LETTERS: Political frustrations of Generation Y

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From Ms Vanessa Potter Sir: Your coverage of the political views and beliefs of Generation Y suggests that young people are, at worst, apathetic or, at best, interested in single-issue campaigns but as no more than passing fancies. Andrew Reid (Letters, 25 January), on the oth er hand, rejects this theory, suggesting that young people are interested in party polities but are merely experiencing the same mid-term apathy enjoyed by everyone else.

Both perspectives define "politics" from a similar standpoint - one which equates an interest in politics with participation in the mainstream. It is the failure of mainstream politics to address the needs of young people that has resulted in anger and frustration, which is far from apathetic.

Young people have tended to experience the failure of mainstream politics more severely than other groups: youth unemployment is twice as high as for the rest of the population, access to income support has been diminished and levels are lower than for older age groups, student grants have been slashed and youth homelessness has increased.

The mainstream political parties need to respond to young people's anger and frustration by putting them at the centre of their agenda - listening to the views of young people and enabling them genuinely to influence and dictate the parties' policies andactions. Electoral success might be the smallest of gains for any party which dares to undertake such a challenge.

Yours faithfully Vanessa Potter Chair, British Youth Council London, NW1

25 January