East Ham MP Stephen Timms encourages Newham’s young to get into politics

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- Credit: Archant

This year, I organised a Summer School for Newham sixteen and seventeen year olds. Twelve enthusiastic young people gained a first-hand insight into politics. Students worked with my office in Westminster and experienced civic life at the council and at the grass roots.

Newham young people show a lot of interest in politics. One sign is growing participation in the borough’s young mayor election. Yaseen Bux of Langdon Academy was elected on a turnout of 76 per cent – the highest ever, three percentage points higher than last year. Manifestos of candidates who stood for the position called for more activities for young people, safer and cleaner streets, and improved access to universities and jobs. Young people care deeply about these matters.

The Scottish referendum also attracted a very high turnout among young people, including among 16 and 17 year olds who were allowed to vote for the first time. And yet – across the country – the number of young people voting in parliamentary elections is low. It’s one of the reasons Government support for young people has been cut – Ministers think they will get away with it at the ballot box – but support for pensioners has been protected. It’s very important that we do have young people participating actively in our democracy.

I opened applications for a new Stephen Timms Politics School earlier this week. It will be similar to the summer programme, but will last only one week, from February 16 – 20, 2015. I’m grateful that London City Airport will be supporting it again. Participants will see Westminster from the inside and receive training in public speaking, working with the media and campaigning. If you are aged 16-18, please visit my website to apply: stephentimms.org.uk.

Politics shapes everything all of us care about. And its future rests with today’s young people. More from Stephen

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