Young people should be patriotic too
BY JAMES YUCEL
Ahh, Britain. The home of Shakespeare, Churchill, The Beatles, Beans on Toast, Harry Potter. Our history is unique. Our passion is unmatched. Our dishes are – slightly questionable. But it is our patriotism that truly sets this little island apart from the rest of the world.
Some say we are let down by the unpatriotic youth of today. People describe them as “lazy” and “entitled” in Twitter threads and Facebook comment sections. But I wholeheartedly disagree. It is us that have let them down. Successive governments over the past few decades have ignored young people and shied away from proposing policies that would affect real change to their lives.
We now live in a country where a young person will have to save up for years before they can afford a down-payment on a house. A country where students pay nearly £10,000 a year to study at university. A country where we systematically fail to address so many young people’s fears about climate change and the world around us.
It has become clear to anyone who takes the time to converse with them that young voters want three things. Prospects of owning a house, less debt from university, and unwavering action on climate change.
On housing, consecutive governments have promised to build ‘X’ amount of homes, with the debate focused on ‘supply and demand’. But young people tend to be less binary than their previous generations due to the demands of this work-until-you-die climate that has begun to manifest in the heart of our nation.
In Germany, where almost half of young people back Chancellor Angela Merkel, housing problems are similar to those in the UK. But their government has invested in greater rental regulation, where rents are only increased if improvements are made, tenants have long term agreements, and are able to save money in a different way to paying a mortgage. “Germany looks 10-20 years in the future with its policy,” says Dr Sloam of European Politics at Royal Holloway, University of London.
On education, more and more bright kids from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are being turned off of the prospect of university after hearing the words “£9,250 a year”. Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the Islington Gardening Gang had the wrong idea of scrapping fees completely last December – it was plainly unrealistic and populist to suggest a student would be able to do so.
The government, however, could consider replacing university fees with a Graduate Tax, for the next election. Here, a graduate would contribute a percentage of their income each year, gradually paying off the total bill, with an exit tax in place for those who wish to leave the country. Not only would this encourage smart students from poorer backgrounds to fulfil their potential, but it would indisputably decimate Labour’s argument for a ‘free society’.
And lastly, a controversial topic – climate change. It is something the children of this country care about with a flaming passion – and continuing to ignore it will have dramatic consequences for us.
Looking at the environment – it suggests a policy which isn’t just about how much energy we use, but how we think about these resources too.
One way of doing this would be through so-called “bottom-up” supply models – where citizens could be involved in renewable energy generation on a local level. A similar atmosphere to Neighbourhood Watch, making people feel involved in efforts to tackle issues in society can have resoundingly positive impacts.
Effective campaigning can win us ‘youth votes’ at the next election. Transformative policies can win us patriotic ones at the next four.
James Yucel is a writer and young Conservative activist who has written for The Glasgow Guardian and was a campaign officer for Tom Hunt MP. Follow him on twitter: @JamesLYucel