The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Political Party Profiles

Youth branches of the five main political parties active within the Students’ Union were interviewed on the policies of their parties and why they believe their party would best serve students

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The Mancunion spoke to youth branches from the Students’ Union of the five main political parties running in this year’s general election.

The General Election is to be held on Thursday the 7th of May. The youth branches were questioned on the actions they are taking in the run up to the general election and why they think student participation is important. We also questioned them on the policy and pledges of their parties and how this promises will benefit students.

There is still time to register to vote here and all next week the Students’ Union are running a week of voter registration events ranging from free tea and coffee to a 50ft Helter Skelter.

This year’s General Election is set to be one of the closest and many important issues are being debated. Make sure you don’t lose your in the future of Britain.

Green Party:

Photo: Green Party

Photo: Green Party

What are you doing as a youth branch of your political party in the run up to the general election? And why do you think it’s important that students get involved in politics?

Three of our parliamentary candidates in the Manchester constituencies are young adults, as are many of our councillor candidates. We know that people like our policies when they hear them, and we will be emphasising the fact that in many parts of Manchester, particularly in areas where students live, the Green Party is now the second-placed political opposition so that Green votes really could get Green politicians elected. So many of us will be standing for election, and those who aren’t will be campaigning for them.

It’s important for students to get involved in politics as throughout history it has been shown that students are often at the forefront of creating change. It is important that students make sure that politics is something that we do, rather than something that is done to us.

What is your political party’s stance in regards to tuition fees and higher education in general?

Green Party policy is that we shouldn’t have tuition fees and that higher education should be paid for by progressive general taxation because we believe that education is a public good. We would like to see all existing tuition fee debt brought on by previous governments removed from graduates and current students.

If your party wins the General Election how will they tackle the issue of youth unemployment? And what would they do about exploitative unpaid internships?

We would end austerity and restore the public sector, creating over one million jobs that pay at least the living wage. We believe that interns and trainees should be entitled to the national minimum wage and no-one should be forced to take an unpaid internship or required to pay in order to work.

What is your party’s position on lowering the voting age to 16 for UK elections?

The party fully supports votes at 16.

To sum up, why do you think your political party is best suited to run the country for the next five years?

The Green Party don’t just care about the environment (as important as that is), we have a wide range of policies that many people agree people with. As well as those listed in this interview, we would also fight for: A publicly funded, publicly provided health service free at the point of use, secure and affordable housing for everyone and to return the railways to public hands to stop profits being put before passengers. If readers are unsure of voting for us in the General Election, we would urge them to at least vote for us in the local election so that we can have a Green voice on Manchester council.

 

Labour Party:

Photo: Labour Party

Photo: Labour Party

What are you doing as a youth branch of your political party in the run up to the General Election? And why do you think it’s important that students get involved in politics?

Lots and lots of door knocking! We go campaigning in Withington every Wednesday (we meet outside the Friendship Inn at 2pm) as it’s our local key seat and we want to do as much as possible to get John Leech out and Jeff Smith in. On the weekends, we usually attend a national campaign weekend—where Labour Students from all over the country come together to campaign in a key seat. 197 seats could be completely swayed by students at the next General Election. This means that we have the power in our hands to completely change the future of the country, so we need to get out there and vote for the party that offers the best alternative for young people—i.e. the Labour Party.

What is your political party’s stance in regards to tuition fees and higher education in general?

The Labour Party will reduce tuition fees to £6000 a year and increase maintenance grants by £400 per year, however we will be looking at moving towards a graduate tax in the future. Students who are currently in first year will also have their tuition fees capped at £6000 for the rest of their time at university. We will increase the teaching grant that universities receive by £2.7 billion to ensure that a reduction in the fees universities receive from English students will not affect the quality of teaching they give students.

If your party wins the General Election how will they tackle the issue of youth unemployment? And what would they do about exploitative unpaid internships?

We will guarantee a paid job for every 16 – 24 year old that has been unemployed for over a year. We will stop exploitative unpaid internships by making it a legal requirement for firms to pay full-time interns the national minimum wage after four weeks.

What is your party’s position on lowering the voting age to 16 for UK elections?

The Labour Party have pledged to lower the voting age to 16 when in government. They will also improve citizenship education in schools to ensure that young people are informed about the political system from a young age in order to improve engagement.

To sum up, why do you think your political party is best suited to run the country for the next five years?

We are the party who will look after the interests of the many, not just the privileged few. A Labour government will do better for young people at all stages in their lives, from giving 25 hours of free childcare to three and four year olds; to smaller class sizes in Primary schools; lower tuition fees for university students, and better quality apprenticeships for the 50 per cent of students who do not wish to go on to further education but have been forgotten by this government; then after leaving education we will have a job for every young person has been unemployed for over a year. We will put patient care back at the heart of the NHS and repeal the Health and Social Care Act which has only focused on profit and ensure that everyone earns wages they can afford to live on by increasing the minimum wage to £8 an hour. Voting for the Labour Party is a vote for a  government that will make fair choices that allow a better future for everyone in Britain.

 

Conservatives:

Ohot

Photo: Conservatives

What are you doing as a youth branch of your political party in the run up to the General Election? And why do you think it’s important that students get involved in politics?

As Manchester Conservative Future (the youth branch of the Conservative Party in Manchester), we’re all working flat-out in supporting our local candidates; not a week goes by where we aren’t pounding the pavements or working the phones. I also believe each and every member of the society has a responsibility to spread the achievements the Conservatives have made whilst in government. Raising the tax-free allowance, creating more apprenticeships than ever before and supporting an economy that rewards those who work hard; these are all Conservative achievements that are improving the lives of young people up and down the country, which we should be immensely proud of.

Young people often feel isolated and disengaged from politics, but if they do not stand up and make their voices heard, things will never change. Not everyone wants to join a political society or become actively involved in politics, but each and every one of us has a right to have our say in the way in which our country is run; and I believe we all have a duty to do so.

What is your political party’s stance in regards to tuition fees and higher education in general?

A good quality degree is an investment in your future. On average graduates earn more and enjoy a better stankard of living than those without a degree. We must also all remember that if this investment doesn’t pay off, you pay nothing back. Whilst the increase in tuition fees has been controversial, the figures speak for themselves: more university applications than ever before, more students from disadvantaged backgrounds than ever before and higher student satisfaction for their degrees. As a student and a Conservative I’m proud that my party’s policies are increasing social mobility and letting people get access to the high quality education they deserve.

If your party wins the General Election how will they tackle the issue of youth unemployment? And what would they do about exploitative unpaid internships?

The issue of youth unemployment is stubborn and difficult to solve. The key is not reactionary measures, but instead a long-lasting commitment to equip young people with the skills they need to get on in life; from primary right through to higher education Conservatives are investing in young people. Under this government a million more children are being taught in schools that are either good or outstanding. We are a nation of strivers, education like this is the only real way to tackle youth unemployment and let people be limited by nothing but their ambition.

Where companies are blatantly exploiting young people, they should face the full force of the law. But we must also remember the benefits and skills internships can equip us with and as such, no policy should result in lowering the number of internships which would simply result in hurting the young more than before.

 What is your party’s position on lowering the voting age to 16 for UK elections?

We are against lowering the voting age, and here’s why: The UK has some of the lowest voter turnout of any developed economy and to me lowering the voting age seems to be somewhat missing the point. Isn’t it far more important to engage with those who already have the vote and encourage them to use their democratic right before going further? Even as someone who is throughly immersed in the political world, I’m not sure I was ready to vote at 16. It’s better to wait, develop your opinions and have your say when you, yourself are sure in your convictions.

 To sum up, why do you think your political party is best suited to run the country for the next five years?

This election is a straight fight between the Conservatives and Labour despite what anyone else may tell you. The Greens, UKIP and the Lib Dems can’t, and won’t decide this election. Who you vote for comes down to what you believe: A country that rewards those who contribute, a government that refuses to saddle countless future generations with mounds of debt, a party that will boost and every one of our living standards—that’s what you’ll get with the Conservatives. Vote Labour for sky-high debt, broken promises, weak leadership and a complete lack of vision. Red or blue, you decide. The choice is as stark as that.

 

UKIP:

Photo: UKIP

Photo: UKIP

What are you doing as a youth branch of your political party in the run up to the General Election? And why do you think it’s important that students get involved in politics?

Despite being a new society, Manchester UKIP Students is getting fully involved in the UKIP General Election campaign. We’re joining action days around the Manchester constituencies, particularly in the UKIP target seats, which we have a very good chance of winning. We’re also setting up debates with the other political societies, to increase awareness of UKIP’s policies amongst students.

Decisions made today impact everyone’s lives, including students, whether it’s now in higher education policy and the cost of living, or in the future when you’re buying a home. As many people as possible should get involved to ensure the best decisions are made for this country.

What is your political party’s stance in regards to tuition fees and higher education in general?

In the UK we are incredibly fortunate to have a world-class higher education system. However, the target of 50 per cent of young people going to university has seen the value of a degree decrease, whilst driving the cost skywards. UKIP would remove this target, and instead prioritise degrees in areas where there is high demand for quality students, offering free tuition to approved degrees in science, medicine, technology, engineering and maths. UKIP also believes that not everyone is suited for university, and that many people are better off doing apprenticeships and vocational courses rather than racking up huge debt for a degree that won’t get them a job at the end of it.

If your party wins the general election how will they tackle the issue of youth unemployment? And what would they do about exploitative unpaid internships?

We believe that youth unemployment is the result of two major issues: A mismatch of skills in training and education, and an oversupply of unskilled labour from uncontrolled immigration. To remedy this, UKIP would broaden our education system, allowing students the option to take an Apprenticeship Qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs. An Australian, points-based immigration policy would help alleviate the oversupply of labour, and we would allow employers to prioritise young British workers, ensuring they can get that first step on the career ladder. Whilst UKIP has not issued a specific policy on unpaid internships, we would condemn any form of labour which could be classified as exploitative.

What is your party’s position on lowering the voting age to 16 for UK elections?

UKIP is opposed to lowering the voting age. The majority of 16 year-olds are still living at home and in full-time education, and so don’t have any experience of independent living, managing a budget or dealing with the cost of living. Therefore, we don’t believe that a 16 year-old has the experience or maturity to influence decisions in these areas. In addition, if a 16 year-old is allowed to vote then they would also have to be allowed to stand for parliament, which for the same reasons we think would not be appropriate.

To sum up, why do you think your political party is best suited to run the country for the next five years?

The UK political system has been dominated by career politicians who have led us into unnecessary wars, crippled the NHS with debt, opened our borders to uncontrollable mass immigration and destroyed democracy by handing power to unelected bureaucrats and big business in the EU. The British people deserve better and UKIP is the only party committed to controlling immigration through a points-based, skills-focused system that is fair and ensures sustainable migration. The only party which will genuinely protect the NHS and improve social mobility through grammar schools. But above all else, UKIP will restore democracy in Britain by offering an immediate EU referendum, and championing direct democracy in British politics.

 

Liberal Democrats:

Photo: Liberal Democrats

Photo: Liberal Democrats

Did not respond to all attempts to gain responses to these questions.