Modern Studies - Democracy in Scotland/UK.


Modern Studies - Democracy in Scotland cue cards for Higher.
Daniel Cormack
Flashcards by Daniel Cormack, updated more than 1 year ago
Daniel Cormack
Created by Daniel Cormack over 8 years ago

Resource summary

Question Answer
Electoral System: FPTP - General Info - Elects MPs to House of Commons - To vote simply put "x" next to candidate you support - Candidate with most votes wins - Once members have been individually elected, the party with the most seats in parliament normally becomes the next gov.
Electoral System: FPTP - Arguments in Favour -Simple to understand. - It is simple to understand - eg only need to vote once and place x next to chosen candidate. - Candidate with most votes in constituency wins the seat in that constituency. - Party with most seats becomes government.
Electoral System: FPTP - Arguments in Favour - Tends to lead to single party governing - Tends to produce single party governments which can create legislation and tackle problems without relying on other parties and their support. - Tony Blair's clear victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005 showed how Labour returned to power with sufficient MPs so they had ruling majority. - Five year term to fulfil pledges made to voters - voters could then judge if the pledges made have been kept and opt whether or not to re-elect.
Electoral System: FPTP - Arguments in Favour - Stable Government - Major changes in our system are few and far between. - Stability key for economy - therefore governments that change frequently are bad for economy. - Better than an unstable coalition a PR system can bring. (HOWEVER 2011 GEN ELECTION WAS COALITION)
Electoral System: FPTP - Arguments in Favour - MP link - Close link between MP/Constituency as voters have just one representative for their constituency. - Voters can get to know their MP and make a judgement on whether they should be re-elected or not. (AMS HAS 8 PER REGION - NOT A LINK BETWEEN ALL MSPS AND CONSTITUENCIES)
Electoral System: FPTP - Arguments Against - Wasted Votes - Only one MP being elected in a constituency means that those who have not voted for him/her are not represented and this is known as wasted votes and in turn causes low turnout. - EG. in 2005 more people did not turn up to vote, than voted for the winning party. - EG. in 1997 around 15 million voters cast ineffective votes - 48% of those who voted. Some came from same place each time AKA Conservative voter from Glasgow.
Electoral System: FPTP - Arguments Against - Minority Vote Victory for party - Parties can win power with a minority of the vote. - Labour governed for 5 years (05-10) after winning less than 40% of the vote. -FPTP shows Lib Dem seats not been representative to votes received in 2005 as they got 22% of the vote but only around 10% of the seats. - Cons got 16% of vote in Scotland and only around 2 % of seats due to strong support but in few constituencies and minimal in others.
Electoral System: FPTP - Arguments Against - Safe seats vs marginal seats - The amount of safe seats compared to marginal is too high. - Safe seats are ever present as there are 400 out of 600 according to ERS. - Negative because MPs who are in safe seats may not work as hard as they should do as they are almost guaranteed re-election. - Unfair on voters who want change as marginal seats encourage parties to campaign harder for votes and when in seat itself.
Electoral System: AMS - General Info - Purpose to retain best features of FPTP and include proportionality. - Voter has 2 votes and 1 for single representative via FPTP and one for regional party list. - Bit more complicated than FPTP but should be simple.
Electoral System: AMS - Arguments For - Simple voting. - Voters should find system dead simple. - Voters place an X on the ballot next to their chosen representative on the constituency ballot. - Voters place an X next to chosen party on ballot. - The system is therefore hybrid as it combines FPTP/PR.
Electoral System: AMS - Arguments For - Support for candidate without going against party. - It allows a voter to express personal support for a candidate, without having to worry about going against their party. - The separation of votes allows the voter to make an expression of approval for a candidate and the voter does not have to worry about going against their own party.
Electoral System: AMS - Arguments For - Saved Scottish Tories from pol extinction. - AMS arguably saved Tories from extinction. - In 1999 all 18 of the Tory MSPs were from the list vote and none from FPTP constituencies. - In 2011 there were 15 MSPs and the list system aided the Tories yet again to make them the 3rd largest party in Scotland. - Without list system provided by AMS Conservative voters would not be as wel represented in Scotland.
Electoral System: AMS - Arguments Against - List MSP link. - List MSPs directly accountable to any voters, just to their party and parties choose the list reps - not voters. - Brian Wilson believes the list system should be done away with as the MSPS have no constituency and aren't elected by anyone.
Electoral System: AMS - Arguments Against - Designed to create coalitions BUT 2k11 - 2011 the SNP won a record number of seats securing a majority over all other parties. - No longer need support from other parties to pass legislation. - In Scotland a voting system designed to produce coalitions has produced a majority government and in UK a voting system designed to create a majority government has resulted in coalition.
Electoral System: AMS - Arguments Against - Voters unrepresented. - If one voted SNP in Edinburgh North one would have nobody to represent on'es views as there is a Labour constituency MSP. - There are no SNP list MSPs in the Lothians despite 110,000 people voting SNP.
Electoral System: STV - General Info -Each war elects between 3 to 5 candidates depending on size. - Voters rank the candidates in order of preference. 1 for favourite, 2 for next and so on. - If the voter's first choice candidate does not need their vote, then the vote is transferred to the voter's 2nd choice candidate. - The transferral of votes continues until all available seats have been won.
Electoral System: STV - Arguments in Favour - Greater choice. - Voters can have greater choice as they are able to choose between candidates within parties, demonstrating support for different wings of the party. - E.G. Inverkeithing elections, SNP stood two candidates and so did Scottish Labour. (CHOICE)
Electoral System: STV - Arguments in Favour - Proportional results. - Delivers proportional results. - in 2007 and 2012 local council elections, parties won council seats more in proportion to % of votes they received. -(HOWEVER AMS CAN BE SEEN AS MORE PROPORTIONAL)
Electoral System: STV - Arguments in Favour - Fewer wasted votes. - Fewer wasted votes means that votes are not really cast for losing candidates. - Most voters can identify with a representative they helped to elect.
Electoral System: STV - Arguments Against - Poor turnout. - Turnout has yet to increase. - STV suppose to increase turnout as there are no safe seats or wasted votes but voters have failed to respond to STV. - Around 40% turned out in 2012 for Scottish local council elections compared to 65% turning out in the FPTP general election in 2010.
Electoral System: STV - Arguments Against -Process of counting. - Process of counting results takes longer under STV, meaning that results can not be declared on the night the vote took place. - Voters may not understand how representatives are elected and confused about procedure which may discourage turnout.
Electoral System: STV - Arguments against - Coalitions more likely. - Only five councils in Scotland are now controlled by one party and 27 councils have no one party in control. -Many councils have formed coalitions or partnership agreements. - This will no doubt make it difficult to get things passed if there is not agreement among the parties, and thus the views of the voters may not be as well represented as they could be.
Voting Behaviour: Social Class -Believed to have a strong influence on voting behaviour. -According to Peter Pulzer: "Class is the basis of British politics". -Traditionally middle/upper class vote Cons and working class Lab. EG. 39% of AB voted Cons and 40% of DE vote Labour. -HOWEVER, class dealignment made traditional class categories unravel due to economic change as traditional industries disappeared. -Middle class ultimately grew leaving Labour losing traditional voters as there were more floating votes.
Voting Behaviour: Geographical location (LINK WITH SOCIAL CLASS.) -In past there was a North/South divide in Britain as the South generally voted Conservative and the North of England and Scotland would vote Labour. -Still very existent in today's elections with location, however social class is linked with area. - In Richmond (Yorkshire) Cons won 63% of vote in an area with 9% of children living in poverty whereas in Glasgow North, Labour won 68% of the vote in an area with 44% of children in poverty. -Geographical location to some extent shows class loyalty as working class people tend to still vote Labout eg Glasgow.
Voting Behaviour: Social Class SCOTLAND -National aspect enter equation. -In 2010 Scottish voters may have seen general election as a two horse race between Lab and Con. -This saw Labour MPs returning with increased majorities and even Labour winning in affluent areas EG East Renfrewshire Jim Murphy MP.
Voting Behaviour: Gender -Both Con and Lab target women who are professionals and worry about key issues like education. -Women are more likely to vote for female candidates and this holds the key to who wins this particular group of people over, which is why "Mumsnet" is becoming increasingly influential in politics. -All 3 main party leaders went out of their way for middle class mumsnet users by holding Q and As online. -David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle made in order to increase number of female cabinet ministers to hold on to women vote. -Successful because 34% of AB women voted Con.
Voting Behaviour: Race -EMs least likely to vote out of all voters. -Deprivation and religious intolerance play a role in this. -Ethnic minorities that do vote tend to vote for Labour due to the party's staunch support for them. -Over 50% of EMs vote Labour with only 20% voting Tory. - Con party realise they must win EM votes for elections success in future. -HOWEVER, social class plays a role as wealthy AB group of Asians are more likely to vote Con and poorer EMs Labour.
Voting Behaviour: Media - Part 1 -Old media vs new media. - Newspapers are often biased and show support to certain political parties. - The Sun has the largest daily readership in the UK and has been accused of endorsing the party which is most likely to win an election. - Sun made claims of being major influence in past: "It's the Sun wot won it" -Alternatively, in 07 Scot parl elections the Sum came out against the SNP with a front cover showing a hangman's noose. However in 2011 the Sun endorsed Alex Salmond: "Keep Salm and carry on", as it was evident the SNP had the best chance of winning.
Voting Behaviour - Media - Part 2 -Leader's debates took place for first time in 2010 election and had not real impact on final vote. -Nick Clegg deemed as best performer but Lib Dem support only grew 1% - not much of an effect perhaps because in UK we don't vote directly for leader. - TV can be bad for parties too - Scottish Labour - Iain Gray ran away from protestors in subway and hid in sandwich shop. Later was interviewed in sandwich shop and bombarded by protesters and eventually ran off. Labour were leading polls but support dropped after this. -So, old media is definitely important because the Sun is read by 8 million every day and 80% of Britons could not recall any online electioneering.
Voting Behaviour - Media - Part 3 -Social media is changing journalism and politics. -Al Jazeera integrate social media into their coverage. -Newer forms of media like Twitter and Facebook enabled SNP to send out updates and reach users who can spread message. -SNP has around 35,000 followers which is more than any other party and shows connection with young voters. - SNP also used a campaign to pinpoint voters and apps used to feedback voter's opinions on the database. EFFECTIVE.
To what extent can the HOC scrutinise the work of the Executive? - Intro (BASIC INFO FOR AN INTRO) - The House of Commons can scrutinise the Executive in a number of ways - through parliamentary questions, parliamentary debates and the work of select committees.
To what extent can the HOC scrutinise the work of the Executive? - Parliamentary Questions - Parliamentary questions allow MPs to scrutinise by extracting information about the government's work and policies. - This can reveal shortcomings and uncover maladministration. - Government ministers are obliged to answer questions in the HOC - for example - Home Sec Theresa May has come under fire during Home Office questions for her inability to deport radical Abu Qatada. - However, department questions only last for an hour a day so it is too short to fully expose government incompetence or corruption. - This shows ministers can be held to account for the work of their departments but it is not particularly effective due to a lack of time and the ability to evade questions.
To what extent can the HOC scrutinise the work of the Executive? - Parliamentary Debate. - Another method is through debate. - Parl debates give members an opportunity to discuss: policy and performance, proposed new laws and current issues. - However, the government can limit or restrict debate. - For example, programme motions can be debated immediately after a bill's second reading - can be controversial if MPs believe they are being used to restrict debate. - This shows govt can dodge attempts to have their work scrutinised by curtailing the process of debate so this is not effective in keeping check on the govt.
To what extent can the HOC scrutinise the work of the Executive? - Select Committees - Select Committees monitor the work of government departments. - They have the power to see written evidence and examine witnesses. They produce reports which highlight the govt's shortcomings - eg Theresa may had to answer questions about the relaxation of border controls in front of the Home Affairs committee. - However, although committees publish reports - the govt does not have to adopt their recommendations. - Shows they are powerful because they can call ministers to give evidence and the govt doesn't have to take on board what is said.
To what extent can the HOC scrutinise the work of the Executive? - PM Qs. - The PM answers questions from MPs for half an hour in the Commons every Wed. Allows MPs to reveal and highlight the failings in the PM's decisions. - For example, Ed Miliband pressed PM to sack Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary, after finding out his political adviser had been sharing private info with New Corporation over the Sky takeover. - However, PMQs have become opportunities for mud slinging between the opposition and the government. - Shows PMQs are more like point scoring contest than an effective check on the Executive.
Conflict between Local Gov and Scottish Gov. - Intro - Local gov has a vital role in the running of the country by taking decisions relating to local issues and acting as a watchdog over other governing bodies. - However, the Scottish gov has come into conflict with local authorities due to finance and changes in the electoral system for local gov.
Conflict between Local Gov and Scottish Gov. - Local gov details and background. - Local gov has mandatory, discretionary and permissive functions and also play a role in regulatory role, such as granting licenses and promoting interest of the local community. - There are 32 directly elected local authorities in Scotland and they provide a chance for everyday people to participate in democracy at a level closer to their lives. - Local people elect councillors for their ward and can gold these councillors accountable for the organisation and efficiency of services.
Conflict between Local Gov and Scottish Gov. - Scottish Gov Role. - The Scottish Parliament is the law-making body for devolved issues and can pass laws setting out the powers and duties of local authorities. - Councils receive around 80% of funding from the Scottish government and most other funding comes from council tax, rents and charges for services. - Councils generally have to act within Scottish government policy even if this is something they do not agree with - eg compulsory competitive tendering, under which councils have to award contracts to the most cost-effective bidder, may mean a council department does not have freedom to choose where a council contract is awarded. - Also monitoring of local gov activities by the gov to ensure best value is always attained. Failure to comply may result in a council losing financial support.
Conflict between Local Gov and Scottish Gov. - Areas of Disagreement. - Scottish executive claims it provides councils with more than sufficient funds while councils counter that most of the increase in funding is reserved for new initiatives introduced by the executive. - Eg, free personal care for the elderly. Introduced by parliament but left to councils to implement. Executive claims it provides sufficient funds to meet costs but many local authorities claim it is not enough and are forced to find loopholes to enable them to set some changes.
Conflict between Local Gov and Scottish Gov. - Changes to electoral system. - STV used for first time in 2007 and Labour councillors wanted change blocked because they refused to give up their powerbase in local councils across Scotland. - Despite conflict, local authorities had to accept change. - There was conflict about the increased number of coalitions that would occur due to STV and seen that it would be difficult for decisions to be passed. - Trump golf course in Aberdeen, where Scot gov interfered. Council's decision to refuse permission was overturned by Scot gov - caused great deal of conflict.
Citizens taking part/influence on political system. - Intro - Citizens can have an influence and take part in a number of way - voting for elected bodies and in elections, participating in pressure groups and standing as a candidate.
Citizens taking part/influence on political system. - Voting for elected bodies. - In a democratic system like the UK - there are a number of elected bodies which voters may vote for, such as the UK parl which has power over matters across the whole of the UK, such as foreign policy and most welfare. - Voters can also vote for the Scottish parl which only has powers over a limited range of devolved matter, like education and health. - UK parl - FPTP system tends to produce a result which is not very proportional to the number of votes cast for each party - 3 million for UKIP and they only got one MP. - Scot parl - uses a more proportional system (AMS) where voters vote for a party on a regional list, usually more than one party is represented in parliament in this method.
Citizens taking part/influence on political system - Elected Body Cont - As a result of the voting system used for SP, it could be said voters have a greater influence on political system than in UK-wide elections as citizens have a range of different representatives of different parties that they can contact and lobby, however in UK parl, each constituency had one MP who may not be of the same party supported by the voter - possibly not sympathetic to their views. - Means voters also have a bigger influence in SP than UK parl.
Citizens taking part/influence on political system. - Pressure groups - Voters can join pressure groups which campaign for changes in the law or new legislation - seen to have a strong influence on public opinion and voting behaviour. - These allow people to participate in democracy by being involved in social change without necessarily joining a political party. Most groups fall into two categories: cause of interest.
Citizens taking part/influence on political system. - Pressure Groups CONT - Cause groups represent a belief. Seek to act in interests of that particular cause. - Eg, Greenpeace seeks to improve the environment across the world. - Anyone can be concerned by the environment and therefore join Greenpeace. - Interest groups represent a certain section of society and look after common interests of that section. - TUC represents workers in trade unions and secondary teachers can join SSTA. Therefore closed membership is evident for these ones. - Effective as like-minded citizens can join to have voice heard and play an active role in democracy.
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