'End the London-centricity': young people on the future of politics

Guardian readers
A young woman calling for the voting age to be lowered during a protest in London, 2016. Photograph: Dinendra Haria//Rex/Shutterstock

Isabella Copplestone, 17, Labour party supporter, Birmingham: I would love to see gender quotas in all parties

It’s a mixed bag. I certainly worry about the implications of having all of our mistakes and history preserved forever online, ready to be picked apart by journalists. It could mean only the boring are allowed to progress and we’ve got enough of them in power now. Equally, many young people like me are turned off by the traditional ‘male, pale and stale’ party politics and formality, given that I’ve volunteered for my local party for two years but never once attended a constituency meeting. However, there is cause to be hopeful.

I would love to see gender quotas in all parties for choosing their candidates. There are simply not enough women, specifically women of colour and working class women, entering the houses. I would also, of course, see great benefit in empowering 16 and 17 year olds by giving us the vote. We can have babies, choose our universities, and work, yet we are powerless to change our futures.

Chris Moss, 18, Liberal Democrats supporter, Cumbria: PR would be an incentive against voter apathy

I think that with the increasing involvement of politicians with social media and the various outreach efforts aimed at involving young people in politics that ten or twenty years down the line we’ll see a lot more young people interested and involved in politics and hopefully a lot more MP’s under the age of 30.

In life I want to actually make a difference and help people, particularly those who feel that our current system has let them down. I feel that going into politics is one of the best ways to help as many people as possible and to really leave a lasting positive impact on the country. Theresa May’s promise of a society that works for everyone is a great soundbite but I hope that by going into politics I could be part of an effort to make that rhetoric a reality.

I think that the one major change that would improve British politics would be a move to a more proportional form of voting. It would mean that voters are not forced to vote for the lesser of two evils and would actually feel that their vote mattered. Knowing that your vote matters regardless of where you live is also likely to be an incentive against voter apathy and a feeling of pointlessness about politics.

Sebastian Crisp, 16, Labour party supporter, London: Members of the public should be called up to the House of Lords

The majority of people in my school feel angry because of the EU referendum result, and feel as if they are in a minority. But thankfully this has not deterred them from politics and they are just as interested and continue to keep up to date with current issues.

I have been interested in politics since a young age and believe things in this country can be much better and fairer than they already are. It angers me to see news stories that can be easily solved if people just stopped bickering with each other. I am discouraged by the constant backwards thinking of many in politics and the ill-informed information that is thrown back and forth.

If I were a member of parliament I would reform the House of Lords to make it a place where members of the public are called up, like jury service, instead of having old men make decisions for people they have never met. Also I would change the voting system to proportional representation (PR). Though it may increase the number of Ukip MPs it would show true democracy as that is what the people would have voted for.

Alexander Woolf, 27, Conservative party supporter who works at Westminster: We need to end the London-centricity of British politics

For many years I wanted to work in the world of politics because of my real passion for policy. I have never wanted to stand for a parliamentary seat, and working in Westminster has only bolstered my position. The world can certainly do without another white, male, middle-class man in a suit telling others how to live their lives.

The future is looking bleak. With an environment of internships, politics as a sector continues to make life difficult for young people, particularly from the North, like myself. When you finally get inside the Westminster bubble, you may soon find yourself disillusioned. When I started, I myself found that I was suddenly surrounded by the very people I avoided at university - those who wander around with smartphone in hand pretending to be Sam Seaborn from the West Wing.

The next generation of leadership is likely to be comprised wholly of career politicians without exposure to the world outside the bubble. Unless young people get a real job before entering the world of politics, we may soon see the extinction of politicians with free thoughts and integrity.

Anonymous, 16, Green party and Labour party supporter, Dorset: MPs should have to attend a certain number of debates or have theyir pay deducted

When I think of the current turbulent political climate I do feel a deep sense of fear for the kind of political landscape that we shall be left with - but, I also have an immense amount of pride in my generation and the discussions, activism, and values we promote. At the very least it shows that as a generation we aren’t afraid.

Primarily, politics appeals to me as it offers the chance to enforce change. I have become very disillusioned with the current level, in particular, of political discourse. I want to enter the political system to try and encourage a new ‘kinder’ politics - where pressing political points are discussed rather than mascaraed around in a thin veil of insults. It also offers me a voice - to stand up for those unable to, regardless of whether they choose to vote or support me.

What especially irritates me is that MPs are provided with an incredible platform to represent their constituents, and yet many of them never seem to be bothered to turn up to these debates. Issues such as the UK’s drug laws saw only 21 MPs turn up to debate. The introduction of a system of mandatory attendance to a certain percentage of debates or pay shall be deducted, would both address the aforementioned issue and raise the level of political discourse.

Andrew Payne, 26, North Shields: politics is too dominated by Oxbridge

Personally it is all the backstage intrigue and kowtowing to donors and party figures that goes on. They seem to be told what to do and how to think. It’s just one big episode of The Thick of It.

An MP should have the backbone to stand up for his or her beliefs and no party whip should be able to change that. Other than that it seems to still be one big oligarchy with the public school Oxbridge types at the top who dictate their views.

Very few of them have actual life experience and know nothing of the struggles of modern life - in short I don’t know how to regulate it but I do not agree with career politicians.

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