I got a letter this week. This was hand-delivered by one of the dodgiest-looking people alive. I opened said letter, and it was also from one of the dodgiest people alive: a Lib Dem.
This letter is a ‘dear Young Person’ vote-for-me plea, from my local Lib Dem candidate, for the local elections on the 3rd May. Now for a number of reasons I will not be voting for the Lib Dems on 3rd May, or in fact, at any point during my life. Most of these reasons can be discussed in relation to this shitty letter – which let’s be honest, is an insult to receive as a ‘young person’.
All this letter does is highlight to me exactly how out of touch those in charge of the Lib Dem party actually are with the youth of today. From the topics covered, you’d think we were living in some magical Disney village where the most important things for us were a plentiful supply of glitter and the welfare of a friendly talking squirrel. Let’s take a look at some of the ‘topics’ covered.
Sean, our dear Lib Dem candidate, quotes his ‘record of working hard for the issues that affect young people’. Unfortunately nowhere in his seven-paragraph A4 letter does he actually demonstrate this superpower. He quotes some nonsensical statistic about recycling (more on that later) but frankly there is no evidence to suggest he would do even a mediocre job let alone a great one.
A list of the small mistakes in the letter:
- ‘Milton Keynes is one of the youngest new towns’. This doesn’t really make sense because Milton Keynes isn’t a youthful primary school town who can’t do up its shoelaces. It’s a ‘new town’ it’s not ‘young’.
- ‘[O]ne of the biggest groups in the population are those aged between 18-29’. This is apalling grammar for obvious reasons. These are technicalities and small grammar errors but if he can’t get these right I’m not sure if I want him dolling out my taxes.
- At a glance, it appears that this guy signed the letter personally – what a gent! However, due to pixellation on a shitty home printer, he actually has just inserted a jpeg of his signature and I think we can tell this is a lackadaisical approach to leadership.
The first campaign, which Sean feels is important for ‘youth’, is for the voting age to be lowered to 16. This isn’t really the number one issue for under-18 year olds. The ‘youth’ which Sean pertains to understand, expect politicians to be doing a good job for them whether they’re voting for them or not. If they don’t, they’ll certainly take it out on them when they do get to vote. And, from a slightly older perspective, do we really want the capricious and, let’s face it, ill-informed opinions of the majority of 16-year olds skewing our local election results? It’s really not until 18 that a wide majority become politically active/interested.
Second on Sean’s list of non-events is the introduction of an ‘all-in-1’ card (yes, you read that right – no capitalisation and a mix of words and numbers – how ‘youthcentric’) which is an ID, bus card and discount coupon. Sean writes gleefully that he is campaigning for it to ‘also become a library card!’ Far from Sean’s simple mind is the impending doom facing all public libraries, imminent closures and cuts and what some are calling the ‘death of the library’. But hey-ho, let’s put public energy and money into consolidating plastic cards into one another rather than actually saving our most valuable public resources before it’s too late.
Apparently many young people are ‘concerned about the environment’. That’s news to me. Whilst we have a fairly sure knowledge of this, having had ‘GREEN ISSUES’ rammed down our throat during our GCSE Science modules, it is not our most important issue. Welfare, health services, unemployment? They’re the kind of things actually affecting the imminent futures of ‘the youth’ in this town Sean. Whilst using the ridiculous phrase ‘working hard to ”green” up the council’ (what does this even mean?) that is not even the worst aspect of this paragraph. This is, in fact, an actual quote from the letter:
‘I have been so keen to support the MK Liberal Democrat [surely DemocratS you illiterate fuck] in their efforts [yes it’s plural so we should be using plurals…] to improve recycling which, under the Liberal Democrats, has now [any semblance of grammar has by now just completely gone] reached over 50% from 12% per cent [isn’t percent one word?] in 2002.’
Nowhere in this paragraph (please, by all means, correct me if I am wrong, SEAN) does Sean explain what these figures mean, what or where they pertain to, How can ‘recycling’ reach a figure? I understand that most of this piece is ‘airquoted’ but when you’re discussing the Lib Dems, can you blame me?
In discussing public transport (admittedly, this is actually an issue for young people who are greatly reliant on it, particularly in my town), Sean launches an attack on the Conservatives’ attitude to the issue. Good work mate, when your party is in a coalition with the Tories. Apparently the Lib Dems have ‘funded additional bus services’ – this is all very laudable, however, living and working in the town, I have not seen this improvement in action. Whenever I do need to get a bus, I still find them as temperamental, rare, and inconvenient as ever. Maybe this is the issue we could actually sort out?
A two-sentence paragraph on crime finishes the letter. ‘The Liberal Democrats are working closely with the police and other agencies to reduce crime and the fear of crime’. Now, back when I was about ten, I got taught to PEE – Point, Evidence, Explanation. If I were marking Sean’s work, I’d cross this paragraph out with a red pen (before burning the letter). In what ways are you making ME less fearful of crime? In what ways, and to what extent has anybody, let along your party, reduced crime in the local area? I could go on Twitter and post ‘I’ve been working closely with Lana Del Ray to reduce noise pollution in LA’. This doesn’t mean it happened.
Now the glaring Clegg-shaped elephant in the room doesn’t get a look-in on this letter. This elephant, the one parading around noiselessly in politics, only ever pointed at by ‘youth’, is the issue of tuition fees. Yes, Lib Dems, don’t think you can forget this carnage just because it’s a year or two old. Remember tuition fees? That time you fucked up your party’s chances at power for the next 50 years or so?
What the Coalition did, by introducing tuition fees into a higher education system which is already not talent-focused and an absolute mess [see: my university experiences], punished the entire ‘young generation’ for the fiscal mistakes of the middle-aged and above. Whilst possibly unfair, arguably necessary and maybe just ‘gone about in the wrong way’, this change was something the Conservatives were probably going to do. If you remember, the Lib Dems, on the other hand, vowed NOT to allow tuition fees to increase, and then went entirely back on their word. This is a betrayal of young voters’ trust and is essentially a billboard reading ‘you cannot trust us, we are weak in the face of power and we hate the young’. No matter what Clegg says he is doing for apprenticeships in the country, he is failing to address a failing higher education system which rewards mediocrity and fails the propitious. He also failed his party, failed his own integrity and failed the very ‘youth of today’ Sean’s letter attempts to seduce.
I’m no idiot – I understand these decisions were not made by local councillors, but you are all under the same party umbrella (a shitty one with holes in, held by Clegg whilst he dances around a Maypole). Now whilst this may be something all Lib Dems are hoping to brush under the carpet, I won’t be forgetting the issue for a while, and I expect not many young people will. Seriously, don’t even bother to waste your time on the youth vote (this goes for local and national campaigns) – you ain’t gonna get it.
Sean’s letter ‘cleverly’ attempts to ignore the fees debacle, and really that’s not good enough. Your party has made this decision which is probably the greatest the Lib Dems have ever impacted the country’s youth, so at least have the courtesy to mention the issue. With so many of us out of work or training, these are the issues affecting young people. Instead, I get this shitty letter about vaguely lowering my awareness of crime and my town is being faced with the introduction of ‘chewing gum recycling stations’ on very street corner. How about talking to young people about their futures?
On his sign-off, Sean writes that the Lib Dems ‘work hard all year round’. Evidently they seem to work hard all year round at producing propaganda that is nonsense, cheap and unconvincing. Toss off wanker. Save your paper, save your campaign money, stop wasting petrol hand-delivering shitty letters, and the next time you want to communicate to me, a ‘young person’, please assume I’m at least slightly educated, and get a fucking proof-reader.