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Lib Dems woo the youth vote : LETTERS

From Mr Simon Hughes, MP Sir: Last week's series on "Generation Y" confirmed much of the Liberal Democrat thinking on the problems facing young people today, and their large-scale apathy with mainstream politics.

Andrew Reid (Letters, 27 January) is wrong in asserting that we are experiencing a mid-term "dip" in interest in party politics among the young, which will suddenly bloom come the next election; after all, over 20 per cent of people between 18 and 25 years of age had not registered to vote in 1992. This reflects how little Mr Reid's Young Conservatives know about, or represent, young people.

The long-term trend of growing disillusion with politicians - in so many ways justified - will only be reversed by a fundamental and public reappraisal of the political system. Our centralised and unrepresentative constitutional arrangements deprive any government of the obligation to listen and respond adequately to the concerns of the population.

When 60 per cent of MPs are virtually guaranteed to keep their seats next time around, it is hardly surprising that complacency sets in. Only electoral reform, and other measures to bring decision-makers as close and accountable to the people as possible, will re-enfranchise our increasingly disillusioned young people.

At our last party conference, the Liberal Democrat youth wing introduced a motion to discuss the future of the monarchy, and we also discussed our policies on drugs. Whatever views one might have on these issues, it is undeniable that we were responding to issues that particularly concern the young. We make no apology for that.

Yours faithfully, Simon Hughes MP for Southwark and Bermondsey (Lib Dem)

House of Commons London, SW1