Let me just start by saying that not all young people are disengaged with politics. This is a completely presumed myth that has somehow turned into fact. I feel as if people just automatically presume this due to the demographics involved in politics for as long as anybody can remember. As an example, after the 2010 election, the average MP age fell (FELL?!) to 50 years of age. This makes people panic about young people, but don’t you worry, most of us have got this politics thing worked out just fine. Just because we’re not all running around in suits at the House of Commons, it does not mean that we are not disinterested, uninvolved, and uneducated about politics.
This year’s election (2015) was my first year of being allowed to vote, and though this is a big deal, I’d rather keep my personal political views private. Though, my point is that even I was overwhelmed at other young people my age so heavily involved with politics. I suppose the media had tricked me, as well as others, into believing that the ‘youth’ just didn’t care. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, the ‘I’m voting!’ button on Facebook was rather cringeworthy, but engagement on social media regarding the election and politics was incredible, and who makes up the main demographic on social media sites? Young people. I saw arguments upon arguments in Facebook comments and Twitter mentions. But this is in no way a bad thing. I’m hoping it shows the concerned older generation out there that we do actually care about what’s happening to our country, and world, for that matter. One day we’re going to have to sort out the messes that recent governments have created, and I feel comfort in knowing that my generation is fully aware of this. Though we may be divided through our political differences, we are united in caring about our futures.
The House of Commons could always, always do with a shake up. More female MPs, and the other usual issues, and I believe it’s about time that we started putting some focus on the ageism within politics. There are young individuals involved heavily with politics, but it’s time to stop being individuals and start being a majority, which already happens on social media, but in order for people to actually notice, it’s time to go further. With blogs, being involved in demonstrations, signing petitions, whatever, it’s just time to put these myths about not caring about how our country is ran to rest. I’m sick of hearing lectures from older generations about the importance of politics, we already know.
Somebody close to me recently counted the general election votes for our area, and indulged me in the variety of ages involved, most of these people having the motivation to count due to their interest in politics. But the media never seems to notice this, maybe it’s because it’s easier to attack youths than pensioners because there’s less guilt involved. Or perhaps people are only interested in reading about what trouble young people have started again. It’s amazing how many people forget they were 18 once.
I do agree that the country can do so much more to educate young people about politics as a whole, though. I admit, I feel like I don’t completely understand or know everything to do with the political system, and if I had this education at a younger age I would be able to make much more informed decisions about most things in my life. There would be no harm with putting Politics on the school curriculum. Just as long as it wasn’t biased, which I feel is easier than most people believe. Teachers do not have to, nor should they need to, indulge students in their personal political beliefs, but should rather point pupils to resources that they need to make their own decisions, websites such as https://voteforpolicies.org.uk/, or textbooks that include history about the political system in Britain. Teach them how the voting system works, how important decisions are made by the Government, and even show them their local political system. Emphasise democracy in the school environment. Encourage them to write to MPs about what they believe needs to change, inspire them to be even more involved/interested that a huge amount of them already are. I don’t understand why this isn’t already happening.
Granted, my above points are slightly late in timing since the general election has just happened, but we all have a responsibility for the next five years to stop the media making out all young people to be uninterested with everything, really. We have five years to make some kind of significant political change in this country. Let’s actually do it this time.