Stirling University May Have Final say in Elections

By Samantha Barr

Stirling University students hope they can ‘make an educated impact’ after being identified as one of the ‘swing’ student populations ahead of the general election.

The current Conservative marginal seat in Stirling, won by just 148 votes, may see change as the University of Stirling autumn semester doesn’t end until the day after the general election.

Marginal seats, those which were won by a small majority, may see dramatic changes in this year’s general election, as many contain universities meaning large student populations may prove to be influential.

Current Conservative MP for Stirling Stephen Kerr. -Source: dvparty.uk

When deciding the date for the election, both the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party proposed an earlier date, 9 December, due to complications with the Government’s Brexit deal and the risk of student’s right to vote.

The earlier date however wasn’t adopted, and the date of the election is the 12 December, closer to some university exam periods and closer to the end of term, where many students might return home.

To fight this, societies, organisation’s and lecturers have been working across the country to make students aware of their voting rights, as well as providing information on how to register additional addresses so students can still have the chance to vote regardless if they are on campus or elsewhere come polling day.

In a poll with local university students, 85% say it is party policy which will influence the way they vote not party allegiance which older voters may contend with.

All of those registered to vote indicate they will vote in the upcoming general election, with many believing the student population can swing the marginal seat away from the current Conservative holders.

Some however, are still undecided on who they plan to vote for but do know who won’t be getting their vote.

This indecision is what Labour candidate, and fellow Stirling University student, Mary Kate Ross hopes to change with her campaign which runs alongside her coursework deadlines.

Mary Kate Ross (centre) is Labour’s youngest ever candidate for election. – Source: Mary Kate Ross, Facebook

“I feel quite weird about asking for extensions, saying to lecturers actually I’m like running to be an MP… it’s not been easy.”

Discussing the timing of the election, she thinks the weather and date might affect voter turnout but has encouraged students to use their voice.

“It’s been really cold and really long night’s, canvassing has been difficult and you don’t really want to be going up to doorsteps in darkness.

It may put students off, but students need to know that they can vote here in this constituency as a student or back in their home constituency. They have the choice and registering takes literally 2 minutes and is easy.

Ross goes into the campaign supporting many pro student policies party policies such as, abolishing zero-hour contracts, affordable housing, as well as highlighting ill mental health with over 50,000 students of the 2.3 million studying at universities in the UK have disclosed their mental health conditions – a number that continues to rise according to Universities UK findings.

Despite this pro-student policy, Ross doesn’t know what her chances are of being elected.

“It’s hard to tell because when I’ve been out on doorsteps and a lot of people have been really positive.

You never know the political landscape is always changing”.

Still need to register to vote?

You can do it online at www.gov.uk.register-to-vote or by calling 01786-892289.

 

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