A letter from a 14 year old

This letter was sent to us from a 14 year old whose mother is a Green voter. She wanted to ask some questions before making her decision. I have her permission to share this, and wanted to do so as I think it perfectly demonstrates why it is so important that we engage with young people, even though they are currently unable to vote. The other parties ignore young people because they do not vote, or are unable to vote, and thusly many young people turn off to politics as their voices do not get heard. This is wrong, and is something the Green Party seek to address. To keep the Green Surge going, we need to look to the next generation. As this one young lady has shown, they also want answers, as well as solutions, and most importantly honesty. I replied from the heart, because that is what young people deserve. We can be a vehicle for change, but to be so, we need to make sure we are engaging with our young people as much as possible, in multiple ways, and not just picking them up and using them when we want their vote. That is morally repugnant as well as counter-productive.

The letter:

I am not yet old enough to vote but my Mum says she’s going to vote for you so I decided to read though your policies online (www.greenparty.org.uk). After thoroughly reviewing your policies and site, I came up with a few questions. And this is why I am writing you this letter.

Non Professional Politicians

As quoted on the green party site, “Our members come from all walks of life, most of them are not professional politicians.”.

So I was wondering what you meant by “not professional politicians”?

I presume they are educated in politics in someway or how would they know what to do?

Home-Education

As someone who was Home-Educated from a young age. I was interested to know your views on the home schooling community?

Also what are your views on grammar schools and O levels? As some parties wish to bring them back and how would this effect the Home-Ed community?

Housing

In a few years housing will become one of my ‘issues’. As I read though your policy and watched your video some questions and ideas came to mind.

The first being; Where are you going to build the new houses?  Also. What kind of ‘green gadgets’ (e.g. solar panels) will you add into the new houses?

And finally, how will you support those who wish to buy there own houses and not be placed in a council one?

Transport

There are a lot of cars in the UK, 35 million (2012) at last count, and the amount of pollution caused by them is devastating.  So how do you support the use of electrical cars and bio diesels?  My mum really wants to use biodiesel in our car but we can’t find anyone. I’m concerned that she will decide to make it herself!

Also I believe that if you were to support fuels like these you should boost the production. But if you were to boost the production and make it main stream, how would you?

Immigration

While reviewing your site I noticed that there was no policy on immigration. After closer study I could only find the parties views into the migrants in the Mediterranean. And that we need to save them (my views are the same).

But, as many people feel strongly towards  immigration. I was interested to know what your thoughts were on it? And if you believe it is a crisis?

Also, would you stay in the EU or not?

My final question is simple, If Green get the seat in my council, what will my future look like?

P.s you don’t have to answer this week, I know you’re busy and I can’t vote yet anyway. But Good Luck!

 

My response:

Thank you so very much for your email. I have to say it is an absolute inspiration to read an email from a young person who is already so engaged. We need more like you! It is fantastic to see you questioning things at such a young age, so thank you.

I will answer each of your points in turn, and I have CC’d Ron should he want to add anything. As you say, he is very busy at the moment, however I was very touched by your message and so wanted to reply today.

Firstly, you can view our very own Eastleigh Manifesto here: http://southampton.greenparty.org.uk/local-manifesto/eastleigh-manifesto.html

Also you may or may not know that The Green Party is the only party that doesn’t use the whip system – that is our members are not bound to adhere to policy or vote in certain ways if that is not what is best for their constituents.

Non Professional Politicians

Great question. What is meant here is that many politicians from the other parties are career politicians – they have never done anything else. They have come straight from school into politics with no real life experience. We believe in standing candidates who have worked in the real world, and who can relate to real life problems. Many have had an active interest in politics all their life, some have studied it, and some who have the passion to get involved but not necessarily all the knowledge are supported and ‘trained’ by green party central. For example, I have worked as a bar maid, farm assistant, wedding dress shop manager, writer, and researcher. I also studied politics, but to help me get a true idea of what it is like I applied for the 30 under 30 scheme (http://younggreens.org.uk/elections/get-involved/30-under-30/ ) with the Green Party to ensure I have the right skills to move the Greens forward in Eastleigh for the general election in 2020 (when you will be old enough to vote and get involved too if you wish!). Also working as Coordinator for this election has taught me more about UK politics than I felt I learnt at university! For us it is more important that you are knowledgeable about the issues, and passionate about change, we can always help with the rest.

Home-Education

Education is a very important part of Ron’s campaign. The current system of education is failing. The current system puts too much stress on academic achievement from too early an age which means our young people are not well equipped emotionally to go into the world. Home schooling works for many, and it puts the power in the parent’s hands to ensure that the child receives the right information, and I believe parents are better qualified to determine that than the state. I have several friends who are going to home school their children. It is important to ensure that the core subjects are covered (reading and writing) and that support is available for parents who choose to home school their children.

The grammar school system tests pupils in such a narrow parameter it is built to exclude the most vulnerable in society and is not sympathetic to different learning styles. Two things the green party seek to change and so no, we do not agree with grammar schools.

Housing

Great question. We will be looking to build houses on ‘brown field’ sites – so sites that have previously been built on (disused warehouse spaces etc.) and also to revive housing that has sat empty for decades. With the advances in tech as you so rightly mentioned, we would seek to include as many ‘gadgets’ as feasibly possible and would work towards such green building (roof gardens being one of my personal favs) becoming the norm – not the exception. The price of such tech is already coming down, as it is becoming more common, and we are already seeing increased usage which is something we strongly encourage.

Right to buy is why we have the housing crisis. It means that the stock of social housing has decreased. This government promised for every house bought a new council house would be built to replace it and it just hasn’t happened. We want to build affordable homes, as well as social housing, and so this will help those who want to buy be able to. Also as part of our other policies including living wage, and citizens income, people will be better off and more secure.

Transport

I agree it is devastating. We of course support the use of electric cars and alternative fuels. Personally this is an area I do not know much about. What I do know is that we support innovation, and moving towards using more renewable fuels in every area. We also want to make public transport greener, and more affordable to reduce the number of cars on the road as well as encourage car sharing, and other schemes that encourage people to cycle or walk to work where possible. Ron may be able to give you a stronger answer on this but I hope that is a good start?

Immigration

Here is the main party page on migration – http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mg.html . We try to avoid using the term ‘immigration’ as it has become stigmatised in the media, and now suggests something bad to many people when actually it is all good! It is a very touchy subject at the moment as I am sure you are aware.

This is what we say in our mini manifesto that I linked to at the beginning:

The UK is a small country and has a maximum carrying capacity (maximum population). It is clear that it is not sustainable to carry on increasing our population. Therefore we need to have fair border controls, fairer than currently exist and fairer than what is being proposed by the other parties. We must put sustainability at the heart of our immigration policy and ensure that all people can live well, and have their basic needs met in every country to reduce the number of people that feel that they must flee their country of origin to be able to live. It is also about education, and informing the next generation in regards to the effects their life choices will have on the planet. The economic system we run can only be supported by increasing GDP on an annual basis. This in turn needs us to create jobs and people come here because we are creating jobs. So to move to a new economic system of Positive Money would also alleviate some of the strain on our services, however instead of scapegoating minorities we must look to solve the individual problems that people are facing in terms of housing, education and health which are all struggling under the current system. We need immigration for those sectors to thrive, and immigrants pay more in taxes than they cost.

Final Question on Council

If we continue to get more greens in at local level and at parliament your future will look sustainable, happy, and importantly you will have equal chances. The green party is the only party that has sustainability and climate change at the heart of every policy as well as equality and fairness. If we get a seat in your council I can guarantee that the Councillor will fight for those things. We are also the only party who take young people seriously – hence my taking the time out to write you this reply. You are the future, your ideas and experiences as well as your thirst for change will be what helps us revolutionise British politics. It will be what helps us ensure there is a world for the next generations to grow up in.

I really hope I have answered your questions. If not please feel free to reply with more. Also if you are on social media we would love to have such an active young voice in our group! Thank you again for making the time to contact us and raising some fantastic points.

Warmest wishes

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