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On Saturday 20th March, Harrow Council Chambers, A place normally reserved for council meetings played host to something different. The ‘why should we care? Politics in schools’ campaign was launched.

The campaign proposes that a new subject should be introduced in the National Curriculum, to teach students the basics of British democracy, how to get involved and to show young people around the UK that politics is not just about Parliament.

Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, the first Sri Lankan Council Leader in UK Political History opened the event by saying;

“It is always great to see young ambition for the future, the future of this country depends on you.” He continued his speech by talking directly to young people. “You are the decision makers, this is not money that we spend, this is money that we invest.”

A short film entitled ‘Politics is Everywhere’ was then played showing the political landscape of the modern age, starting a Hitler and making its way through fighting in Beirut, the troubles in the middle east and the London riots, as well showing other influential political leaders such as George W Bush, David Cameron and finishing on the inauguration speech of President Barack Obama in 2009.

After the film, Marsha Thompson, an Events Manager for Shout Out UK and chair for the debate, thanked everyone for attending and went to say how she was one of those people who did not realise how important politics was, and that it was only after her university course that her eyes were opened, Thompson went on to say that;

“I have found my voice and that I understand, knowledge is power, I hope that you find your voice”

Sachin Shah, the youngest Harrow Councillor at 26 said that it was really good that so many people are here today, it is important that your views are heard. Shah went on to talk about the time when Harrow Young Musicians ran a huge campaign to fight cuts; the campaign was so successful that Shah would go on to say that it ‘scared him.’ Saha finished by saying that he wanted to get into politics to change the world,

“I’m really glad that so many people are here today because the youth are the present and the future”

Mike Sani, Director of Bite the Ballot, kept his speech short and sweet and saying that it was all about “getting people inspired in their community”

Ameet Jogia, a member of Harrow Conservative Future said that there was a lack of knowledge about how politics works, “politics is and will always be one of the only ways to make a difference”

Marsha Thompson then asked why politics should be taught in school and made the point that before university, she was unaware of how politics works. Thompson then commented on the London riots, the first thing that people should realise is that it could have been different; the riots justified the politician’s decision to raise tuition fees.

However it was also mentioned that 65% of the rioters were over 26 and that young people were picked on by the media, while older groups got away with it.

Mike Sani commented described the loss of EMA and the rise of tuition fees as reasons for young people to register to vote. Councillor Idalkkadar’s heart bleeds because people cannot afford to pay their tuition fees.

It was clear that tuition fees are still a huge talking point and if left unchecked, it would be debated until the sun rose the next morning so the debate was moved back to how politics is currently taught in schools.

The point was raised that citizenship lessons should be changed as it only tells students about who runs the country and not how the country is run or how to get involved, as politics can change anything.

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The media and press were brought up next, it was noted that there was a symbiotic relationship where politicians owned the media and feed the information they want to press. Another point was raised that news publications just want to sell their papers rather than report on what is real.

It was also raised that Rupert Murdoch owns 45% of the British media via News Corporation, and that if he wants to change something in politics then he can do it from behind his desk.

The cost of education made a second appearance in the debate, but this time in the form of transport, members of the UK Youth Parliament asked why, it was difficult and sometimes impossible to get to sixth form or college? Sachin Shah replied

“Travel is big issue but I don’t have an answer for you and it’s something that we should look at”

Last in the debate was how politicians communicate with the people that they serve, twitter came up and it was mentioned that politicians should make an effort to be followed and not just set up account. Mike Sani then commented:

“It is important to release that people do politics differently, we communicate differently and we need to respect each other”

Sani then commented on UK Youth Parliament describing their current situation as a great opportunity to get something done and show young people in a good light but he asked them to not talk in the same political jargon as traditional government.

After this the debate was brought to end, it was clear that the talks would carry on for many more hours and when they were brought to an end, I asked some of those attending if there was anything else that they wanted to add. Sachin Shah said that he hoped that people are inspired to tell their friends and family and Mike Sani said to keep up the great work.

Aiyesha, said that “education should be first” and Fred Gill, the Youth Member of Parliament for Hammersmith and Fulham said that the politics in schools campaign was a “great idea” and that it fantastic to see “lots of organisations coming together”

The final world comes from Councillor Thaya Ldaikkadar;

“it was great to see how much power young people have, they just don’t realise it, but if young people cannot travel, they cannot expand”

BY: Tom Sanderson