I’ve said for a while now that we should be introducing much more political education in Schools. Not one sided ideological stuff, but more about the mechanisms of how our democracy works. This week, and the call for by-elections, has again shown how many of us are politically naive in terms of how our country works. We need to get educated.
I guess this really started to come to light when I first started becoming politically active myself, and people asking what I was standing for, what the various councils did and was I going to be the MP (little did I know that 8 years later I would be standing to do exactly that). And this was couple with my own ignorance of things like the role and scope of various layers of government, what elected representatives could actually achieve and the various tools and mechanisms available.
This is coupled with the fact that we all expect this information to be given to us, from who is standing and what they stand for, or what the election is actually about. If someone hasn’t had a leaflet through their door, then they are less likely to vote at all. We need to help people have simple and easy access to resources that do explain these elements.
More recently there has been the EU referendum which also showed high levels of not understanding how it worked. Some people thought that the very next day that we had left, many people didn’t know that it is not legally binding.
And now, with the TIG (The Independent Group, full of Tiggers?) leaving their parties and many people demanding by-elections, we need to realise what we are voting for, we are voting for an individual to represent us. That individual belongs (or not) to a party but that is secondary. There is no reason for the TIG to put themselves up for by-elections. Why would they, being on a few days old, there is a good change they would lose their seats. Why would they care that Labour or Tories “demand it”? Both parties lost those rights when the TIG left them.
So perhaps now we can drive for better political education for our residents, so they have an understanding what they are voting for and how the structures work. Perhaps Political history is a bit too much to ask for, but may also be advantageous.