Author Archives: Alex Folkes

Opinion: You know what, equality impact assessments can be quite useful

Rainbow - Some rights reserved by @Doug88888Equality Impact Assessments are carried out by local councils to judge how their decisions will affect some of the most marginal communities in their area. But there are calls now to scrap the process as part of the Tory mantra on scrapping red tape.

I know that some authorities have turned EIAs into the worst extremes of political correctness gone mad.

But the truth is that councils (and the Government too please) should be

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

The Alternative ConHome 10-point plan to put the Tory election campaign back on track

With their lead in the latest opinion polls down to just 5% according to one poll, there is clearly a bit of a wobble at Conservative HQ. Right-wing website ConservativeHome has helpfully printed a ten point plan to put the Tory election campaign back on track. Here’s an alternative take on it …

1. Don’t panic

The Corporal Jones approach. Perhaps not the best way to encourage the Conservative grassroots to stay focussed. As all psychologists will tell you, if you tell people not to panic, the one word they remember is – Panic. What the Tories ought to be running …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: Votes at 16

Labour’s Julie Morgan MP had a brave attempt to introduce a Private Members Bill to lower the voting age to 16 talked out by Conservative MPs on Friday. Her Bill was a cross party effort backed by Jo Swinson among others. Regrettably, there were not enough supportive MPs present to force a closure vote (100 are needed) and this is partly down to the lack of Liberal Democrats in Parliament that day.

I was one of those who set up the Votes at 16 Campaign back in 2002, bringing together a wide range of supportive groups including the UK Youth Parliament, British Youth Council, Barnardos and YMCA. There are a total of more than 30 different groups and many thousands of individual supporters who back the campaign.

From the start, we faced quite a mountain of opposition. Much of it was genuinely focussed on the issue, but there was also a fair amount that was based on irrational prejudice and most of this comes from the Conservatives.

It is fair enough to ask whether young people at 16 are ready to vote and whether those that choose to exercise such a right are capable of doing so with the minimum of reliance on celebrity endorsement and pressure from family members. I would argue that the majority are fully capable – much more capable than 18 year olds were just a few years ago. A compulsory part of the national curriculum in all parts of the UK is now citizenship education (although it is delivered with varying quality). So young people are encouraged to debate issues that matter to them with their peers. They are also meant to understand what each of the parties stands for and how elections work. I would argue that there is no better time to engage them than immediately after this compulsory learning ends.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Tagged | 8 Comments
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    I meant Thornberry!