By Amaan Ali, First Year, Philosophy and Politics
On behalf of Epigram, I interviewed students from different sides of the political divide to discern their opinions on Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini-budget’, here is what they (and I) had to say.
Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini-budget’ came at a time of hardship for many across the country. With rising inflation, food, and energy prices, many looked at the government’s budget as an answer to all our worries. Instead, what we got was a fiscally irresponsible mess with little to help those most in need. With tax cuts announced the pound against the dollar plummeted to a record low of $1.03. The budget showed how the government is out of touch with the average person (a concern many had with Rishi Sunak’s bid for leadership) and that they have lost the trust of their voters. With many polls now showing that Labour has a chance at securing a big win at the next election, the Conservatives must do something big to ensure a win next election.
With the budget came the announcement of a cap on rising energy prices something many households and students across the country were worried about. However, coupled with tax cuts many wondered where this money would come from.
Dan Hutton a second-year Politics and International Relations student said ‘I think that tax should be increased not cut. If the government is committed to energy bailouts, then they need to pull that money from somewhere not reduced the amount of money they’re receiving by cutting tax’. He went on to say ‘The new budget was a failure in ideology. Trickle-down economics hasn’t worked for the past 12 years and there is no reason it would now’. When asked about his opinion on the U-turn Dan said ‘I think it’s good that they’re at least somewhat listening to public sentiment but considering how tone-death the cabinet seems I don’t think it’ll be the last time they will fold on major policy changes’.
I also questioned Elliot Stein ex-chairman of the Bristol University Conservative Association. When asked what he thought about the budget he said, ‘If we didn’t borrow so much the budget would be good but being fiscally responsible means paying back your debts’ He went on to say that the ‘Backlash towards the party is warranted and that conservatism is all about being fiscally responsible’. Showing that students across the political spectrum agree that the budget was a mistake.
When talking about the backlash the chancellor faced one student who will remain anonymous echoed Labour MPs Rupa Huq’s remarks that she made while speaking at the Labour Party conference. Rupa Huq said, ‘you wouldn’t know he’s black’ and made comments that he is ‘superficially black’ which they agreed with. These comments showed how racism is a problem that both sides of the political divide must deal with. Many people view minorities as a monolith and those who dare move past the artificial identity of ‘blackness’ are attacked with racist abuse.
Racist statements were also made against Priti Patel the former Home Secretary. Howard Beckett a leadership candidate for the Unite trade union was suspended from the Labour party after he said, ‘Priti Patel should be deported’. It shows that while people would preach anti-racism the rules go out the window when it comes to someone they disagree with or don’t like. People must learn to disagree without leading to racism, a very simple request that seems to go ignored. We have no right to question the ‘blackness’ of someone or suggest a person of colour should be deported. Kwasi Kwarteng’s budget was fiscally irresponsible and while some backlash was warranted, these comments show how racism is present on both sides of the political divide.
When asked about the Conservative’s chance at winning the next election Dan Hutton said he doesn’t think they would win the next election. Eliot Stein said that his ‘faith in the party is wavering’ and that ‘they might be wiped out’ in the next election. With Rishi Sunak’s tenure as Prime Minister just beginning it is too early to say whether he will be successful in winning back the trust of the electorate and winning the next election. But with the public’s attitude shifting in favour of Labour and the need for something new in parliament the conservatives might just lose the position that they’ve now held for over 10 years.
As costs continue to increase students will find it harder to find affordable housing and keep up with the costs of living. The only thing we can do is wait to see if the government has more plans to get us out of this economic crisis or we might have to wait till the next election for real change.
Featured Image: UK Government/Flickr