ELECTION PERSPECTIVES: CONNOR
In 2015 we produced a video speaking to four young people about their voting intentions. Two years on, we checked in with two of the presenters - Natalie and Connor, to see if they’d be participating in this election, what the biggest issues are for them, and how they will be voting. This is what Connor said.
What does it feel like to be a young adult in the UK in 2017?
There is an element of frustration I feel at the socio-economic division of our society and the way this is reflected in our elections. The country is so bitterly divided between very comfortable, Tory heartlands in the South, economically disadvantaged left-leaning regions to the North, metropolitan liberal centres in London and other southern cities, and now liberal progressive nationalists in Scotland. In this situation it is difficult to imagine a government that could ever truly serve the interests of the country at large and placate the disparate demands of even a majority of sectors of our society. The deeply flawed electoral system we use does not help to ensure accurate representation in Parliament either.
On top of this, with the recent EU Referendum we’ve been faced with the painful reality of an electorate legislating on a very complex political-economic restructuring of Britain’s foreign relations, the most significant effects of which won’t be felt by the majority of people who voted to leave (considering that they occupy the older age brackets). The sheer exasperation of seeing young people fail time and again to vote on these key issues and thus deliver the result to reactionary forces who do not work in our interest is enraging. There is a perception that we are heading to a significant social fracturing in the coming decades, with the renewal of the Scotland question and the pains of a potential hard Brexit on the horizon.
Being a young adult in this day and age is a scary thing. There aren’t enough jobs for all the graduates, NHS privatisation seems to be imminent, we’ve lost a vital resource in the EU, and the country is cartwheeling into a seemingly perpetual span of Conservative government owing to the fact that no-one wants to take a genuine left-wing opposition seriously, not even those who would benefit from it most.
What are the biggest issues you care about going into this election?
Abating the worst excesses of a Conservative hard Brexit fuelled by UKIP anti-European rhetoric and negotiating the most partial exit from the EU possible (enough to placate the hardline Brexiteers), halting and reversing the creeping privatisation of NHS services, reversing Tory cuts to education and reallocating military expenditure to other sectors, especially renewable energy development
How do you see the major parties and/or your local candidates addressing these issues?
Politics in these most recent years has only served to give me a very simple operating principle when it comes to this election: any party or coalition of parties is better for the country than more Conservative government. While Labour does have some serious internal issues to sort out, I see a Labour-Lib Dem coalition in some kind of Parliamentary voting alliance on key social and economic issues with the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru as the best possible outcome of the election. It will serve as a clean break with the bad blood between the Conservative party and the EU Commission which will only help us in terms of the Brexit negotiations, and hopefully isn’t too late to reverse the worst of the damage done by seven years of Tory government to our social welfare, education and healthcare systems and our diplomatic standing in the world.
Any final thoughts?
I think perhaps the most frustrating thing about this election is knowing that by the very nature of what the Conservatives stand for and have stood for for decades, I know so many Tory voters who will be voting precisely against their economic and social best interests on the basis that they think Jeremy Corbyn is a weak leader.
Believing that the Tories are somehow inherently better managers of the economy is predicated on a false interpretation of the global economic situation of the later Blair and Brown years and a conflation of the concepts of ‘wealth’ and ‘development’. Yes, Tory policies may cause our GDP growth rate to rise. But just because the country is richer does not in any way mean that the people are better off. A government that raises enormous wealth but fails to invest that wealth in public services that redistribute capital back to the people, and that encourages business while failing to ensure that the average citizenry experiences any benefit from that business, may be a good economic management, but it is not the essence of ‘government’.
The video on voting from 2015 can be seen below.