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A bill of rights for the next generation: What do you think?

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Here’s a new idea which we are starting to think about.  Would it be useful, what might it contain and how could we make it work? We would welcome your opinion.

A Bill of Rights for Future Generations.

The Early Action Task Force is working in several ways to create the conditions, the understanding and the resources for early action to thrive. Our work is very practical. It is about doing what we can in the prevailing context – political, financial, cultural and legislative.  We wouldn’t want to abandon this pragmatic and practical approach but we are also thinking about opening up a new front:

The problem we want to solve:

We have a settled government with a political narrative that is dominated by Brexit. There are glimpses of other interests such as the PMs Shared Society speech but these are infrequent and insubstantial.

The opposition has very little influence.

It seems unlikely that either of the above will change before the next general election.

In this stasis we can support front line work and help to influence individual policies but building a society where problems are routinely prevented is an ambitious long term goal which will not be reached solely with the small pragmatic steps. We need to also think much harder about how we radically influence the direction of travel. We need to find a way of moving the conversation on to the big vision.

A bill of rights for the next generation.

All political parties need to offer a future that is better than the past but need and capacity are on irreconcilable trajectories. Likewise consumption and sustainability. Food banks, student loans, generation rent, trolleys in A and E, people sleeping on the streets – in different ways these are all symbols of a society that is moving backwards, not forwards. There is a political imperative, as well as a social, economic and moral obligation, for politicians to find a way of promising a better future, not as a rhetorical aspiration, but as a set of rights with a plausible plan for delivering them.

Suppose we began to talk about a Bill of Rights for Future Generations to fundamentally change how government thinks and behaves. Suppose we imagine the Bill as the set piece of the first Queens speech from the next government in three years’ time. It would be the world’s most far sighted and ambitious programme for ensuring a better future for our children.

Some of the ideas which we have discussed regularly on this blog would have a place (Ten year planning, transition goals, an Office for Future Generations, early action testing, a Next Generation Investment fund etc) but, to justify the billing it would need to be significantly more ambitious.

Leading that conversation

Suppose we think of this goal as a way of inspiring a different conversation over the course of the next few years.  The big objective would be extraordinary. Some more limited gains on the way would be worthwhile.

How would it be framed and what would it contain?

Please post your comments below in the usual way or mail me directly at

There’s nothing like a referendum to get young people voting?

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Last week the register to vote website crashed due to unprecedented demand from people under 35, forcing the Government to introduce legislation to extend the deadline. At the same time our own Youth Worker, Tola Jaiyeola was participating in a live EU referendum TV debate with Nigel Farage and David Cameron, smashing the stereotype that young people are not interested in the decisions that shape their lives.     

At Community Links our Talent Match London team have been working with Bite the Ballot engaging young people in East London in the EU referendum debate. The message has been clear, whether you’re in or out, make sure you turn up to vote and understand what you’re voting for.

In the past young people have been criticized for showing apathy and antipathy towards politics, with the likes of Ed Miliband recently issuing a ‘call to arms’ to young voters, urging them to register to vote for next week’s referendum. Leave or remain, politicians know that young people’s votes are an untapped resource, with turnout amongst 18-24 year olds in the 2015 general election nearly half that of the over 65s. In a previous blog we highlighted how low political participation is contributing to young people lagging behind their older relatives in-terms of income growth and homeownership.

Voter registration data published last week shows that this might be changing, with hundreds of thousands of young people making a last minute dash to register. Could the EU referendum be reconnecting young people with politics, the same as the Scottish referendum did? We won’t know until after the 23rd June, however, what is clear is that young people do care about these issues. Following Tola’s TV appearance, she wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian, outlining why she believes young people need to speak up:

“My final advice to my peers is not to be intimidated by politics or by political leaders, but to get involved. It was nerve-racking being on camera and putting my question to Farage, but a few days on from the debate, I feel proud to have stood up and had my voice heard. Let’s not leave the older generation, who may not be around for the consequences of these decisions, to decide our fate alone.”

Let’s hope that when the ballot boxes open next Thursday, young people from across the country follow Tola’s lead and take the future in their hands, proving, as they did in Scotland, that there’s nothing like a referendum to get young people voting.