Why Politics matters


MPs and representatives from the main political parties were at BU to debate whether young people today are engaging with politics.

The Why Politics Matters event was organised by students from the BA (Hons) Politics and Media degree.

It took place at BU’s Executive Business Centre in front of an audience of staff, students, members of the public and pupils from Corfe Hills School.

Opening the event, BA Politics and Media Programme Leader David McQueen, said that, while young people appeared to be turning away from the traditional party politics, there was an increasing amount of political activity on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.

“Does party politics matter?” he said.

“Does it make any difference who we vote for? Lots of people don’t think it does. People think they are all the same.

“One of the problems with politics is young people are just turning their back on it. Why are people losing faith in politics?”

All of the main political parties were represented at the event, with speakers including Leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett, UKIP Candidate for Christchurch in the 2015 elections Robin Grey, and Conservative Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns.

Each speaker had the chance to talk about their party, whether they thought young people were disengaged with politics and why politics should matter to them.

Labour MP and BU Visiting Fellow Bob Ainsworth disagreed that young people were less engaged with politics than previous generations.

“I don’t believe young people in this country are ignorant of politics to anything like the generations of young people have been in the past,” he said.

“I voted Labour because my family voted Labour.

“A generation ago, politics was class-based. This generation is a lot more knowledgeable than the generation to which I belong and many generations back in history.”

Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat MP for North Dorset and Mid Poole, said that politicians needed to do more to encourage more young people need to vote in elections.

“It’s quite shocking to think that in the last election, less than 40 per cent of 18-25 year olds voted,” she said.

“I think it shows a failure on the part of the politicians.

She added: “There are very important issues that are going to affect your lives, not mine.

“It is not right that the older generation should be dominating what your future is going to be like.”

The event also featured a question and answer session with all of the speakers, and the chance to network and visit local political party recruitment stalls.

Recent BU Public Relations graduate Felicity Pentland also presented her research into why young people are not voting; through surveys and interviews with 18-25 year olds, she found that barriers included a lack of understanding and a negative view of politicians.

Douglas Tham, a second year Politics and Media student and President of the BU Politics Society, said he felt the event had gone well.

“We wanted to encourage young people to get involved with politics and see what it is like to be in the presence of an MP,” he said.

“It’s been really good – it’s a great chance for the young people here to get to speak to MPs on a personal level and will hopefully encourage them to look at the work that their MPs are doing.”