Words by Bilal Akkouche
Before anything else, I urge you to register to vote. It takes about two minutes. Statistically, in the 2015 General Election, only 55% of 18 – 24 year olds voted whilst around 80% of 65+ did the same. This shows that there is a huge chunk of young people unrepresented in Parliament. So I urge you to go and register to vote. Brexit could have perhaps been avoided if more young people bothered to vote, and maybe even the election of David Cameron in 2015. The youth of Britain need a voice, and now’s our time to be heard.
All you need is; your name, address, National Insurance number (can still register without one if you have not got one) and a mobile number or email. Try get your mum, your dad, your cat, mates, cousins, uncles, aunts and everyone you know in on it. Here is the link – https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Do not vote for the Conservatives. As a young person, voting for the Conservatives would be utterly self-destructive. There are now 900,000 of us on zero-hours contracts with no job security. Once we have finished university, we have around £56,000 to pay back for the rest of our lives. Many young people are expected to live on £3 an hour if they’re doing an apprenticeship, and now there are around 3.3 million young adults living with their parents, meaning around 50% of 20 to 24 years olds cannot afford to rent or eventually put down a mortgage. This Conservative government has been a complete failure for young people, and it is time to recognise that it is us who have been hit the hardest by the Tory government.
This, coupled with the fact that our Prime Minister is currently paving the way for a hard Brexit, inevitably punishing the youth of Britain even more. In the lead up to the election, Theresa May has entirely ruled out taking part in TV debates with the other leaders, despite calling her leadership ‘strong and stable’. Only a few days ago it was reported that at a GSK factory in Maidenhead where she turned up to give a speech, the workers were banned from speaking to journalists, as they recited: “we’re not allowed to answer your questions.”
As young people, there are a few opposition parties left for us to choose from: The Labour party, the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, or if you’re in Wales perhaps Plaid Cymru or in Scotland the SNP. The idea of a progressive alliance between these kind of parties in order to stop Theresa May and her hard Brexit has been explored by many and actively pursued by the Green party, who see such an alliance as a viable option to defeating the Tories. However, the Liberal Democrats have ruled out any such coalition with either the Labour Party or the Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrats have been riding on a wave since the result of the referendum, deeming themselves the party of the 48% who voted ‘No.’ But let us not forget their record in the coalition government of 2010-2015. The Liberal Democrats lied to the youth of Britain as they promised to get rid of tuition fees. Instead, what resulted was a 300% rise in tuition fees which has resulted in the vast majority of people leaving university with unimaginable amounts of debt. The Liberal Democrats were part of a government that implemented the bedroom tax, sold off more of our NHS than ever before and cut university funding by 80%. The coalition of 2010-2015, which included the Liberal Democrats started the extremely damaging policy of austerity. They cut funding and benefits for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, whilst giving tax breaks to large corporations and the elites. This shows that the Liberal Democrats are no friends of the youth of Britain as they acted as Tory enablers in order to pursue policies which hurt us the most. Now, at the party’s forefront, is Tim Farron – a man who seemingly believes same-sex marriage is a sin, that there are no racist Christians apart from the KKK, and has previously voted for religiously-motivated homophobia on marriage to be protected under the Equality act. Views like this are not the views of a leader of any truly progressive party. The Liberal Democrats say they want a second referendum and want to legalise marijuana, but we must remember that they are Tory enablers. They are no friends to the youth of Britain.
There is a reason that the Liberal Democrats only returned eight MPs to Parliament in 2015. Young people should not forget what they did to us and those that our less fortunate in our society because they keep repeating the that “we must have a second referendum” and the fact that they want to legalise weed. We are not that easily bought.
A Labour government, headed by Jeremy Corbyn, is a government who will act as a voice for young people across Britain. It is quite simply a once in a life time opportunity to elect an authentic, genuine, non-career politician to take control of this country. You only have to look at his record as a back bencher to see how he has been on the right side of history his entire political career. Corbyn voted no against the catastrophic Iraq war which killed millions, he protested (and was arrested) against apartheid in South Africa whilst Thatcher and the Conservatives deemed the late Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and has consistently campaigned for gender equality and the rights of ethnic minorities. Jeremy Corbyn is, and has always been, the anti-establishment politician who has been on the side of the oppressed and the ordinary. Thereby, it is no surprise that his image has been tainted by an extremely hostile media owned by the elite, who are scared of the changes that would come under a Corbyn led government. It is no surprise that the backstabbers within his own party have consistently tried to delegitimise him. Despite this all, let us remember that it is Corbyn who won two leadership elections in two years – both by a landslide.
Corbyn has a £10 billion plan to scrap student fees and has just announced that he wants £10 minimum wage for everybody over the age of 18. He wants to ban zero-hours contracts as well as build 200,000 homes a year, making sure that 50% of them are council houses so the poorest in our society are not left out. He wants to save our NHS from profiteers by renationalising it and he wants to renationalise our railways so that we are not spending £120 on a ticket from London to Manchester. He also has pledged to grant free school meals to children at school between the ages of 4 -11. I can assure you that he will be devoting much of his further policies to the youth of Britain.
Where will all the money come from? Firstly, let us debunk this myth that the Conservatives are superior to the Labour Party when it comes to economic competence. It is the Conservatives who have accumulated more debt in the past seven years than all past Labour governments combined. Furthermore, Corbyn’s policies are fully funded. Renationalising the railways alone would give back billions of pounds to the tax payer and Corbyn will introduce legislation that forces corporations to pay their tax. Corbyn also wants to implement a Central Investment bank, similar to the one in Germany, which will secure around £500 billion for the tax payer. Cutting welfare for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society has not worked for the past seven years and now we have a clear choice.
Around 70% of 18 – 24s voted to remain in the EU, and there has been an image created about Corbyn which argues that he did not work hard enough for the Remain vote. Firstly, let us remember that it was David Cameron who brought about the referendum, in an attempt to silence the Brexiteers within his party who consistently gave him a hard time. It was purely a party political move, of which the country will now have to pay the price. Secondly, Corbyn got around 66% of Labour voters to vote Remain whilst Cameron only managed to secure 33% of Conservative voters to do the same. Corbyn was branded a failure by the media, whilst Nicola Sturgeon who got 67% of SNP voters to vote remain was branded a success.
Furthermore, Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit demands are something the youth of the UK should rally behind. He is adamant that the nation should not agree to a deal that would make us worse off economically. He wants tariff free access to the single market coupled with fair migration. Unlike Theresa May and the Conservatives, Corbyn wants to retain the European Convention on Human Rights and the environmental protections that the EU provides for us. All in all, Corbyn wants Brexit to be a success for the average person.
This election is not a forgone conclusion. I urge anyone reading this, to vote Labour, as this could very well be our generation’s last chance in having an honest, decent and principled man as leader – a man who actually cares about the youth of Britain.
Whatever you do, make sure you sign up to vote, here is the link once more: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.