Are we disengaged or just bored with the same old talk? The way to approach young people is through their hearts and minds, instead of tedious rhetoric.
In the last general election the voter turnout for 18-24 year-olds was 58 per cent. Although this is an increase from the last general election, young people are continually disengaged from politics. The Office for National Statistics in 2014 did a study on 40,00 households which showed that of those aged 16 to 24, 42.4 per cent stated that they had no interest in politics.
I think we can be certain in saying that politics is not what it was. Gone are the days of mass protest, of rebellion and of a general feeling of real change. The real glamour and coolness of being very political has now disappeared altogether. Is this because young people have simply become apathetic (and happy in their apathy) or because, to be honest, ‘the government and the country is pretty much okay now’? For young people, most people really, politics is simply boring.
However, topical shows like Mock The Week, The Last Leg etc., contradict this statement. These shows have high viewing figures and have shown time and time again that people still love to talk politics.
The Last Leg started in August 2012 to help cover the Paralympics. However since then it has become so much more political. The show takes an active stance on educating its viewers on political matters, domestically and globally. During the election they even had Nick Clegg, famously young people’s best friend, to grill.
I think these shows are very different to shows like Question Time. There are no ‘politicians’ answers’, or people toeing the party line or futilely arguing. The Last Leg genuinely and harshly calls people out when, as they put it, one is being a ‘d**k’. They even have a ‘bullshit’ buzzer for when a person is talking just that. They confront issues head-on that are often being yanked under the carpet, and along with their jokes have a very true message to share with their two million viewers. Because they are live, they use social media to their advantage. Making the program interactive, they take questions from Twitter, reminiscent of Corbyn using Labour members’ emails in PMQs. They also tweet out specific polls which trend on Twitter every episode. There just seems to be a lack of any ulterior agenda apart from the desire to educate their viewers and to have a laugh.
These shows don’t just take the mick out of politics, as many people believe. Obviously, there is a lot of criticism of politics shown, but that is how UK society works: aiming to always be critical which creates some much needed scrutiny of the political elite. That’s why politician hate the media so much. I think the real key difference is that these shows care. They seem to really care. And maybe I am being naive in thinking this, but I am bored with the complete and utter ridiculousness of PMQs and the tediousness of Question Time. These TV shows are our modern replacement of Spitting Image and, I suppose, That Was The Week That Was. That’s what young people need. A place that cuts through all the bollocks, all the vacuous talk done by politicians and just gets to the really important issues at heart.
Last year on the run-up to the general election, I went on a show called Free Speech. This was a BBC program where leaders of the major parties were questioned by an audience of 16-35 year-olds. I was on when Cameron was meant to be on, but failed to make an appearance, so the TV show was forced to scrape together some Conservatives to replace him. Nonetheless, we had an interesting, challenging and informative discussion which I think in turn made an interesting, challenging and informative TV show. However, after the show one tweet really caught my eye: ‘just a bunch of screaming children’.
Attitudes like these is what disengages young people from politics. When we are not encouraged, not listened to and patronised. What makes shows like The Last Leg so brilliant is that they demonstrate that there are worthy people in politics and that there are worthy young people who care about politics too.