By: Usman Mahmood Bukhari
An avid participant of student politics and former President of three different societies. Usman has been campaigning heavily on freedom of speech and having a humanist chaplaincy in the SU. He is a centrist who believes that helping people via pragmatic measure is the best way, and this is why he has been a member of the Lib Dems for 9 years now.
Mark Williams, Lib Dem MP for Ceredigion, on this year’s ITV’s Welsh Leader’s Debate recently spoke of humility before the electorate and this was after the many time he had mentioned the U-turn on the tuition fee we made during our time under the coalition government. We are still a young party having only been around 1990s when the Social Democrat Alliance was formed into the Liberal Democrat party you know today, but with our years in coalition has come wisdom and more vitally, a sense of pragmatism towards governance and policy that seems absent from almost everyone else’s manifesto. The Liberal Democrats understand the reality of power more than any other party and it is why in this General Election our progressive polices are based on pragmatism, whether it is social issues like education and welfare or international issues such as Brexit and Foreign Aid.
On education we have three key policies, invest £7 Billion into schools meaning no longer compelling schools to have cramped school class rooms. As of now, the more pupils a school takes the more money it makes, this often means schools are burden teaching staff is stretched thin simply to keep up education costs. An additional surplus of wealth into the education system prevents that issue; schools will be far less likely to use this strategy since they can focus on educating those in under education as opposed to using pupils as means to fulfil a quota.
Equality of opportunity is a massive idea we believe, this is why for our second key education policy we seek to triple the Early Years Pupil Premium, meaning those children who are born in disadvantaged background are not restricted by their social environment. Everyone, especially children, have the right to a good education to better themselves, their friends and family. Our third key education to give local authorities a far greater role in their local schools, the previous Labour and Conservative governments, evermore increasingly made education an issue resolved by the central authority in London. You do not need be an expert to realise that no two school will always be the same, this is why the people who live in the area are the best people to decide what school needs are and should have a greater role than they currently do.
But what of university students you wonder? We have pledged to scrap maintenance loans and reinstate maintenance grants. We believe the amount debt they have incurred is already too much but nor should the student as if though they being punished for studying. We will also work universities to have more scholarships and relief bursaries for students, giving both students and universities more financial flexibility to aid students.
The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to continue having the European Convention of Human Rights enshrined within our political constitution, opposing any attempts by Labour or the Conservative to replace with something else. Have 50,000 more refuges into this country by 2022 and have another 3,000 unaccompanied children accepted into this UK. In fact Tim Farron, the party leader, has been personally involved in helping the refugee crisis, calling it a great failure on our part. This is something our party has been quite outspoken on, and continues to be so.
However this General Election is marred by Brexit. Last summer the EU Referendum results shook the British establishment, changed a great deal. The historic attitude of toleration, openness and political unionism were cast asunder in favour evermore selfish and closed minded society. The Liberal Democrats have more members than ever before, we currently stand at 101, 832 members and that membership is increasing every day. Why? Because we believe that historical traditions and value Liberal thought, Free Trade, Toleration are values that need be upheld and many people across the UK believe the same. As a party that despite the heavy losses it made in the last few years, has remained faithful to the Liberal Cause and unlike the Conservatives or the Labour party who have realigned themselves away from internationalism in almost every form.
The Liberal Democrats stand alone, in being the vanguard party for the international community. Seeking that our international community feels come, that they have the ability thrive and above all else not feel like an alien. We will continue fighting for you, always, but we can do a far better job of this is with more Liberal Democrat candidates being elected in Westminister on 8th June.
Your local candidate in Cardiff Central Eluned Parrot is a distinguished former Welsh Assembly Member who fought extensively for mental health and despite losing her seat to UKIP, has decided to continue fighting for the Liberal Democrats, but more importantly continue fighting for the international community. A charismatic and outspoken individual is what we need in what, if we have a Conservative. Her fellow candidate Jo Stevens, may have expressed that too is an independent voice within the Labour, but a party that has continued silenced any moderates, in fact Jo Stevens claims to be the moderate she is, why indeed elect someone who maybe genuine for a political party that seems ever more increasingly not. Is it not far better my friend to elect a moderate, which is in moderate party? The Liberal Democrats the vanguard party for the international community, to reiterate that point. So please register yourself to vote by 22nd May 2017 and make your voice heard, a voice which has all too far often been drowned.
I am calling upon all Commonwealth Students to register themselves to vote in the General Election which will be held on Thursday 8th June 2017,I would also love to call upon our fellow EU citizens to help us campaign despite not being allowed to have say in an election that will affect them deeply.