Student Immaturity: Not Just a Growing Pain

I have already written a post about what can be learnt from the recent general elections, which you can find here.

There is one thing, however, that I did not predict or mention; but which certainly deserves a mention – and that is the outpouring of left–wing outraged. In addition to, frankly, extreme, articles (such as this) criminality resulted; notably the graffiti which was applied to the Women of World War Two memorial on Whitehall. The first article, seeks to argue against the use of the graffiti story (but does not seek to justify the graffiti itself) to “vilify” the movement protesting against the result. But I do not think that is the point that is being made by those who criticise the events; the point is one which seeks to highlight correlation, from a criminological standpoint. Where there are conditions where crimes can occur (e.g. a protest) then crime will result (e.g. graffiti) – broadly broken windows theory.

What this response shows, in my opinion is an institutional immaturity in student politics, which prevents it from being an effective actor at the national level. The youth vote should be a powerful force, courted by those seeking a democratic majority. Instead, the reactions seen in the aftermath in the #ge2015 evidenced why those in power and those seeking power can continue to ignore the 18-25 category. This is evidenced by how the opportunity of the Friday after the elections, was squandered. I write (a much delayed) response, in particular to the reactions of the Stepford Student a left-leaning (read: horizontal) student endeavour responded to the 2015 election with an array of articles. The defence of the graffiti makes my point eloquently; it’s a question of style – and student politics does not understand this. I want to substantiate this argument by making two points. Does student politics recognise (as was ably argued here) that it is in danger of becoming everything it is (said) to stand against?

Firstly, by creating the conditions in which violence rather than rational discourse can flower, a valid point is being wasted. Does swearing work in any national election? Not that I know of. Yet, somehow, people believed that the “#fuckthetories” was the best way to express discontent with how the results panned.

My second point is that there is a valid point (in the anger somewhere): whether elections are entirely democratic is an interesting point. But, people are quick to forget that there was a referendum to change to alternative voting system – with 41% turnout, the result had 67% no vote. There were problems with how the referendum was carried out, as explained here. But 67% is overwhelming and doubts as to whether any reason is more convincing than the fact that people simply did not want it. Labour, let us remember, did not support the change (although perhaps prophetically Ed Miliband sought to support the “Yes” campaign).

This post is brief; I believe that there is much that should be problematised about the reaction to the general election result. But this is no longer helpful. Instead, the immaturity of student politics should be addressed squarely, now it has been highlighted for all to see.


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