Friday, 28 May 2010

Obama's oil problem

Obama is increasingly under fire to stop oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. He can only really put pressure on BP as the federal government has no equipment to deal with this disaster itself, but the President and his administration are worried that this could turn out to be a Hurricane Katrina moment for his presidency. Mark Mardell has been following the story and writing some excellent analysis of what it means. Here is some footage of how BP's latest attempt to plug the leak is going. Obama is to head down to Louisiana for the second time today to see the real damage that it is already causing. How much longer can the administration wait before intervening or can they intervene? What does this mean for the administration's energy policy and the administration itself?

28th May 1961

Today is the day when in 1961 Peter Benenson launched his campaign in the London Observer for the release of people who were imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their beliefs, what was to become Amnesty International. See here for the story and a short video from the Historical Association. Look at Amnesty's latest campaigns or join the school's Amnesty Society for more information.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Recreation of Dunkirk

Today is the 70th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 in the face of the advancing German army. See here for the recreation of the help given by little ships in the evacuation and here for the Spartacus site's information about Dunkirk and a video clip of colour footage. Was Dunkirk a defeat or a victory? GCSE students should be able to tell us!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Queen's Speech

There will obviously be a mass of news about what is in the Queen's Speech, but try and look out for the constitutional changes such as those expected re the Calman Reforms to the Scottish Government and the already hyped 55% rule, the referendum on electoral reform (AV) and the abolition of ID cards. The BBC is probably a good start and commentary from other sources such as Channel 4 and The Times (make the most of it before it charges!) will be useful.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Obama's domestic agenda gains momentum

The Senate last night passed a bill which claims to be the most sweeping reform of financial regulation since the 1930s. Obama used the vote to show success in combatting the power and influence of lobbyists as well as ensuring that there is not another financial crisis on the scale of the recent one and that the banks cannot cause one. This is certainly a success for Obama (although not yet legislation - it will need to be agreed with the House's version) and he will hope that this will help Democrats across the country in the mid-term elections. He also managed to win over a few key Republicans including one of our favourites, Olympia Snowe of Maine. See here for the BBC report and here for the Washington Post story. What do you think? Will this ensure Obama's success as a President or is it shoring up trouble with conservatives?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Nonsuch HP is 1!

Today marks Nonsuch HP's first birthday. Thank you very much to everybody who has read or contributed to the blog so far! In the first year we have covered topics as diverse as the history of Iran to the excitement of the election and the new coalition. If you have any suggestions of what you would like to us to cover in the next year please let us know! To mark the occasion, here is a wordle of the most recent posts, showing the most popular words and topics. Revisers may find wordle useful for highlighting key words and topics, but don't waste too much time with it!

The most ambitious reform since 1832?

What do you think - is this the greatest political reform since 1832? Nick Clegg certainly seems to think so. His suggestions in a speech today are important for the constitutional reform topic for Politics students and obviously ideal for Historians wanting a quick overview of some of the key statistics and reforms involved in 1832. A valid comparison or a huge exaggeration?

New members for the House of Lords

Large numbers of new peers are due to be appointed for the House of Lords in order to reflect the balance of the House of Commons after the election. For some this means an enormous House of Lords, just as the demand for political reform is fed up of politicians, for others, fairness, particularly for the Lib Dems who will need to appoint many more peers. See here for the Daily Politics explanation of how the process works. What do you think? Will this make reform of the House of Lords more or less likely?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Racial Inequality in the USA

A revealing new report highlighted by the Guardian here which shows a significant wealth gap between blacks and whites in the US where the average white family is five times richer than the average African American family of the same class. It suggests various reasons both economic and social. Recommended by the Tutor2U site, this is evidence to suggest that racial inequality is going to remain a feature of American politics...

Norman Stone on the Cold War

Here is a review of Norman Stone's new book "The Atlantic and its Enemies: A personal history of the Cold War". It is described by Geoffrey Wheatcroft as "eccentric" and "rambling" but looks like it might be one for the summer reading list. Beware those however who are not Thatcher fans, as it sounds like it gives a lot of credit to her for 'saving' Britain...

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Economist this week

A definite must-read this week as there are a number of excellent articles which will help with the exams. First of all, there is analysis of the new coalition government with comparisons of the new leaders in the British section. Also, there is a good comparison of the parties' promises on political reform as well as thoughts on the Labour Party's leadership contest. On the USA, there are articles on Elena Kagan, the climate-change bill and Utah's primary which has resulted in another moderate Republican being dropped by the party.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Good King Henri

Today marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Henry IV of France, murdered by a fanatical Catholic angry at his attempts to promote harmony between Protestants and Catholics after the disastrous French Wars of Religion. He remains a popular figure in France, both for his achievements as King and his impressive string of romantic contests, made apparently while "smelling strongly of garlic and feet". Here is an article from the Guardian and here is one (in French!) from the Nouvel Observateur.

Fixed term parliaments and 55% rules

Opposition is growing to the coalition's fixed parliaments proposals. Keep an eye on this developing story.

Henry Summaries

Here is a space for 12E to leave their summaries on some of the past AS Questions for Unit 1B (England 1483-1529). Good luck everybody!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Deal

Here is the full text of the deal made between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, plus a guide to the main policies of the coalition. Let us know your thoughts on this, and Clegg and Cameron's conference in the Downing Street garden yesterday.

Katie Rickard on ITV

Katie Rickard, who studied History and Politics at Nonsuch two years ago, has been on ITV news with a group of Liberal Democrats sharing her thoughts on the difficult decisions for her party. The report was shown on Friday, and events have moved quickly since then, but it is always good to see Nonsuch people in the news!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The confirmation process begins

As a result of the announcement of Elena Kagan's appointment to the Supreme Court on Monday, the political process has begun in trying to persuade the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm her. See here for information about the meeting she has had so far with Senator Harry Reid and other links to relevant video clips. The BBC also has analysis and information as well as further links about Elena and her background. Look out for further developments in the process during study leave. There are a number of questions about her appointement - from her lack of experience as a judge to decisions taken as Dean of Harvard Law School to her being Jewish in a Court with no Protestants. What do you think? Will her appointment go smoothly?

Revision Materials

It will soon be time for Years 11, 12 and 13 to go on study leave, and hopefully Nonsuch HP can be of help for the final preparations for the exams. The History Dept and Politics Dept blogs contain links to lists of questions and mark schemes. Also make the most of Fronter where you can find material specific to your classes.

The Exam Board websites are quite helpful. Here are some links to try.

AQA GCSE History
2009 Paper 1 Question Paper and Mark Scheme
2009 Paper 2 Question Paper and Mark Scheme

AQA AS History
Unit 1B (Henry) Specimen Question Paper and Mark Scheme
Unit 2S (Liberal Democracies) Question Paper and Mark Scheme

AQA A2 History
Unit 3B (Elizabeth) Specimen Question Paper and Mark Scheme

Edexcel A-Level Politics Resources Area (This is not as helpful a website as many downloads are "secure" but it can give you a general idea of what to expect.) The AS Unit 1 question paper and markscheme are available.

If you would like other materials to be added or need further guidance on what to look for on these websites please leave a comment below and we will see what can be done.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

New Cabinet (Updated)

Here is a list of the members of David Cameron's new cabinet What do you think of Nick Clegg as Deputy PM, or Theresa May as Home Secretary? How will George Osborne's finance team work? Place your comments here! Feel free to discuss the runners and riders for the next Labour Leader's post too.

PS: Here is another view from the BBC plus a list of policy plans.

Electoral Reform

Here is a useful article on electoral reform for AS revisers. If you see any other helpful stuff like this, please let us know and we'll add the links.

More good stuff here at the Electoral Reform Society, including its links to the Take Back Parliament pressure group, which is using methods from Twitter to mass demonstrations to get its message across.

Goodbye Gordon

So Gordon Brown has left the stage, and seemed almost relieved about it as he addressed his Labour supporters. What is your verdict on his time in office, both as PM and chancellor? Any particular high and low points? What will history's verdict on him be? Have we seen the last of him...?

Cameron is PM!

In the last couple of hours Gordon Brown has resigned as Prime Minister and David Cameron has accepted the Queen's request to form a new government - although there was some confusion about whether he had to kiss her hand to do so! Clearly this a historic moment - the return of a Conservative Prime Minister and the first full coalition government since the war. The key words in Cameron's somewhat low key speech were "difficult" and "together". He will have quite a task keeping disappointed Conservatives and Liberals on board (particularly as the LibDems haven't even officially approved this deal yet!) not to mention forming a set of policies under such massive financial pressures. He's going to have to fit a new baby into all of this as well!

Where does he go from here? As ever, add your comments below!

PS: Lots of photos of the historic events here

Monday, 10 May 2010

All change!

A few hours ago a LibDem-Tory coalition seemed inevitable. Now Gordon Brown has announced his intention to resign, the Labour Party is making increasingly generous advances towards Nick Clegg and his team and the Conservatives are responding by offering full coalition and a referendum on voting reform. Where is this going to go? Who will replace Gordon Brown? Michael Gove has just pointed out that this could lead to the second "unelected" Labour Prime Minister in a row, which I suspect will become a common theme for the Conservative Party and their allies in the press if a Lib/Lab pact comes to fruition. Please add your comments below!

PS: Thanks for all your comments so far. Keep them coming!

10 May 1940

Today marks the seventieth anniversary of when Winston Churchill took charge of the government following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain and successfully led a coalition that had been on the point of collapse. The event was significant enough for Time Magazine to name it one of the "80 Days that Changed the World". As they debate the nature of the next coalition government, our politicians should certainly take note of his experiences...

Sunday, 9 May 2010

VE Day (Caption Competition!)

The coincidence of the 65th anniversary of VE Day during the weekend that the nation's politicians negotiated over how the next government should be formed was striking. Clegg, Brown and Cameron's obligation to attend the ceremony on Saturday presumably gave them something to think about, in particular the consequences of what happened when one country became dissatisfied with its politicians (during an economic crisis as well!) and turned to more extremist voices. The photo above is crying out for a caption, so please add your best ideas below!

The photo below is striking for other reasons, as it marks the first time that a British army regiment (The Welsh Guards) was allowed to take part in the VE Day parade in Red Square, although apparently Putin intervened personally to prevent Prince Charles (and Joe Biden) from attending...

Friday, 7 May 2010

Election Thoughts!

Here is an empty space to add your comments on the election so far and the current situation. A new poll has been added on the right so please contribute to that and get commenting!

Mock Election News

Here is the latest edition of the Mock Election News, with of Marthe de Ferrer's victory for the Liberal Democrats at Nonsuch and a summary of what has been happening in the local area.

Paul Burstow holds on to Sutton and Cheam

Paul Burstow has held on to his seat in Sutton and Cheam in a very tight contest. Here are the results

Paul Burstow (Liberal Democrat) 22,156 45.7 -1.2
Philippa Stroud (Conservative) 20,548 42.4 +1.7
Kathy Allen (Labour) 3,376 7.0 -4.9
John Clarke (BNP) 1,014 2.1 +2.1
David Pickles (UKIP) 950 2.0 +2.0
Peter Hickson (Green) 246 0.5 +0.5
John Dodds (English Democrats) 106 0.2 +0.2
Matthew Connolly (Christian Peoples Alliance) 52 0.1 +0.1
Martin Cullip (Libertarian) 41 0.1 +0.1
Brian Hammond (Independents Federation UK) 19 0.0 +0.0

Majority 1,608 3.3
Turnout 48,508 72.8 +5.5

Thursday, 6 May 2010

We're off!

The polls have closed and the results will soon start coming in. The exit poll appears to be predicting a hung parliament with Conservatives on top and a surprisingly low number of seats for the Lib Dems. Can this be trusted? Let us know your opinions!

22:45 First prediction for the night - Harriet Harman for Prime Minister?
22:55 First result in! Bridget Philippson (Labour) has taken a seat in Sunderland and is the first MP in the new Parliament.
23:10 Pictures of people queuing to vote after 10pm, and stories of people denied the chance because the polling stations were too slow - an interesting development
23:50 3 results now in from Sunderland - all have returned Labour candidates and the Tories have improved their results, but the range of the size of the swing suggests that each constituency result may vary considerably, and it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions from these early results
05:10 It's a new day and Ed Balls has just hung onto his seat, despite a big swing over 9%. The Conservatives are doing well but it looks unlikely they will hit the 326 target seats. It could be some while yet before we get a clear result...
05:40 The BBC are now predicting the Conservatives will gain 306 seats. Over the 300 marker but not enough to get a majority. Meanwhile the pattern of gains and losses continues to be mixed, with majorities varying widely between constituencies.
05:55 Caroline Lucas has become Britain's first Green MP, gaining the Brighton Pavilion seat.
06:00 Zac Goldsmith has gained Richmond Park from the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, Nick Griffin has failed to make headway in the Barking and Dagenham seat - indeed the Labour candidate has increased her majority.
06:45 It's breakfast time and there is still no clear result. Nick Clegg has finally had his result declared and has given little away so far on what his plans will be regarding a coalition. Clearly the Lib Dems are disappointed with their result, but the party will still wield great influence - his comments on the need for change suggest that electoral reform will be high on their list of demands, and possibly the removal of Gordon Brown...
06:55 Interesting article from the BBC on the history of hung parliaments, including the story of events in 1974, when Edward Heath hung on for 4 days before resigning in favour of Harold Wilson.
10:20 It's official - there are now not enough seats for the Conservatives to get a majority, so we will definitely have a hung parliament.
10:45 Nick Clegg is sticking to his view that the party with the most seats - the Conservatives - should SEEK to form a government - interesting.

Mock Election Results

Here are the results from today's mock election at Nonsuch:
Marthe de Ferrer (Liberal Democrat) 48% 396
Jamie Roberts (Labour) 23% 186
Fiona Vernon (Conservative) 19% 160
Beverley Lung (Green) 10% 82

The overall turnout was 68%, although if you exclude the Year 13s (who were presumably voting in the national election...) this jumps to 75%. Well done everybody!

Decision Day

May 6 is finally here! As the nation goes to the polls, here is a selection of today's front pages, with some choosing striking images to get their message across.

In other news, a Nonsuch student appeared on "First Time Voters Question Time" last night and impressed the panel with her comments. You can catch her here - forward to 53 minutes and 20 seconds!

PS: Don't forget the mock elections today - vote today in the hall during lunch and the results will be announced on Friday

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Mock Election News

Here is the latest edition of the Mock Election News - click on the picture to make it easier to read. Don't forget that the hustings are in the hall at 1.25 today and the election is all day tomorrow!

PS: Two new polls have been added - but you only have till Thursday to vote!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Mock election

All the candidates will be giving you reasons to vote for them and answering your questions in the Hall tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1.25pm. Come along and get some answers or just support your favoured candidate.

Remember to vote on Thursday too - all lunchtime in the Hall. Make your voice heard.

The results will be announced on Friday morning when we will also know the results of the general election.

If you need some clear information on the differences between the parties and to give you some ideas for questions you might ask tomorrow, go here to the BBC website.