Dear Prime Minister: a letter from a sixteen year old

labourlogo.jpg   A MESSAGE TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON EDUCATION, HOUSING, THE ECONOMY, EMPLOYMENT & DEMOCRACY:

Letter to the PM:
After your spectacular 2015 general election victory, you declared that your party was the ‘party of working people’. Here is my own personal experience as a young person living under your government. I thought it may be useful to you in understanding the needs of young citizens today:

As a sixteen year old, almost half of my lifetime has been spent living in a time of ever deepening financial recession. As I approach the GCSE exam period, I (like millions my age across the country), am trying to study and prepare for this next stage in my school career. I am trying to do this whilst your education department frantically changes the school syllabus, Ofsted regulations, the levels of national and local funding, free schools, the academy status, limiting the right of strikes and choosing to prioritise certain subjects above others.

And this is just within secondary education.

Not only has your administration trebled my prospective tuition fees, the Conservatives have failed to place a cap on this newer price whilst simultaneously, removing thousands of pounds in maintenance allowances. In a bid to squeeze as much out of universities as possible, the Conservatives have proudly stated that ‘more people are going to university than ever before’. Mr. Cameron, I am not a fool – this is not a good thing. University staff are being stretched to work longer hours for frozen pay packages because more people are being packed into classes and lectures. This does not therefore; increase the experience or quality of education for both staff and students as your government would like me to believe.

For those that want to work after leaving school, many are still left unprotected by their lack of employment rights. For example, the ‘National Minimum Wage’ that your government, Chancellor and party have been trumpeting about so loudly does not cover anybody below the age of twenty five. So to people like me – this ‘protection’ is useless. Secondly, you have left the issue of zero hours contracts unattended to, citing no reason to change the rules because ‘many people like the flexible working hours’. Tell me, what is there to like about remaining locked into a work scheme that demands unreasonable hours at short notice with low pay and no assurance that the job will remain yours the following day?

I will now turn to the issue of ‘right to buy’ – an issue your party spoke widely about in the run up to the general election in May this year. This new scheme rolled out by your government appeared at first to have been created out of good intention. Your government is willing to provide huge discounts for young couples and first time buyers to purchase their own home and access the housing ladder. Great! This seems almost revolutionary. That is, until we consider the logistics of the plan. Selling off council homes will only increase the lack of property being built in this country over demand. It is clear that the state should be attempting to build enough homes to bridge a housing gap which has already hit 250,000. This could be achieved if the government invested in rebuilding the council homes it is planning to sell off under the scheme. That way, people could own their own homes without draining the entire supply of council housing for the next generation of children, young adults and those earning the least amount of money.

But pushing the issues of education, housing, employment and work aside, what has your government done for me politically? I often hear patronising messages by ministers and Whitehall officials calling for young people to become ‘engaged’ in politics. In a feeble attempt to prove this point, political education is now mandatory in citizenship and PSE lessons. This is a good start and I welcome this move – but how is this going to increase voter turnout at an election? What else is the government doing to increase turnout?

As a young person, I am telling all I know to register to vote by 1st December in order NOT to be knocked off the electoral register as constituency boundaries are being redrawn, ready for 2020. If you cared about ‘engaging’ millions to ‘become’ political, then you would make a wider call for people to sign up rather than attempting to sneak the proposal through parliament – unnoticed to your own political advantage.

I am a member of a political party and have been for some years. I am also registered to vote. I understand politics and follow the events of Westminster and Brussels on a daily basis. I am capable of making informed decisions and yet you are the only person preventing me from having my own ballot in your European referendum by the end of 2017. Please, this is an opportunity for you to prove to millions of hardworking, law abiding young citizens who are unimpressed with your attitude and record in government that you are serious about your role as our Prime Minister. You serve every Briton of every age – what right does your ‘opinion’ which you are ‘yet to be convinced’ have to override my desire to become involved in politics and my own ambitions for British society?

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter,

Yours Sincerely

TOM PARKIN

(Aged 16)

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