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Who Do I Vote For? – The Students Guide to Party Manifesto

Heading out to vote today and still undecided? Here's the student's guide to voting in this year's General Election.

Photo by Element5 Digital / Unsplash

By Kieran Maxted, Fourth Year, Philosophy

In an Election campaign mired with controversy, turmoil, and general confusion, it is difficult for the ‘average’ person to understand the policies put forward by each contending party. With many students finding themselves in existentially tenuous positions, whether that be just entering into University life, beginning to feel settled within it, or departing from their academic lifestyle into the anxiety-inducing working world, the state of the political landscape is very important not only for our present, but critical for shaping of our future.

May 22 marked a historic day. We all watched on as our sartorially rain-saturated Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, finally announced the much-anticipated 2024 General Election, to happen on July 4. That date is now mere hours away. The subsequent weeks of the election have not fallen short in offering a manifesto-length list of dubious propositions, ad-hominem attacks, and overall confusion.

Hopefully, this article will distil the obfuscating proposals that have been made over the last couple of weeks into a more succinct and comprehensible form, focusing on the key points of four main parties’ manifestos. If successful, you'll be able to understand what each party actually intend to do if they were to get into power. Most importantly, you'll be able to cast an informed vote, knowing exactly how these polices will affect present and future students in the five years to come.

The Labour Party – ‘Change’

Let’s start by analysing the policy proposals of this campaigns front-
runners, helmed by the former Director of Public Prosecutions (‘DPP’), Keir Starmer.

In the midst of economic decline in the years following Brexit and the COVID-19
pandemic, which Labour attribute to the past 14 years of Tory governments, Labour’s foremost concern is ‘wealth creation’.

This means creating incentives which contribute to economic growth; that means increasing the nation’s GDP (Growth Domestic Product). This reduces inflation, and thus, alleviates pressure of working people who are straining to make ends meet amongst the cost-of-living crisis.

We interviewed Thangam Debbonaire, the Labour candidate for Bristol Central. Read what she had to say here.

Key Policies

Kickstarting Economic Growth

In order to achieve economic stability, Labour are adamant that their
economic growth will not come in the form of increased VAT, National Insurance, and income taxes, despite repeated Tory suggestions otherwise.

Instead, Labour plan to increase investment in the UK’s economy from the private sector whereby privately owned companies, who own energy infrastructure in the UK, will willingly contribute to said growth.

The Environment

A key part not just to Labour’s strive for economic growth, but also to their response to the climate crisis, is their policy ‘Great British Energy’. The climate crisis appears to be at the forefront of Labour’s priorities, as the first line of this policy states, the crisis, 'is the greatest long-term global challenge that we face'. With the environmental threat becoming more profound by the year, and seemingly not being taken as seriously as required by most, many will find it promising to see the climate crisis at the forefront of Labour’s governmental intentions.

In implementing this policy, Labour claim to reach national ‘clean energy’ by 2030. To reach this goal they will to implement a ‘zero-carbon’ energy system, and, additionally, in order to reinforce their new climate and energy policies, they will and pass a new Energy Independence Act.

This will work in tandem with their economic policies. Facilitating this progression will be their introduction of a ‘Great British Energy’, a ‘new publicly owned’ energy company.

This company will be accompanied in partnership of industry and trade unions to invest in innovative technologies and support private sector energy projects to produce ‘clean-energy production’ available to the whole country. Further support for this provided by £8.3bm in subsidisation. In turn, this will not only curtail the rising increase in present energy bills but will also create job opportunities; an estimated 650,000 to be precise, which will contribute to reciprocal growth in the UK economy.


In attempts to drastically reduce the extensive appointment waiting lists, Labour will introduce additional weekend health services, and rest on the private sector for additional support. They hope to supply 40,000 scans, operations, and appointments a week. To fund NHS workers wages for this, they will draw from funds raised through ‘cracking down’ on tax loopholes, which, in summation, should supply adequate support to significantly reduce the waiting lists.


Unusually, The only explicit issue that Labour have directly addressed respecting
students, and adolescents generally, regards housing. Essential for the students now leaving higher education and entering ‘adulthood’ is the eventual dream of instating that very ‘adulthood’ in acquiring homeownership.
However, recent years have seen a housing (yes, I’m afraid another’) ‘crisis’, brought about by inflation, wage-stagnation, and high interest rates. It is now estimated that this dream is more of the ‘pipe’ sort, with ‘first-time buyers’ in the UK in 2022-23 recorded to be an average age of 34.

To counteract this, nevertheless, by introducing an initiative to build 1.5 million new homes across the UK in the five years succeeding their coming to power on July 4, Labour hope to drastically reduce this intimidating statistic. However, this is an exorbitantly ambitious, as this would require 300,000 houses to be completed each year, more than multiplying the average completion rate of 123,000 seen over the last 10 years.

The Conservative Party – ‘Clear Plan, Bold Action, Secure Future’

It's safe to say that the Tories are not hugely popular at the moment. But what do they have to offer?

With the current cost-of-living crisis, which the Prime Minister describes as a direct result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and COVID-19 pandemic, the Tories have put an emphasis on providing tax cuts to provide economic security, and have not been reticent in imploring voters on the importance of this matter across the campaign.

Key Policies


A cornerstone of the Tory manifesto is their promise of providing tax cuts,
primarily, with regard to pensions, pledging to not impose any income tax on state
pensions. However, of more concern to graduating students, the Tories also pledge
to reduce National Insurance from 12% to 6% by 2027. Furthermore, they also vow to abolish all National Insurance for self-employed workers.


The second most prevalent issue addressed by all competing parties is immigration.

The Tories have adamantly argued that they've applied direct focus to decreasing immigration rates and tackling illegal immigration by ‘stopping the boats'. The now infamous ‘Rwanda Scheme’ was enforced by the passing of the ‘Rwanda Bill’ in April 2023 by government, a scheme whose primary incentive was to deport incoming ‘illegal’ immigrants to Rwanda to not only decrease the number of ‘illegal’ immigrants, but also to act as a deterrent for future illegal crossings. This scheme is reaffirmed in their manifesto.

Many have argued that this policy won't work as subsequent to the Rwanda Scheme's inception, net migration rates have ‘sky-rocketed’ to record high rates of 745,000 in 2022 under Rishi Sunak’s leadership.

The Tories have also entertained the potential removal of UK from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), if its provisions would prevent the implementation of Rwanda.

The excessiveness of the Tories approach here is apparent. Many political commentators and analysts have pointed out that there are numerous
benefits to well-regulated migration.

What are the Tories offering students?

Not much. The putative ‘National Service’ policy just misses the student age threshold and instead applies only to those under the age of 18.
As Labour have pledged to build 1.5m homes in the next parliament the Tories have turned it up by offering to build, yes,1.6m new homes. Additionally, Rishi Sunak has vowed to implement a ‘Help-to-buy’ scheme for first time buyers, but the tangible details of this policy still remain vague.


Aimed at a younger demographic, Sunak said he'll invest in developing 100,000 ‘quality’ apprenticeships. Controversially, funding for this will come from abolishing what the Tories have billed as ‘Mickey Mouse’ university degrees, which supposedly leave students worse-off after graduation. The Tories have not clarified what constitutes a ‘Mickey Mouse’ degree.

The Liberal Democrats – ‘For a Fair Deal’

The Lib Dems main manifesto pledge (beyond weeks allowing leader, Ed Davey, to embark on the most exhilaratingly joyride of a campaigns) is to provide a ‘Fair Deal’ economy, build public services, and help the environment.

Key Policies

The Economy

The Lib Dems hope to stabilise things with focus on tackling food-price inflation by implementing a ‘national food strategy’. They also say they'll repair the economy through renewed trade agreements and a resurrected relationship with the EU removing trade barriers and eventually rejoining the single market, which will help bring prices down on imported products. Through more tax regulations on big businesses, the Lib Dems plan to support struggling Public Services.


The party say that everyone will have the right to see an GP within one week, as required, or within 24 hours in emergency circumstances. Moreover, the Social Care sector will also reap benefits, as a scheme will be put in place enabling the accessibility of free personal care for everyone, as well as respite breaks provided for unpaid carers. Care for carers is a key element for leader Ed Davey.

The Environment

They are committed to achieve net-zero by 2045 at the latest. To achieve this, they will introduce a number of policies, notably a 10-year home upgrade program, considerable investment in renewable energy, and regulations imposed on big companies, holding them to account for issues such as sewage dumping.

What are the Lib Dems offering students?

Though it was the Liberal Democrats who brought in the loathed university fees policy they offer to conduct a review of the University funding. Notably, they propose to reintroduce maintenance loans for lower income families.

The Green Party – ‘Real Hope, Real Change’

Greener country, counteracting the climate crisis and creating and sustaining a fair and equal country.

We interviewed Carla Denyer, the Green candidate for Bristol Central and co-leader of the Green Party. Read what she had to say here.

Key Policies


Unsurprisingly, the Greens will put considerable investment into solar, wind, geothermal and hydrogen energy projects. They pledge to abandon all nuclear
and fossil fuel energy creation. They'll also introduce a carbon tax to
contribute to fund movement to net zero clean energy by 2040.
The Greens would will contribute to the holistic global effort towards sustainability via Climate Diplomacy. Through lending financial aid to help developing countries, this would not only facilitate their green transition but would simultaneously benefit UK soft power.

Public Spending – NHS and Education

Through a new tax revenue regime the Greens will work towards a 35% pay increase for junior doctors, an increase in overhaul NHS spending by 15%, and an average teachers’ pay increase.
A wealth tax on the richest would see owned assets valued above £10m taxed by 1%, and 2% for those above £1bn.

Making Work Fair

They would move towards the nirvana of a 4 day work week, as well as a ‘10:1’ pay ratio cap on organisations, whereby nobody within a business would be
able to earn 10 times that of anyone else within the same organisation.

National minimum wage rate would lift to £15 per hour, irrespective of

What are the Green Party offering students?

They promise to both abolish tuition fees and reintroduce student maintenance grants.
It is also noteworthy for all young people, including students, that the ‘Greens’
pledge to increase the social housing build rate to 150,000 per year, as well as a
future intention to rejoin the EU, when politically feasible to do. A clear benefit of EU return is that it will restore freedom of movement, something that benefits students.


The Greens propose a constitutional change, allowing 16 year olds to vote, reforming the House of Lords and implementing proportional representation in general elections.

Gender Identity, Israel-Hamas War, Ukraine-Russia War from main party manifesto

Gender Identity

Labour hope to simplify the application process for an individual attaining a Gender Recognition Certificate but will keep the requisite condition of medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

In contrast, the Lib Dems intend to reform the entire process, removing the
requirement for gender dysphoria diagnosis, allowing for any individual to change the sex listed on their birth certificate, at their own discretion.

The Green Party also propose a change in law; proposing the addition of an ‘X’
marker to passports for non-binary and intersex people to use, if they wish to do so.

The Greens have also offered public support for the legal recognition of the self-
identified gender of trans and non-binary people.

The Conservatives have proclaimed an intention to protect single-sex spaces.

Labour and the Liberal Dems manifestos pledge to ban conversion therapy, which is a method used to change someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, with the scope of the ban extending to transgender people. The Conservatives, however, have not pledged a ban.

Foreign Policy

To date, all of the four parties have continued to offer their unanimous and unwavering support for Ukraine, as the conflict with Russia is still raging.
With reference to the conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel, following the
events of October 7 2023, again, the stances of all parties are more or less in step.

Rishi Sunak has called for an immediate humanitarian pause to allow aid into Gaza and has been backed by Starmer in urging for a viable, long-term ceasefire. Labour have additionally called for the recognition of a Palestinian state to offer a two-state solution. However, have criticised both Labour and the Conservatives for not doing so fast enough.

Both the Greens and Lib Dems have also made demands for an immediate bi-lateral ceasefire. The Green Party have, specifically, called for an end to arms sales to Israel, and have further motioned to reinstate funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), a UN Agency that
provides aid for Palestinian refugees, along with further support for South
Africa’s proposal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).


Hopefully you now feel more informed, and well equipped to make
your nation-defining decision today. And remember, regardless of who it is for, cast your vote. It makes a difference.