Uprise or Upheaval: Young people make a stand but who listened?

Published On 7 March, 2012 | By Derrick | Articles, Events, Politics, Students/Education
Derrick McMillan’s review of Channel 4 and UpRise’s young people debate.

I went to a rather anticipated young people’s live debate at Channel 4, hosted by UpRise and Channel 4 in collaboration. UpRise is an organisation that aims to confront the uncomfortable truths that are in our society. The host was Konnie Huq and Ayanna Witter-Johnson performed a beautiful music piece.

E2E and the young people who attended the live debate, expected Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone, but sadly they didn’t commit to the appointment.

Instead, Brian Paddick, who represents the Liberal Democrats, Siobhan Bonita, an independent mayor candidate, Richard Barnes, deputy mayor and Jenny Jones of the Green Party attended this heated debate.

The debate was focused on the representation of young people in London society and how we as a society should move forward and abolish the negative stereotypes of young people in today’s London. The young people were very disappointed with very the responses, the invited panel gave when the young people, asked their rather intelligent and well thought questions. The panel often diverted questions and the chair of the debate, Bonnie Greer, put her own thoughts forward more than the young people who should have been listened to, instead of ignored.

The audience, like me, wanted answers to questions like what the government is going to do to eradicate stop and search and the stereotypes connected to black males. We wanted answers to knowing the actual steps, the government are going to take to help the young people that can’t help themselves or lack motivation or drive. We wanted answers to how we can give young people more opportunities in society. In those questions and many others, Richard Barnes stumbled and couldn’t simply answer the question, especially as he was representing the party that is in power at the moment.

I was highly disappointed. In addition, Jenny Jones outlined the policies of the Green Party which could bring young people together. She mentioned that she wanted a Green Mayor, free education for young people, including EMA and more coverage of the positive aspects of young people in London today. That definitely seemed like a slightly better answer to our questions, than the constant repetition and stumbling of Richard Barnes. I was pleased with the statements Brian Paddick made about improving education, raising young people’s ambitions, reforming the police force and allowing young people to express themselves more in London.


The most inspiring person on the panel on the night, who really moved the young people, was Siobhan Bonita. She really connected with the young people and represented us as an important asset to London and the steps that should be taken to sustain and move forward as a diverse community. She didn’t conform to any political idea, but looked at society through the eyes of the young individual who wanted positive change.  She wants to start a youth assembly and appoint a ‘Young Mayor of London.’ This is a really good idea, especially when young people make up a large percentage of the city.

As a young person, I am just curious if anything is going to happen. I personally have doubt because Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone didn’t show up and the hope of ever getting a positive outlook on young people seems to be a wish too far, especially if a panel cannot answer the intriguing questions, posed by the young people themselves. Young people are more powerful and intelligent beyond reason.

It is up to us as young people to find a solution, and create the positive image, rather than wait for someone to create it for us.

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About The Author

I am a 17 years old college student that is currently trying to find his way through life by taking advantage of the best opportunities in life, while staying humble, happy and content.

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