MPs get very excited about the Youth Parliament concept. Given the low opinion the public has for politicians, they love a group of people who are genuinely interested and keen about the business of Parliament.
Politicians enjoy the experience because it re-energises them. It reminds them of themselves before they were corrupted by the compromises of being an adult.
Thus, they give the high-ground to moralising “youf” – as if young people speak a higher truth.
It is is not dissimilar to the monotonous regularity with which young ideologues are given time to talk at Very Important Forums. They lecture adults that since they are our future, we must this time really ‘do something’, not just talk about it.
But engagement with the world, and with others, requires compromise. We all share the aspiration for a better world, but we disagree what that better world is, and how to make it. We disagree on whether I should change my behaviour to help make your better world.
The only things politicised youth share in common is moralising, earnestness and unreasonableness. Otherwise, they’re a disparate bunch of vibrantly clashing opinions – just like the rest of us.
Youth Parliaments prove that if you randomly select a group of idealistic and opinionated people, you end up with what we’ve already got.
If children really are the future of politics, then we’re in for much of the same.