Friday, 28 August 2009

Make a Difference

Guest blogger Marcus Warner writes:

At 26, perhaps I am becoming a bit of an old timer in terms of being part of the youth wing of Plaid. But this is perhaps balanced by the fact that I am one of Plaid’s newest members, impressed by the party’s energy and willing to muck in.

Most of my friends don’t know their Marx from their elbow. They probably think Gramsci is a brand of salami, no doubt that de-centralised socialism is something that the Human Resources department deal with. The point is that many of the young people we are friends with are not political, they take very little interest in party politics, still less so in participating in politics.

The challenge for those of us who are engaged in politics is to look around you and make a difference. Your friends are an ideal starting point. One of things I try to do is get my friends to register to vote, simple. Despite some indifference most of them did register to vote, which means they get an election card every time. Many of those friends vote in every election.

Don’t get me wrong, some of them vote for different parties, Labour, UKIP and Lib Dems. But the crucial thing was that they are now into the process of considering who to vote for, of thinking about what issues matter to them, and how political parties can make a difference to those issues. They at the very least come to me and get my objective advice – normally on what issues are local, Assembly, Westminster or EU.

The first signs of my efforts are starting to bear fruit. Some of my friends are going to vote Plaid in the upcoming local by-election, many are going to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum, and even some are beginning to at least listen to my views on them becoming involved in their communities. They now feel informed and able to talk with me about politics, disagree and agreeing, all the while I take a gently, gently approach to promoting what I and Plaid stand for.

Politics doesn’t have to be about high minded ideological debate, in fact for young people it is hardly ever likely to be. But young people do have ideas and views on important issues, they care about society and the communities they live in. In Plaid we must be willing to embrace and nurture that. The politics will come later, we need to engage with a network of young people who might not be political animals, but care about issues.

Go on, ask a few of your friends.

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