Rachel Collinson, Green Party candidate for West Ham, explains what we have to offer young people.
This evening I was the only Party representative at an event about engaging young people in politics. To a lot of those aged 18-24 (or even under 40) this would be no surprise.
So many parties claim to be interested in young people, but actions speak louder than words. Only the Green Party actually demonstrate they care.
In a recent poll, young people said their main concerns are:
- Lowering the voting age to 16
- Youth centres reopening
- Free education
- A living wage for everybody
All those are Green Party manifesto commitments.
They are probably trying not to think about it, but a huge proportion of those under 24 will probably be unemployed when they leave education. The Green Party have found ways to create over a million new jobs, so there would actually be hope for them.
We’d put financial education and politics back on the curriculum for schools so that every child will have a chance to learn things that will actually affect them for the rest of their lives, as opposed to doing quadratic equations. (Sorry maths fans, but I have never needed to do a quadratic equation since I left school.)
Danger in the air
Importantly, it’s young people that will be most affected by the millions of tons of polluting gases that we pump into the air – gases that are changing the weather and the composition of the air we breathe.
So many people who vote reliably and regularly – those over sixty – are in denial that they will affected by this. But our young people recognise the danger. So, for them, the Green Party will do everything we can to limit and reverse the damage.
Warning: cynicism alert
Finally, I think I understand why politicians have a tendency to ignore young people, and give their attention to big business and older people instead.
I’m going to be blunt: young people have no money.
When you look at the state of party politics, you begin to realise that financial interests drive the parties. UKIP, Labour, the LibDems and the Tories all have billionaire donors, support from multinational corporations or giant unions and the media. And when you look at the targets of their manifestos, you can see that they reflect the concerns of their donors, rather than those who have less money. That means women, the young, ethnic minorities and the working class.
The Green Party just don’t have that kind of money or powerful support. But when people actually read our policies, they decide to vote for us.
So we need a big change to the way the system works – an end to private donations to political parties, and public funding for politics instead. That would level the playing field and be fairer for everybody.
Interestingly, it is also a Green Party policy.
What to do about this?
There are two simple things you can do:
You can also find out more about Generation Vote Green, our General Election campaign to get young people engaged, empowered – and voting.