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Passion needed

SO Ali G, self-styled leader of the Staines posse, is more widely recognised - just - than Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mo Mowlam is frequently confused with Ann Widdecombe (understandably, given the small number of senior women politicians), the majority can't name their local MP and one in five don't plan to vote. Just how depressed should we be about the findings of the TES 200 poll of first-time voters?

Few Britons are passionate about politics, and enthusiasm for an early general election is limited. So why should teenages feel any different?

Precisely because they are young, is why. Youth should be a time of idealism and desire to change the world. But our sample is less likely to vote than the general population. And they're not even out protesting - just eight out of 200 have done so in the past year.

Will citizenship lessons help? If the Government limits them to voting and volunteering, then probably not. Politicians should not interfere in the citizenship curriculum. They're the last people to inspire us about politics.

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