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Digital Democracy Commission speaks to young people on International Youth Day
Broadcast Journalism Postgraduate, James Galley, reports back from a Digital Democracy Commission event for under 25 year olds held in Portcullis House on International Youth Day, Tuesday 12 August.
Politicians are finally starting to catch on to the fact that in order to get people engaged with their message they have to find new ways in which to communicate. As technology develops so do the methods and expectations when it comes to engaging with people.
To this end one of the latest ideas in the political zeitgeist is that of ‘Digital Democracy’, and on Tuesday (12th August) Model Westminster, in partnership with the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy, hosted an event at Portcullis House to discuss the future of digital political discourse.
The event, attended by around 60 people, aimed to try and find out the ideas that young people have about how to get more of their own age demographic engaged in politics. Throughout the event a number of popular ideas came across, ranging from blue-skies thinking to the easily implementable.
Out of the things that could be done very easily, one that could have the most immediate and positive impact would be MPs using Skype or Google Hangouts to connect with their younger constituents. A lot of young people would never think about going to their MPs constituency surgery - and if it is during school time many can’t - but the idea of an online discussion, debate or Q&A seemed very appealing to a lot of the young people in the room. In a sense it would allow them to communicate with politicians on their own terms, allowing them to feel more at home in the political debate, as opposed to outsiders.
Another tool that many thought would help more young people get involved in politics would be a single more accessible resource for political information. Websites like They Work For You and What Do They Know exist to help people find more information about their representatives, councils, etc. but contain so much information that to find anything meaningful you often have to know what you’re looking for. Resources that provide access to non-agenda driven political news would help create a generation of better informed voters.
We have to wait until January to find out the recommendations from the Speaker’s Commission, but the young people at the event came up with a number of ideas that MPs could start doing straight away. Digital democracy might just be the latest buzzword flying around Westminster, but for a lot of young people there is a real hunger for digital alternatives to the sometimes seemingly impenetrable world of politics.
For more information about the event make sure to check out the event hashtag #MWDigital.
James Galley holds a MA in Politics from University of East Anglia and a MA in Broadcast Journalism from City University London. James is currently working as a freelance journalist and tweets at @jagalley. The Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy is currently inviting responses on its engagement and facilitating dialogue themes here.