Georgia Gould spoke at the RSA today about the wasted opportunity inherent in not tapping into the aspirations of the young to solve the social problems of the day.
Voting can seem passive to a generation used to direct action (self-publishing etc), she says. Only 15.8% identify with a political party – their politics is expressed through their engagement in individual issues and as a consequence they are being let down by traditional institutions. “It’s like a parallel universe.”
Another pressing issue is increasing inequality which, she says, is disproportionately affecting the youth. There are undoubtedly opportunities thrown up by new technologies and a changing society but just how youngsters grasp those opportunity greatly depends on their parents’ backgrounds and circumstances, she argues.
What is needed is a new community spirit. But what does the spirit of 2015 look like, she asks? “It’s no good harking back to the community spirit of the 40s; we need a spirit relevant to today.”
Youth movements that are successful hand over power, are transparent, trust young people, she says. And they are deeply optimistic. “Every time I’ve seen an organisation trust young people the outcome has exceeded expectations .”
Disengagement from politics is not a youth problem it’s a society problem. The difference is that the young have ideas about how to change things. But, she says, they need listening to.