Independent candidate Siobhan Benita has come out top in a survey of who young Londoners want as mayor. Over twenty organisations and institutions including colleges, youth media, youth-led and youth-focused organisations, community groups and charities took part in the study which revealed how engaged with young people each of the candidates have been during their election campaigns.
Siobhan Benita said; “Right from the start of my campaign, I’ve put young people at its heart. I’m the only candidate to have a manifesto on youth and education. I’ve pledged to appoint a Young Mayor, paid for out of my own salary and to set up a Greater London Youth Assembly, to give young people a say in all policy areas. I want to give young people a stake in the future of London. I get really angry when I hear politicians talk down our young people. I have met so many inspirational young people during this campaign and, despite the many challenges in their lives, young Londoners are, for the most part, creative, conscientious and fun”.
The study looked at breaking the cycle of young people being disengaged with politics and politics being disengaged with young people and revealed some interesting results.
Of the 27 invitations to attend events, hustings, debates and interviews focused on the under 25’s, it was found that Siobhan Benita had a 100% attendance record while Lawrence Webb from UKIP and Conservative candidate Boris Johnson had the highest rate for failing to respond or declining invitations. It was also found that no invitations were extended to the BNP candidate and that the party was repeatedly cited as not representing “a modern society” or the views of young people.
The investigation analysed the six remaining candidate’s interaction with the participating organisations, and how each one came across in terms of knowledge, honesty, suitability for Mayor and commitment to youth issues.The survey results revealed Lawrence Webb in sixth position with 0%, Boris Johnson in fifth position with 17%, Jenny Jones in fourth position with 49% with Ken Livingstone just ahead of the Green party candidate in third position with 53%. Brian Paddick took second position with 64%, with Siobhan Benita coming in at number one with 77.5%.
Michael Sani from Bite the Ballot said “It’s clear from our recent events and rallies that young people are ready to engage in politics, but more support is needed from the decision makers to empower the youth, therefore showing them the value and impact of their involvement”.The full report will be published after this Thursday’s election and the writers of the report hope to engage the new Mayor with their findings and put young people firmly on the political agenda.