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To really have very little idea about modern politics?

(23 Posts)
JustAnotherControlFreak Tue 06-Jan-15 01:14:31

in all honesty I know next to nothing about UK politics. I left school in '05 having been taught nothing about modern parties or their stances and I find it such a minefield to try to self-teach. I would like to vote in the upcoming elections but I feel that without any level of knowledge on what the parties stand for - behind their campaign speeches - I'll make a poor decision or even none at all. Please help!

Mumblechum1 Tue 06-Jan-15 03:37:01

Ok, so I presume that you know the basics, ie that labour are left of centre, cons right of centre, lib deems centre and ukip right of the cons.

I'm aeons older than you and have been voting for over 30 years and still don't know who I'll be voting for next time - none of them are particularly impressive IMO.

I suggest that you read a range of papers online to educate yourself. I tend to read the independent because it isn't massively biased. If you read only the guardian you'll get a lefty view, the mail is more right wing.

What matters most to you? Economy, human rights, education/family issues, immigration? Most people vote on what will affect them personally.

StarsOfTrackAndField Tue 06-Jan-15 03:46:18

Maybe watching Question Time on Thursday might be a good place to start. I have some reservations about the programme, but it is a good way of finding out what positions the parties adopt in relation to a variety of current issues. Hopefully it will give you a taste of the broad ideological differences between the parties.

adiposegirl Tue 06-Jan-15 03:55:00

An A level text book of British Government & politics should help you out. Once you understand the fundamentals, then research on the internet.

I suggest a book first so as to focus you, as internet searches may confuse you.

All the best

IMO, the Labour party should have changed its name when Blair deleted clause 4

JazzAnnNonMouse Tue 06-Jan-15 08:12:38

This might help you decide who to vote for based on their policies and not the media/front man speeches

bluevanman Tue 06-Jan-15 08:19:58

Thanks for asking this OP I'm going to watch this post.
I'm a little older than you and also got zero political education. The last few years I've found it very interesting but still haven't committed myself on a ballot paper

VoyageOfDad Tue 06-Jan-15 08:28:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

R4 Tue 06-Jan-15 08:30:08

Listen to the radio, especially programmes where commentators question the assertions and rip to shreds their flaky ideas.
Radio is ideal because you don't get distracted by visuals; it is easier to hear when they are lying. Even the best trained ones (looking at you Blair) cannot hide the tremor in the voice when they are being shifty.

ChillieJeanie Tue 06-Jan-15 08:32:20

Look at the websites of the various parties you are interested in - there will be more and more being published on those about what they will be campaigning on in the general election as the weeks go by. It gives you their policies straight from the horse's mouth, but be aware that they will all be highlighting and spinning the bits they think will be most popular. Full manifestos will be published in April. You used to be able to buy them in WH Smith, but I don't know whether that happens any more. They will certainly be available on the party websites in any case.

Oh, and the LibDems aren't the centre ground, although that's what they like to claim - they tend to be left of centre, especially at the grass roots level, and there have been some spectacularly bonkers proposals put forward by members at their conferences over the years. Since their policies are supposed to be voted on by their conference, if you search for coverage of last year's LibDem conference you might be able to find out some of their likely manifesto content from the votes that took place there. Labour and the Conservatives don't give their members the same level of say and control in policy setting, although they both have policy forums to which members can contribute.

BabyMarmoset Tue 06-Jan-15 08:52:18

It's a very good question OP.

All parties are convinced that they stand for fairness and the best opportunities for all (or at least most), and ultimately that they will make the country "better"; and that all other parties are "unfair", limit opportunities and will make the country worse.

It's fair to say that the outcome is a complicated picture.

You don't need a special education to vote, and it can eat up too much life to watch every program and read every newspaper. Hopefully you'll get local campaign literature through you door in the next 5 months. Have a read of that and see who you think is most aligned to your priorities.

tiggytape Tue 06-Jan-15 08:59:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

R4 Tue 06-Jan-15 09:00:31

I disagree BM. Campaign literature will only tell you the good bits, it is all air-brushed spin.
If you are not clever enough to ask the tricky questions (like mot of the population, including me) then listen to interviewers and commentators - they will ask the questions for you.

MephistophelesApprentice Tue 06-Jan-15 09:12:57

Short survey to establish your values, then puts you on a chart, then shows you where it puts other leaders/political parties.

My mother is inordinately proud of being further to the left than Ghandi.

BabyMarmoset Tue 06-Jan-15 09:14:03

That's like saying you shouldn't watch a film, just read what the critics have to say.

Of course parties will give you spin, but then again commentators will just give you their agenda - which means you have to spend time deciding on which commentators you agree with- and you end up with an ever increasing spiral of opinions and confusion.

I just wanted to say the easiest first step to deciding who to vote for, is to see what your local candidates prioritize.

R4 Tue 06-Jan-15 09:16:01

listen to interviewers and commentators

Spread across various media. As mumblechum says, they tend to have their biases so you want a good variety of input. You are probably too young to remember the Sun's claim in 1992 that it was them who won the General Election.grin

R4 Tue 06-Jan-15 09:17:47


I suppose it depends whether information confuses or enlightens you.hmm

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 06-Jan-15 09:20:02

Also, because of the constituency system in the UK, you will be voting for a particular person rather than a party. will show you who your local mp is and what their voting record is.

So I can see my local mp voted strongly for local gov't cuts, strongly for the bedroom tax, and moderately against equal marriage. I share none of those views, and won't be voting for her in May!

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 06-Jan-15 09:24:57

I would also agree that the manifestos aren't much help, you need to look at a party's record and what the people in it say.

For example, last election, David Cameron told us all 'No top-down reorganisation of the NHS', in the full knowledge that he had already prepared a plan for the top-down reorganisation of the NHS hmm which went ahead straight away.

Now, if you'd asked me in April 2010, I wouldn't have known he was specifically lying about that, but my gut instinct would be that you can't trust the Tories with the NHS, because I hear what they say, and I know what they've done in the past.

JustAnotherControlFreak Wed 07-Jan-15 18:12:11

Wow, thank you so much for all the advice. I'm going to have a good look at everything and try to educate myself. I have key areas - as we all do - in which I'm going to focus. I seriously had no ideas where to look before without being led so those neutral places seem like great logical places to start out. Thank you all smile

caroldecker Wed 07-Jan-15 19:55:07

Don't get too tied up in Left vs Right, a lot of things, particularly social issues are more fluid. Look at the manifestos

redexpat Wed 07-Jan-15 20:23:43

Basic theory:
Right wing: believe a certain amount of inequality is inevitable. It is up to the individual to create their own luck. Personal responsibility. Everything is privatised. Minimal govt intervention, esp in the market - so no legal restrictions on working hours, no minimum wage etc. People and organisations should find their own solutions (big society) and thus small public sector. Taken to the extreme you get nazis who believe tht certain groups of people are subhuman.

Left wing: try to even the playing field to give everyone the same opportunity. It is society's responsibility to ensure everyone is treated fairly. All the biggies are owned by the state (rail, banks, nhs, power cos....) Govt will legislate, ring fence budgets for minority causes, lots of top down initiatives - eg imposing quotas, targets etc (big govt). 4 hour max wait in a&e for example had the aim of giving equal access to healthcare. Big public sector. Taken to the extreme you get communism who do away with royalty, send richer people to work camps.

caroldecker Thu 08-Jan-15 17:54:59

redexpat The Nazi's nationalised most things and had huge government spending and welfare - the right does not lead to persecution any more than the left.
Persecution comes from dictatorships, left and right, who need to do away with opponents.
The Nazi's were National Socialists and against capitalism, but were 'right' of the communists, so nothing like what we would call right wing today.

DodgedAnAsbo Thu 08-Jan-15 18:55:43

We had friends over at New Year, strong socialist views, but we never discuss politics in order to keep things civil. I asked their dd (9) what she wanted to be when she grew up. She is bright that child, 'Prime minister. I want to give homes to the homeless, increase benefits and make the world a wonderful place.' our friends beamed with approval.
'but you don't have to wait till you are grown up' I told her. 'Come around tomorrow, clean the house, trim the hedges, wash my car and I will give you £75. Take it over to the shops where the homeless and the food bank is, give them the money and they can go off and spend it'

After a minute she said 'But why don't they come over, clean the house and wash the car and you give THEM the money'

'Yes' I said. 'Welcome to the conservative party'

Havn't heard from them since

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