Home > UK Politics, Welsh Politics > Meet the Panel – BYC Convention Cardiff (4th August 2011)

Meet the Panel – BYC Convention Cardiff (4th August 2011)

The panel consisted of the following:

Andrew RT Davies AM (leader of the Welsh Conservative Party)

Jenny Rathbone  AM (Labour, known champion for children)

Jenny Willott MP (Liberal Democrats)

[will add once I confirm name](Plaid)

The session started with a statement condemning the recent attacks in Norway, followed by a minute silence observed by all.


Votes at 16 was the first issue with majority of the young people attending showing support for the campaign.  The fact that there is a new parliament means that there is a possibility with new members being in support for changing the voting age from 18 to 16.

The Various devolved bodies have already supported motions in support of lowering the age, however the power remains with Westminster.  The Conservative representative had shown that he was strongly opposed to lowering the age as he felt that 16 was too young.

When young people confronted him on this point, and the fact at the age of 16 an individual can choose their next step, whether it be staying in education, Apprenticeships or full time employment on top of gaining responsibility over their own health provision.  The point mentioned by one (me) was that his party was afraid of young people due to the current cuts/ higher charges/ lack of job opportunities and that he would not support it in the fear of retribution by the younger voters.

He replied with the fact that if young people from the age of 15 were part of his party they could vote for their leader etc, thus the argument being contradictory as why should they have the power to vote within the party compared to in a actual election, are young people not using the same responsibility to do so in both?

Jenny Rathbone highlighted the well known saying “No taxation, without representation” ,it is true 16 years in full time employment by law pay tax, if they are forced to pay tax they should have the right to vote for the person they deem best  in how they the spend tax. Jenny also noted the fact that Young Labour (15-27) has supported a motion calling for the voting age to be lowered also.

The Plaid representative had stated he and his party were in full support of a potential change to the voting age. It has been a view the party has supported for many years and very much continue to do so.

Liberal Democrats (Jenny Willott) had stated the same as the previous two, the fact that her party had long supported the lowering of the voting age, the fact that young members from the age of 15 like the other parties on the panel are eligible to vote in all internal elections.

Youth Service Cuts

The question was raised why the Youth Service provisions across Wales were seeing deep cuts in their funding, leading to many provisions in local areas being stopped due to cost and youth service priorities.

An interesting point raised that the youth services across Wales, provide young people with informal education i.e. ASDAN etc to assist them in skills employers are looking for, they also provide provision in terms of NEET (not in Education, Employment or Training).

The discussion then quickly moved to government priorities, and yep you guessed it –what was left after the last government –YAWN-. The government is forced to make hard decisions on where it spends it’s allocated money and as many said young people were the victims and probable reason being they are too apathetic or not old enough to vote.

Children in Care

Last but not least, the issue of children in the care system in Wales was discussed and how unstable the system arguably is. It was strongly felt that young people need to feel respected and maintain dignity, which is arguably not provided in its current form.

Young People often experience continuous changes to the social worker assigned to them, which does not allow trust to build up in order to open to a worker more.  All the panellists had felt this was disgusting and that every young person in care deserved better and they the politicians were acting as parents in the literal sense being the ones who make decisions affecting them.  All admitted more needed to be done and panellists stated that they would bring the matter to the assembly/parties to discuss further.


Overall the panellists answered the questions laid out; however one came across not really take in or like young peoples’ views. Another seemed to enjoy taking the blame away from their party in order to change/curb the discussion.  The Vote@16 issue had been by far the biggest and most interesting debate/ heated discussion, as well as some of the young people making panellists bite their tongues. The day itself proved to be on a whole successful, the main points made were to be transmitted by panellists to their political body and party, in the hope that they in turn will be able to bring about change in the topic matters discussed.

Congratulations and huge thanks go out to the BYC guys for such a brilliantly organised event. I know you have inspired many who attended to be involved, not just locally or even nationally, but also on a European level as well as its neighbours.

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