engage magazine issue 004 \'07 - Page 40

40 BRITISH YOUTH COUNCIL Young People and Politics Ethnic minorities make up 8% of the population in Great Britain, but their representation in politics and government is much lower than this. 80 70 60 50 In fact, there are only 15 BAME MPs out of 646 in the House of Commons; 13 Labour and 2 Conservative. The recent publication of the Power Inquiry’s report into the state of Britain’s democracy revealed that only 47% of people from black and ethnic minorities (BAMEs) are likely to vote, compared to 60% of white people and further suggested there should direct discussion between MPs and young people. 40 30 20 10 0 In 1997 68% 18-24 year olds voted in 2001 this fell to 39% and in 2005 just 37%. View of current politician on BAME people: “The fact is that it’s not enough just to open the door to ethnic minorities. If people look in and see an all-white room they are less likely to hang around. An unlocked door is not the same as a genuine invitation to come in. That’s why the Conservative party needs positive action if we are to represent Britain as it is.” Source: David Cameron speech at the ethic media conference – 29 October 2006 engage uk made contact with two young people via the British Youth Council to get some random views on what they thought of politics. This is what they had to say: The answers come from Rugena Ali who is 20 yrs old and lives in East London and Abdus Salam who is 21 yrs old and also lives in London. View from Operation Black Vote: “We’re at a cross roads where we have seen this dramatic change. For the first time, political leaders want to have more representative parties. They’ve done the maths and the maths tell them that there’ll be no landslide victory at the next election - it will be one of the most closely fought elections in British history. Also there is a new generation of black politicians coming through that have a sense of their blackness.” Source: Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote at The Voice’s Editors’ Forum 27 April 2007 Q Rugena: Abdus: Do you think the political parties address the concerns of young people? Sometimes, but I think most of the time they don’t address our concerns. Political parties in this day and age are really struggling to address the concerns of young people. From my personal experiences, the life young people lead today in society is completely different from what most politicians have experienced as young people. engage | uk ISSUE FOUR 2007