To say that our country has been in the middle of a political crisis for the last few months, is not a particularly bold statement. We have had the Referendum, the result, followed by the loss of organisation in our two largest parties: Labour and the Conservatives (and UKIP). David Cameron stood down, Corbyn was, and still is, questioned and Nigel Farage has took a nice holiday, probably in a country that belongs to the EU…
During the Scottish Referendum to leave Great Britain, the voting age was lowered to the age of 16, however, this was not the case for the decision to leave the EU. Writing as a 17 year old, I am in two minds about the decision: on one hand, a lot of young people were dismayed over social media as they felt the decision had snatched away their futures. On the other hand, statistics tell a different story. Of the 18-24 year olds that voted, 73% did vote to remain in the EU, but the percentage of 18-24 year olds that went to the polling stations was a meagre 36%, so, in reality, only a small proportion voted against the older generations. Would this have been the same if 16-17 year olds had been given the right to vote? It’s difficult to say.
Are young people growing more and more disillusioned with politics? If you are a hard core, right winged, individual, the decision to leave could have been a positive one, but the fall out wasn’t an ideal one. Boris Johnson out of the race for Conservative leader, Nigel Farage stepping down, a non Brexiteer running the country, it’s not idyllic. Though there could be light at the end of the tunnel with May confirming that she will evoke Article 50. Toward the middle of the political spectrum, the decision could be accepted but David Cameron resigning might have been just the tip of the iceberg. Gradually moving towards the left and perhaps, at a not so gradual speed, the emptiness that filled Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and lack of support, followed by party members contesting for the crown, there is reason to be dispirited. Or if like me, you are still trying to find your bearings in the madness that is politics at this current time, you feel helpless.
To be disheartened, you have to care in the first place and some young people are just not interested and use the views of their parents/carers to decide what they think. The stereotype that is associated with politics, is that that young people from areas of deprivation off and we must deal with decisions that we are not allowed to make. Seeing the likes of Boris Johnson and David Cameron, it is not impossible to have this connotation and to a certain degree it is true. But it easy to forget that we are the ones that vote them in. We can watch Sunday politics early in the morning, we can be a member of a political party, it is not them and us.
Make a difference
Being a young person, there are so many ways we can make a difference in our communities, we can volunteer, join a charity group in your school or a student voice committee, and we can be informed and aware of what is going on in the world even if it’s from a social media site. I don’t think the question that matters is “are young people growing more and more disillusioned with politics”, it is, should we be? We do not have to wait to become an adult to be able to make a difference, it’s how we promote our generation now.
Some useful sites to get started:
What do you think? Have your say in the comments below.