I was very pleased today to be invited to speak at the assembly of the Duke of Kent School in Ewhurst. Young people are finding they are less and less of a priority for government and policy makers. I feel we have a responsibility to help them regain democratic influence and power.
Yesterday’s budget showed starkly the political reality that older people are much more likely to vote than younger ones. George Osborne offered a cash bribe to pensioners, one of many. He will subsidise the interest rates they receive on their savings. Over-65s will have state money added to the market rates if they are lucky enough to have spare cash, for them only. This imbalance in democratic power is out in the open and its cause is undisputed. I have written about this before.
I spoke to the pupils about how they will need to use their voice, but not just for themselves. The Duke of Kent School is a private school and the pupils receive a privileged education. This means they have a responsibility for others who are less fortunate through no fault of their own.
There were some really good questions from pupils after my speech. I was asked about Labour’s taxation policy, the armed forces, affordable housing, immigration, my job as an airline pilot. I was even asked about Ed Balls’ performance on that morning’s Today Programme.
It was very pleasing to see that school pupils have such an interest in current affairs. This is vital for the years to come when the temptation of policy makers will be to continue to chase the pensioner vote at the expense of the next generation.