Go back to your constituencies and prepare for school!

Simon Carr is impressed – and depressed – by UK Youth Parliament

What self-possession they have, these delegates in the UK Youth Parliament.

The ease on their feet. MP Sir George Young was chatting to one in the House of Commons at lunch. "You spoke didn't you? Well done. Was it an ordeal?" The young man did not even consider this: "No, not really."

We closed our mouths again. He explained that they did it all the time. The chamber was impressive, but they were used to campaigning. A hostile audience might have been more alarming, but they all knew each other. "We keep in touch on Facebook," he said. What used to be Bugsy Malone for politicians is now a training camp for the political class.

I saw a group of four or five on the platform at Paddington and immediately clocked them. Not just by the way they were embracing and welcoming each other, not just by the underarm document wallet one carried or the clever hair and glasses of another, and not just by the 12-year-old boy wearing a suit. But by the whole package – a combination that could not be anything else that day.

You have to start early these days, and these children are laying the foundations for a lifelong career. Personally, I'm very much against it – and not just because I'm old and envious. I ask, again, that young people consider the merits of heroin addiction instead of "passionately working to make the world a better place".

Having said that, let me report the positive side. They are more attractive than you would expect politicians to be. They look much older than their years – some, indeed, seemed 30. The facial metal is discreet. Not one fiddled with his or her mobile in the chamber.

When one of them went on too long the rest didn't shout: "Sit down! Too long! Drivel!" – they just laughed and applauded when he left a gap. No one used the phrase "Shame on you!" And, being elected on a regional basis, there wasn't a particular party-based antipathy between them. The speeches were short. There was no jeering, heckling, or any obscene gestures – even from Wallasey MP Angela Eagle, who addressed them early on.

In delivery, the front bench speeches weren't at all bad. Harrison Carter had a textured voice and intimate manner that gave him weight beyond his years; Alec Howells, who lives in Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg's constituency, had been well-schooled there. Mu-Hamid Pathan stood for mayor in the East Midlands at the age of 18, and will probably get somewhere as he has no idea when to stop. Alex Huston had a good crack at demanding that MPs pay back the cost of their university fees.

From the floor, the best received speech came from a tall, mature-looking student in Islamic dress who thanked the youth workers for their support and encouragement.

There was a young woman with a headband, who reminded us all of the young John Bercow as she bounced to her feet. And a young man with Frank Zappa hair gave us a performance of complex irony and theatrical passion, which cheered everyone up.

Having said that, the X Factor noises the delegates made were thoroughly nauseating. They have a new whoop – short and sharp like a police car right behind you. And another one like a long blast of a train whistle. They are produced when anyone popular sits down.

Also – the language they use and the things they say sound depressingly familiar. The new generation pays homage, without irony, to its elders. I suppose that's where the jobs are. Thus we hear, "It is our duty to. It is imperative that. I was aghast. It cannot continue. The catastrophic effect of this budget. Let's work together. Removing child poverty will ensure ..."

To hear someone too young to vote saying "my constituents" causes quite a surge in the lower throat. More important, they have no idea whether what they are saying is true. "The money for the High Speed project can be better spent elsewhere." Oh, really? How do you know that, mush? "Global warming is the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced." Sure about that, sonny?

Here's the depressing thing. While the manner wasn't actually as good as an average Commons debate, neither was it much worse. And that's a terrible thing to say about the average Commons debate.

These young people have opinions about things. They've been encouraged to think it's a good thing to have opinions. They are applauded for their passion and commitment – but it comes down to coming together to tell everyone else what to do. That's the game.

So look at them and mock them for talking outside their circumference of knowledge – and then realise that our leaders (though vastly more informed and experienced) are guilty of precisely the same on a very much larger scale.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform