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Ben Hansen-Hicks

Geo/Socio/Politico

Dear David Cameron,

It has certainly been a turbulent year for politics. In fact, it is quite likely that I will never see a year like this again: last summer I voted in the Scottish Referendum and yesterday I voted in my first General Election.

Today, on the afternoon of 8th May 2015, the majority of results have already flooded in after sleepless nights of counting and waiting. It has just been announced that the Conservative Party have gained a slender majority.

I wish I could congratulate you but I can’t. I did not vote for the Conservative Party on the 7th May and, if truth be told, the thought of a Conservative Government wholly unsettles me.

Why? Perhaps it is because I grew up in post-Thatcher Scotland, or because born a daughter to two social work parents? It could be that I attended a local comprehensive school where we had to organise a sponsored walk just to afford jotters. Who knows, maybe I was just born this way.

I’ve read the figures from the past 5 years. I’ve poured over political headlines telling me that your Government has ‘helped businesses create 2 million jobs, 2.2 million apprenticeships, increased NHS spending, reduced the deficit’. The rational part of me recognises these figures as accomplishments that, surely, will benefit people in the UK. Surely, these figures signal an improvement from the poor living standards that too many people face. Yet, these figures don’t comfort me.

I’ve thought long and hard about why this might be. Maybe it is because these figures don’t match with my experiences. I’ve seen public sector wages stagnate as the cost of living increases. I’ve seen overstretched employees work themselves into illness. I’ve spoken with teachers and students who despair at the state of the reformed education system. I’ve stood by friends and family who have had much needed support withdrawn from them as funding from charities and crucial NHS services were cut. I’ve spoken with peers who, as they try and gain an education, support parents at home who are unemployed, ill, or rely on food banks. I’ve lived through unpaid internships and supported a student friend who, having nearly gone blind, paid a small fortune with her frugal weekly budget for antibiotics in an attempt to save her eyesight. The very same antibiotics, until recently, had been available for free.

And this is just what I’ve seen. Me, a middle-class, Cambridge-educated girl from rural Scotland. Across the country I know that for many it is worse. We all know about the disastrous bedroom tax, the ‘go home’ vans, the high number of people in work whose abominable wages fail to put food on the table, the increasing poverty levels, and the dirty, underhand political play that heightened throughout the Scottish Referendum and General Election.

So, David Cameron, I have a request. I want you to prove me wrong. I want you to prove to me that the figures your government publish are valid. I want to see those in need be helped, not demonised. I want to see fairer working conditions and wages. I don’t want to read about disability benefit cuts, or worsening education, or about people dying in their homes because they couldn’t afford the heating bills.

I’m not saying that other parties are perfect because they aren’t. We can only speculate what state we would all be in had there been a different outcome in the 2011 election. But I’m not writing to them, I’m writing to you.

I sincerely hope that you consider my request. You and your government can prove me wrong. So please, give me and everyone else an excuse to be thankful for what has been achieved by the next election.

Put my gnawing doubts to rest. They are in your hands.

Martha Stokes.

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