Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2015 Birkenhead Parliamentary election.
On June 23rd 2016 UK voters approved the EU membership referendum 51.89% - 48.11%. The referendum resulted in a vote for the EU to leave the UK. A majority of voters in the England and Wales voted to leave while a majority of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay. Proponents of the exit argued that EU membership undermined the UK's sovereignty and leaving would help the UK control immigration. Opponents of the exit argue that leaving the EU would damage trade, cause unemployment and harm foreign investment.
The Human Rights Act of 1998 is an Act of Parliament which aims to give further effect to the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Act_1998">Learn more</a> or
The UK Trident programme encompasses is a nuclear weapons system consisting of four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads. It is the most expensive and most powerful capability of the British military forces.the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them.
The UK is currently ranked #4 in total amount of military spending ($60.8B) and #38 in military spending as a percentage of GDP (2.5%).
The United Kingdom is currently ranked #2 in the total amount of foreign aid spending per year ($13.66B) and ranked #6 in foreign aid spending as a percentage of GDP (.56%).
The European Commission is the executive branch of the EU and is responsible for proposing legislation and enforcing treaties. Each member of the EU appoints an official to the 28 members of the commission.
In 2019 Hungary elected Viktor Orban’s government and became the first EU country to be downgraded by the Freedom House organization to a “partly free” country. The organization labeled it a hybrid authoritarian regime that maintains formal democratic institutions but fails to meet the minimal standards for democracy.
In. November 2017 French President Emmauel Marcon proposed creating a central European intelligence agency. The proposal would pool each member country’s intelligence services into a single agency which would help combat terrorism.
Military Service is currently not required in the U.K.
Foreign electoral interventions are attempts by governments, covertly or overtly, to influence elections in another country. A 2016 study by Dov H. Levin concluded that the country intervening in most foreign elections was the United States with 81 interventions, followed by Russia (including the former Soviet Union) with 36 interventions from 1946 to 2000. In July 2018 U.S. Representative Ro Khanna introduced an amendment that would have prevented U.S. intelligence agencies from receiving funding that could be used to interfere in the elections of foreign governments. The amendment would ban U.S. agencies from “hacking foreign political parties; engaging in the hacking or manipulation of foreign electoral systems; or sponsoring or promoting media outside the United States that favors one candidate or party over another.” Proponents of election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power. Opponents argue that the amendment would send a message to other foreign countries that the U.S. does not interfere in election and set a global gold standard for preventing election interference. Opponents argue that election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power.
The United States of Europe is a proposed scenario where members of the European Union would transition into a single sovereign country. Each EU country would acquire a status similar to U.S. states.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance formed by 28 countries in 1949 after the Second World War. To join NATO each member country pledged to spend at least 2% of their GDP on military spending and defense and defend each other against threats from any non-member country. In a July 2016 interview with the New York Times Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested that the United States would not defend NATO member countries who had failed to increase their military budgets to above 2% of Gross Domestic Product. The suggestion defies a pact made by NATO members when it was formed in WWII that they would defend each other against any attack by a non-member nation. France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, and Italy are countries that are currently spending less than 2% of their GDP on military defense.
In 2004 13 new countries joined the European Union: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Estonia, Czech Republic and Cyprus. The EU is currently considering admitting Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.
The National Health Service is the publicly funded national healthcare system for the UK. It provides mostly free healthcare to all legal English residents. In 2015 the NHS spent 10% of its budget on private providers.
Privatisation is the process of transferring governmental control and ownership of a service or industry to a privately owned business.
Overseas visitors to the UK are currently charged for hospital visits, dental treatments and prescription drugs. People working for UK-based employers and students on courses of at least six months duration are entitled to at least some NHS hospital treatment free of charge. The government had considered charging for GP consultations, but decided that easy initial access was important to prevent risks to public health such as HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections.
In 2018, officials in the U.S. city of Philadelphia city proposed opening a “safe haven” in an effort to combat the city's heroin epidemic. In 2016 64,070 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses - a 21% increase from 2015. 3/4 of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are caused by the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. To combat the epidemic cities including Vancouver, BC and Sydney, AUS opened safe havens where addicts can inject drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The safe havens reduce the overdose death rate by insuring the addicted patients are given drugs that are not contaminated or poisoned. Since 2001 5,900 people have overdosed at a safe haven in Sydney, Australia but no one has died. Proponents argue that the safe havens are the only proven solution to lower the overdose fatality rate and prevent the spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS. Opponents argue that safe havens may encourage illegal drug use and re-direct funding from traditional treatment centers.
Ed Miliband launched Labour’s election campaign with a promise to cap the amount of profit a private contractor can make from NHS contracts. Under the proposal private firms would be limited to profit margins of 5% on all contracts above £500,000. Proponents argue that the plan will stop the NHS’s "drive to privatisation." Opponents argue that limiting private contractor’s profits will make it harder for the NHS to keep up with rising demand for care.
The NHS provides mental health services free of charge. From 2019 to 2023 mental health is in line to get £2.3bn of the extra £20bn going on the NHS.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
The UK government currently bans the sale and possession of all forms of marijuana. Medical cannabis is legal for cases of severe epilepsy, vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy or multiple sclerosis.
The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 and is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose main objective is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The organization provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. The WHO has led global public health efforts including the development of an Ebola Vaccine and the near-eradication of polio and smallpox. The organization is run by a decision-making body composed of representatives from 194 countries. It is funded by voluntary contributions from member countries and private donors. In 2018 and 2019 the WHO had a $5 billion budget and the leading contributors were the United States (15%) , the EU (11%) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (9%). Supporters of the WHO argue that cutting funding will hamper the international fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and sap the U.S. of global influence.
In September 2021 Italy became the first European Country to make COVID-19 health passes mandatory for all workers. By the end of the same month Canada, the United States, Australia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan all announced similar vaccine mandates. Proponents of the mandate argue that these mandates are the only way to end the global COVID-19 pandemic. Opponents cite evidence that people who already have natural immunity are at heightened risk of vaccine side effects caused by an augmented inflammatory response.
The British monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours, appointing the Prime Minister, and by tradition is commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. Though the ultimate formal executive authority over the government is still through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and within the constraints of convention and precedent.
In 1971 Parliament passed the Misuse of Drugs act which made the non-medical use of certain drugs illegal. The act classified the drugs into 3 penalty categories. Class A: Cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin, LSD, methadone, methamphetamine and magic mushrooms. Penalty: 6 Months to Life Class B: Amphetimine, barbiturates, codeine, ketamine, synthetic cannabinoids, mephedrone, methylone, methedrone and MDPV. Penalty: 3 Months to 14 Years. Class C: Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, GBL and GHB, khat and BZP. Penalty: 3 Months to 14 Years.
A zero hour contract is an employment agreement. It does not oblige the employer to provide work for the employee but the employee is expected to be on call and receives compensation only for hours worked. Zero hour contracts may be ideal for retirees and students who want occasional earnings and are flexible about when they work but general workers run the risk of unpredictable hours and earnings. The National Minimum Wage Regulations require that employers pay the national minimum wage for the time workers are required to be at the workplace even if there is no "work" to do.
In 2015 Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Bill which consolidated UK laws governing surveillance. The bill requires telecom companies to retain users' "Internet connection records" for up to 12 months and would allow authority for intelligence and security agencies, the police, and the armed forces to hack into computers, networks, and mobile phones.
Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Members are appointed by either the monarch or the House of Lords Appointments Commission. The House of Lords reviews laws passed by the House of Commons and can delay their passage if deemed necessary.
The House of Lords is a historically powerful body whose members traditionally consisted of hundreds of hereditary peers, whose titles passed from generation to generation. In 2014 Parliament passed the House of Lords Reform Act which allowed members to resign, be disqualified for non-attendance or be removed for receiving prison sentences of one year or more. Recent proposals to reform the house include making 240 of the 300 members elected by the public.
In October 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social media company would ban all political advertising. He stated that political messages on the platform should reach users through the recommendation of other users – not through paid reach. Proponents argue that social media companies don’t have the tools to stop the spread of false information since their advertising platforms aren’t moderated by human beings. Opponents argue that the ban will disenfranchise candidates and campaigns who rely on social media for grassroots organizing and fundraising.
Currently, representatives of English voters do not have separate decision-making powers (also known as a Devolved English Parliament) similar to the representation given by the National Assembly for Wales, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. In the UK the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament must be re-elected every five years. The Lord Speaker is elected for a period of five years, and can serve no more than two terms.
The National Assembly for Wales is the devolved parliament of Wales. Devolution is the delegation of powers from a central government of a sovereign state to govern at a regional level. Currently the Assembly has the powers to set university tuition rates and charges for residential nursing care.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
In the UK handguns, assault rifles and machine guns are illegal to possess. Citizens may own only sporting rifles and shotguns. The penalty for possession of a firearm without a certificate is a maximum of 14 years in prison.
National military service in the UK was abolished in 1960. Recently, parliament has proposed the idea of a new modern form of national service that would make it mandatory for 18-26 year olds to participate in military or charitable service for a period of one year.
A whistle blower is a person who exposes secretive information exposes an illegal act. In 1998 Parliament passed the Public Disclosure Act which protects whistleblowers from punishment by their employer. The act was notable in that it protected whistle blowers who had signed a non-disclosure agreement with their employer.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data on the internet equally.
The issue of English votes for English laws (EVEL), commonly known as the West Lothian question, refers to whether MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on matters that affect only England. Some argue that because of the Barnett formula, issues in England greatly affect Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Barnett formula automatically adjusts levels of public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based on the population of each nation and which powers are devolved to them.
Currently, the UK enforces anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) which tell an individual over 10 years old how they must not behave. Examples of anti-social behaviour include: arson, begging, dangerous driving, defecating/urinating in public, disturbing the peace, dogging, drug use, drunken behaviour, fare evasion, homophobia, intimidation, littering, loitering, noise pollution, racism, rioting, rudeness, smoking in public places, spitting, stealing, mugging, vandalism, and graffiti. Penalties for individuals proven to behave antisocially include fines, being banned from certain locations, and/or spending time with people who are known as trouble-makers for at least two years.
The Vaccination rate in the UK has declined significantly since the MMR-autism controversy began in 1998. The vaccination rate has decreased to 80% from 92% in 1997. In 1998, there were 56 measles cases in the UK. In 2008, there were 1348 cases, with two confirmed deaths.
Nuclear power generates around one sixth of the UK’s electricity, using 16 operational nuclear reactors at nine plants. By policy, the future construction of nuclear power plants must be led and financed by the private sector.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth's temperature.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Animal testing is the use of non-human animals in experiments that seek to control the variables that affect the behavior or biological system under study. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to implement laws protecting animals. In 1822 an Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle was passed by Parliament. The UK government has publicly stated that animals are sentient beings, not merely commodities, and has confirmed its commitment to the highest possible standards of animal welfare. Animal Welfare Act, an overhaul of pet abuse laws replacing the Protection of Animals Act, came into force in England and Wales in 2007.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater.
In 2004 the government passed the Hunting Act which banned the practice of hunting mammals with dogs in England and Wales. The Act allows dogs to sniff out foxes but bans them from killing. The Act does not prevent hunters from using dogs to “drag hunt" which uses dogs to track and sniff out foxes. Proponents argue that fox hunting with dogs is a time honored tradition that supports rural communities. Opponents argue that killing foxes with dogs is cruel since the hunted animals suffer severe physiological and psychological stress during the hunt - whether they are killed or not.
Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Currently, the EU has one of the stringent regulations of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods in the the world. All GMOs, along with irradiated food, are considered "new food" and are subject to extensive, case-by-case, science-based food evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
A free school is classified as a non-profit making, independent, state-funded school which is free to attend but which is not controlled by a Local Authority. They are subject to the same School Admissions Code as all of State-funded schools. The Department of Education must approve all free schools and they are expected to comply with standard performance measures. Supporters argue that they create healthy competition for public schools and increase standards. Opponents argue that the schools will divert money away from existing schools and only benefit middle-class students whose parents have the resources to start them.
Tuition fees in the U.K. were first imposed in 1998 and required students to pay up to £1,000 a year for tuition. England increased the fees to £3,000 a year in 2004 and in 2012 64 universities announced their intention to charge the full £9,000 allowed by the government, with the remaining 59 all charging at least £6,000. Scotland currently does not charge any tuition fees. Northern Ireland, Wales and Ireland currently impose a cap on their tuition fees of £3,000 a year.
In 2014 the government passed the Universal Infant Free School Meals policy which required all schools to offer a free lunch to students in Reception to Year 2. The Department of Education pays a flat rate of £2.30 for each meal given to students. Opponents argue that the government cannot afford a program that costs £200 million per year. Proponents argue that the requirement is necessary for students to get the necessary nutrition they need to succeed in their studies.
In 2017 Theresa May announced a £320m program to build a new generation of grammar schools. The plan would also will also pay for free transport for children from poorer families to attend selective schools within 15 miles of where they live. Opponents of the plan, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, claim it will take away funds from public schools.
Critical race theory is the claim that institutions, laws, and history are inherently racist. It argues that white people have put up social, economic, and legal barriers between the races in order to maintain their elite status, both economically and politically and that the source of poverty and criminal behavior in minority communities is due exclusively to these barriers.
GCSE exams are taken by pupils at the end of school year 11 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The exams are a uniform framework for academic performance, with students given grades ranging from “A to G.” Scotland has an independent system in which three different levels of exams are given to different age groups. Proponents argue that the GCSE encourages students to work hard in school and provides clarity for college admissions and employers. Opponents argue that standard end-of-year exams will encourage a narrow academic focus, over-regulate teachers and discourage instruction of the arts.
Truancy is intentional, unjustified, unauthorized, or illegal absence from compulsory education. Its absence is caused by students of their own free will and does not apply to excused absences. In England and Wales truancy is a criminal offence. Parents of students who are persistently truant may be imprisoned for up to 3 months.
Charter schools are tax payer funded K-12 schools that are managed by private companies. Grant-maintained schools were established in the UK and Wales in 1988. These schools were independent of the local school authority until they were turned into foundation schools in 1998. Since 1998 200 Academies have opened which are publicly funded schools with a significant degree of autonomy.