Element Descriptor

Understanding the current balance of power between parties – and who funds them, and how the system works (and how it is “supposed” to work) are kinda crucial if you are going to make sense of the daily grind of “politics”

Level descriptors

You understand and can explain the official fictions about how policy is made, how new laws become laws and are enforced. You also have some grasp of how things ACTUALLY work.You know the history of how the current set up came to be seen as somehow normal, and the pressures which brought your country to its knees/face. You can explain the particular battles – based on geography, ideology etc – that lead to particular kinds of compromises and centralisation/decentralisation.You are able to explain the local, regional and national shitfuckeries, the trajectories that brought us here, the path dependencies and incumbent behaviours which keep us here and where the whole sorry saga is probably going to go next. You are not so much fun at parties, because, well, it’s all very depressing, innit?You are near the top of the list to be thrown, still alive, from a helicopter or plane into the nearest ocean, come the Hard Rain that is gonna fall. You know how it works, who is in charge (please god, let SOMEBODY be in charge) and where the literal and figurative bodies are buried. And where the money goes.

Element Overview Essay

This is a draft. If something doesn’t make sense, or you see typos, or if you have further ideas, please email us on contact@activecitizenshiptoolkit.net

The causes of people not really getting this are that they weren’t taught it very well in school, or at all, and that the media that they consume tends to see it all as a personality clash, a horse race. And it is rare that anyone ever sets out in clear graphical terms, how the system is supposed to work and how it actually does work. 

So you know, you never unless you read the quality press and unless you read it carefully and unless you you’re already sensitised to how this works, this idea of how many how many seats there are in Parliament which parties have how many etc you do get that a bit in hung parliament so under Theresa May minority govern we had that a bit in this country but then the deeper explanations of you know, forming a government of select committees, etc etc. All this is very arcane. It’s rarely explained clearly. And don’t even start me on the levels of ignorance about local government. Oh my goodness.

So people bumble and bumble through life able to have seemingly well informed opinions and certainly opinions that they hold dearly and understandably feeler, valid, based on an interpretation, or around what they’ve been told about the personal foibles and qualities of various individual politicians, so it becomes a soap opera. The flip side as well is that you need to understand how the system actually works and who’s funding the political parties and the ways that governments have figured out how to avoid scrutiny all together. 

The consequences are, if you don’t know how your political landscape in your country works, you’re lost. You’re completely without a map whatsoever. And you will stumble around blindly. And you may bump into some interesting people, but it’s not a good look. 

So, how to deal with it? Well, you just one level, you know, crack open and introduction to your country’s political system textbook or go online. For God’s sake use something like Wikipedia or something that’s a little bit reliable. track down someone who does actually know how the system works and ask them some questions and then cross reference that it doesn’t actually take that long and once you have the rudiments,

Then you’ll be able to make much more use of the mainstream/elite media because your eyes will suddenly see those words like you know whips and select committees and second readings  and so forth. And they’ll now make sense to you, whereas previously, your eyes just glazed across the page. 

And then you have to figure out how to do effective active citizenship.

Good luck. If you crack us, let us know, because we ain’t got a scoobie.

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Assessment Resources