OFF THE FENCE: An incredible year of politics

The House of Commons
The House of Commons
Clipper Round the World Race crew member Simon Speirs who has died after being swept overboard during the round-the-world yacht race

Portsmouth legend Knox-Johnston leads tributes to sailor killed during Clipper race

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T his year has been a year of incredibly exciting politics, with unprecedented levels of change and massive levels of public participation. The referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union on June 23 was a great exercise in democracy, which enabled the British people to have their say on the future of our relationship with the European Union.

While overall turnout was high in the referendum, only 64 per cent of registered voters aged 18-24 went to the polls, compared to 90 per cent of over-65s.

Boosting youth engagement with politics is really important to me, which is why I so frequently visit schools and sixth-forms in our local area. In recent weeks, I have also been delighted to welcome a number of schools up to the brand new Parliament Education Centre, where they have taken a look round the Palace of Westminster and taken part in Q&A sessions with me.

I really enjoy chatting to pupils and students about my job as MP and answering their questions about parliament, politics and current affairs more generally. Furthermore, I love hearing their often refreshing perspectives on issues.

This week, as part of my desire to see more young people involved in politics, I am celebrating Parliament Week. Parliament Week is a programme of events and activities that connect people across the UK with parliament and democracy.

The annual initiative kicked off yesterday and will run until Friday, November 18.

I will be hosting pupils from Brune Park in Westminster and visiting other schools in my constituency later on in the week.

I very much look forward to hearing their thoughts on the big events on the political agenda at the moment including Brexit and the US Presidential Election.

But Parliament Week is not only aimed at the younger population. Community groups of all ages and demographics from right across Britain are encouraged to get involved.

Co-ordinated by the House of Commons with support from the House of Lords, Parliament Week has a number of important aspirations.

It seeks to engage audiences with the work of the UK Parliament, MPs and members of the House of Lords, through participative events and activities. It wants to help audiences explore the history of the UK Parliament and think about its role in democracy.

Finally, it aims to empower audiences to get involved with the UK Parliament and make their voices heard about issues that matter to them.

This great initiative is so important in these tumultuous political times.

It is our responsibility in parliament to make sure people feel that they are being listened to. Getting involved in Parliament Week is a great way for communities and schools to pro-actively engage in politics and I would encourage everyone to get involved.

o For more information about Parliament Week, please visi.parliamentweek.org.