Since pretty much immediately after my final uni exam 5 weeks ago I have been in deep holiday mode and so as a politics student have been trying to keep my distance from the subject as much as possible. Now I return to find things have got pretty fucked up here in the UK…
The Tories that smashed last years general election are now leaderless, the second largest party – Labour – has a leader who won the biggest mandate in party history but might well lose his position soon because he doesn’t seem to have many friends in the inside, and the third largest party since last year – UKIP – must now think of something else to blame the countries woes on. I’ve made it no secret that I am bitterly disappointed and angry at my country for voting to leave the EU, but perhaps there is a silver lining…
It appears that since the referendum last week, politics has been steaming hot, particularly amongst 18-24 years olds of which 75% (of those who actually voted) wanted to remain in the EU. I do believe that myself and everyone else within this age bracket has been taking a pretty hard fucking over the last 6 years, but we do seem to be coming more aware of it and so I’ve even started to wonder if we might actually do something about it.
On countless occasions over the last 6 years what young people have been saying on Twitter has been hugely in disfavour of what the government has actually been doing. We (or perhaps I should say them) voted firmly to bomb Syria last year, yet the tweets during that vote firmly rejected the motion. We’ve protested in pretty large numbers against legitimate assaults like being made to pay £9000 a year to study, but also less legitimate assaults like being dubbed with a Tory government last year, even though a lot of us didn’t actually vote for anything else…and when we protested in our anonymous masks against their victory the only real damage done to anyone was the police officer who had a cone thrown at him.
Young people have a profound mistrust in the political establishment – which is fair enough. We are able to pick out a lot of problems with the way we a represented by politicians, but we’re less good at picking out solutions to these problems – flashback to when Russell Brand was talking a lot until being silenced on Question Time by Nigel Farage when asked “why don’t you start a Russell Brand party if you’re so popular?”. A massive proportion of young people admire Owen Jones, and I do find myself liking a lot of his tweets, but what has he actually achieved for us? He, like us, and like me, has no trouble expressing outrage at ‘the establishment’, but struggles more when it comes to finding solutions.
Surveys suggest that young people are far more concerned with the environment than older generations, but who actually switches off their plug sockets at night? Young people stress more about the importance of equal pay and workers rights, but how many shop at Primark because it’s so cheap? We must be more pragmatic if we actually want to stop being fucked over. We must come up with solutions to the problems we so loudly express, and must consider who has the power to help us make change, and what are the interests of those with the power. Students would like to study for free. Say 1 millions students go to uni each year, and each pay £9,000 – That’s 9 billion quid that must be found elsewhere in a 700 billion annual budget. So something must be sacrificed, and we must focus on putting on pressure on what this could be, rather than just shouting about how unfair it is.
I solidly believe that a large proportion of people who voted last week didn’t really know what they were voting for, and that a lot more people would have if they had a better understanding. Now the entire political establishment is in a bit of a loopy state, we ought to take advantage. Let’s do more than angry Tweets if we can. It hasn’t got us anywhere so far…and neither has Brand, Jones, or anonymous masks.