The general election 2017 and what it means for students

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I’m going to start this post by being completely and totally honest – I am so invested in this general election that I’m actively campaigning for one Party in particular. However, in the interests of not appearing too biased, and offering a full spectrum of views, I’m not going to say which that is.

However, it’s really important that you vote, no matter what you believe in. For a start, we live in a democracy, which means that we all get a say. People literally died for this right! And yet, when we don’t use that right (which, ironically, we also have the right to do), we often give power to those who do not represent us.

Sometimes people say that voting doesn’t make a bit of difference, but I don’t believe that for a second. For example, during the EU Referendum last year, young voters voted overwhelmingly to remain a part of the UK. 18-24 year olds bucked a national trend of wanting to leave; but since only 64% of them went to the polls as opposed to 90% of the over 60’s, their wishes were ignored. The results were so close in the Brexit debate that arguably, if more young people voted, they could have changed the results. We have a big future ahead of us (and longer to live than those older than us) – and these decisions today will shape that future to come.

Other people may well argue that politics doesn’t affect them. However, it literally shapes every decision made, our rights, freedoms, and health.

What Should You Consider In This Election?

Consider issues such as:

  • Housing
  • Tuition fees
  • Taxes
  • Health & The NHS
  • Mental health
  • Old people
  • Young people
  • Education
  • Immigration
  • Brexit
  • Defence
  • Equality
  • Justice
  • Human rights
  • LGBTQIA+ rights
  • Cyber policy
  • Welfare
  • Royalty
  • MP behaviour

It’s important not just to think about what affects you, but what affects the UK as a whole. Both social and economic policies should be taken into account.

What Does Each Party Say?

The two leading parties are the Conservative Party, led by Theresa May, and the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn. However, you can also vote Green, Lib Dem, UKIP, Plaid Cymru in Wales, or SNP in Scotland. I’ve highlighted the manifesto of each so that you can read them for yourselves.

Voting for the party you believe in is important, but sometimes it’s good to be a realist, too. Labour and Conservative are the two “main” parties, so some people advocate for choosing your favourite of the two. Many of the others do have some great ideals, though. You should also look at what your local MP says about helping with the issues that matter most to your area!

The Labour manifesto motto is that it speaks for “the many, not the few”. Labour have traditionally represented the working classes, or those who typically face other inequalities in society; and their leader is a socialist. Their pledges include free tuition for students, more focus on mental health, saving the NHS, and reversing benefit cuts. This has been fully costed by holding big corporations responsible for higher taxation, among other initiatives. They also have a big celebrity backing, with endorsements from the likes of JME and the rap activist Akala.

The Conservatives promise their voters to be “strong and stable”. If elected, they say that they will focus on a hard Brexit, and getting us through the challenges this brings. They also aim to help those working in the gig economy, raise the personal tax allowance that you’re allowed to earn before paying any taxes at all, and put more money into schools. However, they also propose benefit cuts, rising costs of care for some of the elderly, and more powers to spy on us when using the Internet.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto features a pledge to have a second EU Referendum. This will be popular among people who really want to remain a part of the EU. They’re also interested in saving the NHS, and they care about everything from the rights of the LGBTQIA+ communities through to animal rights.

So, Why Is It Important to Vote?

Voting really is up to you, but you shouldn’t see politics as an arbitrary concept which only applies every few years. Really look into the policies and the track records of politicians, and read between the lines. We are being offered some very different options, this time. This doesn’t just affect the lives of the government, the decisions for you and me literally affect the way we live, day to day. It’s easy to say that nobody represents you, if you didn’t make your voice heard. If you don’t ask anyone to represent you, how can you expect things to change?

On June 8th, it doesn’t matter who you want – just that you make your voice heard!