Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Nick Clegg gets it on youth unemployment (and social media)

This is entirely my view and I couldn't hope to speak for others but I couldn't be happier with the way the national Lib Dem campaign is going at the minute and with the direction taken by Nick Clegg and his team over the past two weeks.

Since I was selected as a PPC for Reading West on 8 January Nick has outlined two key pledges firstly - action to reduce the number of empty homes, and secondly, today, plans to throw a much-needed life line to young people.

Anyone who knows me will know these are two of the issues that mean the most to me in my campaigning - probably in my top 5!

In parts of Reading - notably Whitley the number of youngsters who are not in work or education is a real cause for concern and Labour locally and nationally have run out of ideas of how to tackle this. If I was a family member affected by this I would be really angry.

Last October I forced local politicians to engage on this issue: I got Reading Borough Council to hold a special summit meeting on how we can better support local youngsters.

I wrote to RBC again this week calling for a follow up meeting to ensure that this issue does not slip off the agenda and I gave an interview to BBC South on the subject.

I wrote to Nick last summer calling for urgent action after seeing the figures on youth unemployment in Reading.

And because I felt so passionately about this issue last September I overcame my nerves and spoke at Lib Dem Federal Conference to ensure that the Lib Dems had a policy on this issue:

You can check out my speech here:

Nick will be launching the Lib Dem policy to help support young people badly affected by the recession at 4pm today.

He will be talking directly to young people using social media - what else?

Earlier today he said:
"Facebook, YouTube and Twitter play as an important role as TV or newspapers in young people's lives. Politicians can't ignore new or social media if they want to connect with the next generation of voters"

At last, a UK Party Leader who actually gets it!! I will continue blogging and tweeting even more fervently now (not that I needed any encouragement).

I have been using social media as part of my campaigning in Reading for the past couple of years. I am keen to get children and young people involved in a scrutiny review I am leading on children's health - we can't expect that they will want to come to council meetings (especially when very few adults do!)

On the subject of YouTube, check out this video that Nick and his team have produced:

Nick Clegg will be holding an online question time at 4.30pm today.

You can find full details of the event and how to submit a question here. You can submit a question via Twitter - @Nick_Clegg #asknick.

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