Youth Parliament Chair warns of threats to young people’s political engagement.

08 February 2016

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

 

Youth Parliament Chair warns of threats to young people’s political engagement.

 

The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) has released the census data for their 2015-2017 membership, revealing Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) to be very diverse and representative of Scotland’s young people. The statistics are reflective of the widely reported trend of increased political engagement among young people following the 2014 Scottish Referendum. However, Scottish Youth Parliament Chair, Jordan Linden MSYP, warns against dis-engaging a generation and reversing progress.

 

Jordan Linden MSYP says:

 

“Young people are more interested in politics now than they ever have been, and the census of current Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament reveals this membership to be the most diverse in our parliament’s history. Since our inception, SYP has championed the voices of young people, and campaigned for votes at 16. While we have experienced monumental progress here in Scotland, young people are still being excluded from a say on our future in Europe, and in UK Government elections.

 

“Young people in Scotland thought that when we showed up en mass to vote in the Scottish Referendum we had put an end to the myth that young people are apathetic. Yet we have still had to listen to the same lazy old rhetoric being churned up to deny 16 and 17-year-olds a say in their future. Young people have a right to have their voices heard, and silencing us comes with consequences.

 

“By giving young people a voice in some matters, and then taking it away again, we are in danger of dis-engaging and un-inspiring a generation of young people. We should be working harder to foster young people’s political interest, and sending a clear message that their voices matter.

 

“Just when the message should be as clear as possible for new voters, as we approach the Scottish Parliament elections, young people are being presented with more confusion and threats to their political involvement. The apparent haste and lack of communication surrounding the implementation of the Individual Electoral Registration is, according to the Electoral Reform Society, threatening to leave a large number of students and young people off the register and not represented. More communication needs to be given to young people about registering to vote, and I call on the UK Government to investigate the Electoral Reform Societies claims as a matter of some urgency.

 

“We are in danger of destroying the hope and the legacy that was left after the Scottish Referendum. We need to send a clear message to young people that their voices matter, and that they are important and valued participants in the democratic process”

 

 

 Key Findings from SYP’s 2015 Member Census:

 

  • For the first time in the parliament’s history, there are more female identifying MSYPs than male, which is in line with Scotland’s population as a whole. There are 48% of MSYPs identifying as female, 44% as male, 3% non-binary gender, 2% other, and 2% preferring not to say.
  • 59% of MSYPs are aged 16-17, up 10% since the last membership. Reflecting the increased political interest in this specific age bracket.
  • SYP has also grown its membership from the lowest two deciles on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) scale by nearly 5% since its 2013 membership.