Hosted by a leading youth charity, election debates for young people will be held all over the country this week, including in Birmingham.

UpRising say that, with a general election in just 6 weeks, it's vital that young people make their voices heard now if they want all parties take their concerns seriously.

Voter registration among young people has fallen since last year and the charity is concerned that politicians will neglect young voters.

Local candidates from all parties will be grilled by around 200 young people in Birmingham on Thursday as part of a “National Youth Debate”.

Young people will set the questions for the panel themselves, addressing four key issues: the economy, employment, education and health.

Young people from Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire, Shropshire and from across the Black Country will be attending the Birmingham event at The Priory Rooms in Birmingham city centre this Thursday, between 6pm – 8pm.

Simultaneous debates will be held in Bedford, Blackburn, Derby, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford.

Panellists at the Birmingham event include:

  • Rachel Maclean (Conservative candidate, Northfield)
  • Phil Simpson (Greens candidate, Edgbaston)
  • Jess Phillips (Labour candidate, Yardley, Longbridge councillor and BCC Victims' Champion)
  • John Hemming MP (Lib Dems, Yardley)
  • Clair Braund (UKIP candidate, Ladywood)
  • Paul Bradshaw (Online Journalist, Blogger and Lecturer at Birmingham City University)

Yardley candidate and current Longbridge councillor Jess Phillips (Labour) said: “While so few young people turn out to vote, Governments of all stripes will fail to put them first. The UpRising debates and initiatives like Bite the Ballot are so important in encouraging our young people to grab their power back. Young people today are the first generation set to be worse off than their parents, it's time we all stood up to stop this.”

Northfield Conservative Party candidate Rachel Maclean said: “I'm passionate about engaging young people in politics – both as a parent and as an education charity founder. We are fortunate that we have so many inspiring young people in Birmingham who are willing to get involved and have their say. So come along, I'm looking forward to hearing from you!”

Panelist and online journalist Paul Bradshaw said: “The National Youth Debate is that rare thing: politicians actively seeking to engage with young people and young people actively seeking to engage with politicians. There is a myth that young people are not interested in politics. My experience is that they just aren't included in the story, and superficial reporting about personalities and polling points leaves them cold. So I'm really excited to be part of an event which actually talks about policies.”

And Paul, a lecturer in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, is hoping to ensure his fellow panellists are telling it straight, utilising the skills of his students throughout the debate. He said: “My plan is to keep my BS detector on full alert. And I'll be making the most of social media and data journalism, with Birmingham City University journalism students tuning in to do some live factchecking!”

If you're aged 16-25 and would like to join the Birmingham debate register here

 

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