As one of the youngest members of the Liberal Democrat group, I’m one of our representatives in this year’s I’m a Councillor, Get Me Out Of Here! contest, which was launched today. Luckily for me, the school they chose to launch it at was St Helena, which is just a few minutes walk from my house.
If you’ve never heard of IACGMOOH (no matter how silly the acronym looks, it’s still easier than typing the whole thing again), it’s an attempt to get young people interested in local democracy by taking six councillors (two from each of the main parties) and sending us out to meet and answer questions from young people from various schools across the borough in person and online. Then, in a series of votes, they get to whittle us down from six to one and that last councillor standing gets to be the Council’s Youth Champion for the next year.
So today, we got to meet a group of students at St Helena, which was a very interesting experience. I’m trying hard not to sound patronising – one of the issues I talked about was how people get annoyed with politicians who talk down to their audience with a ‘I know best, so listen to me’ attitude – but they were very interested in politics, what we as councillors actually do. What was originally scheduled to last for about an hour ended up going on for over two, with debates that were of more depth, substance and actual meaning to people’s lives than I’ve encountered in the council chamber so far.
Anyway, it’s a good reason to hope that Gordon Brown doesn’t call an election – I’m meant to be visiting other schools over the next week or so, as well as taking part in various web things and my commitments to the election campaign will seriously limit what I can do if it’s taking place as well.