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A crash course in British politics: An introduction (Week 0)

If you are reading this you most likely live in the United Kingdom. You might also, like me, be new here. As a first-year international student, I suddenly find myself in a country that is not only deeply entrenched in a long political turmoil but also approaching a general election. Never having learned much about British politics, and having lived in the country for just over 100 days, I find it confusing and, honestly, scary to know that my everyday fate lies in the hands of people I know nothing about, and in a process I am lacking a thorough understanding of. 

Throughout Michaelmas, I was busy getting to know people, Oxford, and coffee shops. Starting to find my balance, I want to look further than the next tutorial. I want to appreciate the great political moment I found myself, being in the midst of the country going to the polls; the same country that brought us the steam engine, Brexit, and Liz Truss versus the lettuce.

Yet, to fully appreciate it, I need to know much more. The goal is to get to a place where I know enough to at least truly understand political news without googling five different terms a minute. This is how this column was born. I decided to change things for myself by learning and gaining a better understanding, and to offer the main lessons to other international students who are surely in a similar situation.

Before we begin, let me start by introducing myself, and disclosing to you what my biases might be. I am a 22-year-old Israeli first-year PPE student. For the past four years, I’ve worked as a researcher, focusing on geopolitics, and in my spare time, I read, cook, and work to advance peace and justice. My opinions are undeniably on the left side of the political spectrum, I strongly believe in human rights and international co-operation, and I think democracy is so much more than voting once every four years. 

In the next eight weeks, this column will include articles explaining all you need to know about the upcoming British elections. From basics such as the election process and who the party leaders are, to more advanced topics such as recent developments in both parties and top issues for this election. Being far from an expert myself, I will give you the main points from articles, podcasts, and lectures on the subject. I intend to use diverse news sources, such as Politico, The Guardian, The Independent, and The Times, trying to rise above particular ideologies and political spins, and give you the general, overarching facts you need to know.

I am not looking to convince you of a certain opinion. I hope, rather, that my personal opinions will be unnoticeable to you. I hope that you will find in this column explanations and facts, rather than thoughts and opinions. I hope you will find this to be more of a shared course than a political rally. Most importantly, for this to be a useful endeavour not just for myself, I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback, and questions at [email protected]. Until next time.

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