I’ve just written a piece for the Catholic Herald about the involvement of young Catholics in public life.
In May this year, the country will return to the polls to elect a successor to the Coalition. The new government is very unlikely to be a rerun of 2010’s Conservative – Liberal Democrat pact. But the election will be notable for the absence of several prominent Catholic MPs from across the aisles, including Labour’s Paul Murphy (Torfaen), the Lib Dem Sarah Teather (Brent Central), and two Conservatives, Mark Hoban (Fareham) and Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North).
A new generation of Catholic MPs will hopefully be elected in their stead. But the future engagement of political Catholics requires a generation willing to cut their teeth in the profession. Yet young people are consistently the least likely group to vote in General Elections. Data from 2005 and 2010 show that 18-24 and 25-34 year olds are more likely not to exercise their right to vote than to turn up at a polling station on a pleasant spring morning in May. 2015 is unlikely to be any different.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales are tackling this problem through a scheme to get new graduates experience of public life. Since 2003, the Catholic Parliamentary and Public Policy Internship has placed a handful of twentysomethings in Westminster as researchers and aides for Christian MPs from the three main parties, and some for Peers in the House of Lords. Others have worked at institutions of the Church like Cafod, the Catholic Education Service, Caritas Social Action Network, and in Archbishop’s House. A select few have even been sent to MEPs in Brussels.
You can read about my experiences in the CPI scheme in the full article.