Democracy is a vital lesson

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Politics probably isn’t the most captivating subject for young people in the face of everything competing for their attention.

It is so important, however, for the democratic future and well-being of our country that young people do take an interest not just in what is happening in Parliament but in their own communities.

Being from a mining family I have always been involved in trade union work before moving into politics with Wansbeck Council and subsequently, Parliament but that is not the case for many young people. Which is why I have been so delighted to welcome three groups of students from my constituency to the House of Commons in recent weeks.

It was a pleasure to meet with the young people from Collingwood School in Morpeth, the Josephine Butler Campus and Ashington High School when they came to London and were able to see for themselves exactly what goes on.

After working there for two years I still find it an awe-inspiring place and I know from talking with the young people they found it fascinating.

Hopefully some of those on the visit will be inspired to either think about a career in politics or local government or one day to set their sights on becoming a local councillor or even a Member of Parliament.

It was particularly interesting to find that all the Ashington High School students were girls because women are still very much under-represented in the corridors of power in Westminster and our town halls around the country.

Whether or not any of the students think about politics as a career I do hope that one of the lessons they take away from their visit to the House of Commons is how important it is for them to continue to exercise their democratic right to vote in elections whether they be for our UK or European Parliaments, county or local elections.