Search This Blog

Friday, 30 September 2011

The politics of youth

The politics of youth PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Pilgrim

spoiltchild_120_x_225One of many good things about The Bible is the fact that it does not pander to the whims of young people. It is true that The Bible recognises youth as a time of life associated with energy and enthusiasm, but it also recognises a link between youth and immaturity.

You can probably guess where this is leading. One of the big news stories right now is the fact that a schoolboy called Rory Weal has made a speech at the Labour Party conference. His speech was contemptuous of the Conservative-led government, and nationalists can allow themselves the rare indulgence of agreeing with Melanie Phillips.

Rory Weal is a young lad who cannot afford to go to school, although it seems that he can afford to travel to Liverpool for the conference, and that’s no mean journey given that he lives in Kent.

Like many teenage politicians, he obsesses about issues revolving around young people. That is only to be expected, and I was pretty much the same when I first took an interest in politics. However in my own defence I can honestly say that I did occasionally look beyond my own blinkered horizons and consider other people.

He bleats on about the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance. My question to him is that if the EMA is to be brought back, then how should it be funded? Higher taxes are not the answer, as they tend to cause resentment among the people upon whom the higher taxes fall. Bringing the troops home from Afghanistan would save a few billion each year – easily enough to resurrect the EMA – but of course bringing the troops home is not Labour Party policy.

If I were Prime Minister, then I would not hesitate to bring the troops, home, but I would hesitate to spend any of the money saved on handouts to teenagers. That would be way down my list of priorities. Does Rory Weal really believe that his subsidised year twelve is more important than lifting elderly people out of fuel poverty?

I expect a lot of visitors to this site will sympathise with Rory Weal in his desire to improve himself through study, but I cannot bring myself to be enthusiastic. If he is short of money, then has he considered a part time job? When I was a teenager it was common for sixth formers to have Saturday jobs, and that was in a time of high unemployment.

Britain needs talent if it is to succeed in the future, but I wonder to what extent that talent will be nurtured by masses of teenagers studying subjects such as English literature, geography, politics and history – the subjects Weal is taking at AS Level. What career options do these subjects open up for him? Apart from being a researcher for the Labour Party I mean. Okay, geography could lead into a career in town planning, but not every year twelve pupil is going to grow up to become a town planner.

The talent that Britain needs is often not academic. Is A Level politics a good induction to working in a factory? Some of you may be thinking that apprenticeships are a good alternative, and in theory they are. I feel bound to observe, however, that I recently met a young lad who had taken two apprenticeships (in road maintenance and carpentry) but had not sought a career in either of those fields because he said they were boring. I cannot help but wonder if apprenticeships are not wasted on the young. Might it not make more sense to reserve apprenticeships for older people who already have some employment history behind them?

Young people mature and change as they get older, and in many cases this involves them changing their political views. In ten years from now, Rory Weal might be a rising star at Labour Party HQ, or he might be cringing at the recollection of his teenage conference speech. I believe that politicians should seek to reach out to the youth vote, but without pandering to the whims of the more outspoken among them. There are many sixteen year olds in Britain who are not in further education, and who are either in full time work or else looking for full time work. For some reason they tend to receive far less attention from politicians than the likes of Rory Weal. I would be grateful if anyone could explain this.