Category Archives: election

Generation why?

First published in Pluto Student Newspaper.

From the top positions in society… right across the board… the highest earners, the ones with money and power, those setting your wages (while cushioning their own), steering your department, leading from the top…

Old, often overweight, unattractive (save silver foxes like Lib Dem Chris Huhne) men.

The average age of an MP is 50, and for most big jobs- think chief exec- you’ve got to have enough “experience” to merit the six-figure salary. Well, you’ve probably got less skills than a GCSE in IT for those trusty powerpoints.

Only 37% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in 2005, and according to a report from the Electoral Commission last week, more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds are not currently registered to vote.

This will be the first general election I and around 3.5 million other people aged 18-23 will be able to vote in. So, before I sign guys, why should I pick you?

With duck houses, moats and an all-round gloomy financial situation, it is hard to place our trust in such a shady, oft incompetent bunch. Especially when the only thing we have in common with them is that we both wear clothes.

But the Question Time event hosted by the Student Left Network here at UCLan on 5th March was a refreshing change to being dictated to by the dictators.

So, on arguably the issue of the decade for young people, that of tuition fees, what did the three main parties have to say?

Possibly most interesting was the claim made by Mark Jewell from the Liberal Democrats that, if they were to gain power, they would scrap tuition fees within two terms.

Free fees often sounds outmoded, most students accept that they will leave university with a mountain of debt. So is this just an empty policy aimed at setting them apart?

Both Labour and the Conservatives said that this would mean that not everyone who wanted to would go to university, why squash people’s aspirations?

But, Mr Jewell backed up his party’s policy by saying that everyone should have the option, but better provision should be made for people wanting to go into other, wholly worthwhile professions that don’t require university education.

The North West of England makes the highest contribution to the UK’s manufacturing industry. Skilled jobs, but probably not skills best acquired in a classroom.

With less people going to uni, as in the old days of free education, fees could be covered by taxes, and only those who wanted and needed to go should go. Simples?

Mark Hendrick, the incumbent Labour MP spoke of the millions invested in education since New Labour came to power in 1997, aided by a sheet of education facts.

But he was challenged on the Labour party’s “arbitrary” goal of sending 50 per cent of young people to university. On the face of it, yes, you’d expect half of people to do this, but do they really need to? And, as Nerissa Warner-O’Neill for the Conservatives pointed out- what about the 51st person?

She also said the Conservatives would be waiting for the outcome of Labour’s higher education funding review. Which, without representation from the National Union of Students, the biggest union in the country representing young people, the advice is likely to be proceed with caps off.

As someone who has been to two universities, studying two different things, I can only say that first time around, I probably wasn’t prepared for what university would be like. But there wasn’t any talk of compulsory gap year volunteering, an idea that has been touted, but without an ingenious funding model, is unlikely to come from the public pocket, which already has a massive hole in it.

Maybe tuition fees will be your Iraq War. Maybe you’ve got an idea you can pitch to your MP. “Single issues” are the explanation for people not engaging with politics in the traditional party sense.

So not that Labour’s move from socialist to “New Right” and Cameron’s Conservative yet hoodie huggers have anything to do with it? Young people aren’t the only people that don’t vote.

Check out First Time Voters Question Time on the BBC or on IPlayer, hosted by mum and child-friendly Dermot O’Leary. The fact that ‘Adults’ Question Time isn’t speaking to people is a question in itself, and the cool, torn graphics are vaguely insulting to your intelligence.

But, ultimately, you have to do your research, see through the spin and make up your own mind.

A lost generation

@font-face { font-family: “Times New Roman”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }p { margin-right: 0cm; margin-left: 0cm; font-size: 10pt; font-family: Times; }table.MsoNormalTable { font-size: 10pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

In a decade New York Magazine has called one for “counter-intuitive thought”, a Yougov poll published yesterday seems to refute perceived wisdom about the younger generation.

The survey of 3,994 16-25-year-olds found – in contrast to the view that young people aren’t “bovvered” – that 64 per cent intended to vote in the next election or when they were eligible, considerably higher than the national turnout in 2005.

Rather than voting on age or personality, 73 per cent planned to vote after considering a political party’s position. International problems were identified as the most important issue by 35 per cent of respondents, while a quarter chose local issues and 22 per cent cited national problems.

Another area investigated was the teaching of politics and current affairs at high school. When asked, 43 per cent of respondents said that teaching of politics and current affairs in their school was inadequate.

The Head of English at a North West secondary school commented: “The overcrowded curriculum and the politician’s current drive for academic success inevitably leaves little room for classroom debate, however important this is for the social functions of future generations.”

Despite huge increases in spending on education, it appears emphasis is placed on the wrong things. Would the reduction of bureaucracy promised if the Conservatives win the next election give teachers back the discretion needed to teach for life, not just for tests?

With BBC3 the most popular publicly-funded channel among young people, should more resources be concentrated on programmes that educate rather than on shows like the purile Dance Like Michael Jackson? Veteran BBC journalist John Humphreys supports the axing of BBC3 because it is not performing the broadcaster’s core functions.

In a bid to make politics and parliament accessible to the young, the Hansard Society lead by John Bercow has launched an outreach programme to schools. Can politicians inspire support in an institution that has lost so much credibility, or is electoral reform, a fairer system, the only way to engage disenchanted and new voters?

Half of those questioned thought more should be taught about personal finance, while 36 per cent wanted more education on the economy. After the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, we should be glad those who will be supporting the “time bomb” of an ageing population want to avert future catastrophes.

The UK is just seven per cent short of New Labour’s target of 50 per cent of young people attending university, but with unemployment of 16-25-year-olds at nearly 1million, the messages are increasingly confusing.

Although this is a year where professions from social work to sports have been embroiled in scandal, the young still need guidance to help them to become responsible, hardworking citizens.

There is certainly the desire for it, but will someone put their head above the parapet – policy makers, broadcasters or teachers – before today’s young people become the “lost generation” of a decade the United States are calling the “Oughties”- we oughta have seen this coming?

Jordan the next PM?

First published at

WELCOME, and welcome back from your barbecue summer. Pack your bikinis away, say goodbye to the sun, and sense the sarcasm.

No matter how much sun there was in June, we will only remember having to ditch our umbrellas after wind meeting rain, culminating in us looking stupid and getting soaked anyway.

In fact, July has been provisionally touted as the ‘wettest on record’.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Met Office was in the business of weather prediction, but alas, at this stage long-term prediction is just hopeful guessing.

If they’d have guessed correctly, weathermen might have become the new slebs, rolling out of nightclubs. You’d never have to take a coat ‘just in case’ with your new bwf (best weather friend). But as it stands, they are now about as trusted as bankers, politicians and journalists.

Big Brother has been axed, although there will be one more series. The ‘great social experiment’ of the 21st century has ended up a refuge for the mad and fame-hungry.

And the golden couple, the ‘British Brad and Jen’, Peter Andre and Katie “don’t call me Jordon” Price have called time on their marriage. But don’t worry if you still need your fix, Ms. Price’s next tell-all show, ‘What Katie did next’, has been almost uncomfortably quick out of the pipeline. I’m getting a little weary.

According to recent news you Freshers are the brightest and best bunch yet to take your places at university. Congratulations, and welcome again.

Unfortunately a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development would have us believe you are all staggering half-cut to your desks with your illegitimate children in tow. Yes, you are the smartest stupidest group we’ve had yet.

A 97.5 per cent pass-rate, the 27th year on year increase has left everyone pointing the finger. The Government are hailing it as another success but even exam boards are admitting it’s a little bit unbelievable. The same happened last year and Labour made a botch-job of fixing it by introducing the… what was it that week… the Diploma. Is anyone elsebored of this?

According to Facebook, it seems you are. More than one million of you have joined the ‘I Hate being bored’ Facebook group, where you can trade your friends (who needs ‘em) gather balls if you’re lacking, or collect coins, although unfortunately they aren’t legal tender. All of which we are promised are ‘very addicting’.

Great games? Bad English.

For those of you looking for a new daily dose of drama, then the upcoming General Election might have the excitement you’re after.

Thanks to Lee Bradshaw, outgoing Campaigns Officer on the Student Affairs Committee, all Freshers moving into university accommodation this year will be entered on to the electoral roll. So no excuses! All you need to do now is pick a side.

The Conservatives have been touted to win, but, as New Labour struggled with its promise of ‘radical centre’ politics so too might Cameron’s cohort be dogged by their oxymoronof-a-slogan, to be ‘progressive Conservatives’.

Labour would need drastic action to win back public opinion, which could come in the form of a leadership challenge, most likely from Alan Johnson. But after 12 years of policy catastrophes, in everything from foreign affairs to economics, the lectorate have probably had enough.

Labour might even be so dramatically defeated that we could see the Liberal Democrats taking the opposition for the first time in their 21 years. The Lib Dems have seen their profile increase as Vince Cable has been spot-on on our troubled economy, but would they go into an election looking to win?

There are various fringe parties, from the Pirate Party, to the internet-selected Jury Party; the trusty Greens and Socialist Workers and even the British National Party and its dubious copy-cats springing up across the land.

Confusing, possibly. But do not fret. Pluto will be on-hand in the coming months to make sense of it all for you. But if what Katie is thinking of a career move into politics, my decision will be a little more easily made.

Picture commissioned exclusively for Pluto- by Ben Hill.

Chair of Students’ Council Candidate- Kirsty Styles

First published at

Name: Kirsty Styles

Year: 2

Course: BA Journalism

Position Running For: Chair of Student Council

Why are you running for this position?

I’m quite surprised that I’m running uncontested. However, I want to represent the student body, give something back to my university, hold all of the people in power accountable and try and get some stuff done!

Experience and Skills?

I studied Politics at A-level and also for a year at Sheffield University and right now I’m studying journalism so right now I think I’ve got the two things that best help towards the position – politics and media.

Top 3 goals whilst in office?

I’m kind of running on the ticket of making university better for men because I realised that there isn’t actually a Men’s Representative on the Student Council. Obviously I want to represent everybody, but I feel that men are being under-represented in today’s society and their problems would be something that I would try and focus on.

What are your campaign plans?

I’m going on the ticket of: “Kirsty Styles: making university better for men”. It was a bit of a joke. I had noticed that there wasn’t a men’s representative so I thought that that would be the theme of my campaign. I want the students to have a voice; I want them to know there’s someone there who can vocalize what students are thinking.

What are your negatives?

I don’t have a Council as such to put anything into place. I am very political, whether that is a negative…I don’t know.

How can you improve on your predecessor?

To be honest I’m not sure who my predecessor was, I’m not sure if they ran a campaign or if they were drawn from one of the various student forums. I’d like to make myself more well-known than them – make a mark.

How can they cope with the responsibility and pressure?

I’ve got quite a lot of responsibilities this year – writing for Pluto and being part of a pan European blogging competition run by the EU in Brussels. It’s all about having a diary, knowing when you’ve got to get things done and meeting the deadlines.

Why should people elect you?

I think I’ve shown that I’m committed to university and students because I put myself forward for position

Anything to add?

Just a bit disappointed that no other students have come forward; not only is student politics a springboard for national politics, but it’s also something we should do because people should put across things that are important to them, so that things aren’t stagnant and we can move on into the future together.