NUS highlights students’ key role in general election

With less than seven months left until the general election, eyes are turning towards the impact that university students may have on the outcome.

October 19, 2014

According to the National Union of Students, those studying at university may hold the key to winning more than a quarter of parliamentary seats.

Launching its election manifesto, titled “New Deal for the Next Generation”, NUS president Toni Pearce said some 197 seats had a majority of 10 per cent or less, requiring a swing of 5 per cent to change hands.

In all but six of those seats, full-time students are a bigger proportion of the electorate than the swing required to change the 2010 outcome, she added.

“Students hold the key to the next general election, and we will be making sure they use it,” Ms Pearce said, adding that they are a “force to be reckoned with at the ballot box”.

Students will also be encouraged to use a new online NUS tool to see if a vote in their university constituency or their home constituency would be more likely to affect the balance of power in the general election.

According to NUS polling conducted in August, 73 per cent of students are registered to vote in next year’s election compared with only two-thirds in 2010.

However, only 4 per cent said they identify strongly with any political party.

The cost of living was seen as the most important factor in how students will vote (80 per cent said it was important), followed by health (72 per cent) and employment (72 per cent).

Three quarters (77 per cent) of students disagree that politicians can be trusted to keep their promises, and two-thirds (65 per cent) disagree that governments can be trusted to put the needs of the country above their own party.

Ms Pearce said the NUS wanted to see “right to recall” powers implemented so that MPs risk losing their seat if they are found guilty of certain misdemeanours – including lying to voters.

“Nick Clegg’s broken tuition fee promise severely undermined trust in politicians, and saying sorry just isn’t good enough,” she added, saying just 5 per cent of students said they would vote Liberal Democrat.

The NUS “New Deal” manifesto covers its policies on education, work, and community, with specific policies to reduce financial hardships and debt for students.

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