With the election this month, you may be wondering which party to vote for. But, more importantly, many young people should consider how the different political parties are addressing youth issues and which ones deserve their vote. In this article we will explore how the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour have addressed — or left out — youth policies.
Conservatives’ youth-related policies:
The Conservative’s party manifesto doesn’t include a specific section on proposed youth policies. However, policies that will affect the youth in different ways are present. The section most needing attention here is Education.
The Conservatives promise to increase school spending and increase per pupil funding to £5,000. They are also offering to fund art premiums to support extracurricular activities in schools. However, the party also supports expanding disciplinary methods, including exclusions. The proposal also needs to be viewed against the increase in the numbers of students and with inflation taken into account. But then the real term increase in school funds will be 7.4 per cent, which is less than what’s needed to reverse the effects of the funding cuts since 2009-2010. Having said that, the Conservatives do have another proposal to create a new £3bn skills fund to provide funding for education and training, which at least on paper looks promising.
Labour’s Youth Policy:
The Labour Party has a clear vision for their youth policy. The party commits to:
‘transform[ing] our country so that all young people feel valued, included and secure in their future’.
This policy stands on the following five key pillars that young people need:
- Being skilled and equipped to learn and earn
- Being active members of their communities and society
- Experiencing positive health and wellbeing
- Being happy and confident in their future
- Being treated fairly and equally
In their comprehensive youth policy, the Labour Party commits to creating a National Education Service to provide support and opportunity throughout life. In order to further facilitate higher education, they are committing to the abolition of tuition fees and bringing back maintenance grants. Moreover, there’s a proposal to create a new public service that will provide fast, full-fibre broadband to every home in the UK to connect communities. Lesser policies include free bus travel for all under-25. Additionally, there will be a national youth service that guarantees equal access to local, high-quality youth work.
One of the most popular commitments the Labour is making, is their promise to reduce the voting age to 16 and give full voting rights to all UK residents. Moreover, all workers aged 16 and over will be paid at least £10 per hour according to the party’s new Real Living Wage policy, instead of the current youth rate minimum wage.
On gender issues, Labour is pledging to close the gender pay gap by 2030 and deliver gender pay equality by making the state responsible for enforcing equal pay legislation for the first time. Moreover, LGBT+ equality will be prioritized by carrying on the national LGBT Action Plan, as well as enforcing policies that ensure all public services are LGBT+ inclusive.
Additionally, Labour is allocating £845 million for their Healthy Young Minds plan which aims at providing improved and more accessible mental health services for youngsters and children. On creating more jobs, Labour plans to introduce a Green Industrial Revolution that will provide one million new jobs. This will include transforming transport and building, while putting nature awareness at the heart of the process.
Liberal Democrats’ youth-related policies:
Just like the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats do not have a designated youth policy. However, their manifesto has plenty of policies that are youth-relevant.
On Accessibility and Equality. The Lib Dems propose extending the Equal Rights Act to include all large companies. This will mean that there will be more data available on pay gaps and employment levels of BAME, LGBT+ and minority groups. Moreover, there is a policy addressing public spaces accessibility for wheelchair users. In addition, Lib Dems are aiming to reform the Gender Recognition Act by prohibiting medical reports requirements and including an ‘X’ gender option in passports. They also seek to recognize non-binary identities. This will also mean that gender-based price discrimination such as the Pink Tax will be scrapped. Pink Tax isn’t exactly a tax of course, but a phenomenon where products targeted for women are generally more expensive than those for men without a sensible cause. Additionally, caste discrimination will be outlawed.
On Education Policies. The Lib Dems promise to provide a £1 billion fund for education, some of which will be used to refund the VAT colleges pay. In its government-wide plan, the party promises a national fund to improve projects that work with youths from ethnic minorities, as well as campaigns that support anti-racism and anti-homophobia in sports. Moreover, the Lib Dems want schools to initiate gender-neutral uniform policies and drop bygone stereotypes of gender appropriateness in curricula.
On Equal Access to Educational Facilities. Here the party proposes the reinstation of maintenance grants as well as the introduction of the ‘Young People’s Premium’, the goal of which is to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to stay in school.
With all these different policies and focus areas, you might feel dizzy from having to decide which party puts You as a priority and deserves your vote. But know that when it comes to politics, confusion is normal — especially if it’s your first vote. To make the task of choosing easier, browse through the manifestos on your own and do some research around the policy areas that matter to you the most.
Just know that even when feeling overwhelmed, you should always remember that voting is the only way to ensure your voice is heard — loud and clear.