Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Students Say Vote Green

A survey by UNITE, reveals the majority would vote for the Green Party (19 per cent), followed by the Conservatives (17 per cent), Labour (14 per cent) and the Liberal Democrats (13 per cent). Just 5 per cent said they would vote for the BNP.

Unfortunately 47 per cent – the equivalent of over one million students - will not be voting or are highly unlikely to.

The research found that students are largely indifferent to the main parties, with a quarter (24 per cent) unable to identify any differences between them or unsure what they stand for.

One in five (19 per cent) said they wouldn’t vote because their friends and family weren’t planning to while one in 10 (12 per cent) admitted they had no interest in politics.

The study, which surveyed 1,566 students around the country, also asked students what would encourage them to vote – and which party they would back if an election were called tomorrow.

A third (29 per cent) said they would be more likely to vote if all the parties pledged to drop tuition fees. Two in five (38 per cent) asked for clearer information on what the parties stand for and their manifestos.

The piece of legislation that students would most like to see introduced by the new Government is refunding the costs of a degree to those who achieve a first. One in five (19 per cent) said they would back such a policy.

One in 10 (12 per cent) think a tax on bankers’ bonuses should be introduced to help contribute towards tuition fees. A further 10 per cent thought that MPs’ expenses should be cut to create additional funding and 8 per cent were in favour of abolishing tuition fees in favour of a “graduate tax”.

When it comes to social issues faced by students, finding employment after graduating was ranked as the most important. This was followed by knife crime, climate change, rising student debt, terrorism and sexual health.

The findings also reveal gaps in students’ political knowledge. A third (33 per cent) failed to name Gordon Brown as the Prime Minister and leader of the Labour party. Only half (48 per cent) knew Nick Clegg headed up the Liberal Democrats and third (34%) couldn’t identify David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative party.

To help make student voices heard, UNITE has joined forces with the independent Electoral Commission, to provide information about the voting process and encourage people to register to vote. Free, impartial information, literature and registration forms from the Commission will be distributed to UNITE properties. They are also available through www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

Shane Spiers, Managing Director of UNITE student accommodation business, said: “We are home to almost 40,000 students and believe it’s important for our residents to feel they can influence issues that matter most to them. Through partnering with the Electoral Commission, we can equip our residents with the information they need to debate the options and make their vote count.”

The report also reveals:
* A quarter of the vote (26 per cent), students think TV personality and Gurkha campaigner Joanna Lumley would do a better job running the country than any of the current candidates.
* Two thirds (61 per cent) of students think the current state of higher education is the same or worse as it was previously following 12 years of Labour Government.
* The majority of students (41 per cent) feel that becoming more personally involved in politics (by protesting, joining a political party etc) is more likely to achieve political change than voting (29 per cent).
* Politics is the least talked about subject among students – one in ten (nine per cent) admit never talking about it with their friends.

This compared with figures from 2005, an 18%+ swing LD to Green among students!

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