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Young people facing a fight for their future
Do you want to be underpaid, undereducated and burdened with debt? That's what the establishment politicians offer young people in this general election.
Chris Jones, Youth Fight for Jobs
Compulsory low-paid work is the order of the day with Brown and Co. According to Labour's manifesto: "all those [young people] who are long-term unemployed for two years will be guaranteed a job placement, which they will be required to take up or have their benefits cut."
Labour's 'Backing Young Britain' campaign is an 'invitation' to businesses, charities and government bodies to "create more opportunities for young people" by bidding for Future Jobs Fund places.
Through this scheme, public money, which should be used to invest in socially useful job creation programmes such as council house building, will instead pay businesses to provide slave labour; temporary jobs on the minimum wage for 25 hours a week - far from enough to live a decent life on. Sounds more like 'opportunities' for big business.
The Tories' National Citizen Service would force young people to work on services that local councils should pay skilled workers to carry out. But they, and the other pro-big business parties, should be warned! In the 1980s 250,000 school students organised a strike which defeated Thatcher's Youth Training Scheme, a similar plan. Such mass action will have to be built again to defend the right to a decent job.
And all the parties promise the destruction of huge swathes of public sector jobs. The next generation's inheritance could be snatched away, leaving them with a future of low-paid, temporary work and minimal provision of public services.
All the same
In reality, the differences between the main political parties are superficial in the extreme. The Conservatives are keen on academy schools because Labour copied them from the Conservative manifesto in 1997! Both parties promise a huge expansion of academies, ie handing secondary schools over to private companies.
Labour's plans for everyone to be in full- or part-time education or training up to the age of 18 could see a major expansion of apprenticeships, but on a pittance. Colleges, already struggling with student demand and facing huge cuts, will either have to limit places or accept a huge drop in the quality of education.
Against this backdrop, the LibDems aim to mop up the 'youth vote'. But why vote for a party that would be happy to implement "cuts worse than Thatcher"? The LibDems recently dropped their commitment to immediately abolish university fees and the huge debt they entail for most students, claiming it was 'unaffordable' - just at a time when more young people are looking to higher education as a way of avoiding the dole queue.
This election shows that young people desperately need a real opposition to the bosses' parties. The Socialist Party and Youth Fight for Jobs say no to cuts and no to writing off this generation. The bosses' crisis must not be placed on the backs of future generations.
Young people will have to join workers, trade unionists and socialists in campaigns and struggle after the election, in the fight for their future.
Video: Youth Fight for Jobs demo in Barking, East London
In The Socialist 21 April 2010:
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party features
Socialist Party workplace news