Citizen Big Issue: By Miranda Bopoto, member of Youth Parliament for Gloucester
THE seeming lack of opportunity for youth involvement in our political system has long been criticised by some for being one of the less than glittering aspects of our liberal democracy.
Indeed, one can be forgiven for thinking that youth engagement in politics is at an alltime low. A quick appraisal of countless surveys, graphs and electoral turnout figures would to some degree suggest this.
As a result, many of us are mistakenly led to believe that, by and large, young people perhaps lack the motivation ever to be active participants in the democratic process.
Unbeknown to some, then, is that in this era of digital democracy, many young people (given the opportunities) are often willing to engage and physically campaign on matters of political importance and those issues affecting all of society (one needs only to remember the widespread popularity of the anti-tuition fee marches).
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It is for this reason and primarily a desire to see the youth voice holding its own on the political platform that ultimately led me to run for election for the role of Member of the Youth Parliament for Gloucester and the Forest of Dean.
The problem, I often felt, was that young people, myself included, did not feel they had a fellow young person whose job it was to represent them and someone who really empathised with them.
Having been successfully elected as the Deputy Member of the Youth Parliament for our local authority, it has been a part of my job to fulfil this function.
A prime example of this has been the level of support given to myself and the other MYPs with regard to our campaign to standardise bus fares in the city, proving then that now, more than ever in this tough political and economical climate, young people are proactive in the influencing the running of things.
It is here that the UK Youth Parliament has truly triumphed. Our voices are being heard not only on a local but a national level too such as at the UKYP annual sitting which took place last month where members (representing their constituencies) spent the weekend shaping the Youth Manifesto, as well as grilling seasoned politicians such as Vince Cable and John Bercow on behalf of the youth of Britain.
Frankly, the apathy label often given to young people is beginning to seem irrelevant; young people do want to be involved in politics. Thus, during my time as an MYP, I and the other members of the youth parliament will continue to campaign on behalf of young people thus ensuring that the youth voice remains vital.