Press Release: Next Generation of Voters Demand Overhaul of ‘Outdated and Old-Fashioned’ Politics with Online Voting and Interactive PMQs

1 March 2015

  • Technology is needed to modernise UK political system say 16-18 year olds in new research
  • Young people calling for greater interaction with MPs in ‘Next Generation Manifesto’ but split on whether the voting age should be lowered
  • Research marks the launch of the charity Speakers for Schools’ campaign with David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband amongst supporters

 

The next generation of voters believes the UK’s political system needs to be ripped up and rebuilt around technology and direct engagement – three quarters (74%) say real change is needed to make politics “better reflect society today”.

The YouGov research for education charity Speakers for Schools found an overwhelming 82% of 16-18 years olds saying they care about politics – with only 4% declaring that they “don’t care at all”. However, they describe the current system as “out-dated” and “old fashioned” (52%) – just 12% believe politicians communicate effectively with them.

 

In the ‘Next Generation Manifesto’, a six-point call to arms for modern politics, two thirds (62%) say voting via online or mobile should be available in future elections, while 80% believe that PMQs should be interactive with the public allowed to submit questions online for the Prime Minister.

But while young people advocate technology driving an overhaul of Parliament, they are not satisfied with politicians relying on social media to interact with the public. Just 15% agree that the way politicians use social media shows they are “in touch” – showing the need for MPs to improve the way they connect using Facebook and Twitter.

Instead, the desire for better interaction between MPs and the public extends to a clear call for more traditional face-to-face campaigning – with 87% saying that MPs need to get into communities and visit schools and colleges to explain their policies in person.

But despite much political debate on lowering the voting age, young people themselves have mixed views on this topic – 43% would take it down to 16 but 47% would prefer it remains at 18. However, the group was clear on the most important political issues for them: with the future of the NHS (45%), tuition fees (40%) and equal opportunities (28%) topping the list.

Furthermore, the research also revealed that many young people want the voting system itself to be reviewed: 50% would want a more proportional system, with just 33% backing the current first-past-the-post system.

 

This research comes as Speakers for Schools launches a two-week campaign (#S4SNextGen) to engage young people in politics and democracy – with over 30 of the UK’s leading public figures delivering inspirational talks on the subject of ‘Why I Vote’ in state schools across the country. The campaign kicks off on Monday 2nd March with a debate hosted in a Manchester school chaired by Rick Edwards (Broadcaster), with panellists including Brie Rogers Lowery (UK Director of change.org), Elizabeth Linder (Head of Politics & Government (EMEA) at Facebook), John Pienaar (BBC 5 Live Chief Political Correspondent) and Harry Lambert (Founder/Editor of May2015.com).

Those taking part in the campaign (2nd-13th March) – which is apolitical and designed to engage young people in the political process, voting and democracy as a whole – include party leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett, and major figures from the worlds of business, media and entertainment.

 

Andrew Law, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Speakers for Schools, said:

“We have had a hugely enthusiastic response to this campaign in state schools. Our polling confirms that politics does indeed matter to students, with an overwhelming majority caring about it. They firmly recognise the most important issues to them, and would welcome the use of new technologies in the democratic process as well as more face-to-face engagement with politicians.”

 

Robert Peston, Founder of Speakers for Schools, said:

“Our poll reveals an incredible hunger among people for our mainstream politicians to talk with them more, via the technology they use, traditional personal contact and – perhaps most importantly – using language they understand. Perhaps most striking in this age of coalitions is that the school students show little attachment for our first-past-the post electoral system, and express a preference for a more proportional voting system”. 

 

The key conclusions of this research are set out in the full ‘Next Generation Manifesto’:

  1. Return to traditional political campaigning: more face-to-face engagement in schools, colleges, and community centres
  2. Adopt new technologies: drive voting through online and mobile platforms
  3. Be more interactive: allow the public to submit questions online for Prime Minister’s Questions
  4. Use social media better to connect with us
  5. Focus on the issues we most care about: the NHS, tuition fees and equal opportunities
  6. Review the voting system: consider a more proportional system based on total number of votes

 

ENDS

For more information, please contact Stuart Davis (0203 003 6630 / stuart.davis@freuds.com) or Kate Hird (0203 003 6560 / kate.hird@freuds.com)

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 706 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th – 15th February 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all young people aged 16-18.

In addition to the Board of Trustees, the full list of those giving talks during the campaign is as follows:

Politics

  • David Cameron – Prime Minister
  • Nick Clegg – Deputy Prime Minister
  • Ed Miliband – Leader of the Labour party
  • Natalie Bennett – Leader of the Green party
  • Leanne Wood – Leader of Plaid Cymru
  • Nicky Morgan – Conservative Secretary of State for Education
  • Tristram Hunt – Labour Shadow Education Secretary

 

Business

  • Baroness (Martha) Lane-Fox – Co-founder of Lastminute.com
  • Helena Morrissey – CEO of Newton Investment Management
  • Rohan Silva – Former government technology adviser, Co-founder of Second Home
  • Carolyn McCall – CEO of easyJet
  • Fiona Dawson – Global President of Mars Food

 

Media

  • Ian Hislop – Journalist and Editor of Private Eye
  • Lord (Tony) Hall – Director General of the BBC
  • Peter Snow – Journalist, broadcaster and historian
  • David Dinsmore – Editor of The Sun
  • Sarah Sands – Editor of the London Evening Standard
  • Oliver Duff – Editor of the i
  • Kirsty Wark – Journalist and Broadcaster
  • Nick Robinson – BBC Political Editor
  • Jon Snow – Journalist and Broadcaster

 

Other (Sport, Education, The Arts, Science, Culture, NGO and Military)

  • Hugh Dennis – Comedian and writer
  • Baroness (Tanni) Grey-Thompson – Olympic athlete and television presenter
  • Shami Chakrabarti – Director of Liberty, The National Council for Civil Liberties
  • Peter Kellner – President of YouGov
  • Sir Anthony Seldon – Master of Wellington College, Historian
  • Sir Peter Wall – Former Chief of General Staff
  • Geoff Mulgan – CEO of the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA)
  • Dan Snow – Broadcaster and Historian
  • Mita Desai – Chairman of the Board at The British Youth Council
  • Sir Leszek Borysiewicz – Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
  • Nick Barley – Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival

 

Speakers for Schools

 

Speakers for Schools is an independent, apolitical charity that provides young people in state schools across the UK with access to inspirational speakers – free of charge. The scheme was founded by BBC Economics Editor Robert Peston with the ambition of organising free talks in state schools with distinguished and eminent figures from all walks of life, including leaders in business, the arts, sciences, sport, politics and the media. Since launching the charity has attracted a network of over 900 speakers and organised over 1,700 free talks with schools and colleges to date.  The charity is solely funded by the Law Family Charitable Foundation and Caxton Associates.

 

To find out more about the programme and the speakers: https://www.speakers4schools.org/