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What the parties say about learning for democracy 2017

Education for citizenship and democracy do not appear in either the Conservative or Labour party manifestos. Of the manifestos published so far (21 May), the Liberal Democrats are the only party to support citizenship as a curriculum entitlement.

This means Democracy Matters has failed to get our message about the importance of learning for democracy to political leaders and parties. We need a better strategy for the next Parliament. Perhaps the best thing is for education institutions, broadcasters and civil society to just do it.

All schools and apprenticeships are required to teach British Values, including democracy and “understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process”. This is clearly not working, because most young people don’t vote and don’t believe they can influence decision-making. But if we encourage people to learn know the system works and how to influence decisions about things they care about, they will make a difference and inspire others to take part.

What do the parties say about democracy?

Conservative Manifesto cover 2017The Conservatives have a section on ‘Democracy and the Rule of Law’ which recognises that “collective faith in our democratic institutions and our justice system has declined” and proposes to “to re-establish faith in our democracy, and in our democratic and legal institutions” by improving electoral registration, giving votes for life to British overseas electors, equalising the size of constituencies and reducing the number of MPs to 600. They will “champion British values around the globe” freedom, democracy, tolerance, the rule of law, “property entitlements, a free and open media, and accountable institutions in countries and societies across the world”Labour 2017 manifesto.

Labour has a chapter on ‘Extending Democracy’, promising a Constitutional Convention, an elected Second Chamber, votes at 16, more power and funds for local government, and the option of a more federalised country. They promise more democratic ownership of the economy through co-operatives and taking “key public utilities back into public ownership”. They will “ensure that schools are democratically accountable”, repeal the Lobbying Act and “guarantee that Parliament has a truly meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal”.

 Liberal Democrats want a referendum on the terms of our future relationship Lib Dem Manifesto cover 2017with the EU. They have a whole chapter of reforms to ‘Fix a Broken System’, through proportional representation, votes at 16, House of Lords reform, weekend voting and home rule for the nations within a federal United Kingdom. They propose a constitutional convention to produce a codified constitution within two years. They also want to give local people more power through decentralising decisions to local government, increasing the number of neighbourhood, community and parish councils and promoting tenant management in social housing. They are the only party Citizenship as a curriculum entitlement in all state-funded schools.

They have also have an Easy read version of their manifesto to make it more accessible.

Other party manifestos will be covered when they are available.

We have written to all party leaders to ask what they will do about learning for democracy.



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