The Comprehensive Spending Review, launched by the government on Wednesday October 20th, marked cuts D-Day. Notwithstanding the super-rich who caused the economic crisis in the first place, nobody will be untouched by these cuts – jobs and services are set to be haemorraghed by the government.
Youth Fight for Jobs held a national day of protest on October 20th to tell the government loud and clear that we do not agree with the cuts. We especially want to organise young people – whether workers, students or unemployed – into a campaign to defeat the ConDem cuts package.
Around 40 young people came to our rally in the Old Market Square on a bitterly cold afternoon. The mood amongst young people towards the cuts has shifted in the past week or so from one of apathy to one of anger. Young students have become especially receptive to our campaign. They are rightly incensed by the Browne Review’s recommendation to the government to lift the cap on tuition fees. This means that, while students currently pay £3,000 a year for a university degree, they could be paying as much as £12,000 a year in future. This is going to price a lot of working-class, and even middle-class, youth out of higher education, killing aspiration and potentially causing massive damage to society as a whole – where are we going to find our teachers, doctors and social workers if you have to amass mortgage-style debts to fund university study?
The Browne Review also recommends cuts to university teaching budgets of 79%. This means that thousands of jobs in education will be lost, with courses, faculties and even whole campuses closing in the next few years.
Further education does not escape either. 34,000 jobs are likely to go in colleges alone when the government cuts over £300 million from its Further Education budget. With Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) due to be scrapped by the government, many young people are going to be denied entry to post-16 education.
What this means is that the dole queue will grow inexorably over the next few years. Youth unemployment currently stands at 1 million (1 in 5), and this is clearly a baseline figure. Unless a vigorous campaign of young people is launched now, millions more could be condemned to a life of hardship and misery.
This is why Youth Fight for Jobs will continue to build amongst young people in the coming months and years. The October 20th rally was the beginning of the fightback in Nottingham. We have reached out to more young people in the past few weeks than ever before, and we have also fostered links with the wider trade union and anti-cuts movement in the area. What was particularly inspiring about the rally was the way in which the young people who had come with Youth Fight for Jobs were mixing with older workers from the Trades Council and Notts SOS. A strong, united fightback in Nottingham seems assured!