We Must Keep Young People Engaged in Politics

28/07/2016 17:10 | Updated 28 July 2016

As dawn began to break on the morning of 24 June, the news that the British people had voted to leave the political union for which it had been a member for the better part of half-a-century became apparent.

The result sent shockwaves reverberating around the world. The FTSE 100 plummeted eight per cent in the immediate aftermath of the result being announced, while sterling weakened 11 per cent against the dollar. But the result had its most profound effect upon young people.

Young people overwhelmingly backed remaining in the European Union. According to polling data from YouGov, 75 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds voted to remain (compared to 48 per cent for the population as a whole).

The millennials were quick to bemoan the fate their older more politically engaged generation had dumped on them. Distraught by the political world they now found themselves, they took to Facebook in droves (a seeming oasis of serenity, in an otherwise tumultuous sea). They were quick to voice their disdain: "you've stolen my future", proclaimed one; "I'm not leaving", asserted another. Within hours a petition for a second EU referendum had clocked up over a million signatures (seemingly naïve to the finer aspects of the democratic process).

As the dust begins to settle, many young people are waking up to the reality that democracy does matter. Your vote does count. But capitalizing on this new found youth engagement is key. Helpfully, a new app hopes to do just that.

Launched this week, HearMeMP aims to replace the litany of campaign emails many politicians are currently bombarded with. The app works by listing the popular and controversial policy issues of the day (fed in by hundreds of campaign organisations, both locally and nationally). Rather than flooding an MP's inbox, HearMeMP sends all the submitted views on each individual issue on a spread sheet once a week and asks the MP to respond to users directly. It also provides a statistical breakdown of their residents' views so they can see clearly and quickly the strength of feeling on important issues from their constituents.

And why is this important? By making it quicker and easier for people to make their voices heard, while simultaneously reducing the email traffic to MPs' inboxes, the more effective political engagement can happen.

Only by embracing technological change can we hope to capitalise on the new level of political engagement among young people.