With the General elections approaching in May and the fact that only 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2010 General Election, the question of whether this generation understands politics arises.
According to No One Ever Told Me About Politics (a group of volunteers encouraging political engagement), 68% of 24-35 year olds want to know more about politics but don’t know where to start. A figure as large as this should raise even more concern for those aged 18-24. I believe one of the main reasons for the lack of political knowledge amongst many young people is because it’s an absent subject on the National Curriculum. If young people are not taught about politics, it’s no surprise that many don’t understand or take interest in it. Some fear that putting Politics on the Curriculum may lead to teachers imposing their own political views on students. However, this could be argued for current curriculum courses, such as Religious Education. In all subjects, teachers should use unbiased teaching methods, so students can form their own judgements. Furthermore, informing pupils about political matters doesn’t have to take the form of a full Politics lesson. It could be included in tutorials or short classes, such as PSHE.
Despite the government neglecting the important role politics could play in schools, there are campaigns that encourage young people to engage in politics. Through social media and celebrities, such as Rick Edwards and Jamal Edwards supporting this pro-politics movement, these campaigns are getting noticed. Vinspired’s campaign ‘Swing The Vote’ gathers several British Youtubers to each make a video explaining political parties views on relevant topics (which you can find out more on at Vote for Policies). This gives young people insight into politics and helps them decide how to use their vote. Additionally, Bite The Ballot recently coordinated the UK’s National Voter Registration Day, where 166,000 people registered to vote on this day alone. Furthermore, No One Ever Told Me About Politics created the app ‘Ask Amy’ where you can ask any political-related questions and receive an instant response. The BBC have even got involved in this movement with programmes such as ‘Free Speech’ and ‘An Idiots Guide to Politics’.
As these organisations continue to encourage political engagement, hopefully more young people will understand the importance of politics and decide to vote. I’m convinced that, due to these inspiring campaigns and many other politically-engaged young people, this year’s youth voter turnout will be a massive improvement from 2010’s.
By Maxine Harrison