The Politics Game
Right, left or somewhere in the middle?
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Key Stage 3/4
To encourage students to consider where their allegiances lie as the country approaches the General Election on Thursday 7 Mary (SEAL theme: social skills).
Preparation and materials
- Choose readers.
- Download the video www.truetube.co.uk/film/idiots-guide-politics.
- Leader: What's your favourite colour? Maybe it's yellow or red, blue, green or purple. Maybe you prefer a combination or like there to be some kind of pattern or symbol. The media has been saturated with a competing range of badges and banners urging those over 18 to nail their colours to the mast. It's because there's a General Election scheduled for Thursday 7 May.
- The General Election has probably passed many of you by. It's simply been an irritating interruption to TV, radio and social media. The only good thing for you is that some schools have an extra day's holiday because they're being used as Polling Stations. But maybe it has more to do with all of us than you might think.
(Play video clip ‘An Idiot's Guide to Politics’.)
- Leader: So maybe politics does have something to do with all of us, even those who are under the age of 18 and are not yet able to vote. Politics is about the way we organize the communities and country in which we live.
- Let's look for a moment at the simplified view of how we might want the Government to work.
Reader 1: Do you lean more to the right? Do you want individuals to have more control over how they use the resources available? Do you think we must take personal responsibility and earn the rewards for hard work, imagination and initiative?
Reader 2: Or do you lean more to the left? Do you want people together to share responsibility for each other? Do you think it's important to concentrate on the weakest and most vulnerable, even if it means having less yourself?
- Leader: I bet most of you actually want to be a bit of each. The left/right divide is a simplification but it does get us thinking. Every one of us, I'm pretty sure, wants the best for ourselves and also the best for society. The range of political parties competing for seats in Parliament simply shows that there might be many different ways to achieve this. It all depends on where we might put the emphasis: investment, health services, immigration, national independence, jobs, the law: the list is endless and so politics becomes a complicated business, too complicated for a lot of us.
- Reader 1: But what about us? The result of the General Election might affect us but we still don't have a vote. What's politics got to do with us?
Leader: Interestingly, there are many who believe that the voting age should be brought down to 16. It was that age in Scotland for the independence referendum. But actually you are already able to demonstrate your views. You live as part of a school community and reside in a local geographical community. From what I hear, you've got lots of ideas about what should be changed in this school. You believe there are better ways to do many things. You get angry at what you perceive as injustice. You get irritated at rules and regulations that seem to have little point. You want to describe a better way to do it. So what might you do?
Time for reflection
Politics in school is about using the means available to make your views known, and to put you in touch with others who think similarly.
(Amend the following section to fit with the structures in your school.)
When you choose a form representative for the year council, it's rather like an election. Choose carefully. Don't simply go with a volunteer or the class comedian. Let your rep know what you feel and think about what's going on. Make sure he or she reports back on what took place at the council.
Use ideas boxes to post your concerns and suggestions. Think about what's important for the most vulnerable in the school or those who are too shy to voice their opinion publicly.
Talk with your form tutor about your ideas. Ask him or her to pass these on to senior management and make sure the form tutor reports back on the discussions.
Politics in your community can provide the opportunity to work with all ages. Make a stand, offer to volunteer, take part in a boycott, hold a protest rally and use social media. It's all politics and you can be an important part of it.
I don't know what the Election result is likely to be. It's too close to call. I hope you take an interest. But more than that, I hope you get involved.
Thank you for people who are willing to give their time and expertise to organize the society in which we live.
Remind us of their sacrifices when we're tempted to criticise them and help us to see where and when we too can be involved in politics.
‘Things can only get better’ by D:Ream