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False pop idols and the value of a vote

PERHAPS it's their country's lack of success in hit TV show Pop Idol that has forced campaigners over the border to turn to shock tactics in an effort to persuade young people to vote for real.

The English hope new citizenship lessons will spur teenagers to take less interest in Gareth vs Will and more in Tory vs Labour. But a group of Scottish OAPs have trumped this with direct action.

In South Lanarkshire this week thousands of youngsters came face-to-face with tough-talking pensioners reminding them of the sacrifices previous generations had made to win them the vote.

In a display of passion that teachers will struggle to emulate, campaigners turned up at a careers convention dressed as suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and threatened to chain themselves to the building to get their message across.

The pensioners are members of Lanarkshire Council's project to get better government for older people.

Placard-waving Isa Duncan, said: "Many youngsters would rather vote for TV shows than in political elections. We want to convince them that they should use their vote for the good of the country. The right to vote is a key to democracy."

English citizenship classes, which start in September, will cover crime, human rights, religious and ethnic diversity, protection of animals, government, local democracy and global citizenship - to name but a few lofty areas of study.

The then education secretary David Blunkett was worried that some teaching materials could be a bit on the touchy-feely side. Maybe the Scots pensioners' robust approach will win his approval.

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