Making the case for politics: politicians tell young people why they should care

Photos by Jarrod Thompson

Photos by Jarrod Thompson

By Alice Fews, Lauren Webb, Ben Tuff, and Kane Ingram, Politics & Media first year students

On Friday 27th September, the Politics & Media degree organised a debate on ‘why politics matters’, which was also the title of the event. Here you can read about what they said at the event.

Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader) 

“The environmental and economical model of today is not working, political reform is needed in regards to the First Past the Post system.”

Natalie Bennett argued that politics matters because there are several pressing problems that need to be solved, such as climate change, the economy and living standards.  However, she argues that due to the economic situation these problems are pushed aside.

“Changing now, changing today.”

Bennett argued that politics is important in every day life and changes need to be made to develop the political landscape. Throughout her argument, she outlined the Green Party’s manifesto and even made the point that on voteforpolicies.org the Green Party came top with 24.37% of the popular vote. Policies included changing the NHS into a publicly owned and publicly run organisation, getting rid of prescription charges and reintroducing free eye tests and dental treatment.

Popular among university students, is the policy to get rid of tuition fees. Bennett argued that everyone has the right to an education and students should be able to choose what they do with it.  Education fees would be paid back in a system of taxes, which may seem more appealing to the younger generation.

As the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett stressed the importance of politics and how it needs to be reformed for real differences to be made.

Bob Ainsworth (Labour Party MP)

“Politics is broken but massively important.”

Bob Ainsworth argued that Citizenship in schools is not working as the ‘education system is fearful of teaching politics’.  He still believes that politics is classed based and it needs to be reformed to create an equal society. He mentioned the point that private schools flourish with a Politics GCSE and politics societies whereas comprehensive schools touche upon the subject.

“The behaviour of politicians is not a fundamental issue.”

Today, society is more distrustful of the politicians rather than the political system itself, suggesting that politics is more corrupt than it actually is. Ainsworth argued that politicians have to become more honest with their constituents as well as the wider population; they must be honest about the limitations that they have on them as MPs and that they cannot achieve everything that the constituents may demand. However, politicians must do everything they can to keep the trust their supporters.

Connor Burns (Conservative MP) 

“Politics matters more profoundly than ever before.”

Burns made the point that although young people may not be ‘party political’ they are still concerned with political issues such as the environment, tuition fees and the economy.  This suggests that politics matters because although young people may not think they are involved in politics it affects them in every day life.

“Politicians deserve to be held in contempt until they can be honest with you.”

Burns insisted that although he “is a Tory MP, he doesn’t want to be like an MP”. He stressed the importance of being accessible to his constituents, making the point that young people may feel like they are not represented by their MPs. Burns wants to reconnect with the younger generation, evident in his frequent work alongside Bournemouth University.

Parties have lost their identities”

Rather than distinct party politics, the political climate has developed into a situation where the electorate are voting for the MP rather than the manifesto of the party.  Politics matters now more than ever, because the electorate need to be made more aware of the political parties and how they are going to govern the country, rather than focusing on particular MPs to answer their demands.

DSC_0302Annette Brooke (Liberal Democrats MP)

“Less than 40% of 18-25 year olds turned out to vote.” 

As the only female MP representing her constituency as well as the only Liberal Democrat, Annette Brooke is approaching retirement and stressed the importance of younger involvement in politics.  She argued throughout that it is ‘important to be engaged’ especially as young people make significant differences to societies that they are involved in.  To help young people engage in politics, Brooke wants the voting age to be lowered to 16 to allow them to become more involved in the decision making process of Britain. She believes that young people should be given ‘opportunities that you deserve’.

“It is not right that the older generation are deciding your future.”

We can conclude that politics does matter to everyone, but only a small majority of the older age demographics tend to take a keen interest and participation. This being said, Brooke said it is vital for the younger generations to take part and it is possible in this day and age to do so.

DSC_0306Robin Grey (UKIP) 

“The government should govern for everyone.”

Although Robin Grey lost by 2 votes in County Council Elections to Conservative Peter Richardson and is not a career politician, he still has a lot of interest in the political system.  Grey argued that the people of Britain have become “tired of the antics of politicians”, however, despite this, we should press for a changing political system which will answer the demands of the people.

“Politics should not be left to politicians.”

Grey very much enforced his beliefs that the power of decision making should be given back to the people, arguing that democracy in Britain is missing. He strongly advocated the UK pulling out of the EU as he believes there will be no loss of influence.

“We owe it to the next generation.”

Passionately arguing that the British political system is corrupt, Grey supports the idea that we owe it to ourselves to study the issues, which are corrupting our political system.  As the current generation will be passing down the political system, it must be fixed in order to be effective.  Grey raised the point that MPs use ‘cash for questions’ which sparked controversy amongst the panel and in the audience.

All the party representatives gave relevant arguments as to why politics matters, especially in this generation and generations to come. Younger people must be influenced to make a change and develop our future.

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