After nine and a half years of Conservative government we’re facing a climate crisis, cuts that continue to cripple our NHS and vital public services, and a massive increase in inequality. Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010, child poverty is reaching record levels, and food bank usage is at an all time high. It has taken the Tories far too long to realise that ripping apart the fabric of our society is a bad idea, and they are doing a bad job of making up for it. This election is a chance to transform the country, to deliver the real change that the whole of the United Kingdom needs. The only real way this can happen is to vote Labour.
The Tories want to get Brexit done by ripping us out of the European Union, deal or no deal. This will not get Brexit done. This will only lead to more years of tough negotiations as we try to get a trade deal, not only with the EU, but with the rest of the world. Boris Johnson’s deal would leave the UK £70 billion worse off by 2029, doing enormous harm to jobs, rights, security, our environment, and to our NHS. A disastrous Tory Brexit will massively affect us, as students, and as young people; it is our future which is on the line.
Labour will rule out a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, and give the public a final say on whether to leave the EU with a sensible deal, or to remain in the EU. This will be a legally binding referendum, with the decision of the public immediately implemented. Most undergraduates at this university would have been too young to vote in the 2016 referendum. A referendum on the final deal is a chance for those whose futures are going to be most affected by Brexit, to have their voices heard. It is the only democratic way to end this mess, and the only way to guarantee it is to vote Labour.
We all know that we are facing a climate crisis: it is the single most important issue we are facing right now. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that we need to cut global emissions in half by 2030 in order to keep global warming below 2C above pre-industrial levels.
The Conservative government is likely fail to meet its legal obligations and targets in key areas like tackling illegal levels of air pollution, and will fail to meet both the 2020 and 2030 EU emissions targets on PM2.5, one of the most damaging pollutants. If the government had not opposed both onshore and offshore wind farms, home improvements such as insulation, and tidal power, then we would see CO2 emissions reductions of nearly 70 million tonnes — more than the annual emissions of Portugal — a year by 2030.
We do not have time to waste, we need immediate action to halt the escalating climate emergency. A Labour government will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution, transforming our industry, energy, transport, and agriculture, while creating one million jobs. By building 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, 2,000 new onshore wind turbines, and enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches, we will deliver approximately 90% of electricity and 50% of heat from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030.
In the Scottish Parliament, both Conservative and SNP MSPs recently voted against Labour’s bid to cut fuel poverty by 2032. There are approximately 670,000 households in Scotland living in fuel poverty, 52,000 of which are in Fife. Labour are committed to eliminating fuel poverty by 2030, and to achieving a net-zero-carbon energy system within that decade. We will upgrade homes to the highest energy-efficiency standards, providing grants and interest free loans for the retrofitting of insulation, installation of heat pumps and solar thermal heating, which would reduce the average household energy bill by £417 per year by 2030! That’s enough for approximately 100 pints at Aikman’s per year.
Here in North East Fife, over 11,000 people would benefit from Labour’s £10 per hour minimum wage — which will apply to all workers over the age of 16 — and would particularly benefit students who work alongside their studies. Additionally, Labour will establish a Ministry for Employment Rights; promoting trade unions; giving workers’ full rights from the first day on the job; giving all workers the right to flexible working; and banning unpaid internships. Out of the 14.3 million people in the UK living in poverty, nine million live in families where at least one adult works; these nine million people cannot afford for there to not be a Labour government.
Finally, under the Coalition government, UK tuition fees increased threefold from £3000 per year to £9000 per year, and maintenance grants have been scrapped. The average university student will graduate with over £50,000 of debt. If you don’t want yourself and your mates to be paying off student loans well into your 50s, then vote Labour, who will abolish tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants. Also, Labour will scrap universal credit, which disproportionately affects students, especially those who have disabilities or dependents.
As you’ve probably noticed, university staff have been striking over the past week. One of the reasons for this was the casualisation of staff contracts, which Labour promises to end. Happier lecturers means better teaching, so it’s a win for everyone!
So, if you want to get Brexit done in a democratic manner which allows you to have a final say, deal with the climate emergency in both scientifically and economically backed ways, and tackle increasing inequality across the whole of our society, then you should vote Labour on 12th December.