Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke officially launched a politics society at a Bury St Edmunds secondary school.
Mr Clarke, who was a Labour MP for Norwich South for 13 years, kicked off the new initiative at County Upper School by speaking to scores of students about its slogan ‘Politics Matters’.
The society aims to get pupils throughout the school, in Beetons Way, involved in politics and debate issues relevant to their age group such as citizenship, the voting age and democracy.
Addressing the students, Mr Clarke, who also served Tony Blair’s Government as Education Secretary, said politics affects ‘just about every area of life’.
He said: “The decision for your generation is are you just going to say ‘whatever happens let it be’ or are you going to try and make a difference and ensure your voice will be heard.”
He went on to answer questiosn from students on issues such as tuition fees, police crime commissioners and the voting system.
When asked why people choose not to participate in politics, Mr Clarke said: “People are very fatalistic and believe life just goes on. Over the whole of my life though great movements of people have changed things. You do have to be quite courageous sometimes.”
Asked for his views on Ed Miliband, he admitted voting for the Labour leader’s brother David. He said: “Ed is doing well but he’s still got to do better. Labour has to be able to come over and be able to look you in the eye and say ‘if Labour’s elected this is what we’re going to do for you’.”