By Councillor Maya de Souza
The tough times that students and others are likely to face over the next few years leave little to be happy about. However, it is good news and very reassuring to see this new age of responsibility amongst our young people and huge levels of determination. Its clearly about more than tuition fees. Students are supporting campaigns from the excellent and imaginative Uncut tax avoidance campaign to justice for Gaza and the protection of our public services. I am proud to see Camden’s young people play such a major part in this.
They understandably feel a sense of being let down by the older generations and left with a debt to pay back. We had the free education, if not as universal as at the moment, and the benefit of a well-funded welfare state. Bankers and others in the City earned and continue to earn astronomical amounts – clearly unrelated to effort pushing up the cost of living in London and without paying much in terms of tax revenue. And in the end, the taxpayer has had to bail out the banks and the welfare state appears to be in danger.
There are some even bigger debts which they will no doubt soon become aware of, if they are not already. These relate to the huge levels of poverty in many parts of the world, exacerbated by our trade system, which create instability and weaken the social order. And perhaps even more so, the debt from having burnt, with so little restraint, vast amounts of fossil fuels emitting greenhouse gas emissions into the air. The costs of adaptation to climate change are likely to be impossibly large and unaffordable especially for poorer countries. In this country, the debt will also be large, adding to our deficit.
I shudder to think what our young people will feel when they recognise what has recklessly been allowed to happen. But it is reassuring to see them campaign with so much determination – and I hope they will join the growing grassroots movement for sustainable ways of life, peace and eradication of mass poverty. Their increased activism makes me feel that we have some chance of achieving the changes that we need to see for the sake of fairness between generations, equity across the globe, and global safety.