Demonising David Cameron won’t engage young people in politics

Prime Minister David Cameron [Source:]

Prime Minister David Cameron [Source:]

Demonising David Cameron won’t engage young people in politics. Bite the Ballot today took a swipe at David Cameron for politely declining to participate in one of their online #LeadersLive debates. Whilst they are understandably disappointed that Cameron cannot participate when other party leaders have, I question whether this bitter criticism really seeks to serve the purpose of why Bite the Ballot as an organisation was formed in the first place. What’s more, it is also worth remembering that David Cameron is also the Prime Minister of a country that is on a ‘severe’ terror alert.

I first became involved with Bite the Ballot back in 2013 whilst I was National Deputy Chairman for Conservative Future. I willingly got involved fully supporting their aim of giving democracy a boost amongst the the younger generation, especially promoting voter registration. I even aided a successful motion in the Students Union of Royal Holloway University of London, to be the UK’s first Students union to officially support Bite the Ballots campaign for voter registration.

Facebook post by Bite the Ballot

Facebook post by Bite the Ballot

Is demonising politicians really the way to engage young people in politics? Is it the way to get young people to vote? I don’t believe it is. Only early this autumn, the journalist Jolyon Rubinstein, from BBC3’s ‘The Revolution Will be Televised’, approached young conservatives about to embark on a campaign day, including myself, asking intrusive personal questions about my life and my family, which were completely irrelevant to his alleged production celebrating the anniversary of the Magna Carta. What’s more, for all his professed interest in improving democratic participation, it remains unclear to me how this is achieved by insinuating all politicians – many of whom take huge pay cuts to take up public office – are liars.

Constantly, in media aimed at the younger generation, we see the persistent demonisation of politicians. In fact, Russell Brand even encourages young people NOT to vote. This doesn’t encourage young people to stand for political office and make a change.

In 2013, Bite the Ballot engaged with the youth wings of the political parties, we all attended meetings and put our respective partisan and personal views across. I thought they were very successful. What’s more, it also appears to have moved away from its initial focus which was to engage with the youth wings of political parties.

I for one certainly do not believe that David Cameron declined to participate as a snub to Bite the Ballot and the #LeadersLive debates. Perhaps for once, rather than vilifying our politicians, could we instead believe that he genuinely declined because he has a country to run, and in light of recent events this week, that the country would rather see David Cameron tending to his duties as Prime Minister.


Follow Sarah-Jane on Twitter: @sarahjanesewell



Comments are closed.