At the protests in Sheffield, a large portion of the crowd were young people. Many were there not because of political allegiance but to voice their opposition to the concerns of unemployment, tuition fees and EMA being scrapped.
Political activism is an excellent form of direct participation in our democracy.
Young people should always campaign for the issues that matter to them.
These protests needed to be, and were, constructive and showcased a substantial alternative to the government in a way that official opposition in Westminster is struggling to.
To this end, young people are leading the way and are passionately enthused about politics in a new wave of activism. I welcome this increased involvement.
With youth services currently under threat, the need to vocalise our common purpose is greater than ever. If we strive to involve ourselves in politics, then politicians cannot ignore us.
The atmosphere of the Lib Dem conference held was one of isolation. The physical barrier of a fence and police barricades mirrored the barrier felt between people and politicians.
Security concerns were, of course, paramount in the organisation of the conference, but there was not one single gesture of openness or of involving all citizens.
A forum where like-minded individuals with the same beliefs discuss policy is not a forum that provides robust analysis. By keeping the people out of policy and out of their conference, the Lib Dems sent a clear message to people of all ages that they are disinterested in what we can offer.
The party leadership speaks with irritation of feeling misunderstood when delivering policy. The idea of a ‘closed door’ conference is therefore unjustified. To lose this sense of misunderstanding, a clear explanation should be offered to the public that provides substantial argument for the reasons this programme of government has been put in place.
Rhetoric, rehearsed clapping and repeated comments that the Lib Dems are in fact still liberal, have no place in persuading us that what they do is absolutely necessary.
Nick Clegg’s arrogant comment preparing the party for more protests is just another way of asking them to prepare to ignore the public and stick with unpopular and arguably regressive policies.
The Lib Dems are contributing to disillusionment among young people who want to involve themselves in politics.
If you were young, would you join this party? The conference however opened a new wave of political activism by like-minded young people in the form of protests and speeches, showing solidarity. I hope it continues.
Harrison Carter, member of UK Youth Parliament Sheffield