The pro-Jeremy Corbyn political movement Momentum revealed last week it was helping parents take part in activism by providing childcare activities under the banner of Momentum Kids. The group said it will “increase the involvement of children, parents and carers in Momentum and the Labour party” and it was met with a mixed reaction.
Events for children such as banner making and a Teddy Bears’ Mandate, where children are encouraged to think about which party their stuffed toy would lead and what policies it might espouse, were dismissed by Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who branded the group “Tiny Trots”, but children’s author Michael Rosen suggested it was in line with government policy to encourage children to learn about democracy.
I’m erring on Rosen’s side on this. The fact that Google reported an upturn in searches for “what is the EU?” AFTER the Brexit vote suggests there are plenty of people in this country who do not understand our political system at all. On a practical level, I’d like Elsa to understand the way democracy works in the UK, but I would also like her to have an opinion on the issues and to possess a social conscience too.
As I have previously mentioned, we live in a constituency with an MP who is virulently anti-feminist and who seems to blame the world’s ills on what he brands ‘political correctness’, but what the rest of us call ‘having respect for each other’. I want her to know about politics, how it affects her and I’d like her to be able to make up her own mind about who she votes for and why. Of course, Momentum has its own agenda, but to dismiss this as “brain washing” and “grooming” is unfair – we are likely to live in a better world altogether if our children are engaged in the process and take an active part.
I first heard about this initiative on Radio 4’s Today programme, where ne of the guests suggested children as young as two could be engaged by politics. Presenter Nick Robinson went on to suggested they launch a kids’ version of the news programme. As a result, I asked Elsa to record a demo for the show, including a forward sell for Andrew Marr’s Start the Week show. Take a look:
By the way, I think her stuffed penguin is likely to vote Green, but I have a sneaking suspicion the badger toy is edging towards UKIP.