Being 18, coming from a Labour constituency in Barking & Dagenham and from a black British working-class background, it might be surprising that I plan to vote for David Cameron and the Conservative Party at next year’s general election, in what will be my first time casting a ballot.
My parents have voted for the Labour Party ever since they came to Britain in the 1980s, but for me the choice is clear, especially with an anti-business Labour politician as my parliamentary representative.
The Conservative economic policies, although initially seeming harsh, are working and helping to improve the economy. For example, the reduction in benefits was seen by many as an attack by the Tories on the most vulnerable citizens in our society. However, in practice what we have seen since David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010 – especially in London – is more people entering the workforce.
The Conservatives have strongly supported a back-to-work programme by making work pay, in their words. They have incentivised the workplace, instead of making it more beneficial for people who can work to claim benefits – which, under previous Labour governments, was not the case.
Ed Miliband and his choice for Chancellor, Ed Balls, haven’t yet reformed the party’s economic policies, which helped to get us into the current mess. So for me, voting for Labour would bring back the same failed ideas of the past, instead of ushering in effective policies for the future.
Many have criticised the Government for excluding young people. But this government has been a massive creator and advocate for apprenticeships, targeted at school leavers to give them the necessary skills to find work in construction, manufacturing, finance and many other sectors. The Coalition has overseen a 63 per cent increase in the number of people starting an apprenticeship. Because of the investment, 457,000 people started an apprenticeship in 2012 – that’s 177,000 more than the previous year.
On the issue of education and skills: despite the rise in tuition fees which the Liberal Democrats promised would not happen on their watch, there has actually been an increase in the number of students enrolling at university. More students have also been able to get into top universities, because the Government lifted the cap to allow unis and colleges to admit unlimited numbers.
Job prospects for students like me are improving partly because the economy is picking up and record levels of hiring by firms. I see increased optimism among young people looking to enter the world of employment – and I think that the Tories should take credit for that.
The low interest rates set by the Bank of England and backed by the Government are helping to increase investment and to grow our economy. The Help to Buy scheme is getting people on the housing ladder – people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford deposits for mortgages. Clearly there are risks to “cheap money”, not least a housing bubble. And the Government needs to help build many more houses to match the increasing demand.
But if the Tories keep up their successful policies on the economy, I will be voting for them come May next year.