What Is Labour’s Shape Your Future Campaign?
- Michel'le Donnelly
Who will have your vote in the 2015 election? Mich gets the low down from Labour MP, Ivan Lewis, about the 'Shape Your Future' campaign and what it entails
There are 82 days (at the time of writing) until the General Election, and in an effort to grab the elusive youth vote, Labour have launched the “Shape My Future” campaign. On Monday, Live Mag UK will be meeting with MPs at Portcullis House to discuss it. The campaign is spearheaded by Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South and the Shadow Secretary of Northern Ireland. I sat down with Ivan (whose office has the most amazing view btw) to discuss all things young people and politics.
So, what exactly is “Shape your future?”
“Shape your future is about first of all saying that Labour will have a young persons’ manifesto and we’re beginning by actually going round the country talking to young people about what should be in that manifesto, so that process is underway. “
He continued: “It’s also about publishing a young people manifesto in advance of the election so young people are clear about what Labour’s offer will be. It’s important though that, that offer responds to what people tell us.”
How will Labour be collecting our views?
There is currently a short online survey at shapeyourfuture.today Ivan along with other Labour MPs have also been hosting events up and down the country, talking to young people about politics and what they would like to see changed.
What happens to all the information that’s collected?
From the data collected, a young peoples manifesto will be published: “Obviously we want to encourage and stimulate young people to debate it, to talk to their family and friends about it. We want to generate a positive excitement about this election, a sense of hope and change and optimism”, Ivan told me.
Say whaaat? We get to write Labours new manifesto?
Well, no. Mr Lewis explained: “Now we’ve not said to young people that we’ve got a blank piece of paper because we don’t; we already have policies… but we’re conscious of the fact that young people might feel that we should be doing more – that maybe those policies should be bolder or perhaps there some areas where we haven’t yet developed our policies. “That is why we’re doing this engagement process at the moment.”
Hmmm, ok. So is this just a vote-winning ploy, considering this is the closest election in UK history? Or have politicians finally realised that we’re tired of being excluded and want our voices heard. Why are they only tapping into their “young” consciousness now?
Mr Lewis insisted that he is very aware of the damage that broken promises have done to young peoples’ trust in politics: “We will not only publish the young peoples manifesto but we’ll also explain to young people how we intend to be held to account in Government for the promises that we have made, and how we can ensure that young people themselves will have an ongoing opportunity to hold us to them.”
“We have a responsibility to ensure that the voice of young people are heard not just in this election but on a long term basis. The reality is that if you look at historical trends at the next election nearly 80% of older people are likely to vote and fewer than 50% of younger people are going to vote,“ Ivan told me.
“It leaves politicians disproportionally focusing on one generation and not another and it means young peoples voices are often marginalised.”
Hold on, 16 and 17 year olds can fill out the survey but they can’t vote- what’s up with that?
One of the claimed priorities of the party is to get the voting age lowered to 16. Mr Lewis used the mass turnout amongst younger Scotts during the Independence Referendum last year as an example of why the voting age should change: “I think it’s ridiculous that young Scots were able to determine the future of their country but they can’t determine the future of their government. I mean it doesn’t make sense whatsoever. So I do think what happened in Scotland reinforced why votes at 16 is the right policy.”
So is Shape Your Future going to be enough to get young people back into politics? I guess that’s up to you.