New Year Conference 2015
The Young Fabians fringe session entitled ‘Russell Brand’s Revolution: How to tackle youth political disengagement’ couldn't have been more timely. Just the day before, Ed Milliband, the Leader of the Opposition, announced his plans to publish a Young Britain Manifesto. During his announcement speech, Milliband said “There is nothing more pressing at this election than the future of young people” as he set in motion Labour’s month long youth consultation process with 16-35 years olds over the country who will present their generation’s priorities ahead of the publication of Labour’s youth manifesto.
In his controversial book ‘Revolution’, Russell Brand infamously encouraged people not to vote in order to bring about a collapse of the government, sending a disastrous message to young impressionable voters. The extent of the danger posed by Russell’s poorly thought out advice becomes all the more apparent in light of statistics which show that only half of all 18-24 year olds voted at the last general election, compared to three quarters of those aged over-65. Unsurprisingly, this gap is expected to further widen in this year’s election following the disillusionment of many young voters brought on by Liberal Democrats’ failed promises, high unemployment rates and bleak prospects for the future.
Given this depressing picture, our fringe event, which set out tackle this issue of youth political disengagement, saw a full house. Our fantastic speakers Ross Wynne Jones, Kenny Imafidom, Helen Whitehouse and Ria Bernard spoke with much passion and conviction, providing the audience with many powerful and practical possible solutions.
Kenny Imafidon, the founder of The Kenny Reports spoke about the need to improve diversity in parliament and called for the introduction of online voting. Ria Bernard, the Chair of London Young Labour introduced the idea of compulsory political education at the age of 16 while Ros Wynne Jones, an award-winning journalist, advocated for the return to “sincere politics” and reminded people that if you don’t vote, you don’t count.
Many audience members put forward inspiring proposals during the open mike part of the session, which included ideas like getting politicians to visit schools to teach youth directly about politics. While the fringe emphasised young people’s limited involvement in traditional political avenues such as voting, it overturned the myth that young people are politically apathetic. On the contrary, our discussion proved that young people are more actively engaged in politics in all its forms than ever before thanks to social media, which opened many new doors and channels of expression.
Do you want to contribute your thoughts to this crucial discussion? Visit Labour’s #SHAPEYOURFUTURE campaign to find out how you can contribute to the Young Britain Manifesto.
Make the most of it this unique opportunity to shape your future.
Make your voice count.