A lot has been made of young people in this election. The disengagement here, the disenfranchisement there, so what really is the mood in young people across the UK? The Electoral Reform Society stated that "The UK hit rock bottom in 2005 when turn out amongst under 24s hit a record low of just 38.2%. Whilst the situation recovered at the last general election (51.8% of under 24s voted), the long-term trend is nevertheless one of decline." It shows that the young people are confused, angry and unsure on who or what to vote for because these politicians do not connect with young people. This is the case in Wales, a country I am proud to call home. However, Wales' youth is seen as second-class by the political elite of Westminster, as well as in our democratic hub - the Welsh Assembly.
Across the UK and Wales, it is fair to say that 'Russell Brand fever' has hit us all - and that's fair enough because for too many years, Governments of all parties have left this generation with fewer opportunities than our own parents and now we are expected to pay the price for their financial, social and political failures. However, that's not how I & many others see it. In Wales particularly we are united by a common cause, which is the establishment of a Youth Assembly for the young people of Wales, lowering the voting age to 16 and educating our future electoral on the political system in our schools.
At least across the UK, young people have a chance to engage in politics. For example, the UK Youth Parliament has members all over the UK, but not in Wales. There is a Scottish Youth Parliament, but not in Wales. There are several Youth Parliaments across the EU, but not in Wales. Wales is segregated in many ways by funding and respect from Westminster, but now also in our Youth. My point is that we want and need a Youth Assembly in Wales for the benefit of young people, to allow us to prosper and develop as a generation of social and political leaders. Seeing young 16 and 17-year-olds voting in Scotland was remarkable in the referendum, but will that happen in next year's Assembly elections - or will the Welsh Parties buckle under the call for change and let our youth to be left behind again? As well as this, it's great that young people can be taught how pass GCSE & A Level exams, but not know the value of their vote and what it means to have influence over the governance of the UK & Wales.
It's clear that Wales isn't as prosperous as other parts of the UK. Our Universities are lacklustre compared to others across the UK, with none usually making the Top 10 in the rankings. As well as this, how often do we see Welsh Members of the Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet? Not often enough. Wales needs to focus on the future and make sure we can develop politically, due to the fact we are behind Scotland, England and Northern Ireland in our battle for parity democratically.
What is the future of Wales after the election then? At this moment, it hangs in the balance. We can either make sure we have a Youth Assembly, more education for our youngsters on politics and votes at 16 - OR - we can revert back into the cascade of darkness and see no political enfranchisement and engagement in our proud and passionate young people for another generation of Welshmen and women. The actor Michael Sheen reiterated Aneurin Bevan's phrase by exclaiming in an NHS march: "You must stand up for what you believe, but first of all, by God, believe in something." No more less than before does this apply to the future of our young people in Wales. We DO believe in many things to develop our country, to make sure we are a big society and that we can move forward as a bigger and stronger generation than the ones that came before us.
To those politicians who have ignored the young people of Wales in this election: we tell you now that we will stand and be counted like Nye Bevan, we will have youth democracy like there is across the UK and that we will make sure we succeed in our mission; which should be yours - in giving young people a voice.