Rosie Duffield MP column
I was thoroughly impressed by the school children that protested in Canterbury over climate change. Such action gives me faith in future generations, and, quite frankly, I’m sure they’ll make much better politicians than many of those that sit in the House of Commons. They are principled, strong-willed, and not afraid to take a stand about protecting the world they live in.
But the heartwarming feeling I get when seeing young people taking a stand quickly turns into frustration when I consider just how thoroughly they’re being let down. The protests were a blatant reminder that these young people are our future, and that this government is taking no notice of them, or of the issues involved. The government may have introduced the 5p bag rule, but they’re still yet to offer the radical plan on climate change that’s desperately needed. The government’s so called “clean growth strategy” published in October 2017 does not even put us on track to meet our existing emissions reductions targets for 2023 to 2032. It’s the millennial generation and younger that will bear the brunt of these poor decisions.
But unfortunately, this generation is being let down in more ways than one. A quick search on schoolcuts.co.uk is all that’s needed to grasp just how hard schools in the Canterbury and Whitstable area have been hit. Since 2014, 22 out of 29 schools in this constituency have faced funding cuts. Since being elected, I have been making my way around Canterbury and Whitstable’s schools, hearing first-hand from the teachers who are trying to deliver a quality education despite tightening budgets and simultaneous pressure to deliver on results. It’s simply inevitable, head teachers have told me, that cuts to funding combined with increased class sizes results in less attention to individual students which prevents them from being able to fulfill their potential.
Funding for further education colleges has been cut even more sharply than that for primary and secondary schools, and the average graduate accrues £50k worth of debt, before being faced with a constrained job market, along with no prospect of saving or securing reliable, affordable housing. Added to this, is the mounting mental health problems 1/10 are experiencing. It’s no wonder the government is so reluctant to let many of last week’s protestors their say. If 16 year olds could vote, knowing all this awaits them, what do you think they’d say?