Monday, 6 April 2009


"How do we get more young people involved in politics?" an A-level student asked at a Question Time session in Blackpool. I responded with comments about channelling the anger that many feel at injustice, unfairness, greed, prejudice, waste and short sighted lack of vision into the democratic process. But equally I could have said, "forget the emphasis on young people, how do you get ANYONE involved in politics."

The numbers who join political parties continues to fall. If 1 in 100 people is even remotely political active in a constituency that would be a good thing. There were very few party members younger than me (54) at a well attended Lib Dem event in Keswick I at which I spoke last Friday, and I am not sure that many of those present could really be described as 'active'. Party structure in not a few constituencies simply doesn't exist. We take our democracy for granted but there are very few people who actually make it work.

The following day by contrast I met with Tim Farron, the MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale He has a "party" mailing list of 2,000, he tells me, which must be one of the very best for the Lib Dems in the country. True, it includes not just party members but also leaflet deliverers, financial donors and regular poster displayers, and these latter people do not get a say in the selection of candidates, but it is still an impressive target for others to emulate. The next questions are how you encourage positive supporters to become politically 'active', and how you ensure that this means something more than just helping to get people elected for no reason other than that they wear a rosette with the right colour.

1 comment:

DNC said...

Well, Chris, when you speak to the York Branch of the PSC there may well be upwards of 200 people there who care passionately about the plight of the Palestinians. So perhaps making a link with this issue, politics and democracy and a plug about the European elections and voting, preferably Lib Dem, would not go amiss!