Young people and politics: how I found my voice

By Kelechi Okoye-Ahaneku, WMD Awareness Ambassador

By Kelechi Okoye-Ahaneku, WMD Awareness Ambassador

With the UK General Election a few days away the nation has descended into a political fervor pitch with debates – or are they squabbles? – being televised by including all of the major parties. Analysts and experts have had their say on the matter, with many interpreting a said policy from a said particular party one way, while another expert interprets that said policy in another manner. A new day sees new bulletins of charts, claims, counter-claims and counter-counter claims of who is a worthy enough candidate to run Britain.

Arguments and hypotheticals have been the main narrative and method of communication between participants of each party during this election campaign. It seems to me that only the experts really have an idea and understanding of what is being said. As a young person I feel not only disenchanted by Westminster but also disappointed by how disconnected these politicians are from their electorate.

The rhetoric behind the reduction of deficits, tackling of immigration, cutting NHS costs and integration in the EU while hugely important on the face of it, is the same rhetoric that has been wheeled out on the Westminster wheelbarrow consistently for over the past five years. As I begin to find my own political voice I have been shocked to find that young people are not really involved in the debate. In my opinion not enough is said about how to create more jobs, programmes and initiatives for young people, especially those who are out of work or looking for work.

I have begun to realise just how disconnected young people are from the political process in this country and how only the political and financial elite are running this country for the betterment of themselves.

One area I personally feel passionate about is defence, in particular the reestablishment of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme, Trident. The renewal of Trident, which will see the reinstallation of new nuclear warheads in submarines that are based in Scotland, will cost in excess of £100 billion over its lifetime. It is the taxpayer who will ultimately have to pay for this. With all the discussions and debates about tax cuts and austerity, it doesn’t seem wise to me to spend so much of the nation’s outlay on weapons of mass destruction.

This money could go towards building new schools, new housing, new hospitals, creation of new jobs and of the cutting of the deficit and still some money to spare. We live in an age of globalization, an age of relative peace in the developed world. There’s no need to escalate our nuclear defence programmes when we cannot afford to. This alone mystifies me. No wonder young people have become so disengaged with the nation’s political process.

Since becoming a WMD Awareness Ambassador I have found a way to get my voice heard on this issue, whatever my view. As Ambassadors we have written to prospective parliamentary candidates ahead of the election calling on them to be more transparent on the subject of nuclear weapons. Whatever party leads the government after the election, we want information that is digestible and clear options presented on the future of Trident – without the jargon – to help young people get more engaged with this issue and politics in general.

Find out more about what we’re calling on from PPCs and how you can get involved.

What do you think about Kelechi’s article? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts with us @WMDAwareness  

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