General Election Quickie: Jeroen Van Herk

Thursday 07-05-2015 - 15:12



We asked Jeroen Van Herk, President at Edinburgh College Students' Association to chat all things General Election with us ahead of voting day on 7 May 2015.

1)      How does your day look on the day of the General Election?

I really would love to vote in these elections, but by being an immigrant I unfortunately can’t vote this time. Fortunately I will be able to engage with students who are going to vote. 

After work I’ll go to a friend’s place and cluster myself in front of a television watching the whole thing unfold.

2)      Thoughts on the TV debates and media coverage so far?

It was great to see that the debate has been much about the minimum wage, zero hour contracts, food banks etc. But what makes that the debates are such a torment to watch is that these arguments are passionately made by folk who have zero degrees of empathy to these things. The pretence of willingness to fix these issues is what irritates me the most. 

A returning subject during the debates and in the media covering the GE is immigration. This is only because one particular party believes everything is to blame on those pesky immigrants (I’m one myself). Unfortunately other parties have joined the bandwagon. 

3)      One message for any student thinking of doing a Russell Brand on the day?

Good you ask because this is a debate I have had very often: whether to vote when you feel no-one is out there to represent you. At one side there’s a good argument that can be made that speaks in favour of voting at all times for whoever comes nearest to what you fancy even if there’s little choice.  There’s also an argument that can be made against voting when not having a candidate who you feel represented by – the Russell Brand argument. I understand the point many make: why would you vote for someone who doesn’t stand for the same principals as you do?

4)      What would be your dream way of getting to the polls – growing Red Bull wings and flying? Batmobile? On horseback?

Great options you offer here, but my real dream way of getting to the polls would be in a legion of students and workers who would march united in a demo to the polling station holding up banners saying sensible things like: ‘’Free Education’’, ‘’Better Workers Rights’’, ‘’£10 min wage’’. Once we’d arrive at the polling station a candidate of each political party would be lined up to answer questions fired over by the demo participants and give account of what they’d be up to once ending up in Westminster. 

If we could do this on horseback even better; perhaps it would make headlines too.

5)      How will you be celebrating/commiserating the result on May 8th?

By congratulating fellow comrades for the hard work and efforts they’ve put in campaigning for the party I support. About a week after the elections I’ve planned to meet with some MSP’s regarding the Scottish elections. From election to election, time seems to fly – but we can’t rest until we have FE entitlement in place to put FE and HE student funding on a par, plus we really need a compensation for the millions of pounds and college places that were cut over the last 5 years. 


NUS Scotland

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