STUDENT votes will be key to Labour clinching Portsmouth seats in the next General Election, according to the government’s shadow univerities minister.
Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, Liam Byrne said: ‘We are determined to make sure that students and young people go into this next election with their voice loudly heard and with a very clear offer on the table.
‘We need your help getting students registered because that is the way we will get Nicky Morgan out of Loughborough, we will get Julian Huppert out of Cambridge, it is the way we will win back Portsmouth, the way we will win Lancaster and the way we will get Ed Miliband into Downing Street.’
But Mr Byrne said the state of the economy left him unable to give a firm commitment over the timescale for opposition proposals to reduce maximum fees from £9,000 a year to £6,000 as part of a move to replace them with a graduate tax.
That is unlikely to change until the latest official figures and forecasts are revealed in Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on December 3.
Mr Byrne said the party faces a ‘very, very tough’ fight to take power from the Tory-led coalition next May and that students in marginal seats are needed to force their rivals out of office.
He accused the Government of deliberately disenfranchising students through the introduction of a new system of electoral registration and appealed for action to encourage them not to lose their voice.
Voters are now required to register to vote individually - rather than it being done by household - leading to fears many young people away from home studying will fail to secure their right to a say.