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Reform Magazine | October 1, 2020

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Editorial: Listen to the young

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Who’d be young in 2019? I mean, yes, I’d jump at the chance to go back, parade my beautiful flowing locks and make all those stupid mistakes again. But there’s a bit more to the deal than that, isn’t there?

For one thing, the young are inheriting from their parents a world with a ruined climate, slipping inexorably into global crisis. And what can they do to change that, other than strike and march?

In the UK, under 25s voted 73% to 27% against Brexit, but now have to live with a result that seems to have broken politics. It has disabled the government, thrown the constitution into crisis, entrenched divisions and handed political dominance to charlatans.

Under 40s make up half of the UK population, but 42% of them have no vote. And so, as the historian David Runciman (52) puts it, in our ageing population, the young are always outvoted. Parliament raises tuition fees, protects pensions, drags its feet on the climate. The young are often told they’re apathetic about politics, but go on a march and you’ll see them out in their droves. And who are their political representatives? That 50% of the population under 40 becomes 20% among Westminster MPs, and 0.6% in the upper chamber.

In the unlikely event that they turn to church for spiritual sustenance, what will young people find there? They might be welcomed with open arms, but they’ll be lucky to find a community where they feel they belong.

t’s a pretty crumby deal, all in all, even with the hair. It’s against this background that Reform launches a new column this month. ‘Here & now’ is specifically for younger writers, a space for them to say what they want to say, in the way they want to say it, on the subjects that matter to them. And an opportunity for us to listen.

Victoria Turner, a postgraduate student in Edinburgh, kicks off. She is looking at what the hit TV series Fleabag has to tell us about the place of religion in today’s world. Anyone else interested in joining the conversation, from primary school to mid-20s, is welcome to get in touch (our contact details are here).

Reform has always aimed to provide a rich mixture of perspectives – in this month’s issue you’ll hear from contributors of different denominations, different religions, different races, different nationalities and different ages. And I think the magazine has done better than much of the media at giving a platform to people in later life. But we haven’t consistently done the same for those in earlier life. It’s never too late to learn, thank God.

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This article was published in the July/August 2019 edition of Reform

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