Student protest

This election is critical for young people. Failure after failure of the Tory government has left our future on the line and our country struggling. From austerity and tuition fees to complete failure to deal with the climate crisis and the threat of a hard Brexit, 9 years of right wing government has left us out to dry.

We live in a broken system. Undemocratic elections produce governments who pursue perverse economic goals at the expense of equality and the environment. Our society suffers the consequences. But there is hope, and it comes in the form of a progressive and radical manifesto. It’s the Green Party that we need to rally around on Thursday.

We’re offering a Green New Deal. We know what we need for a fair and just transition to a sustainable society: £100 billion a year on a wide-reaching, unprecedented public investment programme.

Policy after policy will radically improve the lives of young people from all parts of society. The Green New Deal offers solutions to the big issues facing our generation. From housing to jobs to education, it offers an optimistic vision of the future – all while fighting the climate crisis and ditching austerity. It goes further than the manifesto of any other party in bringing a radical and just plan for saving the planet.

Young people have been at the forefront of the struggle against the climate crisis and the failing neoliberal consensus. From the youth strikers to the divestment movement to anti-racist occupations, on campus and on the street we are rising up for our future. Now we have the chance to vote for our futures too.

Housing justice for our generation

The housing market is dying and our generation are the big losers. Young adults are half as likely to own a home than the previous generation were and rents in some parts of London are half of earnings.

Our policies for housing justice are radical, but they’re what we need. Rent controls will bring living rents and stop unfair rent hikes. Renters unions will empower young renters to fight back against rogue letting agencies and landlords. There will be no more no-fault evictions, and councils will be empowered to challenge ‘slum landlords’.

The Green New Deal recognises that the problem is supply-side, not demand-side, and the Greens will finance mass social housing programmes and build good, green homes. The 100,000 new houses we’re promising won’t just take the pressure off prices, but bring thousands of decent jobs planning and building them: jobs for young people. Funded by a new public investment bank, they’ll be built to super-efficient passivhaus standards and offer a quality place to live.

Decent jobs for young people

The Green New Deal reaches wide. It commits to investment in not just housing, but better energy, transport, food, and industry. It will create incredible numbers of secure, low-carbon jobs in all sectors. It will set us free from stagnating real wages and casualisation, and young people will benefit.

Vital in ensuring these jobs are decent is ensuring we have a genuine living wage, and extending it to everyone over 16 (interns and apprentices too). It is so clearly unfair that the law guarantees only those over 25 get paid more than a poverty wage at the moment. We’d ensure that young people can organise against unfair working conditions by requiring all employees to recognise unions chosen by workers.

Two billion pounds every year would be spent on training, including apprenticeships for young people. Whether young adults leave education after college or as graduates, or having returned as mature students, we must make sure they do so with the skills they need.

Free and fair education

But from top to bottom, our education system is floundering. We’ve got a lot of work to do to fix it and make sure everyone can access free and fair education.

Tuition fees need to go: charging nine thousand pounds a year leaves higher education inaccessible. They’re just part of the government’s misguided drive to commodify education. Students are treated as cash cows and academics face falling wages and increasing job insecurity.

We would scrap fees, and bring back to England the education maintenance allowance which supports underprivileged students through university and college. Education would be more accessible than it has been since tuition fees first reared their ugly head in 1998.

But we’d go further than any other major party, and not only scrap tuition fees, but write off the student debt of those who started university since fees trebled in 2012.

This debt is a burden: collectively, post-2012 graduates owe £34 billion just for their tuition. It’s not just a burden on our bank accounts – student debt has been shown to harm our mental health and careers too.

Scrapping the debt will have a huge positive effect on former students. If you graduated in 2015 and now earn £35,725 a year, you’ll have committed a massive £900 pounds annually in debt repayment. That’s a lot of money – and we’d put it back into young adult’s pockets, ready to be spent on housing or leisure, and put into savings, and boost the economy. Over 2 million graduates will benefit from this one-of-a-kind policy.

The Greens are best for student’s futures at younger ages too. Our education policy for schools and colleges is incredible and much needed. We’d not only increase funding to schools – allowing smaller class sizes and a more varied curriculum – but address the root causes of issues. Wide sweeping reforms would take the bureaucratic burden off overworked teachers by abolishing OFSTED and ditching unnecessary SATs exams which bring so much stress to children as young as 6.

I’m proud that our party would end the opt-out of LGBTQIA+ inclusive PSHE classes at schools. It’s incredibly important that we fight bigotry, and that means every child learns about the different types of couples and families that make up our society and the different sexualtities and gender identities within them.

Freedom from oppression

Fighting oppression is not optional. It affects so many young people, and as Greens we will always stand against it in all its ugly forms.

So I’m proud, too, that our manifesto stands up for the rights of young trans and non-binary people. The Tories have stalled further progress on the Gender Recognition Act and failed to bring forward plans to halt conversion therapy. The UK must regain its role as a global leader for LGBTIQA+ rights. Our policies are strong: a removal of the spousal veto, X gender markers, and reforming the Gender Recognition Act to allow for self-identification are vital in strengthening the rights of our trans and non-binary siblings.

Tackling Britain’s democratic deficit

Part of the reason our system has gone bad is the democratic deficit of our government. First Past The Post leaves many with votes worth little and means we spend elections squabbling about tactical voting, not the real issues. But if you’re under 18 it’s even worse: so many young people can’t vote at all, despite election after election damaging our futures.

The Greens would not only introduce votes at 16 but go a step further and allow standing for all levels at government at 16. We’d build citizens assemblies, and introduce non-partisan political education at schools.

Vote Green on Thursday!

All these policies are drawn from the Green Party manifesto and the Young Greens political programme. You can vote for them on Thursday. In doing so you’ll be voting for our generation’s future. Accept no imitators: the Greens are the party for students and young people.

The Young Greens Political Programme is available here and the Green Party manifesto can be found here.