The Speaker
Sunday, 21 July 2024 – 08:31

How Does Politics Impact Us?

Like it or not, politics impacts all of us – yes, all of us. Take a look at some of the ways in which politics impacts you, and read some recent political news stories below.

‘Politics Doesn’t Impact Me’

It can be easy to think that politics doesn’t impact us and that we don’t need to bother understanding it. However, politics really does impact all of us, often in small ways that we don’t even realise – and it has the potential to change the way we live our lives both now and for generations to come.

We’ve listed 15 different activities that you and others might have done today – click each item to read more about how politics relates to it. Once you’ve found out how politics impacts us and different things we do, why not share with others?

There are laws about what speed you can drive on different roads, as well as various other rules for driving. If you break these laws, you could face a fine or even time behind bars. These rules and the range of penalties for breaking them are put into law by politicians.

Politicians also play a role in deciding what roads are built and developed. 

Most public transport is regulated by the government or local authorities who may determine to an extent how it operates. Many public transport networks are run by private companies, but there is still politics involved in how they operate – if they don’t operate to a satisfactory level, they may be taken over, such as was the case with Northern Rail.

It’s the law that children in the UK have to be in full-time education until the age of 18. This law is set by politicians, who will also oversee standards in schools. What is taught in schools and how it is assessed is also often the work of politics.

Laws limit the amount of time you are allowed to work in a week. There are also laws that give you certain rights, such as to a minimum wage.

Bars and restaurants need licences to operate, usually released by local authorities. Without the relevant licences, these places can’t legally be open for business. Cafes and restaurants can be visited by the Food Standards Agency who issue Food Hygiene ratings. If hygiene standards are too poor, the authorities may take action including closing down the restaurant.

Many shops will need a licence to operate. Certain safety standards set in law mean that you won’t be able to buy some items from shops and some items which are available may be age-restricted. If you make a purchase and you are unhappy about it, you may be able to exercise certain rights – these are set and reviewed by politicians. Shops are also subject to other legislation, such as only being allowed limited opening hours on a Sunday.

Well unless someone has handed you a printed version of this page, the answer is yes. Anyway, there are laws about what you can do online. Some websites and content may not be accessible in certain countries. Other content may be accessible but illegal to view – such policies and the range of penalties for breaking them are often decided in politics.

Water companies are regulated by a government agency. Ofwat is responsible for regulating and overseeing water companies to ensure they provide consumers with a good quality and efficient service at a fair price. Yes, even water can be political.

By law, you need a TV licence to watch live or catch-up TV, even if online, on a mains powered electricity device. The TV licence fee has become quite a big political issue recently, with the future of the BBC being put into question by politicians. There are also regulations regarding what can be said and shown on TV, and at what times of the day.

Politicians decide what funding to give to the National Health Service (NHS) and the government has a significant role in saying how the service is run.

In most places of the UK, the police are not too far away if needed. Politicians calculate funding and have a say on the organisation of security services to try and make sure we feel safe out in public.

If you’ve just been paid, you may have paid tax. The government decides what taxes there are and how much they are. Taxes may go towards funding anything from health services to filling potholes.

When you go through an airport, you’ll have to pass through multiple security checks before you can board an aircraft. You’ll also have to show your passport, which is issued by a government department. For some countries, you may also need a visa – politicians will decide immigration and border policies and who needs a visa to visit or work in their country.

Many leisure centres are owned and run by private companies, but others are at least part-owned by local authorities. Your local council may designate certain funds for community facilities and projects.

Yes, you have, you’re reading this. Politics may have had some influence on what time you woke up – ok, we’re getting desperate now, but this just goes to show that politics is built in somehow to pretty much everything we do. Some countries including the UK introduced Daylight Saving Time so the clocks change in Spring and Autumn. In recent years, some countries have indicated they may scrap DST, but the UK is expected to keep it.

Politics In Action

Now that you’ve seen how impacts you, why not take a look at some recent political news stories?

Politics is everywhere, so these stories may be about anything from key political decisions to how a politician has responded to a particular event. For more stories, click here.

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