These days, young people are pretty disillusioned when it comes to politics.
Whether it’s the fault of out-of-touch politicians failing to connect with them or the celebrity rioting of people like Russell Brand – who
wrote in the New Statesman that he’s never voted, and regards politicians as frauds and liars – the fact is that a lot of young people just don’t seem that fussed about what happens in Parliament (and there have recently been stories about thousands of young people not even being registered to vote).
According to the 2011-2012 UK Household Longitudinal Study
reported on in the Guardian, a whopping 42.4% of 16-24 year-olds say they are “not at all interested” in politics.
In the run-up to the General Election, politicians are doing more to try and grab the student vote – sort of like Nick Clegg managed to do in the last election before casually ignoring the promises he’d made in the months after he was made Deputy Prime Minister, but hey ho that’s another story – and the unconfirmed suggestion that
Labour may reduce tuition fees to £6000 is just one of these.
University tuition fees have become a sore subject since Tony Blair introduced them in 1998. They began with a cap of just £1,000, but by 2004 they’d already risen to £3,000 a year. During the last election campaign Nick Clegg was adamant that if his party got elected there would be no rise in tuition fees; in reality, once the election was over and a coalition was formed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, tuition fees had shot up to £9,000 a year by 2012.
Unsurprisingly, the whole episode didn’t do much to win over the trust of young voters. And now – after the damage done to Nick Clegg’s political career and the
slightly awkward apology video he issued – we’ve come round full circle.
Now it’s Ed MIlibands turn to attempt to win over the nation’s young people by hinting at the possibility that, if Labour are elected in May, they’ll reduce university tuition fees to £6000.
With one of the closest general elections of our times on the cards, is Mr Miliband's hinted policy an excellent idea, or just a thinly hidden attempt to scoop up the student vote?
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Top image via Wikimedia Commons