Monday, 12 August 2013

explaining how your country works

What do you know about the British political system?
But first, what about the 'political geography' of the country?
Here's a good question from Woodlands Junior school in Kent:

What is the difference between UK, England, Great Britain (GB) and British Isles?
Woodlands Junior School is in the south-east corner of England
'When people say England, they sometimes mean Great Britain, sometimes the United Kingdom, sometimes the British Isles -
but never England.
' How to be an Alien' by George Mikes
Why is England or the UK sometimes called Britain?
"England" is sometimes, wrongly, used in reference to the whole United Kingdom, the entire island of Great Britain (or simply Britain), or indeed the British Isles. This is not only incorrect but can cause offence to people from other parts of the UK. (See nationality of the British people).
England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain refer to different 'parts of the UK. The British Isles includes many islands not even part of the UK.
Great Britain
British Isles
The diverse history of England, Scotland and Wales has led to very different cultural traditions; The Scots and Welsh have right to feel aggrieved whenever the term 'English' is used wrongly, to mean all three.
Countries within a Country - The United Kingdom
The name United Kingdom refers to the union of what were once four separate countries: EnglandScotlandWales andIreland (though most of Ireland is now independent, only Northern Ireland remains part of the UK).
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom
The UK's full and official name is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
History of the making of the UK
1536 - Act of Union joins England and Wales
1707 - Act of Union unites Scotland and England, together with Wales to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
1801 - The Irish Parliament voted to join the Union. The then Kingdom of Great Britain becomes the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1922 - Name changed to United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, when most of the Southern counties in Ireland choose independence.
Great Britain
Great Britain comprises only England, Scotland and Wales.
Find out more about Britain
British Isles
The British Isles - made up of several islands. Great Britain is the largest one. Find out more about the British Isles
During the next few pages we will explain the differences between Britain, the UK and England

The difference between the United Kingdom (UK) England, Great Britain (GB) and the British Isles

When it comes to your country, can people from other countries understand its political geography?
Does your country 'make sense' to other people?!
Has your country always had the same borders as it does today?

The same website tells us a little more about the British political system.
Any ideas about how it works?

The British Government
Woodlands Junior School is in the south-east corner of England
The two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) are based at The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, in London.
Houses of Parliament
The Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) where the UK Government sits
The palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the government buildings of Whitehall.
Parliament decides the laws and make decisions on running the UK. (Some issues in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland are now dealt with by their respective parliaments and assemblies.) There has been a parliament at Westminster since the 13th Century.
The UK government is normally formed by the leader of the party that wins the most seats in the general election. All actions by the government - and particularly its proposals to amend or create laws - are scrutinised within parliament.
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British UK Government


And what about the United States?
What do you know about the political system in the USA?

The US is a federal republic of 50 states. The framers of the Constitution, drafted in 1787, wanted to block any individual or group from gaining too much control, so they established a government of separate institutions that share powers. Authority is divided into three tiers of national, state and local government, with the American people electing officials to serve in each tier. At the national level the government is split into three autonomous branches - legislative, executive and judicial. Each has its own distinct responsibilities, but they can also partially limit the authority of the others through a complex system of checks and balances.


And it seems very complicated, but the BBC again makes it clear:

US electoral system explained

The US mid-term elections could see a shift in political control. But how does the US system of government work? Here, BBC News Online explains the divisions of power, the elaborate electoral system and how it ties in with the US constitution. Click on the links to find out more.

What about your own country's political system?
Could you explain it to a visitor?

And what do you know about political attitudes and values in Britain?
Who has been the most influential politician for over 60 years?
And what were her political attitudes and values?
Here's an interview with her from 1977 where she makes her views known. What main points does she make and do you agree with them? Would you call her 'the most influential politician for over 60 years'?


Margaret Thatcher - Capitalism and a Free Society - YouTube

And there's another interesting interview from when she was Prime Minister [thanks to Headway]:
Lesson 12: Articles | Learning English

What are the general political attitudes in your country?
Have they changed over time?
Have the attitudes of Margaret Thatcher had an influence on your country too?

Finally, what do you know about political 'values' in the United States?
It's a very controversial thing there:

Matt A: October 2012

American Values

Your voice to help protect Family, Faith, and Freedom.

American Values | Your voice to help protect Family, Faith, and Freedom.

What is America? What are the values it has most fought for and admired? A few of the first, and most important, come to mind:Freedom.
Champion of the little guy.
Helper of the oppressed.
Defender against tyranny.
Some of the other values are ingrained in our history and our belief in our future:
Rightness and righteousness.
Manifest destiny.
Freedom of religion.
Entertainment and happiness.
American Values 

How do these compare to your country?
Does your country - and do you - share any of these values?
To what extent have these had any influence on your country?

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