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Debate Analysis
January, 2012
Analysing candidates’ promises

Reference: http://barnetukypelection.blogspot.com/2012/01/analysing-candidates-promises-5.html Posted by Elliot Folan

She focuses on strengthening the voice of young people in local decision-making, encouraging employment and skills for young people and improving the perception of young people in the media.

Youth voice
Sogand makes an interesting suggestion for there to be one youth representative (which she says to me could be a youth board member, an MYP or someone else) present whenever any major decisions are made by the local authority that relate to young people.

She argues that, whilst she doesn’t have the power to change tuition fees or public transport fees, she believes it is possible to achieve her aim of a youth representative. This is a good idea in my view, and it’s a concrete proposal to promote youth voice that is, as far as I know, unique and in contrast to vaguer promises from other candidates.

But it should be noted that travel fares are set by the Greater London Authority (the London Mayor / Transport for London), whilst tuition fees are decided by the UK Government. I sat in on a youth board meeting a few weeks ago where OFSTED inspectors told members present that Barnet Council did listen to them. So is there any need for this policy?

According to someone who has experience of various youth boards and councils, yes: we should in their view be going to council meetings and committees. And Sogand’s policy seems to about just this.

Encourage employment and opportunities
As I pointed out in my last post, this is the most common theme amongst UKYP candidates. Sogand wants to connect local businesses with schools to encourage them to employ young people, and to help young people gain experience.

It’s obviously difficult to criticise that, and her point that we’re hardly going to gain experience if no-one hires us is an excellent one. The only thing I could say is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I’ll be watching (and hoping) to see if Sogand does succeed.

Finally, encouraging businesses to take on young people in a time of austerity and uncertainty is going to be difficult, and Sogand doesn’t set out exactly how she wishes to do this.

Improving the images of young people

Sogand says she wants to improve the image of young people in the media by recognising their achievements. She aims to do this by highlighting the improvements of young offenders, and organising an achievements day once a year to do this.

Once again, this is a positive idea but one could question whether an achievement day once a year will achieve the huge change in attitudes needed to make national and local media act better towards young people. The day would have to be promoted, the press would have to cover it - of course, as I do know Sogand, and I know the support she would get as an MYP from the three other MYPs and the children’s service, I’m sure she could do that.

In a sense it’s my view that the real problem is not negative coverage of young people but too much negative coverage. I would say the issue needs to be resolved through working more closely with the media to encourage them to focus on positive youth achievements as much as they do on youth crime or gangs. But that’s a debate to be had.

In sum, Sogand has assured me she’s tried to promise things that are achievable - she says MYPs don’t have any real power and she only has a year as MYP, so she’s tried to promise things she believes are possible in that time. She seems to have done that, but it’s up to you as the voter to judge!

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