This is a guest post by Anna Mason, member of Liverpool Uncut. You can follow Anna on twitter here.
Peoples’ reactions of surprise when I tell them that I’m balancing studying for my GCSEs with actively fighting the recently announced public sector cuts never fail to shock me. After all, the student demonstrations that were recently held nationwide when it was announced that the ConDem government was pushing for an increase in tuition fees, throwing the life plans of many young people into uncertainty, received widespread media attention and were one the main reasons for the gap between the majority voting in favour of the rise and minority voting against the rise being slashed by 75%, proving that not only do teenagers have a voice but we are being listened to, especially when we’re fighting to defend our rights.
I’ve been interest in politics for as long as I can remember. My dad was involved in politics and often took me along to Stop The War meetings and demonstrations all over the country, encouraging me to develop my own political opinions. However, when he left England for work when I was 14 I became less involved, until this September, when, furious over the Tory’s plans to cut NHS funding, I went to the demonstration in Birmingham outside the Conservative Party Conference were I met the wonderful Anna (@thespyglass
) on the bus there who told me Twitter helped her get involved in political events. I joined immediately, and its become my main platform for finding out about new events and planning them as well. Its also how I found out about UKUncut.
The appeal of UKUncut is obvious, not only does it oppose the cuts that will effect every section of society, particularly the most vulnerable, but it also provides solution to the cuts: getting the money back from the big businesses like Arcadia and HSBC who have taken it from the tax payers’ pocket. The direct action protests are creative, effective and, perhaps most importantly (for me at least), not violent. Despite what some newspapers and David Cameron would have you believe, the majority of people my age do realise that smashing up war monuments and throwing fire extinguishers off of tall buildings is not the most effective way to get people to empathise with us.
Also, UKUncut is easy to get involved in. You can post an event on the website just a week in advance and people will come along and join you, regardless of who you are, it doesn‘t even require a great deal patience, with social networking being such a key part of spreading the message its likely that someone will let you know they‘ll be joining you within hours. The movement is snowballing and everyone, from OAPs to housewives to GCSE students like me are being heard, with over 50 events across the country held yesterday, it doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can stand on the front line and oppose the tax avoidance and Tory Cuts that are damaging our public sector.
Of course, I sometimes question whether this is the right time of life for me to be so politically active, especially when I’m in the run up to so many important exams, but the way things are going I’m not going to able to get into university anyway, regardless of exam results, and my doubts never last long, although it did worry me when I arrived home from the Pay Day warm-up protest I’d organised on Thursday to revise for the French GCSE I had the next day to find the majority of my anxieties had lifted – I was more worried about people turning up and what I’d say to the Guardian than I was about doing well in an important exam (fortunately my exam went well, and hopefully next time I‘ll be just as lucky). Whilst some people in my year at school do think its weird that, at the weekend, they’re getting off with people at parties whilst the only parties I’m gossiping about are the political ones, I’m greeted with support everywhere I go, my parents realise that it’ll have a good impact on my future, my friends think its really interesting, and even my teachers are more likely to wish me good luck than send disapproving glances my way, and I really hope that other people in a similar situation as me are just as lucky.
Because its not just me, I’m certain there are loads of other 15-year-olds across the country who are fuming about the way the politicians (whose university educations were paid for by our parents and grandparents) aren’t seeing us as capable people with bright futures but merely as drains on society. No, we are the future, and we are fighting for our future, not because we want to but because we need to, because we’re mad as hell and people need to know about it, of course its difficult but, for me and the hundreds of other teenagers who think like me, because there will be others, sitting down and taking it is simply not an option.