Young people and politics has been a combination in the news quite a lot recently, with various to-remain-unnamed politicians stating with great determination their ambition to "appeal to young voters."
Now, as gallant and honourable as these supposed 'attempts to engage young people with politics' appear to be, I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated.
Here's my issue: young people are not pieces of meat to be lured out of our too-unproductive-for-National-Living-Wage cages. We're not simply carrion to be fought over until one remains on top, proudly pecking at its prize. We are young minds who will determine the future of this country and my personal belief is that we deserve more respect.
It's important for me to say at this point that not all politicians are the same.
I fully expect that there a lot of MPs who have genuine intentions to help young people and the issues we face. However, there are too many people in positions of power who would use young people and feign good intention in order to further their political agenda.
A message to those people: young people need leaders, not politicians.
There is a big difference between leadership and power and it seems that this gap is ever widening. A fundamental part of being a good leader is trust. Without trust, leaders fall at the wayside and are forgotten. We have been lied to, publicly insulted and often neglected by those who call themselves our betters, our leaders. They may have power but if we don't associate or agree with their views or trust them, then they are not a leader.
Leadership is a matter of perspective. It takes many years of building trust, showing compassion while always driving in a forward direction. Sincerity is a key quality, as is transparency. A leader, simply put, is someone who has followers and leads them to a better place, literally or figuratively.
When I consider the recent general election, I distinctly remember my dilemma - I didn't believe in a single candidate. Some had great manifestos, magnificent promises and policies that would undoubtedly make a difference. Others completely befuddled me and even I was questioning the logic behind it. They all had one thing in common though:
I wasn't convinced.
As a result, I didn't vote. Some may say that because of this I have no right to complain or to voice my political opinion. My simple opinion is that casting a vote in someone you don't believe in, purely to be able to say "I voted" is as much a waste of a vote as someone is too lazy to vote.
If you want our votes, ladies and gentlemen of the political world, you will need to earn them. Young people are crying out for a leader to actually want to assist them into becoming what they want to become. We don't want to be mollycoddled (this could do more harm than good) but at the same time we don't want to be forgotten.
So, here's my challenge to those fine folk who would lead our great country: make us believe in you. Put your effort into genuinely helping us in our cause to becoming what we could never dream, even when there are no cameras around, and see this faith repaid with our allegiance. Treat us with the respect we deserve as valuable members of society and we will revere and respect you enough to follow you.
Then, you will be our leader. Then, you will gain my vote.