You never know what you’ve got until………

On a good day, teaching can be a real joy. Today was one of those days. My top class in grade nine is studying constitutional law and the Thai constitution. I ran through some of the most important parts in the document and explained why I thought they were so crucial. Being a good class, they grasped what I was saying.
The challenge in teaching social studies and especially politics to teenagers is smashing the concept that politics is only stuffy middle aged men telling lies, and opening up young minds to the fact that politics affects almost every aspect of their lives – clothing, media, school and so on. When it comes to study of the constitution, I ask students to imagine life without Internet, mobile phones, movement around their city and no choice of food. I then explain that such a place exists (North Korea) and I then go on to link this to the rights and freedoms given to us by a constitution, and how we take them for granted.

I imagine a class in the UK would have very similar feel to it. The UK, for all its faults, is still one of the most democratic and respectable democracies in the world. When I hear people run down the UK itself, I suspect they take for granted the basic freedoms and rights we still enjoy whilst people in other countries are dying en masse trying to achieve them. Let’s take stock; the NHS ensures children will never die for the crime of being poor, state education ensures the vast majority of us are literate, our monarchy has gifted us periods of stability unmatched by any other major country, the judiciary is truly separate from the executive and legislative – ensuring that justice can at least attempt to be done, the list goes on nd on.

We forget about these things in every day life, and it wasn’t until I travelled around countries deprived of such things that I truly started to understand what it meant to be English, and felt most grateful for it.
Sure we have ongoing problems. The expenses scandal has shown just how corrupt and arrogant some of our politicians are, but even the scandal is a healthy sign in someways. In many countries, this shattering news would never have seen the light of day. IT would not have been recorded in the first place, or there would have been no second chamber to block the censorship of it (thank goodness for the Lords!) or there would have been no free media to publish it, or the mole would have been killed before he could leak the info, or would have been sent to jail by a corrupt police force.
That the scandal managed to overcome all these obstacles is something we should all be grateful for in itself.
It’s also a reason for being very, very careful with any tinkering to our setup. Republicans would tear down our monarchy and replace it with some form of presidency. Apparently in the name of progress we should destroy centuries of stability for an expensive, power hungry, shameless president Blair or Cherie. hers still, would like our constitution codified. Indeed Brown talked of doing this when he first became PM, thankfully, he seems to have forgotten that idea but the latest wave of revelations has again spurred him to talk of “rebuilding the system”. AS if Labour have not made enough attempts on our liberties, they now want to fundamentally alter that which has served us so well over time.

Do we trust them to do so? I certainly don’t, and I’ll ager the rest of Popular Alliance agree with me.


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