Election: Julian Huppert’s voting record speaks for itself, don’t let his tactics fool you

Elsa Maishman 5 May 2015

TCS is giving campaigners for the parties most likely to win the parliamentary seat in Cambridge a chance to make a last pitch to students. For the Liberal-Democrat piece, go here, and for the Greens, check here.

With the election now only a couple of days away, it is more important than ever that students stand up and participate in politics. It is a common refrain that the reason most parties make more pledges for the elderly than the young is that the elderly vote and the young don’t.

But in Cambridge, as shown by Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll for the constituency to be a Labour–Lib Dem marginal, we are in the best possible position to influence change.

If we refuse to use our voices, then there is little hope for change. There is however one party that has not ignored the young. Labour, against all political wisdom, has come out fighting for young people and students.

Last month, Labour promised to reduce tuition fees, paying for this by reducing tax relief on pensions for those earning over £150,000, a policy which our supposedly “anti-fees” Lib Dem MP opposes. Labour also pledged to raise grants by £400 a year for the poorest students, and to ask the highest earning students to pay higher loan interest than the lowest. Finally, rent caps and longer tenancy agreements will give students security in their accommodation and ease the costs of living in Cambridge. 

Labour’s youth-friendly pledges do not just stop with students. High quality apprenticeships that end in high quality qualifications have been guaranteed to any student who achieves the grades and wants one. As well as this, unpaid internships lasting longer than four weeks will be abolished, and the education budget will rise year on year at every level of schooling. Meanwhile in Cambridge, we have an MP who is set on undermining all of this. Julian Huppert may try to sell himself as a progressive, independent MP, but this is far from the truth. He voted for the Bedroom Tax, that has forced the poorest out of their homes and hit the disabled hardest, for the increase of student loan interest for the poorest students, for the privatisation of almost half of NHS hospital beds, and for the increase in VAT which has exacerbated the cost of living for students and hit the poorest hardest.

And what of his two big planks, mental health and science? Both have seen their budget cut in real terms since 2010 in budgets Huppert voted for. There is not a lot of trust in politics among our generation at the moment. But Labour’s pledges show a respect for young people unseen in other parties. Asking some of the richest, and most likely to vote, people in society to pay for relief of student debt and cost of living may lose Labour votes overall – especially given the animosity the right-wing and tabloid press. On top of that, respecting our intelligence after the Lib Dem betrayal by only promising what it knows it can deliver, Labour is slowly proving that a party is finally committed to creating a better politics, one based on substance, and not style or rubbing noses with Rupert Murdoch. As Cambridge students, the chances are, presuming we complete our degrees, we will grow to be among the most privileged group in society. As a left-minded student, it is not for me that I am casting my vote for Labour, but for those that have suffered most under the Lib Dems and Tories. I implore Cambridge students to do the same.