Thursday, May 31, 2007
AS History students can access their powerpoint presentations here, or of course via the History blog.
A2 Politics students will find updated powerpoint links here.
Monday, May 28, 2007
9.30 - 11.00: Unit 1 (Democracy, Elections, Pressure Groups, Parties)
11.00 - 11.30: Break
11.30 - 1.00: Unit 2 (Executive, Parliament, Consitution - we will not be covering the judiciary).
1.00 - 2.00: Lunch
2.00 - 3.30: Unit 3 (Consitutional Reform, incl. Parliament, and Electoral Reform)
3.30 - 4.00: If anyone wishes to go through Devolution or EU from Unit 3, we can do so here.
Each session will require some input from attendees, including some sample timed answers!
[History Details on History blog]
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The real question for Cameron is whether he is right in assuming that grammar schools were an alienating part of previous Tory policy. It seems unlikely. In non-grammar school areas, voters are not likely to give it much thought, other than perhaps to reflect on how it wouldn't be a bad idea! In grammar school areas there is, of course, a huge level of support for the remaining state system that still produces good results. What Cameron has done, of course, is to generate massive dissent within his own party, which he may consider to be good of itself, since it allows him to show that he does represent a radical change from previous Tory leaders who were too identified with their grassroots' attitudes and ideas. The downside for him, surely, is that too much dissent might cause a wavering in the commitment of the activists to go and and support him and his candidates; and at the moment it risks bringing adverse publicity to the Tory Party in terms of stories about 'division' - something Cameron had until now been extremely effective in dispelling.
The long-term benefits of his political move remain to be seen. What is not in doubt is that the policy itself is bankrupt and flawed; it is an unusual approach that says the existing grammar schools are doing a good job and can stay, but no-one else can benefit from them. It is even more unusual to effectively become the cheerleaders for one of the government's own, and less obviously successful policies!
More on this later I suspect. Meanwhile, for a sense of grassroots Tory anger, go to the Conservative Home site, and check the message threads.
Monday, May 14, 2007
It is certainly the case that Brown is more likely to thrive than not on a contest. Given the chance to debate his ideas and his vision for Britain, he will be able to project himself in a far more effective way in the media than would happen without a challenge. Brown came across well in the Fabian Society debate last night, and the sight of him defending his views rather than simply announcing them can only be helpful. I remain less than confident than many members of the Conservative party currently are about Brown's electoral potency. A Conservative Home survey suggests that a substantial majority of Tory members see Brown as much easier to beat than Blair. Really? Brown will not carry the stench of Iraq in the way that Blair does; he is a seasoned, clued in and supremely ruthless political operator; he can lay claim to credit for the economic story that is one of Labour's perceived successes since 1997; and he is so different in terms of his image and character from his predecessor that it can only work to his advantage. If we are tired of a spin-based, image-conscious, hammy, insincere PM, then Brown, rather than Cameron, may prove the better antidote.
McDonnell's challenge will be welcomed by the Brown team; it wil help to season them for their bigger fight against a more lethal opponent in the form of David Cameron. It's going to be a fascinating two years.
And while Wheatcroft attacks Blair from the elegiac heights of a disillusioned Tory, a new film is about to be launched - June 8th actually - which takes on his civil liberties record, in the manner of a Michael Moore docu-trashing of President Bush (not entirely surprisingly as it has the same producer). The trailer for the film is here, on the film's website, where there is also a revealing filmmaker's blog and several other relevant links.
Would a Labour leader be a success if, over three elections, he had seen his party's vote decline steadily from 13.5 million to 10.7 million to 9.6 million?
What about the fact that this is less than the 14 million won by John Major in 1992, or the 13.9 million won by Clement Attlee in 1951 (when the electorate was 7 million fewer)? Or the fact that his second election saw a popular vote that was less than that gained by the 'unelectable' Neil Kinnock in 1992?
That is indeed Tony Blair's success. He has won a huge parliamentary majority on two occasions with less than a third of the votes of the whole electorate; his most recent victory saw him win just over a fifth of the whole electorate's votes. And they say there's no case for electoral reform?
These ineluctable points and many others are put forward by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in a searing assessment of the Blair premiership, entitled 'Yo, Blair', after President Bush's infamous off the record greeting. This short book is a polemic of unremitting force, and Blair admirers will probably choke on the copious evidence of their hero's duplicity, while his detractors will cheer on Wheatcroft and suffer high blood pressure from bursting indignation at the same time. Though an old fashioned Tory, Wheatcroft is no unthinking admirer of the Conservatives either, as his previous book, 'The Strange Death of Conservative England', makes clear. It may be that there is a good defence of Blair to be made. It's just that I haven't seen it yet.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Michael Howard, on Thursday's Newsnight, commented that Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's first and most significant spin doctor, bears much of the responsibility for the dirtying of the Blair years, especially in terms of what is often seen as its ambiguous communications policy. Here is the relevant extract, with Paxman at the end coming in to try and defend Campbell. Campbell, by the way, looked coldly furious throughout the exchange, and continued to snipe about it for the rest of the discussion. Bill Jones has a useful piece incorporating this exchange on his blog here.
Friday, May 11, 2007
NEW UPDATE: The Wednesday session has had to be cancelled. Thursday's will happen as noted below.
Week Beginning Monday 21st. May:
Tuesday 22nd. - period3 - Democracy and Elections from Unit1
Wednesday 23rd. - periods 4 and 5 - Parties from Unit 1; Unit 3 overview - Cancelled.
Thursday 24th. - periods 2 and 3 - The Executive and PArliament, from Unit 2
Half Term session for L6 Politics will be on the Tuesday (May 29th.), in the Sixth Form Centre, 9.30 - 4. Timetable to be published towards the end of next week.
History revision sessions are on the history blog.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
He has always been able to put on a decent show, to manipulate the waiting media masses and, through them, the public, so it should perhaps be no surprise that this most predictable of announcements has been able to collar so much publicity.
Sadly for the country, Blair's words have always soared higher than his deeds, and today's initial valedictory (there are seven weeks of these left!) was no exception. There were excellent lines about how lucky he is compared to the unfortunates he has met, and a peroration, perhaps influenced by Shakespeare's John of Gaunt, about how blessed this nation is, which was brilliant. And his words about power, at the beginning, if only they had been sincerely meant, were humbling and made us want to believe that he meant it. Ten years of experience with this man, however, has disillusioned us, and means that what we see is not the great orator, possessed of fine ideals, but a tawdry ham, consumed by his own humbug and still believing in his own delusions.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
It’s been a bad and bruising encounter for Labour. 27 per cent of the votes cast is a miserable tally. Just one per cent up on Labour’s worst result ever. This is not an opinion poll. These are real votes cast by real people. The Tories have consolidated above the 40% barrier and are inexorably shifting from hung parliament territory to potential out right winners at the next election. This can and must be reversed. But it demands the party changes.
Natural Labour supporters have been put off voting for their party because of a toxic combination of Blair, Iraq, sleaze and what’s happening to public services. All of this was avoidable. We said after the 2005 election victory that Blair should go and that if he insisted on prolonging his premiership he would damage the party and the country. The hard work of thousands of councillors and party activists around the country has been undone by a Prime Minister who out stayed his welcome. Where now are the people who said Blair should stay for a full term?
These elections signal the death knell for the politics of Blairism. We have lost five million votes since 1997 - mostly from our traditional base, who no longer feel able to turn out for us and stay at home or protest through the Greens, Liberal Democrats or others. Now Cameron threatens to drain away middle class support - creating a pincer movement that could be devastating for Labour MPs at the next election.
The Party cannot go on run as a tight clique, commercialising public services and playing the nodding dog to George Bush. It is not just Compass that demands a change of direction but the country. Let’s be clear – unless there is a break with Blairism Labour will lose the next election. That means the modernisation of hospitals and schools based the ethos of public services; it means less flexible labour markets; a shift towards Europe; a reconnection with the people of the country through democratic reform and with party members by starting to listen to them. We forgot that we are the servants. On new issues like the environment, well-being and quality of life we have got to get ahead of the Tories and stop lagging behind. All of this can be done and a forth victory secured – but not just through a change of leader – only though a change of direction.
The loss of hundreds of councillors and members will be a hammer blow to local parties. In Labour’s depleted party ranks, councillors tended to be the people who have kept the campaigns and the canvassing going. They are the ones linked into local communities, supporting Labour MPs and keeping the party alive. They are the fabric of the party. The Tory party had lost its councillor base by the early 1990s and the national party crumbled soon after.
Jon Cruddas is the only candidate on the ballot paper for the new leadership who understands the depth of the hole we are in and has the commitment and the plan for the renewal of the Labour party. Others, who have been in the Cabinet and the leadership team, have allowed the party to whither. Now we must chose change.
Monday, May 07, 2007
In France, meanwhile, they have swapped one right-wing president for another, but they look as if they really will experience dynamic political change. He may be a divisive figure in his own country, but as the new French president goes for a rest to determine his future government, he carries with him a lustre of dynamism and change that is missing from his future British counterpart.