June 8 will be the most important election in a generation, and Britain is preparing itself for a major historical shift in the trajectory of its social and political destiny. Throughout the last 7 years the Conservative Party has executed a programme of systemic vampirism, preying on the vulnerable and the poor, draining the public sector and consistently immiserating the population of Britain.
The story of Tory Britain is one of austerity. It is a story of unimaginable human cost resulting from massive cuts to the social provisions the state should exist to provide; this includes cuts to education, healthcare, welfare, and indeed the whole public sector. Their policies have seen higher education become increasingly unaffordable, the wealth inequality gap grow further and further, the NHS begin to buckle under new pressure, and the cycle of terrorism and international conflict continue.
With 68% of young people planning to vote Labour, many have felt incredibly disheartened at conversations shared with Tory supporting family and friends. Many of us know those uncomfortable dinner time debates, the slowly boiling rift of opinions, the side eyes and sighs of consternation.
How can we explain the truth of the Conservative party in such situations? Beyond the shallow sea of opinions and into the deep oceans of facts, we took it upon ourselves to demonstrate how to use ‘The Kid’s Manifesto: A Guide to Not Voting Conservative’ by offering 7 simple reasons as to why a vote for Theresa May is a vote against your children’s future and the future of generations to come.
All information listed below is compiled and referenced in ‘The Kid’s Manifesto: A Guide to Not Voting Conservative’, available for free online or downloadable here.
In 2015, the Tories cut £3bn from public education funding. Theresa May will continue on this course. It is predicted that almost half of Britain’s teachers will leave their jobs due to overworking, chronic underfunding, and stress.
Theresa May has also pledged to scrap free school dinners for over 900,000 children, putting greater strain on families already struggling to make ends meet. The Prime Minister claims this will save up to £3.5m of public money. It is interesting to note that as recently as 2015, politicians were enjoying five course meals in luxury restaurants and the Parliament bar at a public cost of £3.7m a year.
Under the Coalition government tuition fees were increased to £9000 a year, last year the Conservatives granted permission to universities to lift the cap with inflation. That is set to raise fees as high as £11,697 by 2025 – tipping the price of a top degree over £35,000, before additional living costs. The Conservatives also replaced maintenance grants with more loans, adding greater financial pressure for young people from lower income backgrounds.
A Tory future will be one where many schools are understaffed and underfunded, with a drastic decline in the quality of education. It is also a future where young people will choose not to apply for university degrees and where only the richest will be educated, with universities becoming even more of a market for private profiteering.
A vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the continued attack on every child’s right to learn.
With George Osbourne already scrapping the £6000 a year student nurses grant unveiled in 2015, with changes imposed to junior doctors’ contracts, and with severe underfunding and budget cuts, the NHS is in crisis. Adult social care and mental health service cuts have increased pressure on many hospitals, all of which are already overstretched and lacking in resources.
The Conservatives have promised increased investments whilst also reducing and redefining what services are provided by the NHS. This has seriously undermined what should be considered a national institution to be cherished and protected.
This is all mainly thanks to Jeremy Hunt – the current Health Secretary – who co-authored a book advocating for NHS privatisation. Hunt has already sold off and privatized parts of the NHS, even those that were making money. NHS Privatisation has made young people, as well as most of the adult population, fearful of an American style health system that would leave those unable to afford healthcare to die.
For many young people, the NHS is not something to be whittled away and thrown into the fire. With the possibility of the eventual collapse of the NHS is a looming reality in the wake of a Conservative victory, a vote for Conservative is a vote for the destruction of free healthcare in Britain.
Under the Conservatives, the UK has experienced a housing crisis unlike any other in living memory. With home ownership at its lowest in 29 years, most young people already have no hope of owning a house. Families are now increasingly dependent on rental properties with scant protection from bad landlords. Since 2010 rents have also risen by 15%, largely due to Tory policy allowing private property tycoons to buy huge swathes of land and former social housing in the UK, especially in London. None of this is surprising considering almost a third of British MPs are also private landlords, and property developers contributed upwards of £3.3m to the Conservative party between 2008-2011 alone.
The result has been a marked rise in unaffordable housing and an erosion of tenant rights. In 2016, over 43,000 families were made homeless. In February 2017 alone, it was estimated that the equivalent of five families an hour were made homeless. In the UK homelessness has doubled since David Cameron’s election in 2010. Despite this happening, the Conservatives have continued with their austerity measures, adding insult to injury by making huge cuts to council budgets and homelessness relief bodies.
If the Conservatives are allowed to continue it is likely jobseekers aged 18 to 21 will also no longer get Housing Benefit to help with their rent. According to homelessness charity Centrepoint this will force thousands of young people on the streets and severely impact children from abusive homes; leaving them faced with a choice between abuse and homelessness.
Every child deserves shelter and warmth. A vote for the Conservatives is a vote to deny these things to thousands.
4. The environment
With the natural world facing a crisis unlike anything ever known, future generations are staring down the barrel of a gun: immense ecological damage and a significant impact on human and animal populations – from mass extinction, to deforestation and oceanic pollution.
It is anthropogenic climate change that is likely to have the biggest consequences for human civilisation and for much of life on Earth. This is agreed on by 97% of scientists, and it is caused by an enormous amount of carbon emissions – primarily due to the consumption of fossil fuels as well as the industrial production of other gases such as methane.
The technology for a greener economy is available, but the fossil fuel industry is fighting tooth and nail to propagate lies about climate change and encourage countries to continue investing in dirty energy, and practicing the damaging resource extraction techniques necessary for fossil fuels.
Between October 2013 and March 2015 11 fossil fuel trade bodies spent over £39m lobbying British and European policymakers, and the Conservatives, under the leadership of Theresa May, received over £390,000 from the oil industry in 2017 alone.
With the Conservatives having already legalised fracking (a highly controversial and damaging method of extracting shale gas) under national parks in 2015, they remain the only major political party in the UK that do not oppose the method; Theresa May described fracking as ‘a revolution’ in energy in her 2017 manifesto.
This is hardly surprising considering the Conservatives and the British fossil fuel industries responsible for fracking are notoriously close, with many ex-Tories going onto to serve in this industry and maintaining contact with government. These ties may also explain the attack on renewable energy alternatives, with cuts of 64% made to small household solar panels funding and the exclusion of onshore wind farms in a 2016 subsidy scheme.
The Conservative relationship with animal rights is also horrific. Alongside Theresa May’s vocal support for fox hunting, the pledge to ban all ivory products has also disappeared from the Conservative 2017 manifesto – despite many experts describing this tactic as the only way to truly combat elephant poaching. Likewise, under the Conservatives, thousands of badgers have been slaughtered in a cull that has been scientifically proven as ineffective and pointless in controlling the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
This is merely a glimpse of the legacy that will be left for young people in the UK – and it will only get worse under another Tory government. If the Conservatives win, children today will be facing a future severely affected by the destruction of the UK’s natural habitats, further pollution, increased climate change, and the exhaustion of fossil fuels without renewable alternatives.
5. Human Rights
The Conservatives have repeatedly expressed that they would scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with the British Bill of rights – this pledge has been in Tory manifestos since 2010. The Tories also have a terrible record in addressing domestic violence in the UK; with further austerity measures shutting down ever more refuge centres for women, and putting pressure on victim support funding for LGBT people. We have also seen the proliferation of detention centres, such as Yarl’s Wood, which hold refugees of all ages and genders, and are run by corporate security contractors such as G4S and Serco. Many of these facilities have reported mistreatment of detained refugees, including racist abuse, sexual harassment, and even rape.
Under the Conservatives, Britain has also become the world’s second largest arms exporter and their hardline stance on defence, including extensive British military interventionism in the Middle, has caused huge ‘blowback’ (the intelligence term for unintended domestic consequences of military operations) in the form of terrorism. Furthermore, Britain has sold up to £3.3bn worth of arms to states such as Saudi Arabia; who are known for funding ISIS as well as conducting their own brutal war on Yemen (a conflict which has now displaced upwards of 3m people.) Despite this, the Conservative foreign secretary Boris Johnson continued to urge the Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, to continue selling these weapons to Saudi Arabia. This is one example of the Conservatives pathologically deranged and irresponsible foreign policy.
At home, the Conservatives have also overseen increased impoverishment – with the number of people using food banks in the UK rising from 43,000 (when Cameron came to power in the coalition) to a staggering 1.2m. The decimation of support for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities is another legacy of the Conservatives: the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 after being declared ‘fit for work’. This is the direct human cost of the Conservatives austerity policies – and proof that cuts cost lives.
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith also made sure that MP’s no longer have to scrutinise child poverty target figures in the House of Commons. The Conservatives even managed to erase the term ‘Child Poverty’ from the Child Poverty Act, renaming it the ‘Life Chances Act’ – just as they did with the ‘Child Poverty and Social Mobility Commission’, now simply ‘Social Mobility Commission’.
A vote for the Conservatives is vote for a future of war, terror, oppression, and poverty.
Under the past seven years of Conservative leadership, state surveillance has massively increased. The Snoopers’ Charter gives wide ranging powers which include the right to hack devices, look at web history, and infect devices with malware and spyware. With almost no oversight or any real way of holding accountability, we are handing over all of our privacy and our intimate lives – to be surveiled, gathered, collected, stored, and analysed.
‘Nothing to hide, nothing to fear’: this buzz phrase is often used by government to justify surveillance and the violation of privacy rights. The phrase has been employed by Conservative politicians such as the ex foreign secretary William Hague as well as Tory MP Richard Graham, who caused controversy after using the phrase in Parliament – as the words have been previously associated with Nazi Minister of Information, Joseph Goebbels. The narrative that surveillance is solely for the purpose of preventing domestic terrorism becomes destabilised when we understand that in fact, bulk surveillance and big data processing is inefficient, unwieldy, and has not been shown to increase the state’s counter terrorism ability.
Young people today have grown up with a significant portion of their lives using the internet, and tend to be the most intensive user, making them particularly at risk. A right to privacy on the internet is no different from a right to privacy in your own home. A vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the party that has committed itself to curtailing these rights, and, if allowed, will do so for years to come.
7. The Economy
After Brexit, with economic uncertainty on the horizon, the Conservatives have tried to portray themselves as the most economically competent party. However, largely thanks to George Osbourne chancellorship, the UK is now among worst performing advanced economies in the world – despite the proclaimed benefits of austerity.
George Osbourne missed or delayed his targets on shrinking the deficit again and again, at one point, even only a month after setting them. The devastating effects of austerity have not been grounded in economic science, with many experts warning that austerity actually leads to greater economic disaster and wealth inequality. Indeed, the interesting question remains as to how, even amidst this freeze on spending and the regime of austerity, Britain’s billionaires have seen their net worth more than double since the recession, with the richest 1,000 families now controlling a total of £547bn. As much wealth as the poorest 40% in the UK.
Furthermore, during the reign of the Conservatives, young people have faced the unfettered proliferation of zero hour contracts that enable bosses to legally change shifts each week. Whilst they can offer flexibility, they also can risk reducing work hours to zero without notice or redundancy rights. Unemployment also remains high, and what work there is is often in low paying gig economy jobs which exploit legal loopholes and undeveloped regulations – such as Uber and Deliveroo. The growth of the gig economy and zero hour contracts has particularly affected young people who need to fend for themselves. For under 25s unemployment is at 18.5% and many claiming jobseekers have already faced the prospect of losing benefits under the Conservative’s Work Programme (discontinued in April after years of militant grassroots opposition) which forced Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants into performing unpaid labour under pain of benefit sanctions.
Many young people, after a prolonged feeling of apathy and disillusionment with establishment politics, are now turning towards Jeremy Corbyn, because they recognise that there is now hope to pick up the shattered pieces of history and try to reassemble Britain’s future. But it is up to the older generation – the parents, the aunts, the uncles, the grandparents – to now take responsibility for their decisions and the material consequences that their vote will have on their children’s world. The young represent the future; the Conservatives a toxic past which they do not want to inherit.
A note from the authors:
After having many difficult and problematic conversations with family or friends who were committed to voting Conservative in the upcoming general election on the 8th June, we wanted to examine the truth behind the last 7 years of Tory government and condense it all into a simple, accessible and widely sourced investigative report.
The report explores the impact of Conservative government in almost every aspect of life in the UK.
We hope it can become a useful tool for anyone hoping to educate, inform and persuade their friends and family to vote in a fashion that does not condemn them and future generations to a poorer quality of life and the inevitable suffering that will arise from another Conservative victory.
The report can be accessed free online or downloaded here.
The KM Collective