Ed Miliband, the former leader of the Labour Party, called for political education to be taught in schools last night at a Conference fringe event.


The event, Votes at 16 — How To Stop Teenage Voter Suppression, was organised by Christians on the Left and the Electoral Reform Society.

Speakers included a host of different young people, as well the likes of Chukka Umunna MP.

Miliband called on young people to put the pressure on decision-makers to deliver votes at 16 and not simply expect it to happen without their continued campaigning. He also suggested that the Conservative Party do not want to extend the voting franchise to 16 and above because they are afraid of empowering young people.

Given the results of the last general election, it would be hard to disagree with such a statement.

Miliband went onto say, after a question from the audience, that political education in schools is vital. Engaging young people is not just about giving them the right to vote; and in order to create a healthy and flourishing society we need to understand how our ‘democracy’ (ironic in this context, I know) works.

Indeed, the fact that young people can marry, go to war and pay taxes at 16 — and yet not have any say over who governs them — is genuinely a national disgrace. This especially in the wake of Brexit and continued financial uncertainty as neoliberalism spirals more and more out of control.

Miliband was chipper and spent the closing moments of his speech joking about his new podcast which, in its first episode, tackles the popular idea of a Universal Basic Income. In addition, he said that he believed a Corbyn-led government would introduce votes at 16.

Of course, as some people might know, Shout Out UK are dedicated to bringing Political Literacy into schools. As both a member of the organisation, and a political individual myself, it was encouraging to see these important issues affecting young people given the time and significance they deserve at conference.

I very much doubt that similar sorts of events or discussions will be happening during the Tory Party Conference — in-between all the champagne guzzling. Young people need a strong voice in politics. And political education is the first step!

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