Engaging Young People in UK Politics View the paper

Richard StockwellOctober 2012

This paper offers five recommendations to address young people’s lack of political engagement.

  • Firstly, the Government should set the voting age at 16. An argument for votes at 16 need not be made solely from a `rights’ perspective, since it would lead to a healthier and more representative democracy.
  • Secondly, the Electoral Commission should be mandated to launch a website giving parties and candidates the chance to provide information about elections at every level across the UK.
  • Thirdly, compulsory civic service, advocated by some as a means to improve young people’s engagement with society at large, should never be introduced, as it would prove counter-productive, not to mention utterly illiberal.
  • Fourthly, citizenship education should be taught as an independently named and timetabled subject to improve its clarity, with its messages more relevant alongside a voting age of 16.
  • Fifthly, schools should promote political debate outside the classroom, with the freedom to focus on live and local political issues.

Finally, while this paper focuses on the role of government and schools in engaging young people in politics, there is also an onus on young people to take advantage of the opportunities they have to make their opinions heard, as well as a duty for politicians to reach out to young people.

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