UK school student unions, led by adolescents, fought for more democratic schools from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Since the turn of the millennium, ‘pupil participation’ – giving students a say in how schools are run – has been formally adopted as a goal for UK schools. The main mechanism through which this is supposed to happen is school councils. However, numerous research reports on school councils since 2002 have shown that the majority of UK secondary school students don’t feel that they ‘get a say’ in schools.
The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (commonly called ‘the Protocol’), implemented as part of the UK–EU Withdrawal Agreement, has been recently linked to various historical issues in N. Ireland by the UK prime minister, foreign secretary, and other government ministers who have called for a significant revision to its terms, if not its abolition. The Protocol has been irresponsibly treated at the highest level of politics across the UK, such that it has now become a political football. Government ministers have played a major role in constructing ‘threats’ posed by the Protocol. It is the political construction of the Protocol, rather than the mechanism itself, which makes it difficult to fix.
As Britain negotiates the issue of its national borders in the post-Brexit era, its sense of national identity and place in the world continues to be shaped by a seductive but at the same time ambivolent and contradictory island imaginary, one that has been shaped over centuries.
In the closing years of Elizabeth I’s reign, England saw the emergence of arguably the world’s first effective welfare state. Laws were established which successfully protected people from rises in food prices. More than 400 years later, in the closing years of Elizabeth II’s reign, the UK once again faces perilous spikes in living costs. Perhaps today’s government could learn something from its legislative ancestors.
H&P co-founder Professor Simon Szreter spoke at the Department for Work and Pensions conference on 5 October on the subject of "Incentivising an Ethical Economics".
H&P is working in partnership with the Prime Minister's Office and the National Archives to help revitalise the history content of the new History of Government Blog website.
H&P commissions and edits the No. 10 Guest Historian series, written by expert historians from the H&P network, as well as creating lively new biographies of previous Prime Ministers.
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