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  • AQA Component Political parties: policies of minor parties and their impact on political debates and political agenda

  • Edexcel Component 1, Section 2.3: Emerging and minor UK political parties

Background: what you need to know

The article discusses the announcement made by the SNP’s leader, Humza Yousaf, that he will claim a mandate for a second independence referendum if the party wins a majority of Scottish seats at the next general election. The pro-union parties have said that they would not recognise such a demand — though it remains to be seen whether they would hold to this position in the event of a hung parliament.

This is Yousaf’s attempt to revive his party’s fortunes after a difficult year, which has seen a police investigation into its finances, an abrupt change of leader, a striking by-election loss and the defection of one of its MPs. Labour has revived as the main challenger to the SNP north of the border. The Supreme Court also ruled last November that Scotland could not legally hold a referendum without the approval of Westminster: Ruling against Scottish independence vote throws ball back in political arena

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

SNP backs revised plan for Scottish independence referendum

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • ‘The UK political system prevents all except the two main UK-wide parties from achieving success.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. [25 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 1

  • Evaluate the view that emerging and minor parties have limited success in UK politics. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: The UK’s First Past the Post electoral system is usually seen as an obstacle to emerging and minor parties but in the case of the SNP, it has worked in its favour over the past decade. This is because, unlike the Green Party for example, its vote is not geographically dispersed across the UK. As the article points out, it could secure a simple majority of seats — 29 out of 57 — without winning over 50 per cent of the vote.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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