Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2015 Dundee West Parliamentary election.
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.
In 1988 the federal government passed the Education Reform Act which required students at all state schools to be taught a standard curriculum. The curriculum is intended to “promote pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and prepare all pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life.” Proponents believe that this is necessary to keep standards high at all schools funded by the government. Opponents believe that teachers should be able to develop curriculum content that is best suited for their students.
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.
Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.
In March 2015 the UK government announced that the minimum wage would be raised 3% to £6.70 an hour. The increase was supported by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg. Opponents say that the increase is too small. They argue that too many workers are living in poverty and the national wage should be raised to a “living wage” of £10 per hour.
Currently, there is no cap on child benefit. £20.50 per week is paid for the first child and £13.55 per week is paid for each additional child. More than 80% of children are in families also eligible for means-tested child tax credit.
The United Kingdom treats a corporation as a tax resident if it is organised as a UK corporation or is controlled and managed in the United Kingdom. The U.K. recently abandoned its worldwide system for a territorial system and reduced its corporate tax rate to 21 percent. The U.S. currently taxes corporations at 39%, France at 33% and Germany at 45%.
Currently, the UK does not tax residential property on an annual basis. The "Mansion Tax" is a proposed annual property tax on homes valued at or over £2 million that would increase tax revenue to allow for a decrease in tax rate for low earners. Proposals estimate that properties valued between £2m and £3m would pay £3,000 per annum, but properties over £3m would pay considerably more. Commentators have suggested that in order to raise the projected £1.2bn, the Mansion Tax payable on homes over £3m would have to be £28,000.
The current tax rate for individuals making over £150,001 per year is 38% for dividend income, 45% for saving income and 45% for other income.
A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.
In November 2019 shadow chancellor John McDonnell stated that the Labour party would introduce a 32-hour work week policy if they gained the majority in the General Election. Workers in the UK would be classified as working “full-time” if they worked 32 hours. The policy would also apply to government workers including those in the NHS. Opponents of the plan, including the Conservative Party, argue that the plan would increase staff costs at the NHS by £6.1bn a year.
Union membership in the UK began declining steeply in the 1980s and 1990s, falling from 13 million in 1979 to around 7.3 million in 2000. In September 2012 union membership dropped below 6 million for the first time since the 1940s
In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.
In 2014, total government spending fell to 35% of GDP, down from 45% in 2009-10. Economists predict that the British government will have to continue to cut spending if it would like to balance its budget by 2020. The Independent Institute for Fiscal Studies said the government would have to raise taxes by £21billion or cut welfare spending which will rise to 1/3rd of all spending by 2020.
In November 2019 the UK Labour Party promised that if it won a majority in the upcoming general election it would provide free full-fiber broadband to every home and business the UK by the year 2030. Under the plan the government would nationalize the digital arm of BT (Openreach) and provide over 95% of UK residents with broadband. Currently 7% of households in the U.K. have access to full-fiber broadband. The plan would cost an estimated £230m a year and would be funded by a new tax on large technology companies including Apple and Google. Opponents (including the Conservatives, Lib Dems and SNP) argue that the plan is too expensive. Boris Johnson stated that the plan would cost £60bn more over ten years than what Labour is projecting. Proponents argue that privately run broadband companies have left the UK behind other countries and the government should take over.
5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. The UK does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.
The Bedroom Tax (also known as Spare Room Subsidy) is a change to Housing Benefit Entitlement that restricts housing benefits for tenants of working age (16-61) living in a housing association or council property that is deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms. Tenants with one spare bedroom lose 14% of entitled housing benefit and those with two or more spare bedrooms lose 25% of entitlement. Possible exemptions exist for tenants receiving a state pension, rent a shared ownership property, have a severely disabled child who requires their own room, have a foster child, or have a child how is on duty in the armed forces.
n 2014 the EU passed legislation that capped bankers’ bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on banker’s pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank’s costs to rise.
An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2016, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for American companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.
The inheritance tax is a tax on money and possessions you pass on when you die. A certain amount can be passed on tax-free, which is called the "tax-free allowance" or "nil rate band". The current tax-free allowance is £325,000 which has not changed since 2011 and is fixed at that rate until at least 2017. The inheritance tax is an emotionally charged issue as it comes up during a time of loss and mourning.
The non-domicile rule was established by William Pitt the Younger in the late 18th century and allowed many of Britain’s richest permanent residents to avoid paying tax in the UK on their worldwide income. Non-domiciles pay UK income tax and capital gains tax on their UK sources of income and gains, and whatever income generated overseas they choose to remit to the UK. By contrast, UK domiciles have to pay tax on all of their income and gains, wherever in the world they are made – Britain or overseas. Proponents of overturning the rule argue that it has been wide open to abuse and offends the moral basis of taxation. Opponents argue that ending the rule will discourage foreign investment and that some non-doms pay as much as £132,000 per year in taxes.
Currently, Canada's electoral system is based on a "first past the post" system. The candidate with the most votes in a riding wins a seat in the House of Commons and represents that riding as its Member of Parliament. The Governor General asks the Members of Parliament to form a government, which is normally the party whose candidates have won the most seats; that party's leader generally becomes Prime Minister. An absolute majority of the electorate is not needed, and is rarely achieved. As a result, power has been held by either of two parties for most of Canada's history. The party whose candidates win the second largest number of seats becomes the Official Opposition.
In the UK a citizen mist be 18 years of age or older to vote. In 2005 the House of Commons turned down a bill that would have lowered the voting age to 16.
In most countries, suffrage, the right to vote, is generally limited to citizens of the country. Some countries, however, extend limited voting rights to resident non-citizens.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In the UK these documents are considered private and are not released to the public. After David Cameron was named in the 2016 Panama Papers scandal top MP’s including Chancellor George Osborne and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn published details of their tax returns. The UK Electoral Commission does not require individuals running for public offices to release them. In Sweden, Norway and Finland citizen’s and candidate’s tax records are considered public information and are published on the internet.
The U.S. constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. States may prevent convicted felons candidates from holding statewide and local offices.
In the UK there are no limits on the amount of donations a political party may receive. Political parties may only accept donations over £200 from registered voters, party members, companies, trade union or a building society. Political parties may only spend £30,000 for each constituency that it contests in a general election. If a party ran a candidate in each of the 650 UK constituencies, its maximum spend would total £19.5m.
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.
Privatisation is the process of transferring governmental control and ownership of a service or industry to a privately owned business.
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.
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.
Currently UK trains are operated by private franchises and the tracks are operated by the government. Proponents argue that the system would run more efficiently if the tracks and trains were operated by private entities. Opponents of privatization claim that a single government train system would end the disruptions caused by the fractured franchise system.
High Speed 2 is a planned high speed railway between London Euston to central Scotland. The project is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a company limited by guarantee established by the UK government. Four major city centres shall be served directly: London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
An “essential service” classification prevents employees of a government service from staging full-scale strikes and walkouts. Services with the classification are required by law to provide minimum services during periods of industrial action. Proponents of the proposal argue that strikes by underground workers cause significant disruption to the country’s economy and people’s lives. Opponents argue that the proposal would prevent workers from exercising their rights.
In 2018/19 the UK government spent 2.7 billion British pounds on local public transport.
Militarization of police refers to the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored vehicles, assault rifles, flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and SWAT teams. Proponents argue that this equipment increases officers’ safety and enables them to better protect the public and other first responders. Opponents argue that police forces which received military equipment were more likely to have violent encounters with the public.
“Defund the police” is a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.
Since 1999, the executions of drug smugglers have become more common in Indonesia, Iran, China and Pakistan. In March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed executing drug traffickers to fight his country’s opioid epidemic. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).
Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes deemed felonies. Prisoners cannot vote while in jail in India but can vote when they are released (even if they are convicted of a felony.)
A 2019 an analysis by the Howard League for Penal reform showed that 3 out of 5 prisons in the UK were holding more prisoners than they were certified for. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a proposal in August 2019 that would spend 2.5 billion pounds and build an extra 10,000 spaces in prisons to tackle overcrowding in jails and crack down on crime.
Private prisons are incarceration centers that are run by a for-profit company instead of a government agency. The companies that operate private prisons are paid a per-diem or monthly rate for each prisoner they keep in their facilities. In 2018 18% of prisoners in England and Wales were held in private prisons. Opponents of private prisons argue that incarceration is a social responsibility and that entrusting it to for-profit companies is inhumane. Proponents argue that prisons run by private companies are consistently more cost effective than those run by government agencies.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.
The death penalty or capital punishment is the punishment by death for a crime. Currently 58 countries worldwide allow the death penalty (including the U.S.) while 97 countries have outlawed it.
On June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses violated the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling made same sex marriage legal in all 50 U.S. States.