Belfast Telegraph

It would be better if David Cameron stood up for young people

By Lindy McDowell

The Downton Abbey-isation of politics continues over at that grand house at Westminster where only a few weeks ago we witnessed an orgy of pasty consumption as the posh boys who now run the nation competed to prove what men-of-the-people they actually are.

Although as we all know, actually they aren't ...

A truth which Dave Cameron once again underlined this week when he came out with a topping idea which could have come straight from the lips of the Downton dowager herself.

Dave would like to see children rise to their feet every time an adult enters a room.

He suggests this might be in order for schools where the class would rise to greet their teacher (fair enough, it happens in some already) and, um, at home where the young 'uns would launch themselves into vertical respect every time Mater or Pater entered the room.

Yeah, like, right! As disaffected youth itself might say.

It's yet another indication from Mr C that he comes not just from a higher social plane than the rest of us but, quite possibly, from a different planet entirely.

The little ones leaping to their feet might work in the sort of mansion setting where Mama and Papa drop into the nursery for a brief catch-up before heading out to the opera. But amid the three-up two-down ordinariness of average family life, where space is at a premium and you're in and out of the living room like a yo-yo, your kids are going to be springing up and down like they're auditioning for an episode of Celebrity Boot Camp.

And hard enough as it might be coaxing the smaller members of the household to salute your entrance, just think of the fun it will be persuading Kevin the teenager that he's got to pause Call of Duty Modern Warfare and stand to attention every time you pop your head round the door to ask if he's up for another slice of quattro formaggi.

Given the myriad challenges already facing the parents of the nation you'd think the man leading the country would have more important things to concentrate on than this pathetic stand-up comedy routine.

Take, for example, the real hurdles so many of those young people encounter when they come of an age where they're looking for a job.

Cameron's coalition in the person of Chris Grayling, Employment Minister has been calling for employers to look more kindly upon younger job applicants in what's been inevitably dubbed a "hire a hoodie" plea.

Mr Grayling told a meeting in London that employers were much more likely to give jobs to older, more experienced migrant workers.

But, he told them: "Often the surly young man in a hoodie who turns up looking unwilling to work can turn into an exciting and motivated employee."

All well and good. But Mr Grayling, you can hardly fault the employer, who in these difficult times might opt to go for the older worker (migrant or otherwise) with the impressive CV rather than take a punt on the teenager with no work experience whatsoever.

In the real world, there's a whole generation being shut out of employment through no fault of their own (and certainly through no fault of hard working migrants.)

What practical, tangible official measures are being taken to redress this?

Instead of wittering on about our young standing up for adults, the Prime Minister should be focusing on what parents really want.

A government that stands up for the young.

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