Prime minister David Livingstone is ignoring young peopleTweet
Joined: Jan 2012Mary-ann's Full Profile
Just yesterday I overheard a conversation that made me snort in disgust. These two girls were discussing, rather noisily, their next shopping trip to one shop or the other when one loudly exhaled and declared that prices were rising, making it hard for her to keep up. The other replied by blaming the Prime Minister “David Livingstone”. I did an internal double take while my friends tried desperately to hide their laughter. I realised then that politics does not matter to these people, they don’t care who’s in office, what party does what or the other.
By “these” people I mean the general population of teenagers. We have much better things to do than wonder what old person is going to tax us to death, stop our pastry eating and eviscerate our future pensions. GAME closed the other day, the leggings at Primark are now £3.50, are maxi dresses in or out this summer? And why should we – we are young, we are free, we are beautiful, we are supple and all those other words people like to use to describe youth. The seedier side of youth that the Daily Mail would like us to believe couldn’t care less about politics and government. The hoodies, the binge drinkers, the council estate kids, what do they care? What could they possibly want from politicians with their limousines and vacations in France?
Let me tell you – they care. They care deeply, more than anyone could possibly know. They care about the economy, they care about jobs. I think you can confidently say they care about university fees. They care about all the things that ‘adults’ care about. They don’t have to be politics students looking to be prime ministers, campaign managers or MPs, scanning and scrutinising every single piece of political news they can get their hands on just to get one over on the privately educated and the naturally charismatic. But the biggest mistake is to group young people into one homogenous group and see them as the faceless hooded gangsters that one can just use to leapfrog to government. Young people are going to be the voters of tomorrow .Young people are going to be the decision makers, the movers and shakers in years to come… but they don’t know this.
Why don’t they know? Why does this girl think that we are being governed by the dude who got lost in Africa? Dispiritedness is the answer. There is unharnessed potential in young people who lay like dormant volcanoes waiting to erupt into the world in a way that will shape it in unknown ways. Young people including myself don’t believe that politicians will listen. And just as you believe that we do not care, we believe that you don’t care. In the last election only 37% of young people voted (and fat lot that did, thanks Liberal Democrats). In the next election it’s going to be fewer. When asked, classmates, friends and random people on the street know that it doesn’t matter, no one is responsive to the needs of young people .We are at the bottom rung, just above online freedom. So we lapse into apathy and dispiritedness, and don’t give a damn, not fully understanding ourselves or the system and more importantly not caring.
So what are the concerns of the youth? We want to know that we are being listened to. Not only listened to, being listened to and taken seriously. We had a visit in first year from the Shadow Transport Minister, who asked us about transport and other general things. At first we were excited. They want to listen to us! But then we realised that there was only the illusion of listening. We spoke for an hour and thirty minutes but not once did he write anything down – and no one is that smart. Therefore it was all worthless. If we knew that you listened and took care to make these suggestions a reality then we would care.
Representing young people cannot be done by just plonking down a youth minister that no one will ever see. Nor does it mean some patronising little meetings in a damp town hall with stale biscuits and lukewarm tea that turns out to be a huge waste of everybody’s time. Representing young people means not cutting youth services that are aimed to help young people. Representing young people means not grouping them into a marginalized group that is feared and reviled by the older generation. Representing young people means accepting the opinions and ideas of the younger generations. They may not always make sense, but at least then the young person feels that they are appreciated and have some kind of hand in their own lives.
This doesn’t mean that all young people will be interested in politics, nor does it excuse the yobs ,gang members and plain stupid. Nonetheless, it would break though the disenchantment – and those who do care will then have a better channel to convey their needs and concerns about society as a whole.
Some young people may be frivolous and irresponsible but they will not always be like this. Most young people understand the importance of politics, they just realize that politicians won’t listen. An appropriate forum to express themselves and their frustrations is the best way to represent and address young people’s concerns in the UK.Tweet