Yajur Shah
NHSF (UK) National President

 

Tomorrow is the big day! Many of us are still undecided and often because the world of politics is a dizzying whirlpool of policy, jargon and well, politicians that most of us just can’t relate to. We, at NHSF (UK) do believe that it is important for you to go out and vote. Below are just a few things for you, as Hindu students, to consider before deciding who you’re going to vote for.

 

1) Education

Let’s get the rant out of the way early. Education has been sidelined and not just this general election but for a while. No party has really made this a priority and that’s simply because students don’t vote. The Conservatives haven’t really spoken about Education other than their plans to introduce 500 new Free Schools across the country. The Lib Dems focus their efforts on Schools as well with plans to throw £2.5bn at it, whilst Labour suggested they might cut university fees to £6,000 – but we’ve heard policies like that before! All in all, Education policies have been poorly constructed from all sides.

 

2) Housing and Energy

Here, there are some serious things to consider. All parties have recognised that we are in a housing crisis with many of the younger population really struggling to buy their first homes. As students we should care because it won’t be too long before we get there. All parties have plans to increase the number of new homes being built across the country with both Labour and Tories planning to build 200,000 new homes. The Tories however look to introduce a 20% discount for any new buyers and a “Help to Buy” ISA that will help those first time buyers put down that all important deposit for their new home. Labour and the Green party have both suggested better controls on rents, whilst Labour have also spoken about freezing energy bills until 2017. The question here is what do you want in the short term, a new home at a discount or better rents?

 

3) NHS

This is important because to an extent, we still live up to the Indian stereotype with many Hindu students being medics, dentists or scientists that may one day work for the NHS. Labour will put in the least amount of money into the NHS at £2.5bn, but with possibly the most robust plan of any party. Both the Conservatives and Lib Dems have suggested investing over £8bn. All parties have stated intentions to bring mental health services into focus, whilst Greens and Labour want to limit the private sector’s hold on the NHS. The plans here remain vague with parties keeping their proposed cuts close to their chest as Election Day approaches – so the question is whom do you believe?

 

4) Entry into employment

Naturally, an important one for all of us to consider as you will soon leave university and be expected to contribute to society in some shape or form. Lib Dems and Conservatives have proposed a tax free allowance increase up to £12,500, with higher tax thresholds meaning that you will be able to keep more of that hard earned cash when you start working. Comparatively, Labour have proposed a far more reserved approach by suggesting to just protect those starting their careers from further tax rises but they do want to increase the hourly minimum wage to £8, whilst the SNP have suggested a rise to £8.70. It is really a question of do you want to earn more but still be taxed for it or would you prefer to keep the money you earn without expecting major minimum salary rises?

 

5) The Hindu Voice

Here, we should be frank. Unfortunately, Labour have been poor at responding to the requests of the Hindu community in recent years with a general sense that they just don’t care. Maybe this will change after the general election but quite simply, there has been no consultation process when placing “caste” into the Equality Act 2010, which effectively brands the Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities with this concept of caste. For more information on that, please see our previous article on the matter:

http://www.nhsf.org.uk/2010/01/caste-within-the-single-equality-bill-2010/

Further to that, Labour, for the majority, did not sign up to EDM 712 on the British stance on Kashmir. This is below for your reference.

“That this House commemorates with deep sadness the 25th anniversary of the attack in January 1990 by cross-border Islamic militants on the population of Jammu and Kashmir; expresses its condolences to the families and friends of all those who were killed, raped and injured in this massacre and also condemns the desecration of the holiest sites in Jammu and Kashmir; further expresses its concern that the Kashmiri’s who fled to save life and limb have still not secured justice for the atrocities committed against them; deplores those sponsoring such cross-border terrorist attacks and demands they cease immediately; and notes that the international principle of the responsibility to protect obliges individual states and the international community to take effective measures to prevent the commission of genocide and crimes against humanity as seen against the Kashmiri Hindu community.”

Comparatively, the Conservatives have been far better at consulting with the Hindu community and so here there really isn’t much of a question.

 

There isn’t long for you to prioritise what matters to you and where you stand. Do your research, and vote with intention because without a doubt, the outcome of the general elections will impact you.