Meet the Sheffield student who’s set up his own political podcast
He’s got Natalie Bennett live on his show tomorrow at 1.30pm
Kieran Morgan is a third year politics student at the University of Sheffield. With an interest in politics from a young age, he was the president of Socialist Students in the Student’s Union last year, and this year has decided to set up a political podcast in the run up to the General Election.
He speaks to Sheffield based political voices, including Natalie Bennett (who he’s got on the show tomorrow), professors from the uni’s Department of Politics, and he’s speaking to Labour MP Paul Blomfield on Friday.
We caught up with him to talk about politics in Sheffield, the upcoming election and the role that students can play to shape the future.
What first got you interested in politics?
Like everyone in our generation, we grew up during the Iraq war, under Tony Blair’s government and witnessed the 2008 financial crisis. I never really understood all the time what was happening when I was really young; I just knew it was important.
Believe it or not, despite being an ardent Socialist now, I actually began a very young political life as a Tory. Growing up in a local comprehensive I got into all the top sets. I guess in a way I felt like that had an effect on me. Many tories that I speak to believe in a natural order to things, that some are born more gifted than others and society should express that.
It wasn’t until I started to really think critically about issues and about the causes of inequality that I went to the left. Why did those kids in school do worse than me? Why didn’t they have money for a school lunch? Why did they spend the £1 they had on a Lucozade? Why did they lack discipline? Well, because I was lucky in life and the way I was brought up, and they weren’t. Some pull themselves up by the bootstraps and are very fortunate in life, but the majority are simply born into what they’ve got.
What first influenced you to start the channel?
Firstly, I think it was a chance to bring together all the political organisations within the university. There are so many, and all of them led by very politically active people that I don’t always agree with, but it’s a chance for a discussion rather than a mud-slinging exercise.
Secondly, there are so many other smaller organisations that raise awareness for single issues. USLES, a society I have been inclusions officer for, raises money for a number of charities. I think it’s very important to raise awareness for these societies in-between more political videos because they add real colour to Sheffield and the University that makes us love Sheffield. Without them, it would be a much darker place.
Thirdly, there is only one time in life you’re going to get the chance to take in a wealth of knowledge from university lecturers and that’s here, at University. I want everybody to have access to some portion of that knowledge. To learn about real expert views on how the political scene is developing, without reading some politically loaded journalist who hasn’t actually got a clue and trying to rile people up just to get coverage.
Why should fellow students watch your channel?
I think they should watch because it’s a chance for discussion, not debate. Yes, I will ask difficult questions at times, but only to get the best answers.
It’s also a chance to hear the views of ordinary people, as well as politicians. Too often we get a husk of a person wrapped in soundbites and that’s our politicians. But the membership is the lifeblood of any political movement, their voices need to be heard as well as the leaders. And it’s local, in touch with the day-to-day. A chance to see that politics is all around us and it can have a positive influence on campus life.
Do you think that students are engaged enough with politics?
No, I don’t think that they are, and I think it’s a failure of politicians and the media who have turned politics into a mud-slinging affair.
The internet has made things worse in a way. People see and hear what they want in front of them, and it becomes impossible to see the other side. Politics is actually a fascinating subject, but it’s been poisoned by the media making it oversimplified into angry soundbites.
The younger generation need to engage now more than ever because we are constantly the targets of Tory austerity. They know we don’t vote, but it’s hard to engage when the media and politicians are so immature. We need less bickering and more discussion.
Do you think politics is being dumbed down for younger generations?
No, I think politics has been dumbed down for everyone. Tabloids have learned that if you can get people angry, you can sell more papers. Young people in particular are just plain left out of the conversation, and politicians over time has learnt that because we don’t vote we don’t matter, and that’s why we’re bearing the brunt of Tory cuts.
You can flash your iPhone at me all you like, but what quality of life are we going to have? Record numbers of young people are depressed, have a huge student debt, a crippling overdraft, student loans that don’t even cover their rent, unemployed, or are working full time zero hours’ contracts, or going into apprenticeships on half the minimum wage.
Young people are becoming political targets.
Who do you think will win the election? What’s your advice to students who are voting?
Well I’m meant to be a none partisan host, but you know that isn’t going to happen as I’m a Labour member.
But all I can say is this. The Liberal Democrats have betrayed you. The Tories have targeted you. UKIP want to divide you. The Greens are okay? But Labour have a once in a generation manifesto. They won’t just make your lives better, but they will transform this country for all people. Think not just in terms of your university friends or yourselves, but communities like the one I grew up in in Birkenhead. Once a major shipping port on the banks of the Mersey, which since de-industrialisation has seen drugs, joblessness, crime, and all manner of issues plague it since the 1980’s. Never give up on your home town. Never give up on the people and places you grew up with.
Labour can and will turn around many people’s lives. But we need to fight for that change. Together.
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