So that was Christmas, and what have we done?

With the spirit of John Lennon ringing in our ears, 2010 drew to a close after a highly rare change of government: the second in thirty years.

At the Foundation, last year started with discussions about how we could use the impending general election to try and stimulate more young people to be engaged with politics. It ended with the sight of students protesting on the streets of many cities. See – we didn’t need to do all that work, we just needed them to feel betrayed by Nick Clegg (of all people!). Strangely, the moderate party that came third in the vote have become the most vilified and the issue of the cost of education the most arousing. It would have been hard to see that one coming! But still – one can’t help but think that citizenship education did its bit in there…

But we’re one voice in a bigger scene – for instance, if there were a general election tomorrow, we might find a lot more people voting than earlier in the year. They can see what’s at stake now bacause it’s played its way out: last January it all took some imagining.

Meanwhile the Big Society promises us more power. This may therefore not be a bad thing, as most people seem a little uncertain about the politicians… and we can’t afford the same public services (allegedly) so let’s show them how to do it!

Hands up for volunteers?

Hmmmm… that wasn’t many hands… Can I just clarify: you’re happy to vote for the people you want to sort it out but not so keen to sort it out yourselves?? I see.

So: we don’t think we can trust politicians, we’re not too bothered about taking power, and we’ve got a lot less money for a few years. But that’s not the message is it??… they’re trying to tell us that having less money is an opportunity yet we feel it’s a burden. They call it ‘Big Society’ we call it ‘Skint Society’. They’ve got power thanks to us and they say we can have it back. They say they’re trying to change the culture and empower people, we say ‘we are the culture(s) – you’re the representatives’… you don’t change us you work it out for us. Yep – some things aren’t quite connecting up.

Perhaps by the end of this year some of that double-speak will have been shaken out. And perhaps as in many generations, the young people among us will have played their role in debunking the hype: saying things more like they really are (that is of course, if they’re not too busy playing on their new Christmas games). There’s still a lot of work to do in letting that voice out.

But… enough of that… what time is X Factor on again? Oh good…Has anyone ever noticed how similar it is to voting in an election? Ooooh now there’s an idea… I wish we’d thought of it earlier… we could have suggested it would turn into a popularity contest…

Happy New Year and all strength for 2011 – the year of straighter talking.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

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