It’s not even up for debate, our current political climate is outdated, archaic and totally unrepresentative. From our voting system to the continuing existence of the House of Lords, a bunch of unelected, rich, white men, Britain is so behind the times.
We have a long rich history within our parliament meaning many old traditions have carried on through time and still exist today. But what do these traditions mean for this country’s youth, especially in terms of trying to engage with them? As a young person in this country, politics can seem incredibly far from my reach, inside the narrative I feel I do not belong. I happen to be an incredibly political teenager, I watch PMQ’s and the news every night. I watch Question Time and political debates during elections. I engage online and share my views. But before the most recent General Election, youth involvement in politics were slim.
We are a generation of insightful, tolerant, hardworking and intelligent people who, given the right opportunity, find great interest in the political workings of this country, but when politics is as old fashioned as it is, we find it difficult to say the least. We really do care about the big issues, we use social media and online platforms to front our feelings on social justice and recent political changes. But in the current parliamentary system, it’s very hard for young people’s voices to be heard.
At least, that was true until Corbyn came around. He used his General Election campaign to ignite the hearts and feelings of the young and engage them in political activism. By proposing to tackle tuition fees, improve mental health services for the young and banning zero-hour contracts, which primarily impact young students. Because of him, the youth turnout went from 43% to 72%, which is outstanding. Because of the massive youth turnout, we made a huge dent in the votes and caused there to be a hung parliament, proving that young people when we have the chance, we can change everything.
But why aren’t most politicians interested in engaging young people in their political campaigns? The short answer is basically because it doesn’t benefit them. Corbyn viewed the youth backing him as an incredible sign of democracy and power to our generation, however Conservative members see the youth of this country as lazy and entitled, therefore they don’t even try to engage us, they just assume we aren’t interested. They benefit mainly from older voters and so use their energy on them. The section on generational gaps in politics in their manifesto focuses on the ageing population and not the youth of this country that are struggling. The Labour Party have a whole section of their manifesto in which they outline how and why they want to help us.
So as a result, we feel incredibly unrepresented in parliament and the current political climate. Even after this massive youth turnout, people in their 30’s were brought onto panel shows to analyse just why this happened, without involving any of us, the actual youth of this country. We have a voice, we have platforms both online and in real life in which we discuss politics, we have an interest and we have the conviction to go forward and try to change this country for the better. It’s time the older generations start listening to us.
Written by Molly Thompson