Diary Of A Third Year: 'At Sheffield, student Tories are rare, but becoming less so'

For students voting on 6 May, the options appear pretty poor. None of the main parties has been student-friendly in recent years. The Conservatives did away with grants. Labour introduced top-up fees. The Liberal Democrats promised to scrap them, before Nick Clegg looked in his wallet and decided he couldn't quite stretch to it. Now they plan to do away with fees over two parliaments. In other words, if you want free education, you'll have to vote for them twice.

No party will turn my student debt mountain into a molehill. It's cuts ahoy for student perks, no matter who wins the next election. Despite this, every party has its campus cheerleaders.

At Sheffield University student Tories are rare, but becoming less so. The cliché of a young Tory is still a baying, pashmina-clad public school person – and it's not far off the truth. The members of Conservative Future, the Tory party's youth movement, look like something out of a bad Harry Enfield sketch. As a result, many students would probably confess to paedophilia before admitting that they voted Tory.

Labour-supporting students are more common. Despite Labour introducing top-up fees and scrapping the 10p rate, they are still unnervingly popular among students. A student who supports Labour is like an abused spouse, crawling back to their partner in denial: "I know they've tripled my tuition fees and cut money from my university, but they mean well and they say they've changed!"

The young lefties who have torn themselves from Gordon's grip veer towards the Liberal Democrats and Green Party. It doesn't seem to matter which. One discontented Labour-turned-Green supporter put it thus: "Lib Dem and Green are both wasted votes – I might as well make it carbon neutral waste." Nowadays this is about as close as some students get to political idealism.

Beyond these half-hearted student politicos there lurks a mass of disaffected potential student voters. A letter from the council demanding that my household register to vote has been pinned to the noticeboard and ignored for six months. We're not alone: 56 per cent of 17 to 25-year-olds are not on the electoral register. There are 50,000 university students in my city – about 10 per cent of the population. They could affect the election, if they bothered registering to vote.

But with so few registered, it's no surprise that students don't get much of a mention in party literature, although some parties do still make half-hearted attempt to woo students. One Labour leaflet given out near the university during the European elections warned that the Liberal Democrats were soft on crime and might legalise marijuana. I hope Labour strategists weren't too disappointed when worried students didn't rush to the polls.

So who to vote for? Is it worth the opprobrium of my peers to join the pashmina patrol and vote Tory? Top-up fees have cost me nearly £10,000, so I'm reluctant to vote Labour. I could just not vote at all. Actually, I'll do the next best thing – I'll vote Lib Dem.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Senior Textiles / Fashion Technician

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...

Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate