LIFI23 Who Does Our Political System Benefit?

Words by Simon Fogal
From Chapter 81

“It doesn’t matter who you vote for, nothing will ever really change in Britain.” According to the Labour Party’s Commission on the UK’s Future, this is the belief held by more than 50% of UK adults today.

Amid this dreary political mood, can we ever hope to rebuild trust in politics without a major overhaul of our current governing frameworks? Is now the time to say enough is enough? Time, perhaps, to move away from our Whitehall and Westminster centric model and redistribute powers more fairly? This isn’t about party politics, this is about reform, voting systems, constituency boundaries and more.

Panellists: Lewis Goodall, Tom Brake, Magid Magid, Amber Rudd, Scarlett Westbrook

Top 5 Takeaways

  • Scarlett Westbrook holds the record for being the youngest policy writer in UK parliamentary history at age 17, whilst being ineligible to vote in elections. 
  • There are currently 8 million people who are eligible to vote but are not registered to vote in the UK.
  • Amber Rudd said there was a “much higher standard of behaviour under David Cameron & Theresa May than there is now”. 
  • The panel was asked the question “If you could change one thing in politics, what would it be?” Thomas Brake & Magid Magid – Introduce a Proportional Representation voting system, Amber Rudd – Reform the House of Lords. Scarlett Westbrook – Lower the voting age. 
  • Since 2015 there have been 9 Secretary of States for Education & 12 Housing and Planning ministers in the UK Government.

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Related Books

Chums – Simon Kuper

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May, Dominic Cummings, Daniel Hannan, Jacob Rees-Mogg: Oxford has produced most of the prominent Conservative politicians of our time. The university newspapers of thirty years ago are full of recognisable names in news stories, photos of social events, and Bullingdon Club reports. Many walked straight out of the world of student debates onto the national stage. Unfortunately, they brought their university politics with them.

Eleven of the fifteen postwar British prime ministers went to Oxford. This narrowest of talent pools has shaped the modern country. In Chums, Simon Kuper traces how the rarefied and privileged atmosphere of Oxford University – and the friendships and worldviews it created – helped give us today’s Britain, including Brexit.

Find it on Waterstones HERE.

How Britain Really Works – Stig Abell

Getting to grips with Great Britain is harder than ever. We are a nation that chose Brexit, rejects immigration but is dependent on it, is getting older but less healthy, is more demanding of public services but less willing to pay for them, is tired of intervention abroad but wants to remain a global authority.

We have an over-stretched, free health service (an idea from the 1940s that may not survive the 2020s), overcrowded prisons, a military without an evident purpose, an education system the envy of none of the Western world.

How did we get here and where are we going?

How Britain Really Works is a guide to Britain and its institutions (the economy, the military, schools, hospitals, the media, and more), which explains just how we got to wherever it is we are. It will not tell you what opinions to have, but will give you the information to help you reach your own. By the end, you will know how Britain works – or doesn’t.

Find it on Waterstones HERE

Who Owns England – Guy Shrubsole

This book has been a long time coming. Since 1086, in fact. For centuries, England’s elite have covered up how they got their hands on millions of acres of our land, by constructing walls, burying surveys and more recently, sheltering behind offshore shell companies. But with the dawn of digital mapping and the Freedom of Information Act, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to hide.

Trespassing through tightly-guarded country estates, ecologically ravaged grouse moors and empty Mayfair mansions, writer and activist Guy Shrubsole has used these 21st century tools to uncover a wealth of never-before-seen information about the people who own our land, to create the most comprehensive map of land ownership in England that has ever been made public.

From secret military islands to tunnels deep beneath London, Shrubsole unearths truths concealed since the Domesday Book about who is really in charge of this country – at a time when Brexit is meant to be returning sovereignty to the people. Melding history, politics and polemic, he vividly demonstrates how taking control of land ownership is key to tackling everything from the housing crisis to climate change – and even halting the erosion of our very democracy.

It’s time to expose the truth about who owns England – and finally take back our green and pleasant land.

Find it on Waterstones HERE.

Related Podcasts 

Politics Weekly UK 

Guardian political columnist John Harris hosts a cast of voices from up and down the country as well as across the political spectrum to analyse the week’s political news. For US Politics with Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, make sure to search ‘Politics Weekly America’ wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen: HERE

Chopper’s Politics 

The Telegraph’s weekly politics podcast, presented by Christopher “Chopper” Hope. The podcast has interviews with top politicians and commentators and analysis from the Telegraph’s Westminster team.

Chopper’s Politics is a must listen for those who want to understand British politics, delving into various aspects of policy, key players, and the internal movements of Westminster’s political parties. With a focus on the Conservative Party (Tories), the podcast examines the party’s policies, strategies, and ideologies. The podcast offers insights into prominent figures within the party, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson.

Listen: HERE

Oh God, What Now? 

Making sense of our political hell every Tuesday and Friday! Oh God, What Now? is the no-bulls**t politics podcast, making the unbearable bearable with top quality guests and analysis, plus poor quality jokes.

Listen: HERE

For The Many 

LBC presenter Iain Dale and former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith untangle the world of politics and media. Expect plenty of jokey banter and informed speculation.

Listen: HERE

Further Help 

If you want to look a little deeper into this discussion, why not take a look at these two guides on the basics of British politics, and how our political systems really work.

Related TEDTalk

Words by Simon Fogal
From Chapter 81