The government betrayed us with COVID lockdown parties – I'm voting tactically to get them out

Georgia Scott, 22, spent the first one and a half years of her degree in a series of lockdowns and isolation periods and is now preparing to vote to get the Conservatives out.

As part of its election coverage, Yahoo News is speaking to voters around the country on the issues that will sway their vote. Read more from our election 'Your Voice' series here as we get closer to polling day on 4 July.

Georgia Scott, 22, says she feels let down by the Conservatives. (image supplied)
Georgia Scott, 22, says she feels let down by the Conservatives. (image supplied)

When Georgia Scott cast her ballot in the 2019 general election she had been eligible to vote for less than a month. Then just 18 years old, she was still at school and studying for her A-Levels when she voted Labour.

Her fellow Swindon residents, and the country, disagreed and the next five pivotal years of her life were under a Conservative government and three different prime ministers. As she prepares to vote again, as a 22-year-old, she feels let down – particularly by the government’s poor handling of the COVID pandemic.

Scott’s A-Level exams in 2020 were cancelled, then she moved to Bristol as an English and Drama student and spent the first one and a half years of her degree in a series of lockdowns and isolation periods. Scott says she feels as if a chapter of her life was taken from her unfairly.

“It’s just the betrayal of it all, with all the Downing Street parties. That will be a stain that just won’t go away for me,” she says. “I had no friends at first at university because I decided to stay inside and keep people safe, whether or not that was to my own detriment. I did my drama lessons socially distanced, in my room.

“And meanwhile there were parties, while I was doing everything I could to make everyone safe. I don’t know who I would be if I’d had a real university experience.”

Scott completed her degree and is now living back at her parents’ home in Swindon, along with her 24-year-old sister. She is registered to vote in July, but has yet to make her mind up between Keir Starmer’s Labour Party and the Green Party.

“I really want climate change to be a big issue that’s tackled especially but also I want to vote tactically to get the Tories out, even more so now they’re saying their new policy is going to be to get us to do national service,” she says. “I don’t want my vote to be wasted.”

Though her priority is to see the Conservatives out of office, she has reservations about Labour’s ability to deliver change on some of the most important policy areas affecting her life, including saving the NHS and access to affordable housing.

“I think it’s all a load of rubbish,” she says of both main parties’ policies on housing.

“I feel like I’m going to live at home until I’m 30. There is literally no way I can buy a house and I’m lucky enough to be in a committed relationship. My sister isn’t in a relationship and there’s no way she could buy a house on her own; you can’t get anywhere on your own unless you’re rich,” she explains.

“I just feel like I’m going to be renting and putting money into other people’s pockets for my entire life. I had a landlord at university who was the kindest person ever but I still find the idea of landlords vile. That’s just because of the exploitation of it all.”

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Scott is in her first job, working as an assistant producer for a theatre company that focuses on youth work. It’s a transition she admits has been difficult – “it’s been an awakening really, to the world and to being an adult” – and has forced her to think carefully about what she wants in terms of work and her wider life.

“Work does make up the majority of your life. When I’ve done part time stuff before I’d just go to work and just go home, but this job my heart is really in it. I’m very proud of the work I do, so it’s a strange balance between work and life now,” she says.

But perhaps the biggest transition has been becoming a taxpayer – and reflecting on the state of the public services she is receiving in return.

“You can’t get an appointment with the NHS, preventative healthcare basically doesn’t exist. I’m starting to see a significant chunk leaving and I can see that frustration where people say, ‘where is it going?’, because they're not reaping any benefit,” she says.

To rebuild trust, Scott says she wants to hear politicians being more straightforward with voters, giving clear answers to questions, and showing a greater understanding and knowledge of the constituents they represent.

She says she has confidence in figures such as Angela Rayner and Jess Phillips, both Labour MPs, but feels most members of the current House do not share their values.

“Nothing is going to make me believe that someone from Eton understands what someone who is on benefits is going through,” she says.

Nevertheless, she trusts in the process of our democracy and does believe that her vote will make a difference – “people died for my right to vote and I will honour that” – and encourages her generation to believe the same.

“I do think it will make a difference having people en masse turn up, especially my generation,” she says. “We’ve had literally four years of people being told what we can and can’t do even though we wouldn’t have been affected by COVID very much because we were healthy and young.

"But we did it because we valued other people and making sure people were safe. I feel like that sacrifice has not been acknowledged. So even if you feel like [voting] doesn’t mean anything nationally, it should to you personally because it is you using your voice.”

As a voter, Scott is also motivated by our place in the world. She was disappointed by the Brexit referendum, a process she describes as “divisive for no reason”, which led to some voters regretting their choice to leave the European Union. She perceives a negative impact on our relationship with European countries and in particular our closest neighbour, Ireland.

Meanwhile she remains concerned about the lack of impact the UK now has on major conflicts across the globe. “With Israel and Gaza, no one is actually saying the word ‘genocide’ and I feel like they are just hushing about it rather than making a statement that it’s wrong,” she says.

“Ukraine also highlighted a very dark racism issue in this country with refugees and how we treat white European refugees compared with how we value non-European, non-white people.”

Nevertheless, with Labour having a 20+ point lead and Starmer promising not to let a flight to Rwanda take off, Scott is relieved that deportations now appear to be off the agenda.

If there’s one policy area that’s overlooked, she says, it’s the effect of violence against women on the lives of 51% of this country’s population.

Scott, who attended a vigil after the rape and murder of Sarah Everard in 2021, would like to see “drastic measures” taken by the next government, whoever gets in, to make the country safer for women and LGBT+ people.

“It’s such a sad and violent time and every time I go out at night I think about it,” she says.

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