Following on from the Vision for Young Londoners, one of the programmes of work under development is focused on young people’s political engagement and political education. This currently consists of the following:
Collaboration across the regions on Votes at 16
Developing a youth-led hustings for mayoral elections
And driving up the focus on the need for political education
Moving forward, there is a cross-sector collaboration in place for this work and if you are interested in being involved please email Rianne.Williams@cityoflondon.gov.uk and we will add you to future events and meetings.
Old Bailey Event
'Are we ready to lower the voting age to 16 for all UK elections'?
The United Kingdom has a history of leading the world in terms of reforming and expanding the electoral franchise. It was for example the first democracy to lower the voting age to 18 in 1969. However current debates about ‘Votes at 16’ have often been reductive, focusing on reductive arguments for and against lowering the voting age. With the current uncertainties around Brexit and its potential impact to significantly reshape the lives of young people, it is vital that we address the critical questions about how we best support young people’s political education, engagement, and participation.
Leading academic on the issue of voting age reform across UK, Dr Andy Mycock of the University of Huddersfield, argued recently:
'Brexit has left many young people who were not able to vote in the EU referendum feeling democratically isolated, excluded, and powerless to have their voices heard and influence political debate. Devolution within England offers young people new opportunities to learn about, engage with, and participate in existing and new local and regional politics’
The voting age has already been lowered to 16 for local and national elections in Scotland and Wales. Moreover, concerns about the political futures of young citizens are widespread, and has encouraged growing cross-party political support for ‘votes at 16’ in Westminster:
‘Britain’s democratic story is unfinished – let’s write the next chapter’ Sir Peter Bottomley Conservative MP
In April 2019, we hosted an event at the Old Bailey focusing on the conditions required to make Votes at 16 a reality. The session was facilitated by Partnership for Young London, Northern Ireland Youth Forum, Inspire Chilli, the Leverhulme Trust-funded project on Lowering the Voting Age in the UK (led by the Universities of Huddersfield and Liverpool), and the British Youth Council to respond to the critical question: 'Are we ready to lower the voting age to 16 for all UK elections?’ The event provided a much-needed opportunity to discuss whether young people want to lower the voting age for all elections in the UK, and, if so, what are the conditions required for this to happen effectively? The event went beyond the well-rehearsed binary of current debates ‘for and against’ lowering the voting in Westminster and the media to debate in progressive, youth-led ways what conditions we need to have in place to create the right environment for ‘Votes at 16.
Feedback and the materials from the event can be downloaded below
Programme of work
The cross-sector steering group on collaboration on political education and Votes at 16 has agreed following priorities:
Sharing Learning and Resources – using this network and inviting wider partners into a sharing space across organisations of various resources.
Creating a network of champions – developing a network of people who collaborate and who promote effective engagement and also lead on pushing for key things i.e. Votes at 16, High Quality Work Experience, Political Education in Schools
Political Education – looking at ways in which we can promote this across formal and informal settings, linking this with Cultural and Creative Capital. Putting a specific focus on how we support youth sector organisations to develop political education and also share what is happening already
Mapping Influence – mapping routes for engagement and visual map across London of where decisions are being made (not just political leads) and how we can influence those spaces.
2020 London Mayoral Hustings
Partnership for Young London is recruiting ten to twenty young people
aged between 15-24 to get involved in running and organising the 2020 London Region Mayoral Election Hustings.
This project is being funded by Trust for London. The aim is to organise youth-led research and an event for the mayoral candidates of the upcoming 2020 London Mayoral Election to address young Londoners with their vision for young people. This event will be run by young people and aims to gather young people across London with varied experiences and opinions to come together and create political momentum.
For more details about the youth led hustings please contact Kelsea.Sellars@cityoflondon.gov.uk