At last week’s Full Council meeting I was very pleased to support a call for greater efforts to encourage young people in the city to register to vote.
In my view, there are few things that are as important in life as voting. Whether this is for a Government or council, persuading more people to vote, especially younger people, is an objective I share with leaders across the political spectrum. And we must ensure that voting is not viewed as a vague concept, as it helps to determine so many factors that influence everyday life.
It was therefore incredibly encouraging to see that in June’s General Election, turnout in the 18-24 age group was 72 per cent, 30 per cent higher than the UK’s previous four elections.
In my work as a ward councillor in Hangleton and Knoll, I have always been impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm young people have shown in the many projects I have been involved with. Even more powerful, for me, is that I am always quick to point out to anybody who decries the ‘youth of today’ that I think the next generation is well-balanced, ready to be good- and may even become better - citizens than our generation was.
These views are not shared by everyone, but believing that the modern youth are leading society into disrepute is an idea as old as the hills. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato asked, “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”
Needless to say, society has not yet collapsed, but how do I reconcile all this with the uncomfortable fact that the majority of those people in the 18-24 age bracket don’t vote Conservative? Well, that’s democracy! I will always encourage them to vote for whomever they believe will make their lives better and improve society as a whole. It is then up to us, as politicians to persuade them of the arguments that we believe in. And do I think this is possible with the latest generation? Of course I do. And as to how we will try this, will be left to a later article.
Tony Janio is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.