Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the programme Newsbeat: The Election Debates, Who Do You Trust? as part of BBC Generation 2015.
I’ve never been in a TV audience before (or on TV), so it was a completely new experience for me (I seem to be having a few of these at the moment!). We all met up outside – it was lovely to see some faces from the BBC Generation interviews. Once inside the building we had some time to chat before heading into the room where we would be filming. This was fairly surreal for a few reasons. Firstly, it was a studio with big cameras and screens everywhere (that one’s obvious), secondly, the last time I was in this room was with two highly excited children – a far cry from where we were last night, and thirdly, the floor of the room was a map of Leeds and I was sat almost directly on top of my village (which I thought was quite cool!).
After rehearsals, the ‘real’ debate began. Each quarter of the room had one runner, if we had a point we put our hand up and if they thought it was appropriate, they’d give us the mic. It was an interesting debate and got fairly heated at times, but on the whole it was friendly and seemed to be well received in the Twittersphere.
I had the chance to speak about the fact that I feel politicians use the ‘tuition fee debate’ as a sort of scapegoat, saying that they care about young people because they’re looking into tuition fees, when actually many of us are more bothered about other things such as the cost of living and housing. I was also hoping to say that I feel that politics (and the media in general), are very South (specifically London)-centric. I feel that we need some more Northern representation in government on the whole – and that is why I like it when MPs stand in their home constituencies).
The final thing I wanted to say was that I feel many things would be a lot easier if people just listened. If politicians stopped talking over each other and listened to each other. If they stopped broadcasting at us, telling us what they think we care about, and started listening to what we actually care about. I don’t just mean young people, when I say ‘we’, I mean you, me, and every other person in the UK, who is apparently ‘represented’ by their local MP.
I hope that the efforts being made by the media and campaign groups this election are encouraging politicians to communicate with their constituents on a day to day basis, not just when they’re in the public eye. I hope it will show them we have the occasional interesting thing to say. I hope that this engagement won’t stop as soon as the general election is over.
I hate to say it, but I’m doubtful of this. I’m sure there are fantastic MPs, who work closely with the people who they represent and understand the issues of their area well. But unfortunately, my current perception is that they are few and far between. I hope they prove me wrong.