Young Voices: How politics looks, sounds and feels

10 June 2016 – 4 Sivan 5776

Josh Pugh
10 June 2016
The Jewish News

I think I’ve always been political. Even before I really understood parties or campaigns, I was curious about why society is the way it is.

This curiosity took various forms, most notably at the age of nine, when I got into an argument with a supply teacher, who told our class it was wrong to be gay. I thought she was mistaken. So I told her, and thus began a life of activism. Well, not quite. But from then on, I was aware of the fact that every societal issue is political.

Being part of democratic Jewish youth movement LJY-Netzer played a key role. At 15, I had the same input into decision-making as someone who worked for the movement full-time.

On the flip side, on the night of the 1997 General Election, I recall one of my godparents telling me they hadn’t voted. I remember thinking that was bad.

In my opinion, when a 44 percent turnout at an election is considered a win for democracy, we have three real issues.

Voter registration is the obvious one, but there’s also political education. If you don’t know how to approach and digest political ideas, you don’t know how to vote. Third, young and marginalised communities are massively under-represented politically. We have to change the way politics looks, sounds and feels.

Bite The Ballot has been working with Hope Not Hate on the largest voter registration campaign in history: #TurnUp, to encourage younger voters to take part in the EU referendum. We have also been running DeCafés (Democracy Cafés), which will continue until 14 June.

We are getting people together in community spaces to discuss the upcoming EU referendum, politics more broadly, and encourage people to explore how their own politics fit in with the European Union.

Josh Pugh is community engagement officer for Bite the Ballot and an LJY-Netzer leader

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