In the lead-up to the General Election 2017, Impact Magazine sat down with representatives from the four political societies at the University of Nottingham: The Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Greens. From the Labour Society, we spoke to Jacob Collier.
Why do you think scrapping tuition fees is so important to Labour as a manifesto point?
JC: “We have seen that there has been a drop in the number of students going to university, and one of the lowest application numbers in the last thirty years. A lot of that is down to students coming out with around £44,000 of debt.
“The Conservatives have scrapped the maintenance grants as well, so, for some of the very poorest students, they obviously think that university is unaffordable for them. On student nursing bursaries, they also got rid of them, and since they claim to be the party that supports the NHS.
“It is about creating a society where everyone has the same opportunities and really, abolition tuition fees and reinstating maintenance grants is part of that process.”
Outside of this, what specific policies will be put in place to help those aged between 18-25?
JC: “Raise the minimum wage to a living wage by 2020, and that is going to include all people over the age of 18, and the National Living Wage right now is only for over 25’s. What you get is that companies tend to exploit younger people.
“Especially for this university, we rely on international students”
“Increase in the number of houses, the standard of them and the affordability, as a lot of people will be looking at getting a house when they graduate, and currently it is completely out of people’s reach. So we’re going to build thousands of low-cost homes that will be reserved for those looking to get on the housing ladder for the first time.
“A lot of students rent, and we will introduce controls of rent and gives tenants more say over the rent that they pay, ban letting fees as well, as often they can be quite exploitative, along with more action on rogue landlords.”
How do Labour envisage the Brexit process being handled?
JC: “If we got into government, then what we would do is we would scrap the Conservative’s ‘white paper for Brexit’, because it does not prioritise the economy, people or jobs. Especially for this university, as well, we rely on international students, and Lillian Greenwood MP has been very vocal in Parliament, actually talking about how international students need to be protected.
“I’ve seen from the BBC that the Conservatives are talking about including international students in their plan for reducing migration figures, which will have a direct impact on this university. What we are saying is that it isn’t fair. I think the Conservatives have forgotten that people are more than a statistic.”
Why do you think that typical voter turnout among 18-25 year olds is so low?
JC: “I think it is because we sort of fail to engage with people in politics. I think there is a tendency to have politics conducted in a place where people do not understand much about it. I think there isn’t much political education in this country, so people don’t realise what their vote actually stands for, and the difference it can make.
“Young people have to realise that they lose out a lot by not having their voices heard, and you can see that the Conservatives have ignored young people’s interests, because they haven’t turned out to vote. I think in the EU referendum is was about 36% of young people, where around 80% of those 65 and over voted.
“It is about having a political education, if you like”
“It is very clear as to where the Conservatives have got their priorities, with the older people, which is why they have taken this hard-line Brexit approach that is going to be catastrophic for our economy, and does not prioritise people.”
What can be done to combat this?
JC: “It is about having a political education, if you like. So, within schools, telling people about the importance of our democracy, more about of institutions, or Parliament… I mean, some young people do not even know who our PM is. I think something along those lines is important to do.”
What do you think the General Election result will be?
JC: “I hope for a Labour government, and we will be fighting hard to get Lillian Greenwood re-elected back into Parliament, as she has done a fantastic job of standing up for Nottingham South and for the people of this area. I think she genuinely cares about people.
“I think we kind of know what the election result will be, but no votes have been cast yet, and a lot of unpredictable things have happened in politics recently.”
Featured Image: Nottingham Labour Students.