Why Politics Matters

Theo, who recently attended the ISSP Y7/8 lecture, has written a fantastic summary of his experience. This is a great example of how enriching ISSP events are for all the pupils involved.

On Thursday the 6th of June 2019, through the sponsorship of the ISSP, a group of over 80 secondary school students gathered at the University of York to listen to Rachael Maskell give a speech about why politics matters.

Rachael started off with an updated quote from Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (or women) to do nothing”. She then talked about how elections are not the whole of politics and so that we should not be discouraged by them.

Rachael talked about how politics is power and how politics happens all the time. Rachael used family as an example of where you will have a power dynamic; and how you and the other members of your family will negotiate for the things they want.  Moving to the wider world and taking Greta Thunberg as her example, she showed how even young people can influence others. As Rachael pointed out, Greta was able to get peoples attention by the simple act of exchanging the school classroom for the pavement outside the Swedish parliament. Rachael pointed out how you can use social media to build your movement and how we have nothing holding us back from changing the world.  

Rachael looked at other ways others make a change such as talking to local people, starting petitions, holding public meetings and holding politicians to account. How you should stand up with what you believe in and how you need to be there as, if you were absent yourself, someone else will take your place. Inspiring us to join the world of politics.

Rachael then asked about what the students in the room felt was important to them. In an enthusiastic response, some of the things brought up were climate change, free school meals, student mental health, homelessness and the refugee crisis etc. For most of the students, climate change was the issue of the moment. Showing how young people really do care about the planet and what is happening to it and more importantly will speak up given the chance.

We were all very lucky at ISSP to have this wonderful opportunity to hear an inspiring talk from Rachael Maskell!