Having finished university debt-free and with no student loan, the issue of education of one I don't necessarily feel I can comment fairly on. I should say, I worked my ass off throughout uni and while I lived at home, paid my own way through. I had my university fee's paid for (as is general practice in Scotland) and almost definitely wouldn't have been able to afford to go and get my degree if I had to pay up to 9k per year as is the case in come parts of England. That being said, I have been graduated nearly two years now and am still on the hunt for a graduate job. As more people go to university in Scotland than the rest of the UK, graduate jobs are much harder to find here and job markets are overly competitive. I hate to say it, but I don't believe that further education is a right that everyone should have. I encourage anyone who thinks further education is the right path for them to pursue it, but I don't think that is the message that schools in Scotland promote, it's almost an 'Awk well, it's free anyway, might as well give it a go!' mindset which really angers me. Plus, had I decided NOT to go to university (which often I wish I did...) would I have gotten that 36k into my bank account to pursue other goals, perhaps start a business or travel the work doing charity work? Why should your dreams only be funded by the government if they involve further education? Because further education generally leads to higher paid jobs which means the government gets more back in tax? Bingo! Enter - Labour's Future Fund, for young people who don't wish to pursue further education. If students receive government aid, non-students deserve to too.
The privatisation of the NHS
It would be fair to say that we have one of, if not the, best health service in the world and compared to other developed countries whereby people die because they can't afford healthcare, we really are striding ahead in terms of an inclusive healthcare system which, by and large, does work. It seems easy for people outwith the UK to say that even with the cuts which the NHS are experiencing, the UK is still in a better position than its counterparts which operate an entirely private healthcare system. However, these other countries have always had their system, therefore live in a society which is used to it and have million pound health insurance industries which people consider as important a policy to have as a mortgage or a pension. In the UK though, we are already established, and for the most part, working fairly well under the NHS free at the point of access system. We can adapt to some changes, but to entirely change a system from public to private would require more public money than we could even imagine, and would be next to impossible without putting the entire nation on 'pause' for what would probably take years. Yes, our system isn't perfect but providing cuts don't continue, I truly believe that it works.
A very significant point, close to my heart in the discussion of healthcare, is that of mental health. 1 in 4 adults will suffer from mental health issues at some stage in their life and these rates are growing, yet mental health care seems to be the sector that is experiencing the most cuts. Our society and media still stigmatize mental health patients as lazy and self-diagnosing exaggeraters , treating us vastly differently to sufferers of physical conditions. However, all is not lost as the Liberal Democrats want to give equal attention to physical and mental health, while investing 3.5 million in mental health services. Very much something I strongly support.
I'm going to go ahead and say something that even I can admit is pretty controversial. I think, as per the Conservatives propositions, that welfare spending needs cut. When you compare the UK to similar nations economically and socially, our society is home to far too many people who rely on welfare and see it as a means of income as opposed to a means of support when they cannot provide their own income. Sure, there are genuinely disabled or otherwise unable to work people who really do need benefits and I will always be happy for my taxes to go to support them, but there are also a hell of a lot of people who exaggerate their circumstances in order to cheat the system. We need to make sure welfare is being spend on the people who really do need it and not the people who would just prefer sit waiting for a cheque instead of going out and earning one for themselves. Welfare is, or at least should be a last resort, a means to an end and nobody on welfare should ever be better of than whose in work. The entire welfare system needs reassessing, we need to really look at cutting it from those who don't need it and giving it to those, individuals or public sectors who really really do.
The disarming or relocating of Trident
A brief understanding of Trident for those who don't know as I know it's quite a sketchy subject - Trident is the UK's nuclear missile deterrent complex situated just outside Helensburgh, Scotland. As one of the richest nations on Earth, we have a lot to protect - finances, business, history and natural resources to name a few. While we may not see Trident as anywhere near as good a use of money as say the NHS or education, it's not as entirely useless as some are making it out to be, the Scottish Nationalist Party want to do is get rid of trident altogether. At the moment, Trident costs the UK approximately 2.3 billion per year, which may seem like a lot, but when you think that we otherwise pay more than 10 times the amount of this on defense alone per year, and that we paid 350 times that in 2009 to bail out banks in debt, it really doesn't seem that ludicrous in my opinion.
Plus, it's easy for people further afield across Scotland and the rest of the UK to say 'Let's just get rid of it' but I live less than an hour away from it, I've passed by it hundreds of time over my life and unlike most, I have a real, tangible image of it which is not shown in the media. Even Googling it doesn't really bring any proper images of so it's very hard to form a proper picture in your mind. Firstly, it's HUGE. Not only does it take up approximately 5 square miles, but it also employs more than 500 people, as well as housing them and their families, providing education to their children and making available anything else they may need on site. It's more than a job, it's an entirely livelihood for thousands of people. The cost of paying these people off and rehabilitating them back into society would be extraordinary, as well as of course the £25 billion to disarm or relocate trident, as well as the 13 year estimated timeframe before it could even begin. I hope and pray that we never have to use our nuclear weapons, but I also think if we're already prepared with them, why pay to get rid of them, therefore putting us at risk?
Housing & The Rising Cost of Property
The housing market in the UK is really in dire straits at the moment. Population distribution, the centralisation of employment and ever increasing rates of immigration mean that the cost of renting, never mind buying it getting higher and higher and my generation are finding it harder and harder to afford to fly the nest. Heck, I'm 24, I live at home and so does my 25 year old sister. We both have university degrees, we both have full time jobs but neither of us can afford to move out. There are a number of different ways that the main parties aim to tackle this problem. The Tories want to launch new Help To Buy ISA's, The Liberal Democrat's want to increase house building to 300,000 per year and Labour want to put a cap on rent costs, but in regards to housing, it's the Green Party who get my support - they want to abolish the right to buy council housing and bring 350,000 empty properties back into use. Yes please!
The cost of living & minimum wage
The UK is the only developed nation which has both a cost-of-living wage (how much the government thinks is enough to live on) and then a separate, and lower, minimum wage, the rate that it is perfectly legal to pay people, which is generally accepted to be too low to live on. How this is even the case is absolutely baffling to me. Both Labour and SNP have pledged to raise the minimum wage to above the cost of living wage to £8 and £8.70 respectively. Hand in hand with the minimum wage debate goes the rise of zero hours contracts. Workers have jobs, yes, but never a guarantee of paid work. The Labour party want to get rid of zero hours contracts entirely or at the very least offer employees a permanent contract of employment after 3 months on a zero-hours contract while the Conversatives argue that they provide flexability for those who's lifestyles don't suit traditional working patterns - students, parents, etc. Either way, something needs to change because the cost of living isn't being met by the government or by businesses.
God, I fairly know how to ramble about politics! If you're still undecided about who will get your vote on Thursday, this is the most concise and non-bias guide I can find or if you prefer, here's some of my fellow bloggers' take on the election...
What Kaiesha has to say
What Becky has to say
What Sarah has to say
Hope you enjoyed reading this and even if you don't agree, let's all be respectful. In the name of democracy and all that!