THE BLOG

If Politics Is Some So Important, Why Can't Our Youth Engage or Understand?

19/03/2015 10:31 GMT | Updated 17/05/2015 10:12 BST

Growing up in a working class family in South Staffordshire and attending a bog-standard secondary school, politics never really felt relevant to me, they didn't play a particularly large part in my adolescent life and I never felt inclined to vote. Not because I thought political matters weren't important, more so because my peers and I didn't understand what these policies represented and crucially, who they served. I was never able to articulate what the men and woman with their shiny suits and stiff upper lips on the TV were trying to communicate; to me they were simply "them posh people on the tele".

As a teenager my mate Ricky once relayed a joke about David Blunkett (something along the lines of him starring in a film with Meg Ryan entitled You've Got Brail) I laughed out of politeness but truthfully had absolutely no idea who David Blunkett was. Only later did I discover that he was the Labour home secretary! At seventeen years old should I have known who our home secretary was? Was I to blame for not knowing who any of these people were? Or was it down to the fact that politics are represented by out-of touch dinosaur's ill equipped at conversing with young people? Politics needed to reach out to me, but how?

My parents have been for the majority of my life, Labour voters. Both worked in local authority jobs, my father a social worker and my mother a librarian. They were very young parents, lured in by the charisma of Blair and the promises of New Labour (I had a caricature Blair mask as a kid; it scared the life out of the neighbours!). For them it was all about getting the Tories out (that's why most people vote Labour, right?). In 2006, aged nineteen I too voted for Labour because my parents did. I ticked a box in polling booth without any real understanding of Labour's policies. Surely there must be thousands more teenagers in Britain following suit, simply so they can say they voted?

In left-wing Guardian columnist Owen Jones' latest book 'The Establishment' he speaks in detail of how the political establishment only serves those who benefit from it - bankers, businesses, rich donors for privatisation, supporters of austerity. Their language and mantra are only understood by those who will benefit the political establishment - those who hold the power and money.

So if young people are our future, why aren't politicians focusing their efforts on reaching out to those who we will inevitably be leaving this county in the hands of?

In short, it's clear to me that politicians don't communicate well enough with the people they were elected to serve.

Young people take little interest in learning more about the government because their policies are not delivered in a palatable way. Politics is deemed as boring, they're jaded with the same 'old boy' barking on about things they've either lost interest with, or fail to understand. What they fail to realise is that these issues are important and always have been. Young people need to be educated about politics, but in their own language, not in complicated political jargon.

So, how can we move forward?

In an official survey, 42% of people aged 16-24 (Source - Electoral Commission) stated they had no interest in politics. It's clear - politicians need to start engaging with our youth now.

Personalities like comedian Russell Brand are beginning to play a part in connecting with the politically disengaged youth. Whilst I respect and support his pursuit for democracy his pledge not to vote is surely sending out the wrong message. However, Brand's YouTube series 'The Trews' can help young people to get clued-up with world issues in a light-hearted format and language that a universal audience can understand. Which other public figures could use their global influence to do the same?

Reaching out to young people isn't about having Boris Johnson come down and open your local skate-park or having David Cameron make an appearance on BuzzFeed, it's about finding a way that young people can relate to the policies. The 'old boys club' is outdated and it's time we had a new wave of personality in modern politics.