The Tories don’t care about you. I don’t say that because I’m a left wing feminist who will defend the NHS until her dying breath (although, viagra order I am), but because it’s the truth. See, young people don’t vote, and when they do vote, they don’t vote Tory. The turnout in the 18-24 age group for the 2015 election was a paltry 43%. Meanwhile, 78% of your grandparents managed to get down to the polling station. And who can blame them? Being retired gives you a bit of spare time.
So, as I do a quick rundown of the party policies for your reading pleasure, bear in mind that the Tory policies are aimed at your Nan rather than you. Because you don’t vote for them, they don’t create policies that benefit you…so you don’t vote for them, and so the whole merry dance continues. Perhaps you think the Conservatives should make policies that benefit the whole of society and not just the people who vote for them, but I will leave that decision in your capable hands.
For the folks in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the choice has an added layer of complexity. So often left out of mainstream discussion, our smaller populations mean an additional decision of whether to support the greater good, or ‘every man for himself’ with parties like the SNP and Plaid Cymru. These parties are not included here; as we “go to press”, the SNP manifesto still hasn’t been released and to be honest, this piece is long enough!
Here are the issues I think affect young people most, and what the parties are vowing to do about them.
I used to live in London, where my rent alone meant 60% of my income flying out of my bank account before I even started thinking about council tax, the phone bill and my bus to work. When my mum was my age, she had a mortgage, a marriage and two kids. All of those things are currently a pipe dream for me and I’m not even on minimum wage. So we can’t afford houses, rents are obscene and there’s been a 16% increase in homelessness in England in the past year. What’s the plan?
Conservative: Build one million homes by the end of 2020, which will be sold off privately in 10-15 years under the Right to Buy scheme. This means more houses, but it also means a private landlord can buy your home and jack up the rent.
Labour: Introduce controls on rent rises, suspend the Right to Buy policy and build 100,000 homes a year. According to the charity Shelter, we need 250,000 per year to keep up with demand so this still isn’t enough.
Liberal Democrats: Set target to build 300,000 homes a year and stop the Right to Buy scheme for housing association tenants. This means the Right to Buy scheme could continue for council housing. Allow councils to charge 200% council tax on empty properties.
Greens: Introduce rent controls and ban letting fees (already illegal in Scotland – well done!) and build 100,000 social rented homes a year by 2022. This seems an extremely low number.
Ukip: Immigrants are taking all the housing! Sorry, I’ll be serious. They want to build 100,000 houses for younger people.
Born and bred in Scotland, I went to university without the cloud of tuition fees hanging over me. It’s only as I get older that I realise the financial freedom that’s given me when I already have an overdraft to worry about. Many of my friends are teachers, which is increasingly a thankless task thanks to their workloads.
Conservative: Increase the schools budget in England by £4bn by 2022. Bring back ‘selective’ schools, which means children are admitted to them based on academic achievement. This has shown to create a general slump in attainment, as well as having a disproportionately negative effect on the poorest children. Rich people have more spare money to throw at tutors, you see.
Labour: Abolish tuition fees, end the pay cap for teachers and introduce free school meals for primary school children. Sorry, I have no criticisms here. All of these policies are awesome.
Liberal Democrats: Spend £7bn extra on education, oppose grammar schools and reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students. I’m not surprised the Lib Dems aren’t pledging to drop tuition fees; they famously did for the 2010 election and then increased tuition fees whilst in coalition with the Conservatives.
Greens: Scrap tuition fees, abolish SATs and free early education and childcare for all children. Yep, pretty good stuff from the Greens here too!
Ukip: A grammar school in every town (I bet that would be nice and cheap) and no student loans for EU nationals.
I’m sure most of us would agree that the NHS is the UK’s pride and joy. For all its problems, we look across at our neighbours in the USA and know we wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s slowly becoming privatised, mental health spending has evaporated and nine out of 10 hospitals had unsafe numbers of patients in their wards last winter. The NHS needs help, and fast.
Conservative: An £8bn increase to NHS budget compared to the current level by 2022/23. Introduction of the “dementia tax”; For example, if you have cancer, you have the NHS to look after you. If you go into a care home with dementia, or receive social care at your own home, you’ll have to sell your house to pay for it. But not until after you die, so that’s…nice. I take back what I said about them having your Nan’s interests at heart.
Labour: More than £30bn in extra funding to the NHS and £8bn into social care in the next five years and reverse the privatisation done so far. The £8bn promised by the Conservatives sounds a bit pathetic now.
Liberal Democrats: Add 1p onto each rate of income tax and ring-fence the money for the NHS and social care (I looked this up and it’s £6bn, so less than the Tories). End the public sector pay freeze and reinstate student nurse bursaries.
Greens: No figures for their spending pledges but the policies are good; Roll back of the privatisation and bring mental healthcare in line with physical healthcare.
Ukip: Crack down on foreigners using the NHS.
You overwhelmingly didn’t vote for it, but it’s still happening. Over 70% of young voters, the ones who’ll actually have to clean up the mess, wanted to stay in. Let’s see how the different parties will deal with this absolute shambles.
Conservative: Leave the single market while maintaining that “no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK”. This still doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.
Labour: Scrap the Brexit white paper and replace it with new negotiating priorities that focus on wanting to remain in the single market. Immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain. “No deal” is not an option. Music to my ears.
Liberal Democrats: Once there’s a final Brexit deal, have another referendum, with the option to stay in the EU on the ballot paper. Support the principle of free movement between the EU and UK.
Greens: Hold a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal, with the option of staying in the EU. Guarantee the rights of EU citizen, stay in the single market and ensure that EU environment laws are enforceable in the UK.
Ukip: Pay no “divorce” money to the EU, nor contribute to EU budget.
The most important thing is that you do go down to your polling station and vote. There is a reason democracy is fought for and desired all over the world. The more young people vote, the more that policy will begin to reflect your views. We can literally change the world.
Written by Lauren Aitchison