My interview for Poli-teens website
I was recently asked to answer some questions for Poli-teens – a website which explains and simplifies politics for teenagers and young people. The interview can be read below:
What did you think of politics as a teenager?
The 1960s was an exciting time where young people started to demand that their voice was heard. The voting age was reduced to 18 in 1970 – and I voted for the first time aged 18 in the 1970 General Election.
Why do you think it is important that teenagers vote?
MPs make decisions that directly affect teenagers –for example, on the minimum wage paid in part-time or full-time work (and how much tax they pay); on the funding that is available for their schools, colleges and universities; on the cost of going to university; and on what age they are able legally to drink alcohol or have sex. MPs also make decisions on health services and on global issues such as climate change. Teenagers should vote so that they can help determine who is elected to make the decisions that directly affect them. Teenagers have a voice and they should take every opportunity they have to make sure their voices are heard.
Do you think that there is enough information for teenagers to understand politics?
There is more information currently available about politics than at any time before. The Internet is very exciting and the number of news websites, political information sites and blogs is vast. Social media sites also mean that young people can find out about politics from their friends on Facebook or from Twitter and they can interact with other young people and their MPs in this way. There is a lot of good quality political content on TV – the news, documentaries, and satirical programmes such as Channel 4’s very funny “10 O’Clock Live”. The amount of material may seem intimidating at first but there are also a number of educational websites which explain political issues and concepts. Parliament’s own website is an excellent resource, as is the House of Commons’ Education Service site. There is plenty of information out there for those who wish to learn about politics. The problem is that some young people are not interested in or do not care about politics. This is a shame. If teenagers are not happy with the government, they should write to their MPs about it and they should certainly exercise their right to vote. Nothing will change if they don’t.
What made you want to become involved in politics?
Injustice – especially low pay and hazards in factories; and apartheid in South Africa.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you since you have been involved in politics?
I went to promote women’s rugby by training with a women’s team. The photo in the papers was of me being tackled by a woman. It was rather a low tackle!