Passionless pair fail to inspire

April 18, 1997

Loughborough's election candidates are pushing hard to win over the 10,000 students eligible to vote in the run-up to May 1.

The seat is held by the Conservatives. But following boundary changes, the 10,000 Tory majority has been whittled down to an estimated 3,700.

As far as the student vote is concerned, there still appears to be much to fight for. Jason Lundin, 23, a final-year engineering student at Loughborough University, voted Conservative at the last election but has yet to decide which way to vote this time round. "I don't think the two main parties have been honest enough about taxation. The Liberal Democrats have at least come out and said they would raise taxes for specific areas."

Jenny Ardley is a 22-year-old media studies student but has had to defer her course for a year because of ill health. The difficulties she experienced in securing state support during her illness and her struggle to survive on a student grant have made her angry: "I am sick of the Tories - they are an unbelievable bunch of clowns. Many of us have to work to make ends meet."

She is disappointed with the general level of political debate between the two main parties. Of Tony Blair and John Major she says: "One's Mr Grey, the other Mr Blue. Bring back Neil Kinnock I say - at least he had some passion. Why can't we have more politicians like Tony Benn, Edwina Currie and Dennis Skinner?" Ms Ardley would like to vote for the Liberal Democrats but is worried it may be a wasted vote.

Jill Patterson, a first-year mechanical engineering student, is going to vote for the Lib Dems. She says other parties are offering little to alleviate student hardship. "I don't know how they think we are supposed to survive on the grant we get. I have had jobs packing carrots, crisps ... they are not nice jobs."

The Conservative candidate Kenneth Andrew says: "Student hardship concerns me most. It is definitely something that needs to be looked at." He is "broadly in favour" of no further cuts in grants pending a review of the situation.

The Labour candidate Andy Reed is also "worried" by student hardship and says Labour intends to tackle the problem.

Liberal Democrat candidate Diana Brass says her party's policies of raising expenditure on R&D by 40 per cent of GDP in five years and setting up regional technology centres would have a beneficial impact on the university.

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