Just watched “First time voters’ question time” on BBC3, where “young” MPs and celebs answered questions from young voters. Deeply disturbing. The MPs were struggling to contain their frustrations in not being able to go into detail on policies (that would have been, like, just so boring!) and so instead going into those awful fallback statements all modern British politicians use now, peppering their remarks with words like “opportunity”.
The audience were worse. With a few exceptions, what was terrifying was how most of them could not distingush between feeling and fact. Former Big Brother presenter Dermot O’Leary (who chaired it) surprised me with his toughness, asking (and embarassing) audience members to be specific in their statements, most of whom, having said that politicians were not addressing their issues, struggled to name specific issues that politicians should address in any thing other than the most trite, vague and sweeping observations.
It’s easy for me, hurtling towards 37, to be dismissive, but I always think that pandering to young people over politics is not doing them any favours. The biggest failing of educating young people about politics is not getting across the key fact that politics is about choices, using finite resources to meet infinite demands. I’ve always wanted to get about 30 students into a room, get them to divide up a nominal €1000 amongst things they deem good causes, and then actually give them a grand and see if they will still vote to give it away, or vote to divvy it up amongst themselves. I suspect that would teach them more about real politics than vapid question times.