Polly Toynbee visits Harlow College

News / Fri 28th Nov 2014 at 11:15am

Polly ToynbeeBy Grace Earl

GUARDIAN columnist Polly Toynbee joined forces with Harlow’s Labour parliamentary candidate Suzy Stride on Wednesday in an attempt to convince young people to vote.

Ms Toynbee was a guest speaker at Harlow College’s Pizza and Politics event, where students learned about the importance of voting and outlined changes which they would like to see implemented by politicians.

Around 33 percent of 18-34 year olds did not vote in the 2010 general election and this is a trend which Ms Toynbee, who was formerly the BBC’s social affairs editor, is passionate about reversing.

She said: “The turnout of pensioners at elections is always really high, whereas young people and those on low incomes tend to stay away from the polls.”
“Politicians therefore have no incentive to create policies which benefit the lives of our future generations.”

“We cannot have a government which only cares about older people, as a government which doesn’t consider the young will not care about its legacy.”

“Older people tend to have this view that the past was a much better time and that creates a real lack of optimism about our future; to put it simply, we are a miserable country if young people do not vote.”

Wednesday’s Pizza and Politics event was the fifth one of its kind at the college.

Ms Toynbee also hosted an informal question and answer session with students from Harlow’s prestigious journalism department, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and counts esteemed figures such as Piers Morgan and Jeremy Clarkson among its alumni.

She was quizzed about topics including breaking into the industry, dealing with pushy editors and the Leveson inquiry into the phone hacking scandal at the now-defunct News of the World in 2011.

Sue Barr, Assistant Academy Manager at the college’s Journalism Centre, said: “This was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn from a working journalist who is at the top of her game.”

“Polly provided students with useful advice on dealing with ethical issues that could arise during their careers, which is particularly important in light of the Leveson inquiry’s findings.”

Ms Toynbee also presented three gifted students with the Jack Petchey Award for Outstanding Achievement.

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