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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Youth turned off by televised Parliament

Young bored by 'yah-boo' politics in the Commons
Research into the televisation of Parliament suggests that seeing politicians perform in the Commons has put a generation off party politics.

But young people do have a strong interest in political issues, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who commissioned the research which delved into young peoples' perception of politics.

It found that far from the young being apathetic over politics, with large numbers of them failing to vote, many chose to play an active role in single issue politics, such as animal rights or while others get involved in local issues.

On TV you can see all of them sitting there ... half of them falling asleep. They're like me, they find it boring.

An unamed 21-year old woman
One of the authors of the report, Young people's politics, Clarissa White said: "Too much emphasis is placed on the supposed apathy of the young without recognising that young people are already interested in a range of political issues, even if they do not see them as `political.'"

"Our study suggests that politicians, educators and all those who bemoan young people's lack of interest in politics should give greater consideration to how best to represent their interests.

"If we want young people to take a more active interest and play a bigger part in public affairs, then we must show them that politics means something more than the yah-boo of party politicking."

Westminster a turn-off

One particularly damning aspect of the report for Westminster based politics is the fact that the televising of Parliament has not made politics more accessible to the young but has instead alienated them still further.

Young voters turning 18 this year were children of seven when Parliament first let in television cameras, against the wishes of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1989.

According to the report their impressions of political debate in Westminster have been "extremely negative".

'Boring, remote and self-serving'

Ms White said many young people saw politicians coming across as "untrustworthy, boring, remote and self-serving".

One 21-year-old woman told researchers: "On TV you can see all of them sitting there, half of them falling asleep. They're like me, they find it boring."

Ms White said that the low levels of voting among the under-25s and political parties' problems recruiting young members should not be blamed on apathy but on politicians' failure to engage young people's interest.

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