Previously known as Libdemchild

Friday, 2 December 2016

After Trump and Brexit what can young people do?

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Brexit vote statistics

After reading an article in Red Pepper about the Momentum Kids idea to launch child care facilities at political events I thought about how young people are excluded from politics. The idea was to enable parents to attend the events and to give the children the space to explore ideas and views in politics. The idea faced a huge backlash online with people comparing it to the Hitler Youth.The term 'brainwashing' was used to describe Momentum Kids and it reminded me of a lot of the challenges that I have faced in being involved in politics. It was only through the child care at Lib Dem conferences that my mother and I were able to attend and my interest in politics grew.  In 2010 I began to blog and write more about my opinions and when  I wrote for Lib Dem Voice about my perspective on the elections I first received negative comments that made me think about how my age would affect my understanding and involvement in politics. Several people left comments criticizing what I had written and claiming that they thought my parents wrote it for me or had heavily influenced my opinions. Whilst this can be understood because I was only 10 years old it is this kind of attitude that is so abundant in the political world that prevents young people from showing long term interest. 

Young people are continually mocked for showing any interest in politics. Teenagers are political and I see it in my everyday life when my friends discuss politics and take an active interest in current affairs and on twitter when young people were so outraged by the Brexit vote and by Donald Trump's election. Their interest is curbed by the stigma surrounding young people in politics, their inability to affect change and the lack of education provided for them. This stigma is something that I have seen first hand with countless people telling me that I shouldn't worry about politics and that I am too young to understand the issues, similarly I see young people with valid opinions dismissed on social media constantly just because of their age. There is also this vicious cycle of my generation not being provided with any education or access to basic explanations on political issues but being side lined from political discussion as a result. The political jargon of discussion is off putting and inaccessible.

In addition to this young people just can't influence electoral change. I was devastated at the election of Trump and the Brexit vote. I took to twitter to see the reaction of young people. I found that many of them had voted for Hillary and to remain in the EU. When i examined the statistics I found that 55% of 18-29 year olds in America voted for Hillary and 65% in the UK had voted to stay. I understand that voter turnout among younger age groups is low and therefore our influence is lesser but when it comes to such profound decisions that primarily affect the future of my generation I cannot comprehend how little sway we have. Even when young people show an interest in politics and turn out to vote they just don't have the influence that they should as the future generation. Trumps election and Brexit were two hugely negative outcomes that will have awful ramifications for my generation and their future.

This doesn't just apply to teenagers but also younger age groups. The backlash that Momentum Kids faced really shocked me and just showed how young people are prevented from any engagement in political issues. It may be the case that pre-teens and children are uninterested in politics but if they are at least given the opportunity to remove the stigma around their involvement and become educated on the issues then maybe young people will be able to influence decisions that have such far-reaching consequences for them. Don't remove opportunities for my generation to engage with politics and then claim that we are disillusioned with politics.

As for what young people can do now it is so important to use social media. Twitter has enabled us to voice our opinions and collectively understand politics. It is something that has lessened disillusionment with the political world and enabled further influence. I saw this with the Scottish election where 16 and 17 year olds voice was so large on social media that the press were forced to pay attention to them and a debate was even hosted on TV specifically for this age group. If this carries on and the opposition to Trump, movements like Black Lives Matter and the DAPL protest are communicated about online my generation's influence will grow and next time there is a Donald Trump or a Brexit we will not let it happen.

Momentum kids is also being maligned because it's a left wing organisation. These kids aren't Tiny Trots but are possible politicians of the future who will help spread the message of left wing politics. Here are some more articles on Momentum kids.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Why the Liberal Democrats are not irrelevant

Image result for lib dem leader
It's coming up to the Lib Dem conference and it's time to take stock of what the party is saying and their progress. Ever since the 2015 election every time I mention that I am a Lib Dem to somebody I am met with a joke about how irrelevant we are and how nobody knows or cares about what we are doing. We may not have been at the forefront of the political world last year after losing 49 MPs but in 2016 we are slowly gaining relevance and could be the only viable option for many people.

This has translated into thousands of people joining the party. This is not only because of sudden changes within the Labour party and the conservative party that make them unstable but also because of what the party is now offering under Tim Farron.

The Lib Dems seem most relevant in providing 'remain' supporters with hope after a devastating result in the referendum. The EU referendum result came as such an awful shock to many young people. I witnessed this first hand when I went to school the next day. I spoke to as many students as possible and found only one girl who was pleased with the result. The rest were either enraged or visibly upset about Brexit.

I noticed the same pattern on social media where many young people quoted the statistic that 75% of 18-25 year olds voted to remain and that the majority of people who voted to leave were the older generation who would not reap the dis-benefits as much as young people. I also believe that the Brexit vote was not understood fully by the British people who would have voted to remain if they had fully understood the issues - the very next day the most Googled term was, 'What does a Brexit vote mean?'.  People were alarmed at what they had voted for when the pound started dropping the day after.

The Lib Dems are the most relevant party in offering 'remain' voters, particularly young people, hope for a stable and connected UK within the EU. We are the only party to have said that it will take Britain back into Europe. Whilst I can see that the democratic nature of this claim is questionable I have also seen how many British voters were wrongfully swayed into voting 'no' against their best interests and have now changed their mind. The Lib Dems are the only party to offer these people options.

Tim Farron has provided a new start for the Lib Dems. Nick Clegg was, sometimes unfairly, too attached to the stigma of tuition fees and by the majority of young people. I say 'unfairly' because it was Labour who brought in tuition fees and broke the 'free education' concept. University fees are now rising under the Tory government. In fact, the Tories have done far worse through their cuts. People have a short memory when it comes to politics yet the Lib Dems are consistently punished by young people for tuition fees.

It's time to take note of the party and look at our brilliant progress regarding women's rights, asylum seekers, young people and disabled people.

Please contact me if you would like any more information regarding these policies!


Thursday, 23 June 2016

A leave vote would be selfish and doesn't consider young people like me

I can't vote in the EU referendum because of my age but I have been hugely affected by this whole campaign and desperately urge voters to choose to stay in the EU today. I constantly hear arguments from the out campaign who speak about the referendum in terms of how it would affect their children but I  feel that only the in campaign truly assesses the ramifications of an out vote on future generations. As a member of this group of 'children' and 'the future generation' I am furious that I cannot directly be involved in the outcome of the referendum and even more angry when I hear the argument that my generation would be better off out of the EU when this would close so many doors for us politically, socially and economically.

One of the main ideas that I hear being parroted again and again by the out campaign is that the EU threatens British sovereignty and pride and that future generations could make Britain a 'great' and independent power . This is a warped idea of sovereignty which fails to recognize that Britain's sovereignty is only enhanced by the EU as our economy and diplomatic international ties are strengthened. Isolation and the threat of losing 3 million jobs which are tied to the EU are a bigger threat to our sovereignty than being involved with an organisation that benefits us and allows to act on an international stage.

I also find this whole notion too reminiscent of Donald Trump's 'make America great again campaign' and I fear that voters have been too easily seduced by this seemingly easy idea of greatness and British pride rather than assessing the full benefits that the EU brings for us.

Leaving the EU would lead to a fall in migration and whilst I think that this in itself would be a mistake I am also concerned about the affect that this would have on the attitudes of those in the UK towards existing migrants. My mother is from Asia and she already experiences a fair amount of stigma and hateful racist comments which she says increases during the 2015 general election when UKIP experienced a rise in popularity. UKIP's heavy involvement in the leave campaign frightens me and I have become particularly concerned since Nigel Farage's recent poster came out.

 Leaving the EU would decrease racial tolerance and after seeing how easily racist attitudes are adopted in this country because of political parties and figures, such as UKIP, I am certain that leaving the EU would be a backwards step for our country and would be harmful for migrants who already live here as well as potential ones. This can already been seen to be taking shape with more and more people taking the view that migrants are stealing British jobs and harming our economy without recognising the need for different skill sets in different sectors. Because of our links with the EU and the subsequent migration British families are £38 a week, on average, better off. The whole picture concerning migration and racial attitudes needs to be taken into account when considering a leave vote today and deciding against the EU would be selfish, not only as it would harm the future generation, but also existing and potential migrants.

I am hugely worried about the results of the referendum and can only hope that the UK makes the right decision to stay in the EU. If we were to benefit from leaving the EU, which I find highly unlikely from looking at the solid and confirmed facts, we could only know this in the distant future and leaving would still put too many people's jobs and income at risk. Our current situation in the EU is certain and brings a multitude of benefits for the UK.

The leave campaign has evoked a warped concept of British sovereignty, pride and greatness which will leave us an insular and backwards country who will also lose out economically as a result of an out vote. Risking the future of my generation in this referendum is wholly selfish and I strongly urge you to take this into consideration when visiting the ballot box today.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

What the Liberal Democrats are saying about the EU Referendum

I was delighted to receive the email about the Lib Dem leaders European event and signed up immediately because, frankly, the EU referendum debate has been inundated with arguments that don't always make sense and are often factually ambiguous. I am quite often irritated these days because of this.

The Lib Dems leaders,Paddy Ashdown, Ming Campbell, Nick Clegg and Tim Farron, didn't let me down and it was excellent to see a united front on display. It felt like quite a historic moment for a young person like me.

The event took place at the BAFTA offices in Piccadilly. Each leader began with an impassioned speech explaining what staying in Europe meant to him and why we should adopt the same approach.

My favourite remark came from Tim Farron who said that those who support the leave campaign are "selfish" and should set aside their own prejudices or beliefs for the good of their children's future and how we should avoid being, "insular, isolated, alone or irrelevant". He said that he was not making the decision to vote in as a politician but as a "parent and a patriot". Tim also attacked the out campaign and referred to it as "sheer dishonest elitism". Tim's analysis was spot on because of his emphasis on a concern for the future generations if we were to leave the EU.

I spoke to Tim afterwards and got a good account about his beliefs. He explained than any young person voting should, "consider educational opportunities, work abroad and most importantly climate change." He sees climate change as an extremely pressing issue for future generations and that we would be "better equipped to deal with it in the EU". He also said that staying in the EU would be a "smart outward looking statement".

Paddy displayed a similar sentiment to Tim in that he addressed the importance of the EU's help with future generations. Leaving, he said, "would be an act of historic folly which our grandchildren and children would be bound to pay the price". Paddy repeatedly praised the EU and placed emphasis on it's ability to act as a tool for avoiding conflict as he referred to it as, "the greatest peace making institution that we have ever seen".

Ming also praised the EU by explaining that membership is beneficial to Britain as it holds, "complimentary affiliations" which mean that we are able to work together for mutual benefits.

Nick conveyed the need for affiliations with the EU by positioning the UK as an international foreign policy player. He said that if we are to act on an international stage "how else are we going to go toe to toe with great superpowers other than doing so with the collective clout that we have through the European Union?"

I was compelled by these arguments which continually reiterated that we are stronger together and that we benefit from the EU as 3 million jobs are linked to trade with the EU, 89% of businesses back staying in Europe and because EU membership has increased average UK salaries by £1,800. 

The debate then moved to questions from the audience. The leaders were asked about the non factual and unsupported information being put out by the leave campaign. These so-called fact come via those such as Michael Gove who claimed that the NHS would receive £100m more a week in funding if we left the EU. The leave campaign has not only been riddled by false statistics but also by false and harmful sentiments such as Farage referring to sexual assaults by immigrants to stir anti-European feelings.

Tim and Paddy who noted the appeal of providing simple solutions to complex questions for the general populace rather than solid facts. The help of the EU in dealing with the migrant crisis and the potential of a subsequent Scottish referendum as a result of an 'out' vote were addressed in further questions.

Nick Clegg also furthered his case by not only addressing the importance of economic benefits from the EU but also the cultural ones by providing a narrative of cultural benefits from the EU and stating that we are, "culturally entwined with Europe as it is a part of our cultural landscape" and that we are, "better for it".

It was a successful event and if I could vote I would certainly be putting an 'X' beside 'Remain'.

This article was originally written by me published on Lib Dem Voice:


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Why young people should register to vote in the EU referendum

The 7th of June is the deadline to register to vote in the EU referendum. Whilst I urge everyone to take an active interest in the decision I think that it is of particular importance for young people to fully participate and vote in the referendum.

Younger age groups have a reputation for being disinterested in politics. The voter turnout is very low at 51.8% for under 25s in 2010 compared to 74.7% for over 65s. In my experience young people are not uninformed or disinterested in politics but rather disillusioned. We are put off by the Westminster bubble. Valid as these reasons are none of this applicable to the EU referendum.

Whilst I completely understand the reluctance of young people to endorse a political party in the general election this vote is about the future of Britain. It is not about the allure or credibility of individual parties or politicians. The consequences of this vote are just too large to be ignored and the consequences will determine our future job market, economy, migration patterns etc.

I am, however, extremely pleased to see so many young people actively debating the EU referendum through organisations such as'Bite the Ballot', I just hope that this will translate into votes that will actually make an impact on Britain's future.

I urge you to register to vote by 7 June midnight. In my opinion, the most beneficial outcome for the UK would be an 'in vote'.Whilst I place primary importance of young people voting in this referendum I do believe that it is in our best interest to vote stay and I encourage young people to strongly consider the arguments put forward by the stay campaign especially in regards to their own future as well as the future of Britain.

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