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Sam sets up bright future for political debate

Posted on 14 January 2015

A spare time project by a student at the University of York is giving thousands of young people an open online platform to join in political debate in the UK.

Sam Bright (credit: Suzy Harrison)

With the General Election just four months away, the current affairs website Backbench which third year History student, Sam Bright, launched in August 2012 is going from strength to strength.

Sam, who is from Huddersfield, built the website single-handedly between finishing his A-levels and starting his studies at York. Until earlier this year, he was its sole employee though it now has a six-strong editorial team made up of students from across the country.

Backbench aims to provide a showcase for young writers and the site already has more than 100 in its books with more joining all the time. The website is designed to give young people an open platform to articulate their views on political, social and cultural affairs. Since its launch, the site has proved popular, and Sam says it is now the UK's leading digital publication for up-and-coming political journalists.

But it is not only aspiring young writers who use it to convey their message to young readers. Politicians including former Education, Foreign and Home Secretary David Blunkett, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Angela Eagle, Former Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Chi Onwurah, Leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett and Conservative MP Simon Reevell have all published through the platform.

Sam says: “By harnessing the talents of some great young writers, we have established a core national audience – reaching nearly 3,000 followers on Twitter and gaining endorsements from organisations such as Vote for Policies and the Electoral Reform Society. We are unaffiliated and we have tried to include a range of views from across the political spectrum."

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