First 2 Weeks of Parliament

March 8th, 2010

I can testify that working in the parliament will no doubt be one of the life experiences I remember. After mastering the task of finding my way around the building, I am starting to feel settled in to my new occupation. I have been assigned to work for Bill Kidd MSP who is a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP). Because there is a much smaller staff size in the parliament, myself being one of the three staff for our office, there is a much larger opportunity to get involved and have more responsibility then in the U.S. There are times when tedious work needs to be done such as stuffing envelopes, but there are times when I have been writing to important government officials and helping to answer the concerns of constituents. Being an intern here provides so many opportunities and possibilities . One of my fellow interns will be helping his MSP in his campaign to get elected to the Westminster Parliament in London.

I work on the fifth and top floor of the parliament building which has an amazing view of the architecture of the lower levels. Along the floor there are other SNP offices where some of the other interns work. It is a very warm and friendly environment and in my opinion much more relaxed then the US offices which often seems tense and rushed.

Part of the requirements for my program include a report that must be completed by the end of the program. The staff and I have decided that my report will focus on the school systems in Glasgow. These city schools have had particular trouble not only with low academic scores but especially with primary school closings. The city council has been closing many schools in an effort to save money. Children are then moved into schools that are often farther away from their homes and with more pupils. Recently, the Scottish Government has issued a “recommended” education curriculum (I say recommended because they cannot require schools to follow their plan). My report will look at the curriculum of Glasgow City Schools and how it compares to the Government recommended plan. Using this data along with a comparison of a neighboring city, I will try and conclude if their is any correlation between the current curriculum and the low scores and closings. The hope is that the results of this study will help my MSP in improving the school system in Glasgow.

As this new week begins I hope to get started with my project research and continue to learn and experience all the Scottish Parliament has to offer. I will continue to post updates on my experiences during the internship.

Benefits of a Multi-Party System

February 11th, 2010

Being from the Unites States, it is hard for many of us to imagine a government system that has more than two parties. Sure, we could argue that we have an independent party and a green party, but do they ever get into government?…not really. The fact is, we are a two party system, and perhaps that is where our fault lies. The more I learn about the Scottish political system, the more I think the US could benefit from a multi-party system. In Scotland the parliament is made up of the following parties: Scottish National Party (SNP), Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats, Green and Independent. So why is this beneficial? Currently the SNP holds the majority of seats in the Parliament (47 out of 129). In order to pass legislation the SNP needs to work with other parties to get a bill passed. No single party has enough members to win a majority vote. Americans are frustrated more than ever about the Democrat/Republican tug of war. Bipartisanship is a hard concept for the American government to comprehend. Here in Scotland, compromise and sacrifice is the only way to get things done.

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