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'They' Say Young People Are Apathetic - They're Wrong!

12/06/2017 13:44
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"They" say that young people don't vote. Well, they did yesterday. From everything I have read, the 18 - 25 year olds came out in force and their footsteps striding to the ballot box; their pencils scratching their ballot papers and the crinkle of folding paper - has been heard loud and clear across the Country in General Election 2017.

"They" say that young people are apathetic. But I say they're wrong. I think young people have always cared. Twenty years ago, whilst at University, I became very involved and interested in politics and I was surrounded by people that cared passionately about politics and all sorts of other single issues to boot. Now, I'm not saying that all of those people voted and I guess this is the start of the 'young people are apathetic' story.

Standing before my ballot paper yesterday, my ten year old daughter said in a very loud voice that I should vote Green. She was quite passionate about this. My eight year old son has been on tours of both the Houses of Parliament and Senedd in Cardiff and came home from the latter telling me all about the sugar tax. He enthused about how the AMs were going to hear about the discussions held by the School Council and how they would take on board what the kids said. Now, whilst both are a way off the age of enfranchisement, they buck the perception that young people are not engaged and do not care. My son honestly, deep in his heart, believes that Carwyn Jones et al do care.

Herein lies the nub I think. Young people are no different to middle aged people and no different to older people, other than in number of years on the planet. Caring about things is a universal trait shared by people regardless of age. Granny, eggs and sucking all come to mind as I type this, but I think it is important to state, as somewhere along the line there seems to have been a narrative pedalled that young people are so wrapped up in their own world or so disinterested or maybe live on a different planet and possess different emotions and thoughts. I refute all that completely. I think the narrative has been perpetuated by the vicious circle of a perception that they don't care, therefore politicians don't speak to them (actually or in their manifestos), therefore young people don't bother voting, therefore politicians don't speak to them.

But if the General Election 2017 has shown us anything, it is this - make something relevant and it is likely to have an effect. So whether it is tuition fees, the environment, Brexit, social justice or the many myriad issues that politics links to, make people believe that what they do can make a difference, incentivise them, engage them, and excite them and they will vote and guess what, I think this is true of any age.

Now why does this matter? It matters because our democracy matters. It is imperfect, yes, but it is still the fairest way of governing. The principal of one person, one vote has been fought for and died for. It is the cornerstone and foundation and building block and any other sturdy, supportive construction analogy you care to chuck in. In essence, our democracy and our right and I would argue, our responsibility to have our say, is the very essence of our country. Young people standing up, recognising this, doing it and embracing it, fills me with a joy and optimism that has been sadly absent in my conscious of late in these troubled times and I believe should be both a wakeup call and inspiration to us all.

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