What are the advantages and disadvantages of youth in politics?


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Kathryn Amis Profile
Kathryn Amis answered

I’m not sure if this question would elicit a different answer if the question was about the advantages and disadvantages of youth in education or medicine or banking rather than politics?

It’s probably assumed that in other jobs/professions your youth would be rather a disadvantage, because you have to start at the bottom rung and work your way to the top fairly slowly, gaining experience along the way.

Politics is slightly different - you don’t need any qualifications to be a politician. Or any particular skills, or any training.  You can join a political party when you are a teenager and get involved straight away. So being young is no barrier to a political career.

Indeed  William Hague (recently foreign secretary in the UK government)  was 16 when he gave a speech at the Conservative Party conference in 1977. He ‘wowed‘ the audience with his ability to put his ideas across as such a young age - so his youth was a definite advantage there! 

But is it always an advantage?

You can enter parliament as an MP when you are 18 years old. All you have to do is persuade people in your chosen constituency to vote for you and in you go!

There have been many politicians enter Parliament at 21, 22, 23 etc years old what did they bring with them?

I suppose the main advantage of youth is the energy you have - and along side that the enthusiasm for the job and the willingness to learn.  Young politicians are rarely burdened down with ministerial duties - they are free to express themselves and try out new ideas, use new technology and tell anyone who’s older they’ve been getting it all wrong for years!

When you’re young you can have visions for a better future - and of course you’ve no baggage- no skeletons in the cupboard ready to jump out! No enemies (yet!)

Of course there’s the disadvantages of youth too - all the good things  can also be the bad.

Unrealistic ideas and unattainable visions, wanting changing for change sake, impatience,  arrogance, thinking that anyone old is ‘past their sell by date’, thinking technology can solve any problem. Being too impetuous and able to be manipulated by more wily operators.  

And of course the biggest disadvantage of youth - lack of experience and life skills. You just haven’t live long enough.

We need youth in our politics just as we need maturity. Imagine politics with everyone under 35 years! Impossible!

Nearly as bad a the lot of them being ‘old and doddery’ - though I have to say sometimes it seems a bit too much like that at times

We need more young people to be in politics - advantages and disadvantages - bring them on!

There has been a similar discussion Blurtit before see it Here

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