How Well Do You Understand Politics?

There was an interesting article in the Telegraph today, about how almost 36% of graduates admit that they don’t understand politics. I found this interesting. I’m an undergraduate student, and I understand politics!

But the report is perhaps not that surprising. When I was at school, I understood that there were three main parties. I understood that our party system was pedominantley Conservatives v Labour v the Liberals.

It wasn’t until I took a 1-year course in journalism at college that I really started to understand the whole system of left-wing/right-wing and what people meant when they spoke about it – what people meant when referring to the ‘far left’ and the ‘far right’. In just one short (ten minute) explanation by the lecturer, I had gone from knowing that it was Labour v the Conservatives, to knowing where they and all the other (including some of the smaller parties) sat on the left/right spectrum.

It was from that moment that I really started to follow and understand politics – listening to political coverage on Radio 4 and 5 Live, watching ‘The Politics Show’, ‘Newsnight’ and Freeview channel 81 – BBC Parliament – and regularly reading the Politics pages on the Telegraph’s website. I was quick to register to vote as soon as I turned 18, and I exercised this right in the 2011 local elections. These days, I’m even a member of a political party – albeit not an ‘active’ member – but I am still a member (complete with a membership card: that’s cool) and I get newsletters and other stuff through the post.

In school, in Citizenship lessons, we looked a little bit at politics. Sort of, anyway. We were taught about how Parliament works, how something gets in to law, and voting and all of that. But as far as I can remember, the left/right politics system was never explained to me. If it was, it wasn’t explained that well.

Perhaps that is where the education system is failing us? If all it took was a 10-minute explanation by my journalism lecturer at college before I was interested in politics, surely this is something which could be covered a lot better in schools?

In my opinion, I’d have got a lot more out of that that I would looking at a map of the Houses of Parliament and labelling all the rooms. I can find all that on the Houses of Parliament website…!

2012 PCC Elections

Now… In just 2 weeks time, I’ll get to vote again: in the PCC Elections.

Here in Gloucestershire, there are some very interesting candidates indeed. There’s Victoria Atkins (Conservative), a former barrister from the Cotswolds; Alistair Cameron (Limeral Democrat), former leader of Cheltenham Borough Council; Rupi Dhanda (Labour, and I wonder if she’s at all related to Parmjit Dhanda, former MP for Gloucester?); and Martin Surl (Independent), a former superintendant with Glos. Police.

All, I think, would be good in the role of Police and Crime Commissioner in Gloucestershire. (Incidentally, with that title, does that mean they also commission crimes? Or am I taking the title too literally)?

And so on November 15, after my lecture at uni (and after handing in an essay at the Assignment Room), I’ll be getting on the bus and going back home in order to cast my vote. Its only a 45 minute journey (once which I make every Monday and every Friday anyway), so its not too difficult.

It has just occurred to me that its also only a couple of years before I get to vote in my first General Election – in 2015. By that time, my sister will also be old enough to vote. That’s a scary thought: I expect she will vote for the other side!

Enjoy the rest of your evening!


Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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