The snap election earlier this year resulted in a resounding influx of young votes. As someone who is still under the legal voting age, I made it my duty to share my opinion on the election online and with that a few other young people who are still unable to vote. It became clear to me that the election did not just highlight the lack of education about government and parliament in schools but also how people around my age (sixteen and seventeen) do feel that if they were allowed to vote that their vote would be justified.
Yet, we can grasp that politics is not just for elections. Without discussing in great depth about Brexit that the UK is currently undergoing (Estee Lalonde recently uploaded a video called ‘breaking down Brexit’ that I would recommend you all to watch if you wanted something lighter on the topic) , Parliament is constantly developing changes that have impacts of people of all ages. Take new laws on pensions or perhaps the changes that are more relevant to me being the new GCSE grades (but ya gal got a 9 in English Lit so can I complain?) We all want a say in how the government is run and this clearly doesn’t just happen around election time – we do it all the time. That’s one way to engage in politics but it doesn’t always seem that productive. Many people suggest that you cannot complain about the Government unless you have had a say in trying to change it (for example voting for Labour with a Conservative leader in charge) yet that doesn’t mean your opinions on the country are immediately redundant. One way to share your political views is social media, spark a conversation with your local MP or on the @YourUKParl twitter account because if you have a suggestion on how things can be improved – you don’t have to just wait till the next election.
When UK Parliament got in touch with me about discussing how young people can engage with politics outside of the election period I leapt at the chance to highlight how you can take part in politics beyond elections. Elections are a huge national event that have huge implications on how the country is run but the government is constantly changing and it is good to know how the government is moving forward. Before the election in 2017, the amount of young people between the ages of 18-25 was slightly appalling. With bigger than ever social media campaigns and ways in which politicians were able to gain attention from young people in the UK the youth turnout was the biggest. How can we continue that trend?
One way in which you can engage in politics is the UK Parliament Week 2017. Founded in 2011, Parliament week 2017 takes place between 13th – 19th November (yes I do have some Parliament themed posts for this week that are already in the works) and is an annual series of events and activities, which aim to encourage people to engage with the UK’s democratic system and its institutions. There are plenty of events during the week that you can take part in or visit that are being held in your local area – see https://www.ukparliamentweek.org for more information. However, if you want to hold your own public, or private, Parliament Week event why not register for a free kit? In order to receive your free box for your event you need to sign up by the 30th September, there are less than 1000 boxes left so you need to sign up soon!
Due to not being able to see ahead and to the commitments I may have during November I don’t think I will be holding an event however I will not let my political voice go unheard that week. In the kit it comes with bunting, branded pens and highlighters (that are already in my new school pencil case because I am a stationary fiend), a placard, balloons to decorate your event venue and a ballot box incase you decide to hold your own mini election. One of the main attractions has to be the Big Ben stress reliever – it’ll definitely be coming in handy when cam season rolls back around! There is also a booklet that is so handy if you don’t have any ideas for your event. To make my mark during the week I think I’ll be adorning and also handing out pin badges that come in the box as well as the stickers to make anyone and everyone I know aware of the week.
This wouldn’t be an Eleanor Claudie blog post though without long term ideas in ways that you can engage in politics. Particularly if you are 18 or under, keeping up with the UK Youth Parliament is a fantastic way to engage in politics. You can engage with young people that feel strongly about making a difference – it’s an inspiration to know that the ideas that they are putting forward are actually leading to change but from the post that I wrote around the time of the election I know that a lot of you feel there isn’t an outlet to share your political views… until now.
The UK Youth Parliament has launched ‘Make Your Mark’; the largest survey on young people’s views. As a result of the campaign, priority issues will be brought up and debated in a Commons debate on November 10th 2017 (which is my birthday so I definitely will not forget it). There will be debates on these issues and then a vote to determine the priority campaigns for 2018. That does mean as well that you can continue to find out about politics into the new year, it doesn’t just stop at the debate! If the UK Youth Parliament does sound like your kind of thing then why not have a look on their website to find out more?
A little more conventional ways to keep up with politics is to follow the news, learn more about Parliament and the constitutions within it and discuss with your friends and family about the issues that are being discussed in Parliament. In the age where there is a cornucopia of social media platforms it has never been easier to stay up to date with politics – no matter the time of year.
For more details about events taking place during Parliament Week 2017, how to register an interest or how to participate, please visit www.ukparliamentweek.org. Alternatively, if you want to keep up with everything that is happening in the lead up to the week you can follow UK Parliament Week on Twitter @YourUKParl.
Are there any ways that you engage with politics outside of elections? Or are there any political themed blog posts that you would like to see? Leave a comment on how you keep up with politics and be sure to engage with politics outside of elections.
lots of love, eleanor xx