The recent attacks that have plagued Manchester and London are a harsh reminder of how vital our democracy is. The most recent attack in North London appeared to be an attack on a single group of people, but has hit all Londoners hard.
In the United Kingdom we air out our differences through mature debate, which in turn enhances our sense of community. We have been reminded during the General Election campaign that despite our disagreements, more unites us than separates us. We must always bolster and protect our democratic traditions.
In recent weeks and months debate has played out across the nation and into our community. Haringey has a wonderful sense of democracy, with a huge 78 per cent turnout in Hornsey & Wood Green.
Given the context of the past three years, with a Scottish independence referendum, an EU referendum and one previous General Election, it is incredible to see such high participation.
In our constituency – and nationally – young voters were mobilised in particular, deciding to have a say in their country’s future. They came out to vote – and vote for change.
Pollster YouGov says that 57% of voters aged 18 to 19 voted, while turnout among those aged 20 to 24 was 59%. With those aged 25 to 29 turnout was higher still, at 64%.This is far more than in 2015, when just 43% of voters aged 18 to 24 went to the polls, according to Ipsos Mori.
These figures are hugely encouraging.
Engaging and participating in politics is part of what makes democracy thrive and holds those with power to account to act on what people believe in.
My duty is to the all people Hornsey & Wood Green, having been elected by a majority of 65 per cent. People came out to vote on the agreement that I would stand up for them in Westminster on issues that affect their lives, whether that be education, the NHS or the EU. Engaging with our community is one of the key and cherished parts of my job, with tremendous representation at three different Jo Cox memorial events in Hornsey & Wood Green, where I joined constituents to stand up for tolerance, openness and democracy.
As such, I am delighted that next month my office will be hosting the Catherine West Summer School, which is already fully subscribed by those aged 16-19 who are interested in politics, society and media. Citizen education is vital to helping establish a sense of community and the responsibilities we hold, and so should be open to all.
The school will open up Parliament to everyone so it looks and feels like the country we live in. It will be a hands on experience to teach younger people about how Westminster and local community issues interact with our day-to-day lives and how it is portrayed in the news.
Why is it important? Because as we look forward to the rest of this Parliament and the unchartered water our country is crossing into, it is vital all of our community is as engaged as ever to support our democracy.