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The importance of young people engaging in politics

Former Sixth Form Politics Ambassadors discuss the importance of young people’s engagement in politics, its importance, and its impact…

The A2 Politics Ambassadors: Tom J, Carmen K, Scarlett R (and Kitty M, not pictured)

Last year Mr Waters wrote about what the impact of young people voting will be, if they actually turn out to vote. In 2019 only 47% of 18–24-year-olds voted, compared to 74% of the over 75s. Our recent assembly looked at the need for young people to engage in politics early on, and the repercussions if they do not. 

Government policy for many years now has frequently been beneficial for older voters, at the expense of the young. Below we explain why it is so important for young people to engage in politics. 

Tuition fees is of course one policy prominent in our minds. With loans and interest rates, most graduates leave university with debt in excess of £45,000. The increase in National Insurance from 12% to 13.5% is designed to pay for social care for those who need it (often older people) but paid for by those in work. As a regressive tax it will impact lower earners the most, including those first entering the workforce. Again, an example of young people suffering from government policy.

So why is it that the Government are able to make these policies without comeuppance? Because we, as a generation, do not vote. We fail to get involved in politics in the right way, but we must. If we want to make genuine change happen, if we want government policies to reflect what is best for us, then we need to vote. Only then will the Government sit up and listen to our needs. 

We can determine government policy. We can decide how things are run and by who, but only if we go out and vote. You can register from the age of sixteen, and it is not only a right, but a privilege.

How can young people participate in politics?

There are plenty of ways in which you can get involved in politics other than voting. The term ‘pressure group’ is very broad. There is a huge variety of types of groups, ranging from local protests about small issues like a new road or speed limits, to national groups with thousands of members protesting large issues within Parliament.

All these different groups are aiming to influence government decisions. Some groups known as ‘insider groups’ rely on contacts with ministers and civil servants to achieve their aims. Their objectives also tend to be broadly in line with government policy, which will increase their leverage.

There are also ‘outsider groups’ whose policies may be far outside the political mainstream, meaning politicians are unlikely to enter into dialogue with them. For example, animal rights activists who try to intimidate animal testing labs into ceasing their work.

There are so many different kinds of pressure groups out there, so if there is something you are passionate about or want to learn more about, it is so easy to get involved and find ways in which you could make a difference.

Petitions can also be very impactful. Any petition on the Petition Parliament website with 100,000 signatures or over will be discussed and debated in Parliament.

As part of our A3 year, we actually started a few petitions ourselves to see if they would reach enough signatures. There is no limit or age cap on signing or starting these petitions, so it can potentially be a very influential way for younger generations to participate.