In an online exclusive, on ALL4.com seven youth party leaders will go up against each other as they tackle the key issues for young voters. Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji will chair the debate with representatives from the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP.
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The Youth Leader Debate will stream on the new digital service All 4 on Monday 28 April at 8pm.
Matteo Bergamini, Founder of Shout Out UK, said “I am 22 and for my generation this is an important event, for the first time in Britain, we are actively able to hear the political debate from a young person’s perspective. We have the power to speak our mind. It is our right, as well as our duty to demand a better future.”
Tom Porter, Channel 4’s News & Current Affairs Commissioning Editor said: “We are very excited to be hosting this ground-breaking debate on All 4. Young people often feel that their interests are ignored by political parties. We hope that by bringing the youth leaders together we can engage as many young people as possible on the issues that matter to them in this election and encourage them to vote.”
Currently Shout Out UK is recruiting an audience for the debate via this link.
There are 35 constituencies in England and Wales where at least 20 per cent of the voting population are between 18 and 24 years old; 17 of these were marginal seats in the 2010 election. Young people could have a dramatic impact on the upcoming general election, yet in 2010 only 44 per cent of this age group voted. There is also reason for optimism however, as youth participation in politics is on the rise, with many young people fighting the stereotype of political apathy.
With the two-party system being challenged by emerging political parties across the political spectrum, from the Green Party to UKIP, the possibility of real change is bringing young people back into politics. Young Greens’ membership doubled in size in 2014 alone. Even UKIP, who have tended to attract older voters, now have a youth wing which has grown 70 per cent in under a year.
For too long the disillusionment and lack of interest of many young people in politics has led to their interests being ignored by politicians. Looking at the voting figures it is easy to see why issues affecting young people, such as youth unemployment and housing are neglected by politicians and the group repeatedly let down over promises on university tuition fees. Older generations are simply far more likely to vote. This vicious circle has fostered increasing disillusion with the political process. To break this cycle and ensure the interests of young people are addressed by politicians we must re-engage this age group in the political system. The Institute for Public Policy Research recently recommended that young people should be forced to vote, yet this fails to tackle the root cause of the problem.
Young people could be key in swinging the vote in the May General Election. Through education and events such as Shout Out UK’s Youth Leaders' Debate we can engage this age group in politics and ensure the powerful voice of today’s youth is heard.
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Shout Out UK is a non partisan independent youth news network that aims to show young people that politics has a direct impact on their lives. It has over 400 contributors and receives over 50,000 visits a month.