Politicians want young people to engage in business-as-usual party politics. But young people are not voting and are turned off the old approach to tribal politics.
Politicians want young people to engage in business-as-usual party politics but our generation is switching off this old approach to empowerment.
At the launch of New Turn, a new young person’s think-tank, Emily Thornberry MP said:
“All of you should be involved in a political party … make your choice, think about it very carefully and don’t ever move from that political party.”
This mindset is blind to the problems within the party political system that have helped to foster a culture of disillusionment among today’s young generation, and shows a lack of understanding that tribal politics is slowly becoming outdated. With the rise of interest group politics, swing voters are in the ascendancy.
In 1997, 67 per cent of 18-24 year olds voted. In 2001 and then 2005 this figure had dropped to 38 per cent and then 37 per cent. Thornberry may not have realised that the views she espouses are reminiscent of a party political system the population cannot trust, but recent studies indicate only 13 per cent of the British public trust MPs.
Tribal politics has become jaded as the ideological gaps between the three main parties have closed. Though this may not necessarily be a bad thing, parliamentarians must recognise that it makes it harder for party allegiances to be as definitive as they once were. In reaction to this we will need more organisations that are defined by their ability to neutrally question rather than their ability to mould their solutions to a political line. The young people who fail to identify with party politics in the manner that people used to, cannot be lost from the system of political engagement. Organisations such as New Turn and 38 Degrees are necessary to empower young people while parliamentary politics finds its way again.
At New Turn we realise the importance of party politics but, in order to be truly successful in encouraging the types of discussion that promote ideas on their merit rather than on their origin, recognise that we must transcend tribalism by being independent . Things need to change in politics, and they wont change merely because we believe they will, they will change the day we are willing to support ideology with action.
Our guest writer is Babs Williams, Vice Chairman of New TurnLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.