For instance, a business might agree to supply cleaning services to a hospital and in this case a private sector enterprise is supplying the public sector.
This is often a hot potato in political debates because left wing politics dictate that everyone should pay more in taxes to support larger involvement of the public sector whilst right wing politics is in favour of lower taxes and less “state interference”.
Remember that we said above that “public spending is the money spent by government and councils for the good of the community as a whole”? Well, the problem is that government doesn’t usually live within its means – instead it spends more than it receives in taxes! When this happens the deficit has to be made up by borrowing.
Thankfully, the credit rating of the UK is very good so it can borrow money from other countries and individuals in the form of “gilts” at a favourable interest rate. Consequently, our government can borrow virtually whatever it likes. The problem is that interest has to be paid on the loans and the bigger the loan, the more the interest which in turn means that a bigger proportion of FUTURE taxes will go on interest repayments.
The amount that the government borrows is called the “Public Sector Borrowing Requirement” but because this is quite a mouthful it is often shortened to “PSBR”.
The survey question this week was “If you could vote in the General Election, who would you vote for?” These are the results from 1,008 children who responded:
|Percentage of Vote
|Scottish National Party
|Party Not in List
|Would Not Vote