Gazette comment: Tomorrow’s democracy is in good hands

Olivia Gordon Clarke after tasting victory in her Angel Wings campaign. Picture: SIORNA ASHBY

Olivia Gordon Clarke after tasting victory in her Angel Wings campaign. Picture: SIORNA ASHBY - Credit: Archant

Sometimes it’s hard not to feel despondent about the state of our democracy.

In Islington, less than 40 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the May elections. And every day we get bombarded by tweets from Trump, or trolling from both sides of the Brexit debate. It’s exhausting.

But if Thursday’s meeting at the town hall is anything to go by, the future of Islington’s democracy looks bright.

Councillors agreed the shopping centre needs more than a lick of paint, but weren’t convinced the landmark Angel Wings sculpture should be moved elsewhere.

Congratulations must go to Olivia Gordon Clarke for this victory. She campaigned like a pro to save the public artwork, by doorstepping and using petitions to lobby councillors.

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Whether you think the 12-tonne wings should leave or remain is irrelevant. The point is: kids are getting actively involved in local politics. And that is something we should all celebrate.

Even for experienced public figures, big speeches can be scary. But 10-year-old Olivia stood up in front of the a packed town hall and delivered an assured, gracious address. Perhaps more inspiring still was the level of solidarity displayed by Olivia’s friends, who turned up and sat through two hours of a pretty dry public meeting to support her.

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There were nearly as many kids in attendance as adults and the committee wisely took their voices into account. After all, they are the voters of tomorrow.

The 2017 election saw young people confound pollsters by voting in unprecedented numbers.Oxford Dictionaries now define a “youthquake” as “a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people”.

Well, youthquakes start with tremors and these kids are already shaking up local politics.

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