Liberal Democrats – a party for students?

Nick Clegg

One may assume most students would be apathetic to the Liberal Democrats after the party went back on the promise they made during the 2010 election to vote against a tuition fees increase. But in fact this left many of the student community feeling betrayed and the rather half-hearted apology that Nick Clegg, the party leader, gave following this has been wittily lampooned. The telegraph columnist, Matthew Holehouse, even suggested in July 2013 that students want to remove the Liberal Democrats from “the map” . However, perhaps we are rushing to judgement and maybe the Liberal democrats may still be able to offer something to the student community as demonstrated by the existence of “Liberal Youth” an organisation for young people and students who support the Liberal Democrats.

To find out about current student views of the party, we interviewed University of Worcester student, Charlie Sykes, who is in his second year of Service Sector Management.

When did you start supporting the Liberal Democrats?

I started supporting the liberal democrats in 2009 when I was a member and ON the executive committee of Hereford and South Herefordshire Liberal Democrats. I did an internship in the office and was a campaigns volunteer until I came to university in 2011. During that time I was always a voting member at national conference as well as a conference steward. The equality policies draw me to them and their approach to social welfare.

Is there anything in particular you do to support the Liberal Democrats?

After starting university I joined the Labour party as the Liberal one in Worcester doesn’t really exist. I’m a tactical voter see no point voting Liberal in a constituency where only Labour and Conservatives have a chance.

Are there any policies to which disagree with the Liberal Democrats on?

I don’t agree with the decision to join the collision but understand without it the Conservatives policies would have been harsher. I’m not the biggest fan of their views on Europe but accept that Europe has more advantages than disadvantages.

What would you say to students wishing to gain their political voice?

For students I’d say get out there and complete an internship to see what it’s all about before you join a party. More importantly, always do what you believe in.

So it would appear that the Liberal Democrats are able to offer the student community something in their approach and perhaps the function as a useful intermediary between the Labour and Conservative parties. However, whether the Liberal Democrats (whose offices last year were blocked at a protest against the privatisation of student debt to the extent that the Liberal MP Vince Cable had to physically climb over the  protestors) are able to rekindle a relationship with the student community is an interesting question. If you are a Worcester University student and support a political party or are involved in any political activities or simply have opinions that you wish to express in The Voice, please mention this in the comments below.

Article by Joe Hayes.

Photography courtesy of Chatham House (Creative Commons).

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