Why do people like Trump?

October 12, 2016

Answers seem to range from his opposition to the Iraq war to not being PC and this conveying authenticity and truthfulness. People also seem to like him not being a career politician and having business experience. Being self-funded apparently ensures he is not swayed by corporations and this is given the thumbs up as well as a pledge to unashamedly look after the USA first and foremost. Listen to what his supporters say:

What to do if the self-righteous view your political belief as ‘evil’

August 14, 2016


Perhaps you think nuclear weapons are a good deterrent, voted out in the EU Ref on sovereignty grounds or think subsidies to industry aren’t productive? You may have aired these views around people who disagree and look down on you with self-righteous glee with their judging eyes. You’re fair game as your beliefs neatly fit into their box of being ‘evil’. Grown up discussions aren’t for them but ridicule and saying you’re a war-monger racist who wants to take money from the poor in a bid to shame you into silence.

Don’t be bullied, whatever your view engage in polite debate, ask them questions, try to understand their point of view and air yours in a non-emotive way you’ll think they’ll grasp. Always stay calm and light-hearted if you can. Of course, there are plenty of situations, especially when it comes to concerns of safety, when it’s probably better to say nothing at all.

The Brexit debate, tensions within the Labour party, issues with anti-semitism and no-platforming on uni campuses have contributed to a feeling of fear of being attacked if your views don’t fall in line with those around you. It’s hugely concerning. In a country which claims to value free speech people should feel safe to air their views and expect robust debate, not death threats and intimidation. It needs to be addressed and condemned and people need to be brave not to roll over and accept it. We all need to listen to each other more instead of derailing or shutting down conversations.

Why do young people not vote?

May 30, 2016

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Plenty of young people do vote but a larger proportion don’t compared to older age groups. The question as to why always raises its head around election time and the countdown to the EU Referendum on June 23rd is no different.

Some young people say that they ‘don’t feel politics has anything to do with them.’ Perhaps as they have less of a clear financial stake in policies and less likely to have family responsibilities they don’t see how it affects them. Studies have shown people feel more strongly about potential losses than gains. People with houses, mortgages, careers, young children, ill elderly parents, pensions and investments will seek to protect what they have while young people just starting out do not have the motivation to vote for parties on policies that do not immediately affect them. This isn’t apathy, this is logic. How many policies can you name that are young people specific apart from tuition fees? How do young people know which party to vote for that will help the economy create jobs they want to do?  Which party will help create houses and school places for their children who may not be born for another decade? None of these are long-term concrete things that can be easily created with a vote. Young people are envied as they have time and older people envied because they have more financial clout and they are responsible for looking after what they have. Knowing how the parties will lead on stamp duty, pensions, school places, hospital provision, tax and investments affects older people in the short-term, giving them the motivation to vote. It’s far more straightforward for them to know who is on their side.

Some young people care deeply about policies on international development, foreign policy, the welfare state, mental health provision and many others but this is more principled rather than impacting on them personally. Fewer young people vote as they don’t see it directly affecting them, or at least not in the short-term. This makes sense but just fuels politicians increasingly not focusing on vote winning policy propositions for young people. The answer? Predictably, young people need to vote.

What to expect at a Council seat selection panel

April 16, 2016


You’ll probably go through two panels actually. Don’t be worried though as they’re usually a lot more friendly than the photo above implies!

When you are a member of a political party and a council seat is coming up for election in your local area you should get an email notified. Once you reply you’re interested you will have to go through an approval panel if you haven’t gone through one already. Members of the local branch/association (usually around 5 people) will ask you questions to check to see whether you are dedicated to campaigning and serving local people as a prospective councillor. This panel is meant to weed out those the party don’t think are appropriate to represent them i.e. confrontational people, the self-interested and those not willing to put in the work campaigning or helping residents.

If you pass this you will be invited to the candidate selection interview on another date. Even if there are no other people standing for the seat you will be interviewed. You will probably be waiting with the other candidates until you are called into the interview. The panel may be made up of the same people who interviewed you at your approval board. They will probably ask you some of the following questions:

  • Why do you want to stand for the seat?
  • What is your campaigning experience?
  • What got you interested in politics?
  • Are you aware of any local problems and have you tried to help out?
  • What will you do if you don’t get selected?
  • What will you do if you are elected and your fellow councillors disagree with you on a particular vote at council (the answer is to say you will abstain).
  • What would you say if you were asked by a resident why a young person like yourself wasn’t out having fun? (yes, I honestly got asked this. I said I do have fun)

It’s important to stress teamwork and support in campaigning for fellow councillors. It’s worth having canvassed and campaigned for a number of months before selection. It’s really not as daunting as you think, the people on the board are probably people you know who will want to put you at ease and not trip you up. It’s all rather straightforward.

Making sure your social media doesn’t come back to bite you

March 27, 2016


Young people usually don’t suffer from such obvious mistakes as ex Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls did when he tweeted his own name instead of searching for it. Ed Balls day has even become a thing when every 28th August people tweet his name.

What young people do need to worry about more is tweeting things that could encourage others to not take them seriously or a joke that could be misconstrued as being offensive or misrepresentative of their views.

mhairi tweet

As soon as Mhairi Black was elected as an MP the media and opponents trawled through her past posts to see if they could criticise this rising young star as a bad choice. Expletives and juvenile posts did surface but Mhairi did not apologise and portrayed herself to be a normal young person who hadn’t even graduated from university.

Although these posts are embarrassing it’s important to realise that whatever you put out on social media can come back to bite you later in life if you choose to enter politics. This can be a photo, a tweet, a blog or even a like of a distasteful joke. It could even end your career. So if it’s not something you’d want your mum to read or see best not to post it. This doesn’t mean you should be bland, just be aware.

If you want to find out more Jon Ronson wrote this article on mob mentality destroying people’s lives for unwise tweets.

‘But I don’t want to be seen as political…’

March 5, 2016

Three rosettes in a row

Politics is often thought to be a dirty word. People are opinionated and passionate but often feel uneasy letting people know which party they support. They don’t want to be seen as ‘political’ for fear of ridicule or labelled with attributes often associated with particular parties: ‘too idealistic’, ‘racist’, ‘loony leftie’, ‘hard-hearted’, ‘obsessed with one issue’. You will never have everyone agreeing with you and there will be those who think you misguided but you have to nail your colours to the mast at some point. If you feel strongly on issues but don’t know which party you support try one of the voter match websites such as this: http://uk.isidewith.com/. If none float your boat that’s fine too but why don’t you take your opinions and passions and stand up for them by running for election? Learning by listening to residents is key and making sure their views are reflected is crucial. It can be scary sometimes to ‘come out’ as supporting one party but staying true to yourself and your convictions is one of the most important things you can do. Staying silent for a quiet life isn’t admirable but changing your mind and even party is perfectly acceptable. Don’t silence your voice and refuse to stand up for others because you fear you’ll be seen as ‘difficult’. You deserve to voice your opinions, listen to others and form a view. Speak up and stand.

‘If you really want inclusion, include yourself.’ – Cyndi Lauper

February 18, 2016


How often do we hear that we need more women in politics? More ethnic minorities? More young people? Often these frustrations come from the demographics themselves. Whenever I’m on someone’s doorstep or among friends and this issue comes up I always ask, why not you? Why don’t you consider standing? Their annoyed tones often turn to blank faces and some stuttering. Reasons why not span from being too busy to a belief in how the whole system needs to be overhauled before they could even think about becoming a candidate.

I understand why people would not go into politics when a more pleasant, productive and perhaps prosperous life is possible. But if not you, then who? Another pale, male and stale? Perhaps you’ve got a friend, colleague or family member you think would be brilliant. Have you told them they would be fantastic in politics and perhaps even volunteered to help campaign with them? Likewise, children and young people must know that Britain’s democracy is their’s and there is always an option one day for them to represent people. Planting the seed of belief in themselves as possible leaders in politics is important. We need as much talent in politics as possible. However, you’re the only person you can control. If you want more people like yourself in politics then you’ve got to put yourself forward. If you really want inclusion, you need to include yourself.

Isn’t voting and volunteering enough?

February 7, 2016


Simply, no. There are a number of brilliant organisations working hard to get young people to register to vote and make their way to the polling station. Likewise, there is a real drive to encourage young people to campaign, volunteer and become knowledgeable about political issues. These are all brilliant initiatives but where’s the energy to get more young people elected?

Voting is powerful, as is leading a campaign but we also need elected young people to push change forward and be truly representative. Young people bring a different perspective and life experience to elected chambers. The majority of 50 and 60 years olds (average age of MPs and councillors) were teenagers and twenty-somethings in very different eras. Of course age brings experience and you can be a good listener and passionate advocate of youth issues at any age. However, for truly wise and fair decisions you need a diverse number of voices in the chamber and this includes young people. We know the voice of the male, pale and stale is over-represented. There are fantastic campaigns to get more women, BAME and LGBT candidates elected. We also need younger people too. Young people’s voices deserve to be heard louder than just in the ballot box. They need to be centre stage. It’s just better politics. Young people aren’t all just about tuition fees and youth issues, look at 21-year-old MP Mhairi Black campaigning for older women’s pension rights. Young people are voted for and should be. We need more to stand. Could you?

Knocking on doors, isn’t that petrifying?

January 18, 2016


I’ve been knocking on doors for the last few years and it’s anything but scary.

You’ll go to a local area with fellow campaigners, councillors and perhaps even the local MP. Your aim is see if local residents have any concerns, see how you can help them and record their voting intention.

You will probably be given some leaflets and a rosette and the person with the clipboard will send you to a house to knock on. If no-one’s in leave a leaflet but if you’re in luck introduce yourself and ask if they have any local issues or concerns. Often they cannot think of anything off the top of their head but if so make sure to feed back to the person on the clipboard what they say so it can be followed up. It may be to do with worrying about pressure on infrastructure due to new houses being built, a rumour the local school is closing, or parking problems. If you can help with these issues, do so. If it is a national issue and the MP is out with you then try to get their attention. If not feed the national issue back too.

Remember to ask if they voted in the last elections in May. If they did then politely ask which party they voted for. Most people are happy to tell you but if not then thank them for their time.

Very rarely are people rude or aggressive. People are busy so may be short with you but don’t take it personally. If people are being rude thank them for their time and leave.

Residents are generally very friendly and know their local area better than anyone else so are vital in letting you know the issues campaigners should focus on.

If you’re the councillor/MP/MEP for the area and residents have local/national or European concerns then pick up the query and do your best in getting an answer for them and hearing their view. If none of your party are elected in the area then it is done you you as activists and campaigners to help the resident.

Canvassing is often on a Saturday morning but can also take place any time during the weekend or evenings during the week.

Your canvassing group will probably go for coffee or lunch after the session to have a general catch up. Canvassing sessions are usually very relaxed and nice to chat to residents.