A lot of young people are pretty unimpressed politicians these days and we feel more distant that ever from the politics of “Westminster”.
But there’s a new political party making headway: Renew. Our Editor in Chief Banseka sat down with their leader Annabel Mullin to chat about what Renew stands for, Brexit (of course) and why young people are so disconnected from party politics.
You’ve worked in lots of different places during your career, what made you want to get into politics?
I’ve always had quite a strong sense of duty throughout my career; I’ve worked a lot in the NHS, the police and the criminal justice sector. I was also an army child and moved around a lot as a kid.
I identify as a liberal and became a bit disillusioned with politics during the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. I began to understand how politics actually works internally. I couldn’t understand how it wasn’t very agile or flexible. There is a lack of ability to respond to issues and the internal workings are so cranky and slow. It was frustrating. Alongside others, I founded a new local political party and a short time later merged with Renew.
What does Renew stand for as a party?
Renew is responding to the country’s desperate need for new and effective political leadership. The main parties are too dysfunctional and we need a fresh start. We’re aiming to provide a home for the millions of voters who feel unrepresented right now. We’re about positive disruption, clearing away the old systems that aren’t fit for purpose anymore with something that truly works for people.
People just want us to be doing things better, whether that’s the challenge of sustainable energy, jobs, or education. I see renew as a coalition of lots of different people bringing a whole variety of backgrounds and political leanings into the mix. We’ve got about 150 candidates now ready to run at the next election.
Young people are pretty unengaged in “Westminster politics” and are distrustful of professional politicians. What makes Renew so different?
For starters, we have a pretty young office! We’ve got lots of young people involved who want to change the paradigm of politics. We’re always learning from young people and that runs through the heart of Renew- we understand that it’s important for young people to be part of the conversation and have influence in politics today.
One of the ways we’re trying to listen more to people and increase engagement is through building more of a digital democracy. We want to create an app where we can ask people questions about what they think of certain policy ideas as we think it’s really important that people are heard.
Young people also understand that the old ideologies of left or right aren’t as relevant anymore. There are so many decisions that we need to be making collaboratively on a global scale, whether that’s Amazon not paying enough tax or pushing against Donald Trump’s unprogressive policies.
Research shows that a lot of young people are interested in politics, but feel like they don’t know enough about it. What can we do to empower young people in their knowledge of politics?
We want education in politics to be a solid part of the education system- in fact we want more money going into education across the board. A lack of knowledge about the EU is a good example of us not educating people well enough on political issues. Most people don’t know why things like the single market and free movement of workers are important and is actually helping our economy.
Research shows that key years of your life in terms of education are ages 5-7. If you can create a great environment for kids at that age they stand a much better chance later in life being educated and successful. So strong education all round is key.
What do you think of the current situation with Brexit?
Theresa May’s deal doesn’t answer much; she set unachievable red lines on certain issues that she’s now caved in on. I don’t think she has an easy job to be fair; but I think we should be at the table making decisions alongside the EU and we’re not. And she’s failed to get us there.
What do you think most people want from Brexit?
Theresa May has served what only a small minority of what people wanted without asking the people detail of what they actually wanted. But we did research it, and that has informed us a lot on what sorts of policies we are backing and proposing.
Research shows that for a lot of people it was about security, whether that’s on a national level, or closer to home like job security, safe housing. Health and social care was also a big issue, such as the NHS being able to support our aging population. Funnily enough, despite how ugly politics is these days people also spoke about kindness and compassion. People also said they wanted how politics is done to be much more competent, which is exactly what Renew aims to do. Let’s do things better.