Re-engaging young people with the political process

Jake Cunliffe


Young voters (here defined as 18 to 24-year-olds, including those who will be 18 year-olds by 7 May 2015) often discover themselves to be doubly damned. Through little fault of their own they may feel they have not much to say into the politics of the nation (because they have no real way to say it), and yet they are also condemned for caring too little about a political system that appears to them inaccessible and unconcerned. This paper argues that the system as it is at present is not sufficient and flexible enough to help young people to gain and maintain an interest in politics that would enable them to act and vote for what they believe in. It examines the current location of the young in British politics, considers what obstacles there are to their political engagement, sets out a broad and practical vision of change, and suggests ways to affirm the genuine representation of the young in British politics. It also looks at the role the churches and other civic groups may play in this area.


1. Introduction and abstract: recovering crucial voices – p.1
2. How the current political system treats the young – p.2
3. Can we and should we classify the young? – p.3
4. Hardships faced by the young across the UK today – p.4
5. What do the young really care about? – p.5
6. Values and change: vote and act for what you believe in – p.6
7. Christian hope, the voice of the young, and challenging authority – p.8
8. Working towards better representation (1): improving participation – p.9
9. Working towards better representation (2): involvement & engagement – p.11
10. Transforming politics and belief: a larger vision – p.14
11. ‘Your young shall dream dreams’: churches and change – p.14
References and Resources – p.16

Questions considered in this paper include: If young people are disillusioned by politics, why is this? What place does age have in the wider demographics of identity and engagement? What issues do the young put at the top of the political agenda? How do we ensure that the political process addresses these concerns? Can the participation of 16 and 17-year-olds in the 2014 independence referendum in Scotland help shift the agenda more widely on the voting age? Agents and organisations within civil society (including churches and other faith or belief groups) have an important role to play in scrutinising politics and politicians more thoroughly, and in encouraging society to think more deeply about its responsibility to the young and to intergenerational communication. This paper looks at the conditions of renewed hope in which this responsibility can be discharged. It is intentionally directed both at the 2015 General Election and towards the issues of change agency that arise beyond it.

* Read and download the full paper here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/re-enaging_young_pe...