This is a pressing question that is asked again and again.  It could also be the answer to some of our political issues. It seems like just not enough of young people are engaged in politics. This could be the reason that voting turnout is exceptionally low amongst young people aged 18-24 in the United Kingdom (44% voted in the 2010 general election). Perhaps this is not because the youth of today just does not care about politics but in fact just do not know enough to vote. Or even worse, perhaps they don’t care because they don’t know enough about politics.

Like many other young people I have met, I was never told much about Politics in secondary school. I now find it shocking the fact we were giving lessons in “personal development” where we learnt about the dangers of growing up and not to play with fire works but not about how our own political system works.  I’m not saying that this is the same experience that everyone in the United Kingdom had in secondary school but it was certainly mine and many other young people I have met. I lived in a household where the news was always on either on the radio or TV so I was able to gain an interest myself. However not everyone grows up in a household like this, and thus never gain an interest in politics or current affairs.

The thing about British politics is that it is not straightforward. I didn’t properly understand the concept of first past the post until studying Politics at university level. If young people do not understand how the system works, how are they ever supposed to engage with it? By not teaching the next generation politics, I believe we set them up for disappointment. I think that the fact that young people aren’t widely educated about Politics is connected to the fact that many of them either do not care or are discontent with what is happening in British politics.

I think the reality of it is, is that if young people do not know enough to care about voting, they will not vote. This is probably one of the main reasons why only a small 44% of our young people aged 18-24 voted in 2010. Yet what many of them do not understand because they have not been told or taught is that if the government can see that their age group has a low voting turnout, they simply will not create policies or budgets in favour of them. This is why the budget is often aimed at the elderly as they have the highest voting turnout, as 76% of 65+ voted in 2010. This leads to young people to being unhappy about their government. I believe if young people knew more about politics they would care more and voting turnout would be high. Furthermore, policies and budgets would actually be in favour of the 18-24 age group.

I’m not trying to suggest turnout is low solely because young people don’t care or understand politics. I know there are some young people who just do not agree with the system and thus do not want to vote and others who are politically involved in other ways such as protest. However I do think that we should be taught politics in school so more young people have the opportunity to become interested and care more about what is going on.


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