10 Steps Towards a Better Democracy

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Note: this has been taken from our manifesto which you can read in full here

More Political Education in Schools

As more schools become academies, they have greater autonomy to set their own curriculums. There are arguably some benefits to having this greater freedom but there is a real danger that education will become inconsistent. TalkPolitics proposes enforcing a standardised, compulsory PSHCE curriculum (including a basic political education,) regardless of school status so that a high-quality ‘citizenship’ education is delivered across the board.

Better Social Media Training

From Twitter to Instagram to Snapchat, more and more young people are engrossed by social media. However, social media can be used ineffectively. Online posts stay online
forever and polarising posts can inhibit future employment prospects. TalkPolitics supports “social media education” embedded in PSCHE lessons, where young people are taught about the dangers of social media. There is also a danger that social media creates “echo chambers”; individuals follow others with similar views, creating online “safe spaces”. We want to make young people aware of these bubbles and teach them to think independently, as well as teaching them to consider source provenance in relation to the rise of “fake news”.

Funding for grassroots to deliver political education

Apathy continues to plague our democracy. 28 per cent of eligible voters in the EU referendum chose not to vote. We believe that the best way to tackle voter apathy is through grassroots groups such as TalkPolitics, rather than top-down government schemes. But these organisations need funding in order to sustain themselves. TalkPolitics believes the Government should greater support independent groups.

An Opt-Out Electoral Register

Rather than encouraging young people to sign up to the electoral register, TalkPolitics believes that young people should automatically be added to the voting register upon
turning 18; they can then have a choice to “opt-out”. We believe this could help tackle voting apathy amongst ‘millennials’, who are the least likely to vote.

Research into digital voting options

TalkPolitics have some degree of scepticism as to widespread digital voting, in terms of the potential for fraud and corruption. However, in the same way that postal votes supplement casting a physical vote in person at a ballot box, we are open to the idea of some kind of digital voting, to ensure voting is as convenient as possible.

Take Politics out of Westminster

Politics shouldn’t just be about soundbites delivered with a shot of the Houses of Parliament in the background; it should be about engaging people in politics at a local, grassroots level. UK political system is arguably one of the most centralised in the world. TalkPolitics support greater devolution of power to city mayors and local councils to
ensure politics does not become Westminster-centric. We also believe that local councillors could play an important role in delivering political education.

Stop Media Monopolies

In a healthy democracy, a media is vitally important to hold the government to account. However, competition is important too to ensure the media is diverse and representative of the pluralised breadth of public opinion; monopolies are anti free-market and inhibit choice. TalkPolitics are concerned by the recent rise of media monopolises and thus support a 20% cap of national media ownership.

Protect Free Speech

A growing number of Universities are no-platforming speakers due to protests from students. But there is a concern that a loud minority are overruling a silent majority, and that difficult issues are not being debated openly. The BNP party did not disappear from British politics because they were no platformed. On the contrary, the BNP were given air time on programs such as BBC Question Time; their leader, Nick Griffin, was brought under scrutiny and his popularity plummeted. TalkPolitics would like to see restrictions on Universities in terms of their ability to no-platform speakers.

Research into digital voting for MPs

While traditions can be valuable, Westminster is in serious need of modernisation. At present, MPs have to travel all the way to London to cast their relevant votes. This is expensive for the tax payer both in terms of time and money. Allowing MPs to vote remotely in digital form would allow them to spend more time in their constituency, as well as saving the tax-payers’ money due to the lower travel subsidies / expenses.

Encourage MPs to commit more to outreaching in local schools

In order to ensure politicians are not dehumanised and build healthy relationships with their constituents, we would like politicians to commit to 10 hours of outreach work per year in schools. 18-24-year-olds are the least likely to vote, and we believe building closer relationships with MPs will help get this demographic out to vote.

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