1. The New Boy
Mr. Jones: "Good morning, everybody, I want
you all to extend a warm welcome to our new student,
Tariq. Tariq is from Iraq, and I want you to
put aside any prejudices and take time to get to know
him. Whether you like him or not should depend
on you and him; not on what you might have seen on TV
about his people.
Tariq, it will be a difficult time for you as you adjust
to life in Britain.
It would be easier for us to help you if we knew
a little bit about you. Would you like to tell us about yourself, about your life in
Tariq: "Thank you, Mr Jones. There is not much to tell. I am ordinary boy from small village. I go to school. I help my family. I play with my friends. I very grateful to soldiers for flying
me to England for new life."
Mr. Jones: "I'm sure there is much more
to tell, but that can come later. Meanwhile, does anyone have a question
Mike: "Why should we welcome another illegal
Mr. Jones: "Tariq is not an illegal immigrant.
There was a lot of publicity and his immigration
was cleared at a very high level. "
Tracey: "What do you think of England, Tariq?"
Tariq: "I am in England for few weeks.
Hospital very good. Food strange. Best of all, England is democracy so I feel safe."
Mike: "I wouldn't bet on it!"
Tracey: "What are you looking forward to
Tariq: "Democracy. And a football match."
Jason: "Who do you support, then? Arsenal or Chelsea? And don't dare say Man United!"
Tariq: "I hear these names but they don't
I am willing to learn."
Jason: "Well let me save you time. Forget about Chelsea. They're not even English!"
Mr. Jones: "Jason, this is the kind of prejudice
I want you to try to put behind you. I was interested to hear that Tariq wants to see Democracy.
What do you mean by that, Tariq?"
Tariq: "In my country we have dictator.
Sometimes bad things happen.
Democracy is where people always happy.
No bad things. Like Paradise, in Koran."
Mike: "No bad things? You must be joking! We're at school for one thing, aren't
Tariq: "School is good thing. I want education. I mean, in democracy Government does what
Mr. Jones: "I don't ever remember hearing anyone
in this class room talk about democracy before. Let's find out what it means to you all.
I don't want to spend too much time on this now, because
we have to stick to the syllabus.
But I think we have a class project here. By the end of term I want you to be able to present your ideas
on democracy to the rest of the school. And if you include accusations like hypocrisy you have to justify
Jason: "We could tell the rest of the school
why Arsenal are the best team in the world!"
Tracey: "Most boring team in the
world, more like!"
2. One week later
is your project, so I will let you develop your own
let me start you off with this famous quotation by Winston
Churchill . . ."
Jen: "Winston who?"
Mr Jones: "Winston Churchill, the most famous
politician of the twentieth century, said: 'No one pretends
that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the
worst form of government except all those other forms
that have been tried from time to time.'"
Jacob: "Bush and Blair seem to think it
Mike: "Anyway, Churchill lived about 100
years ago. Everything's
changed since then."
Mr. Jones: "That quotation comes from 1947,
and although a week might be a long time in politics
nothing much has changed in the way democracy is practised
in this country."
Mark: "You mean we know it's crap and we
haven't tried to improve it in 60 years?"
Tariq: "I don't even know what is democracy,
except that my parents were killed so that Iraq could
have it. I thought it meant governments did what
the people wanted, so everybody happy.
England fought Saddam Hussein because English
people wanted it. Didn't they?"
Jen: "I didn't want to go to war in Iraq.
My parents didn't want it.
Until Tony Blair persuaded us, most of the people
didn't want it. Anyway, it was supposed to be about weapons
of mass destruction, not democracy."
Ravi: "Don't you believe it! Just as western
missionaries used to think the world had to be Christian,
today's politicians and big businesses think the world
has to be democratic, to protect their power bases."
Mr. Jones: "You seem to be getting stuck into
it. I think
you need to decide what you mean by democracy, whether
or not it is worthwhile, whether it can be improved,
and what you would do about it if you had the power. What resources will you need?"
Mike: "Computers. For internet access and printing out our
Mr. Jones: "I'll see to it. But no abuse. Google democracy all you like, but porn is not on the agenda."
4. End of Term
Tracey: "We'll never turn this into a project.
It's too big, too complicated."
Ravi: "Why don't we just write a manifesto?"
Tariq: "What's that?"
just set out how we would run the country.
just sound like a bunch of amateurs.
Anyway, as Tracey says, it's too big"
me. All we have to do is say what we want
to be different If the group can agree on what it wants
I'll write it down and my legal secretary will type
my Mum, but she'll be good; it's what she does for a
Jen: "OK. Nobody has to go to school on their birthday.
in favour . . ."
The Children's Party
This Party declares its faith in democracy. The Government will listen to the people
and use their best endeavours to carry out the will
of the people. Existing technology will be extended and
made available to all voters in their homes or in public
buildings. Voters will be asked for their opinions
on all matters from budgets to foreign policy. Gradually, power will be transferred back to the people.
The people's elected representatives will become
responsible for disseminating information and carrying
out the wishes of the people.
To ensure that irresponsible media reporting and vocal
minorities do not unduly influence crucial votes the
following safeguards will apply:
If the votes
cast account for less than fifty percent of the electorate
the electronic vote will be ignored and Parliament will
decide in the traditional manner.
Approval by seventy-five
percent of those voting is required to:
Effect a change
in the constitution.
Wage war on another country.
of our affairs to another country or group of countries.
the death penalty.
The voting age
will be reduced to 16.
Any citizen who
has served a prison sentence shall lose his right to
The Children’s Party will seek to put the following
recommendations to the voters:
will be free to all students up to the age of 21.
Trade and business
apprenticeships will be offered alongside university
between 21 and 25 will be subsidised by repayable loans.
education will be subsidised by grants to colleges.
12 will be involved in setting the school curriculum.
14 can leave school if an employer will sign them on
to an approved apprenticeship scheme.
not go to school on their birthdays.
The maximum basic
working week will be 40 hours.
The maximum overtime
will be 20 hours per week.
The minimum wage
will be fixed at 50% of the average wage for all employees
in an organisation.
In addition to
public holidays everybody will be entitled to at least
three weeks holiday each year, rising by one week for
every ten years of service.
Nobody has to
go to work on their birthday.
will be available to all citizens.
will be free to those under 18 and over 65.
and appointments with GP's and hospitals will carry
a subsidised charge to those between the ages of 18
to their own ill-health will be taxed (tobacco, alcohol,
soft drugs, fatty or sweet foods, etc.)
Law, Order & Civil Protection ~
The Police will
not be armed
will be given to violent or habitual criminals.
will be given to non-violent criminals.
Wages for police
officers, prison officers and fire fighters will reflect
the dangerous element of their work, which will be treated
differently to mundane and administrative duties.
will be subsidised.
will be subsidised.
that requires defending is the European Union, and therefore
all defensive measures will be consolidated into a European
will not maintain an offensive capability.
will renounce all nuclear weapons.
outside the European Union will be banned.
will reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
will not build any new nuclear power stations
will de-commission nuclear power stations over the next
from clean, renewable sources will be subsidised.
will be subsidised.
will insist on greater energy conservation and a contribution
from renewable energy on all new housing developments.
Personal Liberty ~
the age of 12 shall carry an Identity Card.
Everyone is entitled
to practice a religion and enjoy a lifestyle of their
choosing providing they do not impinge on the religion
or lifestyle of others.
Any person aged
16 or over who abuses or abducts children under the
age of 12 shall be listed on a child abuse register
and shall be barred from taking any jobs which offer
direct contact with children.
Each man and
woman shall receive a pension equivalent to 50% of the
average working wage.
Each man and
woman shall be entitled to a pension providing his or
her other income does not exceed 50% of the average
Within 40 years
state pensions shall be fully-funded.
The budget will
be separated into the categories listed above.
Taxes will be
Income will be
matched with expenditure, and the people can decide
how much it wants to spend on each budget and what kind
of a service it wants. For example, taxes raised from vehicle licensing and fuel sales,
will be spent on road building and maintenance, after
appropriate contributions have been made to the health
service and law & order budgets.
Jones: "Can I vote for you at the next election?
But don't arrange it for my birthday!"
of Harvey Tordoff
E-mail to Harvey Tordoff:
© March 2004, Harvey Tordoff