by Josh Clare
I’m going to start this article as you should start every new year; by taking a few minutes to have a look back at the events which transpired. Instead of the traditional twelve month ponder though, let’s think about the past 55-ish months (or 1703 days for you maths fans).
It’s just a whistle stop tour of my (patchy) memories but I recall something about university tuition fees going up a bit, the NHS being squeezed, some guy with a pint being on TV a fair bit, the film council and a load of other quangos being cut, Scotland considering leaving the Union, recession, recession, recession, the Olympics, dubious corporate tax arrangements, the London riots and revolution in North Africa. A lot happened in these past 243 weeks.
We mustn’t dwell too long though, it’s easy to spend the first few days of 2015 considering what you did or didn’t do, and well, that’s just not good for the soul. So, to the future reader, to the future.
I want to drag your mental gaze to the morning of May 8th 2015. I’m hoping it will be on the way to a warm summer by then. I might bravely venture outside for a morning coffee and a look at the River Wensum. I’ll flick open a newspaper in a little coffee shop and read the one story of the day: who won General Election 2015. And this is where you can decide what that coffee tastes like: a bitter espresso or a sweeter latte.
Time after time, poll after poll, election after election, students and young people show themselves to be well informed, forward thinking individuals who go against the now ‘fashionable’ slide to the right. Young people were at the heart of the Scottish independence referendum, students shaped the story of last UK parliament (maybe the story of the next fifty years for one political party) and there is no reason why, come May 8th that students can’t steal the limelight again.
I’m aware that by writing this for the Norwich Radical I’m probably preaching to the converted but that’s no bad thing because I have a task for you: go out and preach yourselves. Be brave and bold; challenge your grandma’s voting preference and the policies she seems to back. When someone talks about the 29 million Romanians and Bulgairans that could flock to the UK at a moments notice remind them that most are children or too old (29 million is whole population…). When the finger is pointed at you and our generation for the problems with the economy bring up the £0 tax return a certain American coffee shop filed in 2011. As the well informed, forward thinking youth we can’t keep chatting to each other, tweeting support to oppressed peoples as those with power sign off on a bombing. We (you!) have a responsibility.
And so I’m calling on you all, get involved with your Student Union’s general election work, your local pressure groups, Citizens UK, and help organise your friends and a spread a message of making things better. I’m not saying there is a party or person out there who will make it all better but there’s certain some who will improve things and maybe, just maybe if enough of us say we’re fed up with this status quo there’ll be a slow move to a better Britain.
On May 8th 2015 I want to feel that I and those around me had an impact and that, for the first time in a long time, students and young people will be listened to and heeded by those who ask for our votes.