Politics, University

Easy Politics ~ Liberalism

Whether you are studying politics and want some help with revising, or you are just interested in politics and want to learn more, this is the place for you. This is going to be a new weekly feature on my blog where I do a summary of different political topics such as ideologies, elections, pressure groups etc. My first one is on Liberalism, so do give me feedback so I can improve this series!

What is Liberalism?

Liberalism is an ideology which centres around a few core values:

  • Freedom/liberty (freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion etc)
  • Tolerance (the state should tolerate all beliefs and activities which do not harm the security or integrity of the state, and do not harm anyone)
  • Equality (equality of opportunity is mainly promoted through universal education and universal healthcare, but it also applies to class differences, gender issues and ethnic diversity. Some Liberals also believe in Natural Rights, which John Locke said were our rights to life, liberty and property. Liberals believe that all individuals are born equal, in terms of two equal rights, namely “legal equality” and “political equality”. However, as people have different talents or abilities, liberals are devoted to provide equal opportunities for everyone to realize their uneven potential.
  • Individualism (human beings are individuals, rather than subjected to any collectivity. Therefore, liberals aim at constructing a society in which individuals are provided the freedom to pursue his or her own good or happiness. Classic liberals believe that humans are self-serving and self-reliant, whereas modern liberals have a more optimistic view.)
  • Justice (legal justice consists of the equal application of the law to ALL citizens. Classic and Modern Liberals have different stances on the issue of social justice.)
  • Reason (we are born free, rational individuals, who are the best judges of our own interests.)
  • Constitutionalism (the state should be limited and held accountable to the people to prevent it from becoming tyrannical.)

Liberals believe that humans are, first and foremost, individuals. They also believe us to be reasonable creatures – though not perfect. As reasonable individuals, we should enjoy the maximum possible freedom and should be entitled to legal and political rights. These rights should be ensured by constitutionalism (states and governments should be controlled by a binding constitution which limits their powers and protects the rights if individuals) and consent. We should also be rewarded for hard work and/or merit.

Where did Liberalism originate?

The roots of Liberalism began in the 1600s-1700s, round about the time of the Renaissance and Reformation. The feudal system (the system where peasants were given land in return for serving a lord or monarch, and were expected to perform various duties in return for their own land) was breaking down and people began to think that the wealth and power of nobles was merely an “accident of birth”, whilst before kings and queens were believed to be “chosen by God”. People wanted to own their own land and be free.

So, you’re talking about the Lib Dems?

No, not exactly. The reason the Lib Dems have the word “Liberal” in their name is because the Lib Dems originated from the fusion of the Liberal party and the Social Democrat party. The Lib Dems may have policies which are slightly conservative, slightly socialist, etc, and this often depends on who their leader is but each member will have their own beliefs and ideas. Liberalism is just an ideology which people can draw their beliefs from.

Are there different types of Liberalism?

Yes. The two main types of Liberalism are Classic Liberalism and Modern Liberalism, and they are very different.

Classic liberals generally believe that the state is a “necessary evil” and should not interfere with the personal lives of its subjects, as individuals know what is best for them to make them flourish. The state should only provide protection (from each other, from other nations and from the accumulation of economic and political power). The state should be in the hands of a representative democracy. They believe there should be a free market economy (a market economy based on supply and demand with little or no government control) except where monopolies are developed; they do not believe in having a welfare state, because “Heaven helps those who helps themselves.” This system of meritocracy (people selected according to merit) ensures social justice.

On the other hand, modern liberals believe that the state has a responsibility to help people who cannot help themselves, aka the state should get involved in the economic and social lives of its subjects. This liberal thought led to the birth of the welfare state. Modern liberals believe in using economic management to rectify the inequality caused by capitalism and social prejudices.  They believe that the minimum position in society should be raised (for example through having a higher minimum wage) and taxes should be used to level the playing field via the ‘trickle down effect’ – the amount of tax you pay depending on how much you earn, so that richer people pay more and poorer people pay less so in the end we all have the same amount of money.

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I hope you enjoyed this post! Don’t forget to like, follow and comment if you did, and keep an eye out for my future “Easy Politics” posts. 🙂 I’ll be writing about other topics too though.

Teenagers, Young people, Education, Advice, Apprenticeships, University

Uni Vs. Apprenticeships

Most schools and colleges act as though the only option post-school is university. And who can blame them? Apprenticeships are only for things like carpentry and hairdressing, right? Wrong.

Although degrees are extremely useful and respected by employers, something that is equally – if not more – important, is experience. With university + social life taking up most hours out of the week, a lot of university students don’t have time or energy for a job, therefore they leave uni at minimum age 21 with a degree but little/no experience. This often leads to them starting off at the bottom of the pile all over again. On top of this, they are left in thousands of pounds of debt from their student loans.

Now, this is not at all to put anyone off going to uni; it is a fantastic experience and extremely valuable, and necessary for certain careers. However, it is not for everyone, and it is certainly not the only way to get a qualification.

Apprenticeships have advanced a lot in recent years, with a lot of money now being put into them, and you can now get a degree from them – on top of the experience you get! And there are apprenticeships in almost every career out there: accounting, journalism, business, marketing, law, education etc.

In addition, as most apprenticeships are only a year long – unless you get offered a job at the end – you could still go to university afterwards. Apprenticeships are a good way of seeing if that career is right for you and getting experience which would look good on your personal statement, especially if you have never studied a subject close to the career you want to go in to (e.g. marketing, which you can’t study in school or college). Universities like to see that you have done something which shows you are passionate about the subject you will be studying. Moreover, for someone who is uncertain of the career they want to go into, the average £40,000 cost of 3 years of university (for tuition and maintenance fees combined) is an exorbitant amount of money; there is no point in spending that much money “just because”. Apprenticeships also suit people who prefer to learn by doing, rather than by theoretical learning.

And you get paid, instead of ending up in more debt! Granted, the minimum wage for apprenticeships is only £3.50 an hour for the first year, but they are also paying for your qualification, and some companies pay a fair bit more than the minimum. It’s also a good way to save up a bit before going to uni. You could earn up to £10,000 per year instead of spending £9000 a year on tuition.

How apprenticeships work:

Technically, in an apprenticeship you will have a job. You will have an interview and work for the company as any other employee. However, it is slightly different as on either 2 days a week, or in a block of a few weeks, you will go to a college or education centre to learn your qualification, which will link in with what you are doing at work. Your employer won’t expect you to know everything at first, but they are there to support you. According to QA Apprenticeships’ research, 94% of those who do apprenticeships though QA go on to have a full time job once the apprenticeship is finished, and 100% are satisfied with their job.

Whatever you choose to do post-college, it is important to know all of your options and not be rushed or pressured into a decision by family/friends/societal expectations.

Here is a link to the government website with a list of all possible apprenticeships at all different skill levels: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch

Here are some apprenticeship providers:

QA Apprenticeships: http://apprenticeships.qa.com/

AIM Apprenticeships: http://www.aimapprenticeships.co.uk

3AAA: https://3aaa.co.uk/

Here is another good post on the topic:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/66040468/posts/1851

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