Young People Deserve Better
My father once told me that being young is only good in hindsight. I would have to agree with him. I’m a young man, who after almost 13 years of austerity and Tory policy failings feel very despondent about the future and being a young person in the UK.
I was 9 years old when the Conservatives came to power. I am now 22. My childhood, adolescence, and younger adulthood has been dominated by a political system that sees young people like me as the perfect political punching bag for their failings and cock ups.
Over the years, I have seen the future that was promised, that was a right to every generation that came before us, being ripped away. Me and my peers have become economically hopeless and politically homeless.
Like many of the problems that have assailed this nation over the last seven years, Brexit was one of the greatest injustices to young people. Whilst we were in the EU, we had complete access to 27 nations to travel, live and work in. But this right has now been stripped away. Erasmus+, which allowed students to travel abroad for work experience for up to a year through their institutions, was cancelled by Boris Johnson in 2020. His argument was that its cost, which was £180 million, was too great an expense. This is ironic, considering Brexit is costing the UK £100 billion a year. There was no reason to cancel this scheme; the cost was minimal, and the advantages for the future leaders of the UK immeasurable.
Young people have become little more than a straw man to beat whenever it suits politicians. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Princes Trust, wellbeing amongst 16–25-year-olds has hit a 14-year low, worse than the financial crash.
- 57% are greatly concern about the cost-of-living crisis
- 37% are concerned about recession
- 46% say the economic situation makes them feel hopeless. This rises to 55% amongst young people from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Since 2022, fears of failure in life have risen from 25% to 36%
- 62% of young people saying they suffer from constant stress
- 60% say they fear for the future.
Young people are not only dissatisfied, they are exhausted by the current state of events. Our long-term opportunities are being cut off for the sake of very short-term political gains, making our futures very bleak and uncertain.
Young people say they need help, support and time to help them build their confidence and abilities. I couldn’t agree more. As a young person who has just graduated university, help, guidance, and assistance from an experienced professional service is something that is a necessity. But instead of helping young people develop themselves so that they might succeed, the government seems content with draining us dry – emotionally and economically.
The changes to the student loan repayments, implemented in 2023, mean that I will spend the rest of my working life paying off the debt incurred between the ages of 18 to 21, as the debt will be eradicated after 40 years, rather than 30. I will be in my early 60’s before I am free of it, if I haven’t paid it off by then. Plan 2 borrowers, those who started studying after 2012, must pay 9% of their earnings on students’ loans if their earnings are over £27,295. This is £2456.55 a year, and £204.71 a month. With the cost-of-living crisis, inflation, the energy crisis and the world economy entering a period of low economic growth and high financial risk according to the IMF’s latest forecasts, you would think politicians would care about young people as we are the country’s future. I see no evidence of that from the main political parties.
Most concerning of all is governments and politicians’ attitudes to climate change - an issue that will affect the entire planet and all peoples. The WHO estimates that 250,000 people will die every year from climate change related issues between 2030 and 2050. It will be catastrophic to our ecosystems, our societies, our economics and to the very fabric of our civilisation. Yet the catastrophic threats are being treated as trivial, far-off event, a small blip on the governments radar.
The Conservative governments over the last 13 years have paid minimal attention to climate change, with lip service and loose commitments being the best we could hope for. Liz Truss not only didn’t pay lip service to climate change, but her policies also effectively encouraged. In her brief and disgraceful stint is PM, Liz Truss brought back fracking, despite the utter lack of economic incentives, banned solar panels on most farmland and overturned hundreds of environmental laws.
PM Sunak is no different. In signing the CPTPP deal he and his government have ditched all the commitments and promise the Tories made at COP 26 in Glasgow, just two years ago. Sunak has committed to extracting more oil from the North Sea oil fields, which will increase the UK’s carbon footprint. In April 2022, when he was Chancellor, he rejected a plan to make housing more energy efficient, which would not only reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, but would have also reduced the ravages of the cost-of-living crisis.
Young people of today are ‘generation pause’ - we are stuck and lack of hope of every achieving a stable, fulfilled life plan. The impacts of climate change will be catastrophic to the economy, yet politicians continue to fail to speak to us, to reassure us with proper policy visions. It’s no wonder 60% of young people fear for the future.
Young people have been failed by the establishment parties. We are looking for a new thinking, a new party, new politics that will stand up for the interests for the young, not just serve the interests of the status quo.
We want to be heard, to be encouraged, to feel cared for, to be inspired to innovate and achieve. Is this too much to ask? The True & fair Party made me feel it is not, that young people do deserve better.
James Murphy, Politics Graduate from the University of Leeds
True & Fair Party Comms Team & member of TFP Youth