Fairer Politics for Young People – by Steve Dyke

Please see below a piece our Strood South by-election candidate, Steve Dyke, wrote for Medway Messenger’s Party People column earlier this month.
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I recently had the opportunity to attend the political question time hosted by the Medway Youth Parliament for 16 and 17 year olds as part of their National Citizen Scheme.  It was great to see young people engaged in politics.
It reminded me that in July Green MP Caroline Lucas introduced a bill in parliament proposing a fairer electoral system, including a reduction in the voting age to 16 for all UK elections and referendums.  Unfortunately the bill was voted down – despite cross-party support, Labour MPs were whipped to abstain from the vote and Tory MPs voted against it.Would the votes of 16 and 17 year olds have changed the result of the EU Referendum?  It may have.  According to Lord Ashcroft Polls, there was a majority to leave only in those age groups over 45.  The younger the voters, the more likely the vote to remain – among those aged 18-24, nearly three quarters wanted to stay in the EU.

We now need to work to ensure that what eventually results from “Brexit” benefits everyone and disadvantages no-one, particularly young people who were denied the opportunity to determine their own futures on this occasion.

What world will we leave our children and their descendants?  I look round and see the legacy successive UK governments have been creating for young people:  student debt, zero hour contracts, unaffordable homes, child poverty, environmental destruction, unsustainable growth, intolerance and much more.

Most importantly there is climate change – if we fail to act now on this we risk the very survival of humankind.

It should not be like this.  Instead our young people deserve to inherit a fair economy within a caring society capable of supporting everyone’s needs – and on a planet protected from the threat of climate catastrophe.

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