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The Election Explained: Manifestos – and what they mean for young people

June 28, 2024

Edge Hill First Year History and Politics student, ZAC CLARK, takes a look inside the major parties' manifestos and offers his opinion on what is relevant to young people

Manifestos are part and parcel of a General Election campaigns. Parties hope to highlight key policies and offers with high-profile launches and plenty of media work.

Following the release of party manifestos, we now have a better idea of what policies UK political parties are offering to the younger generation of voters at this election.

As is common practice in manifestos, parties try to appeal to younger generations as they often believe that having spent less time as part of the electorate, they may be more fluid with their political allegiances and in casting their votes, with some voting for the very first time.

Conservatives manifesto cover

The Conservative and Unionist Party

In the Conservative Party manifesto, the Tories have proposed to introduce mandatory national service for 18-year-olds if re-elected on 4 July.

This would comprise of two types of service: community volunteering and military training.

Community volunteering would entail spending the equivalent of one weekend every month (25 days a year) over a 12-month period volunteering in services such as the NHS, ambulance, fire service or Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The military aspect would involve 12-month placements within the armed forces with a proposal to have 30,000 “selective” military placements reserved for teenagers deemed the “brightest and the best” in areas like logistics, cyber security, procurement or civil response operations.

The Conservatives also say they plan to create 100,000 more apprenticeships in England every year by the end of next Parliament. 

Liberal Democrats manifesto cover

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto features a commitment to “expand opportunities for young people to study, teach and volunteer abroad by returning to the Erasmus Plus programme as an associated country”.

This policy is likely an attempt to garner votes from younger people in response to recent news that both Labour and the Conservatives have rejected an offer from the European Union to reinstate a form of free movement for youth following the loss of this through Brexit.

They say: “By bringing students from the EU to our education institutions, and giving our students the opportunity to study in the EU, our higher education was strengthened.”

The Lib Dems also propose reinstating maintenance grants for disadvantaged students to ensure living costs are not a barrier to studying at university.

Labour Party manifesto cover

The Labour Party

The Labour Party manifesto includes a commitment to “making work pay”. Labour claims they will achieve this by banning zero-hour contracts, ending fire and rehire and introducing basic employment rights from day one.

Though this would apply to all age groups, it would benefit younger voters as younger people are more likely than anyone else in the workforce to be employed on a zero-hour contract.

In a more direct effort to appeal to younger people, Labour have also pledged to remove the age banding around in-work pay so that all adults are paid the same wage.

This would replace the current system that sees a different minimum wage based on an employee’s age with younger people paid less than older counterparts.

Green Party manifesto cover

The Green Party

The Green Party Manifesto calls for an end to university tuition fees and the restoration of grants.

In the world of employment, the party would take licences away from employers in the “gig economy” (those offering short-term contracts or freelance work) who repeatedly break the law.

The Greens also propose increasing the minimum wage to £15 an hour, no matter your age, and a move to a four-day working week.

Reform UK contract

Reform UK

Reform UK says its document is a contract not a manifesto. It does what manifestos do though, by listing key policy proposals.

Policies in the Reform UK document include an inquiry into “social media harms”, emphasising a link between social media and mental health problems.

The party also wants to boost the monitoring, appeals and enforcement process for people renting housing who have grievances against their landlord.

Watch episode three of our General Election podcast mini-series: Understanding the media coverage

Watch episode two of our General Election podcast mini-series: Should the voting age be lowered?

Listen to episode three of our General Election podcast mini-series: Understanding the media coverage as a podcast

Listen to episode two of our General Election podcast mini-series: Should the voting age be lowered?

Read: The Election Explained: What happens on polling day?

Read: The Election Explained:  TV, TikTok and letterbox leaflets – what do the campaign tactics tell us?

Read: The Election Explained: How history can guide us to the likely outcomes

Read: The Election Explained: How to make your vote count

Read: The Election Explained: The First TV Debate – Reaction

Read: The Election Explained: The Phoney War Phase

June 28, 2024

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