Many young people today seem disenchanted with politics generally. Ask them what party they support, and the majority will say either “no idea”, or “whichever my parents vote for”. Only a handful will be loyal to one political ideology. However, it is essential that our younger generation are aware of political issues that will affect them – either now, or in the near future.
Usually, the most political discussion I have at my state college consists of “Bloody government, we’ve got to stand out here in the p*ssing rain for a fag” – if you’ll excuse the French! This is then followed by a few disgruntled moans and a roll-up, huddled under the bus shelter in the designated “smoking zone”. However, most of my friends actually listen when I say “You can thank Labour”.
Ever since the housing crash of 2007, mortgages have rocketed up to maybe ten, or even twelve times the average income – as a result, the banks are refusing to lend (despite contrary advertisements). Many young people have to live at home with their parents for years on end or resort to expensive renting. And, on top of this, us young people have to put up with high youth unemployment, homelessness and, worst of all, the inability to smoke indoors! And why is this? The big three parties – Labour, Conservative and (formally in the big three..) the Liberal Democrats – are totally apathetic and insensitive regarding how real/average people live. Their decisions affect us every day, and we barely notice; we struggle on, complain a bit here and there, but these parties take no notice. Rising bus prices due to government cuts? Not their problem!
However, one party attracted me. A party that offered solutions to these problems. UKIP.
Living in one of the poorest areas of the country, the Camborne and Redruth consistuency, I found that most students were condemned to an education in a near-failing comprehensive. A comprehensive that barely boasted a 30% pass rate (A*-C) at GCSE. There was no alternative – the grammar school had been closed long ago under the Labour government. The nearest grammar school to me was in another county! I was lucky enough to earn a bursary to private school, where I stayed up until GCSEs, but this shouldn’t have had to happen – I should have been able to expect a decent education from the local state school. Things being as they are, however, my mother wanted more for me. She had the right to desire a school with a better pass rate, as most parents do, yet the socialist system indoctrinates into us from an early age (trust me, I remember) that we are all equal – no individual is smarter than another. As a result, we should not have ambitions to strive for greater achievement.
This attitude is simply not acceptable. UKIP promises to open more grammar schools. These type of selective schools are desperately needed for disadvantaged children from impoverished backgrounds, who achieve well below their ability due to the inconclusive and unhelpful state school system. In my local comprehensive, sources suggest that “high-ability” students achieve, on average, a B grade at GCSE – not impressive considering that we have endured grade inflation over the last fifteen years.
A more rigorous education system is needed. We need to bring back the O-Level! We have Nick Clegg to thank for rejecting this notion claiming (he boasted about it ever so modestly) that it was “two tier”. Oh, Clegg, do tell us where you were educated, again? In fact, the O-Level, alongside grammar schools, will actually help to eliminate the divide between the rich and poor. Poor children should be given equal chances to study academic subjects such as Latin or Greek at state schools, on the same syllabus as those at Eton or Harrow. Yet they don’t, because the state school system doesn’t offer such subjects at all, claiming that those subjects are elitist. Only the few grammar schools offer these subjects to students from poorer backgrounds.
The examination board should be the same for every single child up and down the country if we are to offer equal opportunity to everyone. All children should be given the chance to gain fantastic, respected qualifications, making it easier for Russell Group universities to “sort the wheat from the chaff”.
State comprehensives (which should be named as such, not “science academies” and what have you) should cater for average children with the CSE qualification, a course which keeps opportunities open but doesn’t pressure students to pass exams rigorously, unlike the system we have today. The CSE qualification should allow children to go into trades or apprenticeships, which are desperately needed in our economy today. Children should be given the chance to work at every turn with the help of decent qualifications.
There should be a divide between the polytechnic and the university. I’m sorry, but it has to be said. Merging the two and sending everyone on degree courses, as we have done in the last fifteen years, devalues the degree qualification and has led directly to the increase in student tuition fees. There are only so many graduate jobs available in our country – and yet, around 50% of young people are attending university. This places a great deal of stress on the economy. Young people complain of unemployment in their specialist field, as obtained by a degree. Put simply, there are not enough jobs in these areas, and yet the government still promises that there are! According to UKIP, the degree qualification should not just be worth the piece of paper, it should be a high achievement. Many teenagers feel pressured to go to university by their schools merely to boost statistics rather than raising the chances of getting a job – thus resulting in high student debt.
Beyond education, I know for a fact that there is a definite social division over attitudes to smoking. A divide that doesn’t draw attention to itself particularly, but it is definitely visible between us teenagers. As a libertarian, I believe that the choice to smoke indoors should be down to the landlord of a property (namely, pubs). There should be smoking and non-smoking pubs to accommodate both sets of people, designated as such by their owners, rather than leaving the smokers outside in the rain. The smoking ban is self defeating anyway – when smokers are forced outside to smoke, the chances of children breathing in passive smoke increases. The pubs, in my opinion, are places where adults (people 18 and over) should drink, smoke and socialize, as this keeps such activities restricted to an adult environment. Since the introduction of the smoking ban, more and more adults have stayed at home to smoke and drink – under the same roof as their children. UKIP believes in true libertarianism – thus the choice to attend smoking or non-smoking pubs. Smoking should be a free choice, not a means to control the masses.
So, why do I support UKIP? I support UKIP because it supports freedom of choice. Freedom to say that you want a better future – with a prospect of more jobs, better education, and better infrastructure. Teenagers need to be offered a libertarian future – one that promises freedom of choice and responsibility, which is essential for young teenagers growing into young adults. Although this article doesn’t address all issues of the UK, it addresses the ones that affect teenagers the most.