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With the impending election looming in May, as a first time voter with no particular loyalty to a party (a description I believe would fit many Scan readers) I am beginning to contemplate where I will place my vote. Many set the economy as the main area in which the voter’s opinions are swayed; however as students we are most definitely more focused on our future education and what the government will do for us within university.
In recent months we have been threatened with a raise in tuition fees to over double the amount we currently pay and at the same time a cut in university funding leading to a dramatic disintegration in the quality of our education system; an education system which was, until recently, world renowned for its extremely high standards. So when deciding where my loyalties lay I will focus mainly the promises made relating to my university career; if one party could promise that they would not raise tuition fees or to abolish them completely that would be enough to win my vote.
Or so I previously thought. Labour delivered yet another disappointment on budget day with no promise for a cut or freeze on tuition fees but only the promise that 20,000 more university places would be created. A move that would further stretch our resources and our teaching numbers. It stinks like yet another money making scheme by the government, exploiting the ambition on its younger generation to try and recover some of its debt through increasingly extortionate fees.
Meanwhile the Conservatives have followed suit but only creating 10,000 more places. However they almost categorical promise to raise our tuition fees whereas Labour simply fail to mention it. So the two leading parties kindly offer me the choice of a possibly raise in tuition fees and an extremely stretched and under funded system or a definite raise in tuition fees and a slightly stretched system. Neither of which are particularly appealing and in all honesty I believe they have ignored and underestimated the importance and voting power of us 2 million British students in the UK eligible to vote.
The often overlooked Liberal Democrats also promise to stretch our education further by creating new places but unlike the two leading parties offer to completely abolish tuition fees, a bold promise but one that will only happen in six years time. This suggests it is not a high priority and may not even get completed. And what difference does that make to us? We will be in the world of work by then and have £30,000 of debt on our shoulders. This is simply not enough to win the vote of the students.
The threat is that a party, that is the one party, as educated citizens, students would hopefully never vote for, the BNP, could take advantage of this disenfranchisement with the main parties. A party very talented in finding areas in which the leading parties fail to give us an answer, something the other parties must find a way to counteract if they are to remove the threat that the BNP pose. They promise to abolish bans on incitement of racial and religious hatred, so they can spout more of their racist nonsense freely. They are a serious threat to our democracy. I think I speak for all when I say that our moral values stand stronger than our need for promises on our education. But this does highlight the gapping hole in the leading parties policies and elections tactics, seemingly we are not important voters to them, we are not appreciated, we are not acknowledged, and we are left clueless as to were to place our vote. We are not stupid enough to place our loyalties with the British National Party. But we need more from our leaders in this election.