THE BLOG

The EU Referendum and Young People: You're Either In or We're Out

09/03/2016 17:28 GMT | Updated 10/03/2017 10:12 GMT

If only anything else about the EU Referendum were that simple. The debate on our continuing membership of the EU is complex- thankfully so. It should be; monetary policy, sovereignty, collective security arrangements and immigration ARE weighty issues that deserve a robust and frank debate.

So how come we've ended up with this: a crass, shrill argument that frequently boils down to tribal party politics, he-said-she-said and, most pathetically, accusations of bullying on both sides?

This is the debate we deserve. And young people should be hacked off about it. The outcome of the referendum will shape policy in the UK for at least a generation - years that you'll be working, paying taxes, using public services and and experiencing the daily impact of the decision whatever it may be.

Don't think the EU has affected you already? It has. From small things: you have a Samsung phone, your mate has a Sony. You're out of juice, but you can borrow their charger because the EU negotiated with phone companies to stop being douchey, to design and use a universal charger.

To big things: you have the right to live, work and study in any EU country. You are protected by the environmental regulations to keep our drinking and bathing water free from contamination and you are a member of the world's most powerful trading bloc.

We believe in facing outwards, co-operation, friendship and connecting to the wider world, not retreating into the cave in an age when the world is becoming ever more intertwined.

We at www.inftw.co.uk are campaigning fiercely to stay in the EU and we won't tolerate BS in the debate. It's too important for politicians, the press or businesses to ignore the youth voice; so we want your contributions. You can send us your photos, videos and stories. You can write blog pieces for us, you can host events and learn how to campaign effectively.

We believe this is vital, and not just for the EU Referendum

We are a diverse and complex population, so why does our politics fail to reflect that? At the General Election of 2015, 650 MPs were elected to represent each of us.

Out of that number, only 29% are women; an extraordinarily low 6% are minority ethnic; and the average age of the new Parliament is 51, a year older than at the previous election. Couple that with the fact that the national voter turnout was 66% (and significantly lower figures seen across South Yorkshire), and you have a Parliament that looks very little like its public.

Why should this trouble us? Because such a grossly distorted representation of the people leaves whole groups badly in need of a voice at the heart of Government.

We all bear responsibility for addressing this imbalance. Children need engaging in politics whilst still at school (we know that if they have failed to become politically active by the age of 20, it becomes decreasingly likely that they will ever engage); political parties must do more to reach women and ethnic minority communities, not simply to gain votes, but to ensure that more of our population is invested in those who govern it and the decisions they make.

Ultimately, though, we must all do better at communicating our needs and concerns to our peers, and our representatives. Spending over four years as a senior aide to an MP, I answered thousands of emails and letters. The overwhelming majority were from those who had written before. The same voices, the same concerns.

Come and visit us at www.inftw.co.uk: we're here to help start conversations. Write an email. Send a Tweet. Discuss the issues that matter at the kitchen table. Our leaders won't look much like us, and our politics won't serve our needs until we do.