by Alex Powell
In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.
I can’t be the only one growing a little exhausted with all these elections, right? Nonetheless, tired as we are, it has never been more important that we all get out and vote. In the local elections we saw something of a decimation of left leaning parties, to the benefit of the Tories. What’s more, those elections featured some astoundingly low turnout figures, many below 30%. As a result of this, I feel it is incumbent on me to encourage anyone reading this to ensure that they get out and vote in the general election on June 8th.
Increasingly, governments are attempting to use the number of votes and seats they have gained to stifle debate and dissent
The next election will set the tone on both educational and employment prospects for generations to come. To give but one example, our continued membership of the Erasmus Scheme, which offers students manifold opportunities to travel to other European countries and enhance their educational experience, will be dictated by the results of this election. I’m not going to tell people how to vote or talk about any particular desired outcome. I just want to implore students to vote and ensure that their views are taken account of in this election.
It’s not merely which government we wake up to on June 9th that will dictate the course of things, however. With Theresa May effectively seeking a ‘mandate’ for her vision of Hard Brexit, every vote really does count. Increasingly, governments are attempting to use the number of votes and seats they have gained to stifle debate and dissent. The size of the majority that the next government holds is what will really determine the course of the next few years.
Taking account of this, it is essential that students ensure they get out and vote! In recent years, student voting figures have been far from ideal. In particular, moves towards individual voter registration has successfully disenfranchised innumerable students due to the (usually) short periods we spend living at any given address. It is essential that we all ensure we are registered to vote. You can register here before May 22nd.
Obviously, this election falls at an awkward part of the year for many students, coming shortly after exams and in a period where many of us cannot guarantee exactly where in the country we will be. Therefore, we should all be aware of the options open to us in terms of distance voting. Those of us who are unable to vote on the day in the area where we are registered still have options open to us. We can either vote by post (the application must be with your local electoral office by 5pm on the 23rd of May) or vote by proxy. I personally will be voting by proxy, as I will be in New York on election day (yes, that was a brag – I’m excited, okay).
It doesn’t really matter how – the important thing is that you do vote. Time and again we see electoral outcomes that are against the interests and desires of young people, and the pundits draw the false equivalence that young people are not interested in politics. This is a false narrative. Although, it is true that young people vote in lower numbers than older generations, this is something we can change. Please please please make sure, wherever you are on June 8th, whatever else you have going on in your life, you get out and vote. And nag your friends to make sure they do the same. This is our future, and we cannot afford to give up our say in it.
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