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KU Students are in an identity crisis, and they don’t even know it

By Leigh Boobyer Oct 11, 2015
A Greek Sea Bass? Or Ed Miliband?
A Greek Sea Bass? Or Ed Miliband? Credit: The Guardian

It’s been over five months and four days since a long-winded General Election kept me questioning even my basic understanding of politics: “Why is Nick Clegg still running, he knows he doesn’t have chance?! What does an EU referendum even mean for me? And why does Ed Milliband look like a deranged fish out of water?”

Now, as the Tory conference week has come to a swift end, concluding to continue a united construction of a great wall of British pride.

Meanwhile, questions among young people surface University courtyards and smoking areas, not feeling at all in touch politically: evoking self-reflective aspects of my pre-election ignorance.

Students protesting outside Houses of Parliament. Credit: The Guardian
Students protesting outside Houses of Parliament. Credit: The Guardian

Members of the River and myself conducted and distributed a survey to a range of students, all appeared to stance on two polar opposite ends of a spectrum: politically shy and hyper-political.

However, a mistake in the first question, asked participators to circle who they voted for in the recent General Election has sparked a deeply discomforting thought about the politically shy students: a few mislead by the space between answers, circled two of the most important parties of the GE (Conservatives and Labour) as if they were one party.

Naturally, this raised both brows to the degree of cramp. Although it is quite obvious this was done arguably as a joke, regardless, it raises an argument of student’s political awareness and identity. That is, that not enough students have one.

Bar the excessive drinking and sleepless nights, one of the most significant memories from being in halls is talking to a girl about politics, posing very basic question such as what do you feel most strongly about etc. She said that growing up, “I was taught that one side is good [Labour] and the other side is bad [Conservatives]”. If this is how children and young adults are being brought up to believe about who is who in politics, then it’s simply fraudulent spin.

To paint a picture, I draw attention to a young 18 year old Tory girl who neatly finished off BBC Question Time last Thursday. She explained her story of how at the Conservative conference last week she was thrown comments from so-called Labour supporters of her being such things as a pedophile and a child molester.

This kind of display from supporters of the Labour party is outright vile. It should in no way be supported. But what if someone who was completely ignorant was to see this on the news. The very first political thing that actually caught their attention was a group of protesters who spat at people, and displayed banners saying “fuck all work, destroy the economy”. It would literally be like the first child born in a post-apocalytpic dystopia – it’s just all downhill from there.

So what happens next? Because of actual exposure to images like the one previously mentioned, there will be a huge wave of Corbyn-conrads about to rendezvous to the nearest coffeeshop and feast on quinoa salad.

Perhaps — and arguably — it was the naivety of youths that meant Labour were not able to win as many seats in the General Election this year, because it’s a fact that if the the G.E was done via a twitter poll, Labour would have won on a landslide. (But really, Britain and Twitter – they are not the same thing).

There needs to be far more encouragement to be open-minded when it comes to politics, but moreover, a simple understanding of what your ideal Britain will bring you. And when the time comes, one party is to be crossed and not two to be circled.

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