Westminster View 4th October 2012 – Inspiring the next generation in politics

As one of the younger MPs currently sitting in the House of Commons, one thing that concerns me greatly is the perceived gulf that exists between many young people in our country and the political process.

Last week I visited the University of Chester’s Freshers Fair to meet the latest group of students to be enrolled to study in our City and while it was great to meet some enthusiastic freshers, for the majority of young people in the UK, politics means very little.

The perception that I find engrained in many people of all generations is that politics has little relevance to their day-to-day lives. The consequence of such an attitude is political apathy; if something has no relevance to you, you are bound not to be interested. And the statistics speak for themselves with voter turnout steadily declining throughout the 20th century and political party membership standing at less than 1% of the British public.

The saddest thing about political apathy is that its underlining perception of irrelevance is entirely false. Politics is the beating heart of everything that happens in our country. No matter how big or small the decision, it is always about politics.

Politics is often pigeon-holed as simply what happens on the green benches of the Commons Chamber. For someone with very little knowledge of the political process, adults as well as children, watching a debate in the Commons is probably a fairly tedious task. But from my experience of visiting schools across Chester and talking to young people on a regular basis, once they have the opportunity to get involved and discuss issues that interest them, they can be enthused.

With this in mind, from 19th to 25 November the Houses of Parliament will be coordinating Parliament Week, a national initiative that aims to help people engage with parliamentary democracy here in the UK, as well as raising awareness and understanding of our Parliament.

It will be an ideal opportunity for young and old alike to learn about the people, places and events that have shaped, and continue to shape our democracy and to encourage them to make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them.

More information about Parliament Week can be found online at www.parliamentweek.org and don’t forget that anyone in the UK can tour Parliament for free. Visit www.chestermp.com for details.