At just 19, George Aylett was one of the youngest Parliamentary candidates at the last general election. Since then, he has been helping Jeremy Corbyn with his leadership campaign and has over 250,000 followers on Twitter! I was delighted that he was able to answer a few questions for me.
- How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?
“The lack of engagement of young people in politics is alarming. The needs of the youth are being ignored by politicians, and in return young people choose to ignore politics. I got involved in politics was because I was fed up, fed up of what was happening to young people. Tuition fees are a key example. The Liberal Democrats won over young voters by promising to abolish tuition fees, yet they trebled them. This was the ultimate betrayal. Why is it that young people should be riddled with debt for the rest of their lives whilst millionaires get huge tax cuts… Because young people are seen as easy targets. Now lets look at the statistics: 76% of those 65 and above voted compared to 58% of 18-24 year olds. Those aged 65 and have seen their pensions triple locked, winter fuel payments and given free bus passes, to name a few. The fact of the matter is, politicians are making decisions with the interests of those perceived to hold the balance of power. Because young people don’t vote, decisions aren’t taken with their interests into account. Young people have had EMA scrapped, tuition fees treble and their age of retirement increase. The fact of matter is, if all 18-24 year olds voted, they would be kingmakers. Young people could be the difference between a Tory majority government and a Labour majority government. If politicians realised this, and young people used their potential power, then politicians would do everything they could to get their vote. Imagine the scenario: All 18-24 year olds registered to vote. They would be seen to hold the balance of power, you could even see the Conservatives offering young people free bus passes!”
- What was it like to stand to become an MP at the age of 19?
“It was an incredible experience. It challenged the preconceived idea of what a politician should be. I believe all people from all background should be represented in politics. However young people have absolutely no representation in Westminster, or any other major political establishment. We need young people in politics to represent the views of the youth, and to give the platform young people so desperately need. We need to get young people voting and we need more young people running for parliament. I would encourage any young person reading this to get involved. Register to vote, look up policies, join a political party, get involved locally and, if you want to take the leap into directly representing the youth in politics, put your name forward for public office and stand for election.”
- Why are you backing Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership?
“Because I believe he can ensure that Labour will be a party of government in 2020. Corbyn backs policies which are supported by the public. According to consistent opinion polls the majority back policies like scrapping tuition fees, implementing a real living wage and ending austerity. We have to win back voters from all across the political spectrum, including UKIP. UKIP won 4 million votes, we thought it would hit the Tories the hardest but it hit Labour. We weren’t seen as the party of working people. Yet many UKIP supporters are economically left. One YouGov poll found that 73% of UKIP supporters back renationalising the railways, almost 8 out of 10 want energy in public hands and over 57% want rent controls. We know Corbyn’s policies will win back those on the left, but they will also win back those who went to UKIP. The problem is we shouldn’t move right to win the 24% of those who voted Tory. Target the 76% that didn’t. Jeremy Corbyn is the person to do this. Let’s have a Labour Party which will stand up for millions, not just millionaires. I’m backing Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader.”
- Could we see you as Labour leader or possibly even Prime Minister in the future?
“Not if Jeremy Corbyn has got the job already!”
- Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics so far?
“I would say canvassing would be where all the action happens. Whilst out canvassing when I was a 19 year old parliamentary candidate I was told by many elderly voters that their grandchildren were out because they thought I was calling for them instead of actually asking for their time on the door. Animals also are quite interested with campaign material, you do get the occasional cat cuddle every so often but the majority of the time the animals use leaflets as their chew toy/litter tray. The best would be when a cat approached me on the doorstep, to which their owner replied ‘get away from him, he’s a politician!’. I think I won her over.”
- How did you get so many Twitter followers?
“I acquired so many followers on a follow for follow (#F4F) basis, which a lot of people my age do. I have a lot of followers, but I also follow a lot of people. I gained a lot of followers tweeting about politics and I hold on to a lot of them because I follow them back. I think Twitter is very useful to get messages out to the public. Social media is becoming more and more influential. Many young people use Twitter, and getting young people engaged and involved in politics is always a positive.”