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Kicking off Comment’s political conference series, Max Langer from Bristol Uni Lib Dems argues that the Liberal Democrats are the real party for students. 

This past weekend Liberal Democrat politicians and members congregated in Bournemouth to debate policy and choose the correct path for their battered party. After five years in coalition the party was struck a serious blow in the 2015 election.

‘I’m more sure than ever that the Liberal Democrats are the party that represents…young people’

Despite recovering slightly in this summer’s snap election the party is still struggling to reclaim the voters lost during the coalition, especially among young people. However, from attending this year’s conference I’m more sure than ever that the Liberal Democrats are the party that represents the views of young people.

During their time in coalition they brought millions of people out of income tax, invested billions in students through the pupil premium and spent greatly on green technologies, especially offshore wind. They also blocked many regressive steps that the Tories wanted to achieve, from cutting benefits and stripping human rights, to expanding grammar school plans and increasing state surveillance of the British public. All of this done to little or no fanfare, but they are not resting yet.

‘Rather than simply offering freebies, [Vince Cable] has a robust plan to bring down the cost of housing’

Only the Liberal Democrats have a comprehensive plan to make the lives of young people better. Taking to the stage on Tuesday afternoon for his first major speech as the party leader Sir Vince Cable made it clear that tackling inequality, especially generational inequality was at the top his agenda. Rather than simply offering freebies, he has a robust plan to bring down the cost of housing so that young people can get on the property ladder.

They are also the only party to give a new and innovative approach to the problem of student debt. The Tories continue to use TEF as a way to increase fees for students. Meanwhile, Labour wish to abolish them entirely, shifting the burden on to majority of people who never go to university. During his speech, Vince Cable announced that he supports a new graduate tax system to completely change the way we think of university funding. This way only the graduates who had benefited from university, through higher salaries, would foot the bill.

‘The main two parties have a vested interest in keeping the system as it is, the Lib Dems are the true party of reform’

During the 2017 election, many young people turned to Jeremy Corbyn as they thought that he would shake up a broken system. However, he is pretty happy with the system we already have, it almost got him to Number 10 after all. The Lib Dems wish to reduce the voting age to 16, make the House of Lords elected and bring in a new voting system to make our elections fairer. Imagine never having to worry about voting tactically! The main two parties have a vested interest in keeping the system as it is, the Lib Dems are the true party of reform.

While the Conservatives continue backing a damaging Hard Brexit, Labour are equivocating.

All of this has been without even mentioning the biggest political upheaval of our time, Brexit. In the EU referendum last year, 75% of people under 24 voted to remain. Yet, even though we will suffer most of the damage done by Brexit we are being ignored.

While the Conservatives continue backing a damaging Hard Brexit, Labour are equivocating. Jeremy Corbyn, a long time eurosceptic called a three line whip to beat an ammendment that would have kept the UK in the customs union and single market. Fortunately, the Liberal Democrats are still standing up for remainers, promising a referendum on the final Brexit deal so that the public can make a choice based on facts, rather than figures on the side of a bus.

‘The Lib Dems… offer an alternative that is not isolated, afraid or intolerant’

There are so many other ways that the Lib Dems fight for young people every day. Vince Cable and his experienced team of MPs offer a strong plan to young people. They offer an alternative that is not isolated, afraid or intolerant, but is hopeful and realistic. An alternative that wants all young people to share in opportunity and have their voice heard.


Disclaimer: The views presented in Comment are those of our writers and do not reflect those of Epigram or the editorial team.

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