23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 04-05-2015 05:56

      Tuesday 21, April 2015

      ELECTION: "Voting at my first election was a really big deal" - Arif Ansari

      AS the run up to the General Election intensifies, it isn't just the would-be politicians who are hard at work, as the BBCs North-West Political Editor knows only too well.


      WORKPLACE: Arif is based at BBC Quay House (right) at MediaCityUK


      Whilst reporting on the major political talking points from the region, Arif Ansari is also following the goings-on with the Liberal Democrats as they travel around the nation.


      Despite the busy schedule, he also hosts talks at schools, colleges and universities; engaging with students about the world of politics, however, Arif himself has seen a divide in the two areas.


      “Too many young people don’t know anything about politics, but much more seriously, they don’t see the point either.


      “There’s a lot of cynicism about politicians and people say politics is boring.


      “Some of that is justified, but a lot of it is simply code for ‘I can’t be bothered to work this out for myself.’


      “I remember voting at my first election and it was a really big deal to go to the ballot box and cast a vote.”


      With a number of contentious policies introduced by the coalition government, Arif has seen first-hand how MPs have made attempts to reach out to the younger voter and connect with this age group.


      “I know a lot of MPs visit schools and give talks.


      “To some extent that’s about winning future support, but it’s also because those politicians understand the importance of engaging young people in politics.”


      TEACHING: Arif talking to students at the University of Salford


      Having learnt about the subject through watching the news, Arif never had any formal political teaching, therefore raising the question as to whether politics should be added to the school syllabus.


      “I know there’s some basic teaching in school, but people we have had on work experience have told me it wasn’t very effective.


      “Maybe it’s unrealistic to put politics on the national curriculum, but my Mum said that when she was at school she was taught how Parliament and the voting system worked.


      “Unless we teach young people how the system works, then it’s unrealistic to expect them to take part, yet if people don’t, democracy fails.”


      TWITTER: Arif tweets about the party leaders visiting the North-West


      Whilst working for the BBC, Arif as seen many elections unfold and take shape, however he explained how some parties appear to aim their policies at a select audience.


      “It’s not for me to criticise any of the parties for their policies or approach, but it’s clearly influenced by who votes more and who votes less.


      “The government has implemented so-called ‘austerity’ under the slogan ‘we are all in this together’, are we?” he questioned.


      Arif continued: “Young people saw tuition fees increased, EMA was scrapped and house prices are unaffordable for many.


      “Older people have seen pensions increased, they get free travel on some public transport and the free TV licence hasn’t been scrapped either.


      “There is a very clear gap between the percentage of the older population and the younger population who vote, and that’s got a clear impact on policy.”


      By Steven Peach