General Election 2017: Why Is It Important?
The first in a series of assemblies considering the UK general election 2017
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider what a general election is, why it is important and what happens next.
Preparation and materials
You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (General Election - Why is it important?) and the means to display them.
Have available the two videos found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/39628030 and the means to show them during the assembly. The first video is 1.11 minutes long and the second video is 1.03 minutes long.
Ask the students if they have made any choices today.
Ask if any of them ate breakfast.
Show Slide 1.
Ask the students the following questions:
- Who chose to have cereal for breakfast?
- Who chose toast?
- Anyone choose porridge?
Perhaps you chose to skip breakfast altogether. Or maybe you didn’t have a choice: perhaps there was no food in the cupboard, or there was only one thing to choose and you had to take it or leave it.
Ask some of the staff present what they had for breakfast. Ask them why they made that choice.
Show Slide 2.
Explain that choices have consequences. To make a wise choice, it helps to consider the likely effects of our choices. It helps to be well-informed. As humans, we feel empowered and can use our rational brains and abilities when we have choice. Choice is important to us as humans.
At the moment, the UK is facing a choice about who makes decisions on behalf of the country. We call this choice a general election. On 18 April, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, called for a general election to take place on 8 June.
Show Slide 3.
Show the video of the news report by BBC political reporter, Adam Fleming, available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/39628030
In a general election, adults across the UK vote to choose the MPs (Members of Parliament) who will represent their local areas, or constituencies.
The political party that wins the most MPs usually forms the government that runs the country. The next video explains what a general election entails.
Show the video ‘How a general election works - in 60 seconds’, available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/39628030 (scroll down to the second video on the page).
The announcement of a general election has come as a bit of a surprise because the next election wasn’t due to happen until 2020. By law, a general election must happen at least once every five years, but the government can choose to call one sooner than that. If one is held earlier than expected, as will happen on 8 June 2017, it is called a snap election.
The last general election was held in May 2015. The year after, a referendum took place to ask the people of the UK if they wanted to remain in the European Union. The outcome of the referendum, where the majority of UK voters voted to leave the EU, is known as Brexit.
So, why has a snap election been called? When Theresa May announced it, she said, ‘I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.’
Show Slide 4.
Holding an election in 2017 means that the same political party can remain in power until 2022. This will help to give the UK time to manage the process of leaving the EU.
Therefore, in this general election, one of the questions that people who are eligible to vote will need to consider is which candidates they think will best help the country through the process of leaving the EU. However, there are many other questions to think about, too, and these will also influence the choices that people make.
Thinking about this year’s general election may not make you feel quite as excited as the person in this picture . . .
Show Slide 5.
However, it is good that people in the UK have the opportunity to have a choice in the running of our country. A general election gives the UK the chance to make a choice that has important consequences for our nation and our society.
Time for reflection
So, what will happen between now and June?
Politicians across the UK are working with the aim to win (or keep) their seat in the House of Commons. For several weeks, they will be speaking to people in the UK, debating with rivals and delivering speeches to try to convince adults across the UK to vote for them.
Political parties will also publish their manifestos. These are lists of what they plan to do if they are voted into power. Voters can use the manifestos to help them to decide whether they want to vote for particular candidates.
Thursday 8 June will be an important day!
As the election approaches, we thank you that we have wonderful brains that can make choices.
Thank you that we have the freedom to make our own choices.
Thank you that, in the UK, we have the freedom to contribute to choosing the direction of our country.
In all the choices we make today, this week and in the future, help us to think carefully about the consequences of our actions.
Help us to be people who think not only of ourselves, but others, too.
Help us to make decisions that work towards the common good, the good of all people in our society.