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Student's view: 'First election in memory with such impact'

(Photo credit: 'The Impact Blog')

SO, AFTER several weeks of heavy campaigning, the 2017 General Election is over. Votes have been tallied and the country has spoken.

And no matter who you voted for, the result is not what you would have wanted. A hung Parliament means uncertainty, and what looks like another coalition Government for the next five years.

But, what does this mean for young people like myself? It is difficult to speculate, given that no party won an outright majority. But one thing is for certain: this is the first election in my memory that young people have had such an impact on.

While we may not know for several days the exact turn-out by age range, analysts up and down the country are saying there has been a huge surge in people aged 18-24 voting. Given that the youth vote has been dropping over the past 20 years or so, seeing so many more young people engaging in politics is fantastic, and really encouraging for future elections.

Looking at the Conservative’s manifesto, it seems to offer comparatively few policies aimed directly at young people. I’m not saying that Labour are perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but perhaps their focus on the youth is a reason why they made such big gains.
Looking at the overall political picture, it seems that the most likely outcome is the Conservatives will make a coalition with Northern Ireland’s DUP. This means that Theresa May will remain as Prime Minister, despite her party taking a big hit.

THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE: A protest organised by the global campaigning movement Avaaz, on Whitehall in London, of a life-size giant-headed puppet of Theresa May leaving flowers at a tombstone bearing the words 'Hard Brexit RIP'

The most important thing for many young people is finding a job. Having a wage on which we can survive is vital and the Conservative pledge to increase national minimum wage is appealing, as is their promise to increase the amount of tax-free income to £12,500.

Whilst it is not as attractive as Labour promises of no tax increases for those earning the least, and their idea for a living wage, the Tory policy is something I can support.

Another of my biggest worries after graduating is finding somewhere to live. I have pretty much resigned myself to renting for a large part of my life, and it seems that this will stay the case. The Conservative homes-for-all scheme focuses on council housing and building 1million new houses, and whilst these are not awful, they do very little to help first-time buyers (many of whom are young people) get on the property ladder.

You cannot ignore issues like Brexit and how the NHS will be funded either, as they will have a huge effect on the youth of the UK. It is young people who will have to deal with the consequences of leaving the EU for the longest, and they will suffer if the NHS does not receive enough funding.

But what this election means most to young people like me is that our voices are finally being heard. We are engaging more and more, educating ourselves on the issues that affect us the most.

This means that political parties have to start taking notice of young people. This mean we will no longer be marginalised. We will not be cast-aside or forgotten in favour of older voters. And words cannot describe what that means to me.

Kirsty Kew is studying for a Masters degree in Digital and Newspaper Journalism at Nottingham Trent University.

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