Christopher Costello is also standing for election in the constituency of Airdrie and Shotts in North Lanarkshire in the upcoming elections to the Scottish Youth Parliament. I met with him and asked him the same 14 questions about the campaign, and issues facing young people in Scotland.
The format of the interview will be as follows, first will be the question asked by the interviewer, Harry Williamson, and then Chris’ response.
Red text is the question asked and the ordinary text is Chris’ response.
Please note that these are the exact responses from the candidate and have not been altered in any way.
1. In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing young people in Scotland today and what do you plan to do to tackle this issue?
“The biggest issue facing young people today is finding a voice in a tense political climate. Young people are charged too much for local services and for transport. They are encouraged to stay fit, however there is a lack of facilities available due to a lack of central government funding. The young people are the future of our society, the entrepreneurs of the future, the teachers and doctors of the future and the decision makers of the future. Despite this, too many politicians ignore our importance. This is our biggest problem. We need to emphasise our importance in a country that is going through huge political change. Disgracefully, last year, we were denied the opportunity to vote in a referendum that will affect the young people in the future more than it will affect anyone else. Working together and by voting for me, we can make a huge change and give the young people a louder voice than we’ve ever had before.”
2. What would be your main priorities as an MSYP and what issues do you hope to tackle?
“Recently I conducted a poll which was answered by several local young people. They told me that Education, Democracy, Sport and Wellbeing and Local Services are the issues that they feel strongly about. The priorities of my constituents are my priorities too. I will fight for an education system that helps every single young person, an education system that allows them to fulfil their potential and a system that will ensure every young person is given the opportunity to enter a positive definition after school. I will fight for a louder voice for young people and emphasise our importance in not only politics but in our society as a whole. I will also tackle the issues that prevent our young people from taking part in sporting activities. The cost of local services is a major issue for young people, we are encouraged to get fitter and healthier but a gym membership and an hours use of a football pitch is extortionate, together we can change this.”
3. How are young people treated in Scotland in 2017, and would you change this in any way?
Note: This answer also covers Question 7 (Are young people treated with a fair amount of respect in Scottish society?)
“In the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, and the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in 2016, sixteen and seventeen year olds were given the opportunity to vote. This highlights that in Scotland, young people are slowly but surely gaining the respect that they fully deserve. However, the result of the referendum was to stay in the U.K. and as it stands young people in Scotland cannot vote in General Elections and in the EU Referendum young people in Scotland and across the country were not given a chance to vote on our future. It can be argued that our importance is underestimated in Scotland, we are not consulted anywhere near enough in the decision making process and this has to change. In the position of MSYP I will fight for this change, and I will work tirelessly to ensure that what we say is heard and what is suggest and fight for is acted upon.”
4. Since Education is one of the biggest issues for young people, what do you think about the current education system and would you change it in any way?
“I don’t think our government realises the importance of education. The attainment gap is widening and if you go to a private school you are twice as likely to get into university than someone in a public school which is simply unacceptable. An education system should not be selective in any way, an education system, particularly in Scotland where education is one of our proudest possessions should be completely inclusive. I would fight to change the complicated nature of our curriculum which is not helping the young people and is putting unnecessary stress on our teachers. Additionally, I would fight to increase the amount of additional assistance on offer to students who are struggling with the stress of their exams.”
5. One of the biggest educational issues for the current Scottish Government is to tackle the attainment gap in education, do you have any responses to this issue and how it can be worked on effectively?
“The attainment gap is a major issue. If you go to a private school in Scotland, you are twice as likely to get into university than someone who goes to a public school. The solution to this is further investment in our schools to improve the resources that pupils have at their disposal and if you vote for me I will take this argument to the youth parliament and fight to give more power to pupils which will also help tackle the attainment gap.”
6. What do you think about the current employment/apprenticeship opportunities for young people in Scotland today and would you change any aspect of them?
“North Lanarkshire Council have done incredibly well to get so many young people from our local area into modern apprenticeships and into the world of work. As MSYP I would work alongside NLC to continue this and try to increase the number of young people getting apprenticeships but also to make the success of North Lanarkshire Council a trend across the country as all young people deserve these opportunities.”
8. Do young people in Scotland have access to good quality public services?
“Yes, in Scotland there are plenty of quality public services on offer to the young people, however, the price of these services are the issue. In North Lanarkshire, it costs young people around £200 a year for a gym membership at their local sports centre, for many, this is simply unaffordable. Therefore, although good quality public services exist, the prices of them mean many young people in local areas cannot use them.”
9. Do young people in Scotland have enough opportunities?
“There are many opportunities for young people in Scotland. Every school in the country endeavours to ensure each and every young person enters a positive destination after school. Additionally, in local communities across the country there are many opportunities for young people to get involved and the Scottish Youth Parliament must make sure that young people know that these opportunities exist.”
10. Do you have any other concerns regarding issues that impact the young people of Scotland?
“My main concern is that the young people in Scotland feel that they do not have a loud enough voice in a country that is becoming more active politically everyday. In the run up to this election I will emphasise the importance of young people in every aspect of society and if elected I will ensure our voice is heard louder than ever before.”
11. Should more be done to engage young people in Scotland in Politics?
“Certainly, too many young people are not given enough respect and the general perception is that our voice does not matter because we apparently do not have enough life experience. This general perception has to be changed and I will fight tirelessly to ensure it is.”
12. Do you have a message for the young people in the Airdrie and Shotts area?
“My message to the young people of Airdrie and Shotts is, stand up for your views, voice your opinions, and vote in these elections. The two MSYPs that get elected this year will be there to fight for you and represent you at a national level. These elections give us, the young people, the chance to make it clear to those in charge what we want to change and what we feel we need them to do to improve the lives of young people in our society. I hope to be in contact with many of you over the course of the next month and by giving me your vote, together we can make a huge change.”
13. What are you doing on the campaign to engage with the young people in your area?
“I have recently conducted a poll to find out what issues are most important to the young people. I have also set up a Twitter page where I am able to engage with the young people in the local area and broadcast my policies to many people. I hope to speak to pupils in our local high schools in the coming weeks to meet with young people and discuss local issues with them.”
14. What makes you the best candidate to be MSYP for Airdrie and Shotts?
“I am the best candidate for Airdrie and Shotts because I genuinely believe that young people have the potential to make incredible changes to the way our society works and I believe that we can rubbish the perception that we are unimportant. A vote for Chris Costello is a vote for cheaper local services, more resources in our schools, and most importantly a vote for a louder voice for the young people. If you vote for me, together we can make a huge change.”
Thank you to Chris for accepting my offer to do this interview, you can follow Chris’ campaign through his election twitter page. It can be found here by clicking on the twitter handle in brackets. (Chris4MSYP)
Please follow The Humanity Complex on Social Media for updates on the elections to the Scottish Youth Parliament.