So, Hussain, what made you want to become a Youth Parliament member?
Young people need a voice. I feel that I have the necessary qualities, as I am an experienced orator so I could speak out for young people.
Have you had any previous experience of speaking on behalf of young people?
Well I’ve attended the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge, where I represented my school. Now although that isn’t directly speaking for young people, I did a speech on change, and I feel I represented their views accurately. Additionally, I am the co-head of year for school council so anyone in the year that has a problem can speak to me and I tell the school’s senior management about it.
If you win the election, what role will you have in the Youth Parliament?
My first role would be to represent young people and to speak to young people by setting up a dedicated online service. I would also speak to youth groups as regularly as I can, to surmise the views of young people in order to tell the UKYP about it.
An online service? Specifically, what sort of thing are we talking here?
I would use surveys, facebook and twitter to gain feedback from young people, which I have a great deal of experience with because I wrote an online article once which was about young people’s views on counter terrorism approaches. In the process of that, I had to speak to young people through surveys and focus groups and try and take those views on board, and then think about what patterns they show us.
Who are your political inspirations?
I am inspired by Gandhi and Martin Luther King because of their non-violent approaches and because they sought to speak to the people that they represented. Martin Luther King was representing, as part of the Montgomery Improvement Association, Rosa Parks- just an ordinary woman on a bus.
Yes, but maybe more recently than that?
Recently? Barack Obama- he inspires me. There are clear parallels between the picture of myself on my manifesto and Obama’s campaign photo.
He’s the first African American president in the US. But also, he’s sought for health care reform, which is quite divisive in the US, yet he stuck to his beliefs and took it as far as possible before being blocked by the republican and tea party nominees.
You sound pretty serious about this election. Do you want a career in politics?
No, I wouldn’t say that. A career in politics can get too full of mudslinging... It doesn’t really appeal to me. I mean, I love the idea that there is no party politics in the Youth Parliament and that everyone is purely issue-based.
I care deeply about the cuts. Barnet council is cutting £9.7 million from the Youth Services Budget. And in their budget plan, they state that they will cease to support young people’s services in the next four years! And because we can’t vote, we can’t say anything to the contrary!
Although I can’t reverse cuts, I would like to safeguard young people from them. So for any future cuts, I would propose a consultation with young people.
Well, money does need to be saved somewhere. Where would you propose that these cuts are taken, rather than in areas which affect young people?
Now, between you and me, I know there is quite a lot of bureaucracy in Barnet council. Although I can’t eradicate that, I would say that there are some aspects of youth policy which aren’t useful to young people.
Well, as far as I know... young people... Well, I’ll have to do more research. I’ve lost it off the top of my head, but some policies that Barnet council have aren’t necessarily in the best place to help young people.
Also in your manifesto, you state that you want to change the negative perceptions of young people. How bad are these negative perceptions?
They’re pretty terrible really! If you were to read some The Sun and The Daily Mail, you’d find that young people are referred to as ‘yobs’ or ‘hooligans’. This isn’t applied to certain young people, it’s applied without discretion, to everybody!
Now, I have experience with a media and PR company who produce guidelines for the media, and from the skills that I’ve learnt with them- and possibly in conjunction with them- I’d like to produce a set of guidelines that the media can voluntarily follow. I would stop blanket statements like “Yobbish Behaviour Everywhere from All the Youths”.
Last question. Give my readers three reasons why they should vote for you.
My slogan is “To Listen, To Speak, To Change”. As a young person, I could listen to the problems that young people have. I want to listen, I want to know why you’re not happy with your area, and how it could be improved.
But I will not just listen passively, I will speak. From my experience as an experienced orator, I could speak out loud about what’s affecting us, and demand and negotiate a fair deal for young people. I’m very persistent- I can attest that. I’m stubborn.
And finally, to change. Change is progression. I want to go out there and get an end result.
Great, thanks for coming Hussain!