Apart from #LabourDay (or #LaborDay) celebrations on May 1st recognising labour workers from different Nations around the world, today in the UK is Polling Day. It’s a day when everybody old enough can stop by their voting venue and choose from a selection of MPs representing a range of parties.
One of these is of course the Labour Party. The Conservatives are the majority party in parliament, and despite their rule and influence, including the progression of Brexit, they’ve also done plenty to make life difficult for students. The increase of tuition fees per year from £3000 to £9000 (in 2012 and to £9250 in 2016) as well as replacing maintenance grant (free money) to maintenance loan combine to mean that students are leaving University with higher debts tied to their name. I’m sure that at least a few of these conservative politicians were amongst the lucky crop of students who graduated before 1998, when tuition fees were first introduced. They went to school for free, but now feel comfortable with others paying for the same education at the same schools. I would think that I was being educated by God, and in paradise.
The worst affected are of course students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have to borrow higher amounts of the maintenance loan, as well as working part-time alongside their studies. Or they may take a course they are not interested in but which will have a more guaranteed job at the end of it. Some decide to defer University until they have made enough money, or skip it altogether to start their careers.
The Conservative Party cater mainly to middle-class people and business owners. A lot of people from estates like mine in London will be voting for #Labour, because their focus is on community development, the welfare of young people and minimum-wage workers. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn even promised to scrap tuition fees completely when preparing for the elections last year.
As a student, these local elections give me the opportunity to have my option considered, to at least play a small part in choosing who represents me in parliament. I can help to decide who will communicate my experiences and issues and listen to me.
But I wonder, are these MPs going to go to the youth centres and all the places where people experiencing the difficulties gather, or are they just going to discuss amongst themselves?
I guess we’ll have the answer in a few years time, when either the tuition fees are £15,000 per year or the workers of the future are almost debt-free with their confidence sky-high.