Responding to David Blunkett’s speech to the Centre for Social Justice on political disengagement, Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
“David Blunkett is absolutely right to be concerned about the way young people are turning away from politics. Fewer than one in eight people under the age of 25 intend to vote, making our democracy increasingly illegitimate and skewed against those who don’t turn up.
“He is also right to call for political awareness to be ‘part of the natural development of young people’. Democratic politics is a crucial part of what it means to live in our society, and we shouldn’t be afraid to bring young people into contact with it. That means not being squeamish about bringing politics into the classroom, and recognising that explicitly political activism can be just as valuable as charitable volunteering.
“Schools could be places where both young people and adults start to build a new relationship with the idea of politics. If we combined an increased acceptance of politics at school with a stronger commitment to civic education and lowering the voting age to 16, then perhaps we can start to reverse some of these damaging trends. We need to change our culture so that politics is seen as a part of everyone’s lives, rather than something done by remote, alien people in faraway places.”