Friday, 5 December 2014

George Galloway's visit to St John’s

Excellent report from the School website on George Galloway's recent speech to the Senior Politics Society event

George Galloway's visit to St John’s

On Wednesday 3 December, the St John’s Senior Politics Society welcomed George Galloway MP to the School to discuss the causes, consequences and solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Around 100 pupils and staff packed the Old Chapel to listen to one of British politics’ most skilled speakers.
Controversial to some and a principled supporter of justice to many, Mr Galloway has been an MP, first for Labour and currently Respect, since the late 1980s. In recent years, he has won two remarkable election victories (in Bethnal Green and in Bradford). He is a passionate advocate of Palestinian rights, instigating the Viva Palestina aid convoys, and an anti-war campaigner, founding the Stop the War coalition. It was during the aftermath of the war in Iraq that he gave one of his most memorable public performances at a US Senate hearing, a video of which has been watched millions of times on YouTube.
During his talk, Mr Galloway’s maintained that there could never be peace until Palestinians get justice, arguing that the only viable solution was a single secular state where Christians, Jews and Muslims had equality. The pupils did not waste the opportunity to ask many pertinent questions: ‘How could peace be achieved?’, ‘How could the Israeli government be persuaded?’ and ‘Even if the governments agreed what would happen if millions of Israeli citizens opposed any sharing of power. Wouldn’t violence be inevitable?’. In response, Galloway drew on the experience of South Africa and the way relative peace was achieved in a post-apartheid era.
Overall, those attending found it most engaging to hear from a leading political figure on an issue seen by many as most significant for our time

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Private schools have done too little for too long

Under a Labour government, the independent sector will work for the common good or lose its tax breaks - Tristan Hunt article, the Guardian.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

AS & A2 Independent learning task (1)

For Monday read the article & answer the questions
you will need to post your answers in the comments box

A2 Viva Podemos: the left has shown it can adapt & survive in a crisis#

  1. Where did Podemos come from?
  2. Who are its audience & why do you think this is?
  3. Why do you think that it is successful & can a similar party emerge here?

AS The West must be tough on Putin

  1. Do we genuinely have something to fear from Putin's Russia? If so, why?
  2. Do you agree with the author that the West should do something?
  3. If so, what?

Friday, 14 November 2014

Upper 6th work for Friday - The crises of capitalism

In this RSA Animate, celebrated academic David Harvey looks beyond capitalism towards a new social order. Can we find a more responsible, just, and humane economic system?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Find Your Way: A level booklet by UK Parliament education service

What is the House of Commons?

Explore the House of Commons, including how it all began, its main functions, how its members are elected and the role of MPs.

An introduction to Parliament

This short animation introduces the UK Parliament, including its structure, how laws are made, holding Government to account and how you can get your voice heard. View the whole film here in around eight minutes, or pick a chapter using the links below.

1:08 Parliament Structure: the function and make-up of the three parts of Parliament.
2:46 Holding Government to Account: how Parliament checks and challenges the work of Government.
3:51 Making Laws: follow the making of a law from proposal to becoming an Act of Parliament.
5:10 Elections and Voting: the different types of election and a look in detail at the general election.
6:35 Your Voice: how to have a voice in Parliament, from voting to petitioning and campaigning

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

European Arrest Warrant row...

Labour is the real winner after the European Arrest Warrant vote that wasn't't

Cameron ‘dragged to vote in white tie’ as Gove whips operation flounders

Labour to force vote on European arrest warrant after Tory fiasco. Opposition will hold debate after Conservatives break promise to allow MPs to have say on controversial power

Monday, 10 November 2014

10th November - this week's AS & A2 work

                                           The English city that wanted to 'break away' from the UK

Research questions for Roads to socialism –revolutionary socialism
1.    On what major Issues have socialists been divided? Why is the choice of a particular ‘road to socialism’ of crucial significance? Why were revolutionary tactics attractive to socialists in the 19th century?
2.    How did revolution reflect socialists’ analysis of the state? Why do Marxists refer to the ‘bourgeois state’?
3.    What is the Marxist view of Universal suffrage? What alternative does a ‘class conscious proletariat’ have?
4.    Why did the ‘revolutionary road’ lead to dictatorship & political repression?
5.    Why did the appeal of revolutionary tactics fade? Two points – one from the book/one your own
Research questions for Roads to socialism – Reform – The inevitability of gradualism
1.    What similarity did the Fabian view have with Marx’s view? How do these views differ? Why were the Fabians optimistic?
2.    Why have some claimed that democratic socialism is based on a contradiction?
3.    Have socialist parties in government been successful in abolishing capitalism?
4.    What unforeseen problems does democratic socialism face?
5.    How have left-wing socialists responded to these questions?
Research questions for Marxism – Philosophy & Economics
1.    What is Marx’s philosophy of history - a ‘materialist conception of history’?
2.    What do you think Marx meant by ‘social being determines consciousnesses? What is ‘Base & superstructure?’
3.    What did Marx mean by the ‘dialectic’ & why is capitalism doomed?
4.    Explain alienation. (4 points)
5.    How did Marx define class? Explain why class is the chief agent of historical change.

Research questions for Marxism - Politics & Orthodox Communism
1.    Describe the nature of the proletarian revolution. When & where would the revolution occur? What would be the subjective element?
2.    Why do they suggest a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’? What would happen to it?
3.    How did 20th century Marxism deviate from Marx? Explain the Vanguard party.
4.    In practice what did dictatorship of the proletariat require?
5.    How did Stalin differ from Marx?

Research questions for Monday - A future for Marxism?
1.    What 2 factors shaped neo Marxism?
2.    What did Lukacs mean by reification?
3.    What did Gramsci mean by hegemony?
4.    Find arguments that suggest Marxism is dead?
5.    How would Marxists argue the contrary?

Prep due on Friday: Distinguish between fundamentalist socialism and revisionist socialism (15).

The fall of the Berlin Wall

25 years ago

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

PMQ's 5th November 2014

Prime Minister's Questions 5th November 2014 

Cameron/Miliband exchange from 3 minutes 40 seconds

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

UK Parliament tour

UK Parliament tour - Welcome to the Houses of Parliament

House of Commons Chamber

House of Lords Chamber

AS & A2 resources online

A useful set of free Politics Review resources

                       There are also copies of Politics Review in the library.

The mansion tax & the video that went viral

An article well worth reading, challenging the argument that the mansion tax is unfair

The video of everyday sexism that went viral10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Tasks for next week - week commencing 3rd November

A2 - Introduction to Socialism
Use the questions on the Socialism page of this blog to make notes from Andrew Heywood's book
Prep due Friday 7th November:  

AS Unit 1 - Elections
Reading: Essentials of UK politics, A Heywood. Also, the St John’s Politics blog elections page, Politics Review magazine, & other resources in the library

Key questions:
1.What is the point of an election?
2. What is First Past The Post?
3. Why has  FPTP been criticised?
4. What are the benefits of FPTP?

Prep due Friday 7th November:  Describe three different elections regularly held in the UK. (10). Explain the workings of FPTP (10).

AS Unit 2 - Parliament
Reading: Essentials of UK politics, A Heywood. Also, the St John’s Politics blog parliament page, Politics Review magazine, & other resources in the library

Key questions:
1.How is Parliament structured?
2.How does Parliament work?
3.What is the difference between Parliamentary & Presidential governments?
4.Has Parliament’s sovereignty been eroded?

Prep due Friday 7th November:  Describe 3 functions of Parliament (5). Explain 3 ways in which Parliament carries out its scrutinizing role? (10).

Vote for policies, not personalities

Complete this survey based on policies alone to find out who to vote for at the next UK election - the results might just surprise you

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Prime Ministers Questions 29th October 2014

Europe & immigration dominate the Cameron - Miliband exchange (2 minutes 20 seconds+)

Monday, 27 October 2014

Are the Labour Party a real alternative to Cameron & the Tories?

For AS (the Labour party) & A2 (Socialism)

Is the Labour Party leadership Cameron's secret weapon? Miliband's poll ratings are 15-20% behind Cameron despite the relative unpopularity of the Conservatives.

Now the Scottish 'branch' of the party, pivotal to a Labour victory, are floundering from the aftermath of the referendum.

The grim reaper is knocking for Scottish Labour

A once mighty movement lies broken and battered, thanks to Blairism and the referendum. Yet there is a way to revive it, argues Owen Jones excellent column in todays Guardian

The 1980's were a decade when the Left & the Labour movement struggled to organise itself into a serious alternative to the Conservative government of the time. Vanessa Engle revisits this turbulent era when the Left believed it could change the world for the better. 

This episode looks at the Left's attempt to set up a national newspaper

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A great interview and Brand raises interesting ideas to consider for both AS (Pressure groups & Participation) & A2 (Socialism, Anarchism & Anti-Capitalism)

'I don't trust politicians & corporations in this country' Russell Brand - Newsnight

Friday, 24 October 2014

UK polling update

Next months Rochester & Strood by-election polling...

ComRes have a new poll of Rochester and Strood out tonight that shows UKIP with a solid lead. As far as I can recall it’s the first ComRes by-election poll this Parliament. Like all constituency polls it was done by telephone, and with a healthy sample size by constituency polling standards of 1500.
Topline figures are CON 30%, LAB 21%, LDEM 3%, UKIP 43%, GREEN 3%

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Soul of Man Under Socialism

Oscar Wilde's very readable & relatively short essay on Socialism.
Useful for A2 students in preparation for the 'Socialism' topic

AS & A2 half term tasks

Unit 1

1. Go to the St John's Politics twitter page or click on the Andrew Heywood (former Chief examiner) link below & download 'Dictionary of Key Terms in UK Politics' & 'First Past The Post: for & against.'

Unit 2

1. Click on the link below and research the functions of Parliament

Unit 3

1. Go to the St John's Politics twitter page or click on the Andrew Heywood link (former Chief examiner) below & download 'Political ideologies - key themes (summary)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Prime Ministers Questions 22nd October 2014

Cameron versus Miliband from 2 minutes

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Interesting footage of popular protest & policing in Britain in the 1960's.
British Pathé covering of Anti-Vietnam war demostartion in 1968

Steve Bell on David Cameron's plans to curb EU migrants – Today's Guardian

Monday, 20 October 2014

AS Unit 2 - the story so far

The constitution

This topic is now complete, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the nature and functions of constitutions.
  2. Explain the meaning of codification and entrenchment. 
  3. Describe and explain the sources & the main features of the UK constitution.
  4. Differentiate between unitary and federal constitutions
  5. Analyse the differences between codified and uncodified constitutions
  6. Understand the nature of sovereignty & explain its location in the UK, including changes in its nature and location.
  7. Analyse the impact of the European Union on the UK constitution.
  8. Evaluate the arguments concerning the codification of the UK constitution.
  9. Understand the nature of constitutional reform since 1997. 
  10. Evaluate the effectiveness and impact of constitutional reforms.
  11. Explain and evaluate constitutional reform proposals after 2010.
  12. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of the UK constitution.

AS Politics unit 1 - the story so far

Democracy and political participation 

This topic is now complete, you should be able to:
  1. Explain the nature of democracy
  2. Define & exemplify direct democracy
  3. Define and explain the use of referendums
  4. Describe representation & explain representative democracy
  5. Understand the nature & types of power, legitimacy, consent & authority
  6. Explain pluralist democracy 
  7. Explain liberal, parliamentary & presidential democracy
  8. Describe & exemplify citizenship & political participation
  9. Analyse the differences between direct & representative democracy, including their relative merits
  10. Analyse why referendums have been used more often to resolve political issues
  11. Evaluate whether referendums are a good way of resolving issues
  12. Explain & exemplify how & why political participation has fallen
  13. Identify & explain way participation could be increased. How desirable are there proposals?
  14. How democratic is the UK?
  15. How representative is the UK political system?
  16. Explain & critically assess methods of making the UK more democratic