#GE2017 Debate: the case for voting Green

This is an opinion piece on the 2017 General Election, written by the Young Greens Equality and Diversity Officer Georgia Elander. You can read an opinion piece presenting the case for voting Labour here.
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It has never been more important for young people to make our voices heard in politics. Under this Tory government, we’ve seen our futures snatched from us: in rising tuition fees, the scrapping of grants and the cuts to further education funding; in the callous decision that under-21s don’t deserve a minimum wage – or housing benefit, for that matter; and in Theresa May’s reckless approach to leaving the EU and throwing away the benefits of free movement and international co-operation. From where we’re standing, the future can look very bleak.

But the Green Party has a different vision. We know Britain can only succeed if we invest in young people – which is why we would scrap tuition fees, write off all existing student debt, reinstate the Education Maintenance Allowance and invest far more in education.

We also want to tackle the mental health crisis currently facing young people in this country. It’s a crisis fuelled by poor quality housing, financial stress and academic anxiety, and compounded by this government’s utter failure to invest in mental health services. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives – and yet currently, less than one pound in every hundred spent on the NHS goes towards tackling these issues. We’d address this inequality, ensuring parity of funding between mental and physical health, and guaranteeing that anyone who needs psychological therapy can access it within 30 days.

But our universities, our health service and far more is at risk if we don’t get a good Brexit deal. British academics and institutions are already losing out on collaborative research projects with EU partners, and highly skilled EU citizens who staff our schools and hospitals are leaving the UK because our government refuses to provide them with the certainty they deserve. The Green Party will fight to keep free movement, to urgently guarantee the rights of EU citizens living here, and to retain the vital workers’ rights and environmental protections the EU has given us. We also think people have the right to a say on the final Brexit deal – we’d back a ratification referendum at the end of the negotiations so we don’t end up with a deal that nobody voted for.

It’s no secret that the Green Party isn’t likely to be forming the next government. But for the last seven years we’ve had just one MP, the amazing Caroline Lucas, and on her own she’s done more work than half of the House put together. Electing a strong team of Green MPs to join her in the house of commons would mean an even louder voice for young people, for marginalised groups, for the most vulnerable in society. And whoever forms the next government, we’re going to need it.

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