“What do politicians actually do apart from talk a lot?” – so said one of my children the other day. It got me thinking (and unusually for me, thinking seriously). When I was at university and in my twenties, I considered myself politically engaged and fairly well-informed. Now? Well, at the moment, I feel about as politically engaged as the snail I am currently watching on my window ledge. Not to do snails down – for all I know this snail is actively involved in discussing the finer points of democracy with his fellow snails – but I doubt it. So what has happened and am I the only one who feels like this?
I reckon I’m not. If I am totally honest I would struggle to name the members of the Cabinet at the moment and I’m not proud of that. I find myself switching off when political issues are on the news; I skim read newspaper articles. I have totally lost any passion I had for politics. I do, of course, care deeply about the issues which affect the world I live in but I’m just not interested in the political angle.
What concerns me most about this is that if I feel like this at 40, then what about the generation below me? It seems to me that with the exception of a few, most are not just disinterested in politics but it goes further than that, they are deeply cynical about the motives of our politicians and their ability to effect real positive change in society. This generation can not even be bothered to vote – that is how little they care. They feel far removed from the workings of Westminster; they do not trust our politicians; they do not believe in them or their motivations; they no longer respect them; they are totally “turned off” politics and the politicians who are elected to represent them.
I find this extremely worrying. It is crucial, I think, for politicians of today to find a way of re-engaging with young people. Politicians need to find a way of galvanising the younger generation, of making them feel political passion again. I have no idea how this can be done especially as scandal after scandal, misdemeanour after misdemeanour rocks our political system. It is one thing to re-engage with someone like me who is suffering largely from political inertia (mixed in with a dose of cynicism) but quite another to re-engage with a generation who do not trust or believe in those who have been elected ostensibly to represent them.
I really feel that this is an issue that needs to be addressed with some urgency before another generation – that of my children – grows up disillusioned and cynical about our political system and those who inhabit it. My child was right – stop the rhetoric and start doing something to inspire the next generation, to spark their interest in the political arena, to make them want to vote, to care who represents them and most of all to make them respect and trust again.
Political rant over. I realise that you may be thinking this is rather “serious” for my blog. Fear not, I am sure I shall be able to lower the tone in my next piece. However, sometimes things just need to be said and today I felt like saying them. Do you agree with me? What do you think about this issue?