I’ll challenge Clegg over student ‘lie - Ukip Sheffield Hallam candidate Joe Jenkins

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At the age of 16, along with my peers, I was caught up in the exciting prospect of change from the Liberal Democrats - writes Sheffield Hallam Ukip candidate Joe Jenkins.

Their pledge to eliminate tuition fees and Nick Clegg’s positive debate performances really convinced me they were something different.

I spent many an evening after school canvassing the streets, promising people that their children would have a bright future and no sizeable university debt if they ticked the Liberal Democrat box on election night.

How could I have known I was doing all of this for a lie?

Fast forward just five months from the elections and the young vote, the student vote, was discarded by the Liberal Democrats like a damp rag as they broke their clear vow to us.

So I left the Liberal Democrats, but did not leave politics because I knew that one day I wanted to have the opportunity to stand against the lies, the corruption and the betrayal that I had seen so early on.

So my activism took me found a home in Ukip. For some this may seem like a strange transition, but the honest down-to-earth politics enticed me from the word go.

Their stance on Citizen Referendums, the achievable eradication of tuition fees for science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) subjects and the support for a true, free open society was incredibly attractive.

And here I have found a home.

Last summer after the National Union of Students voted to ‘oppose’ Ukip, I started pushing to have more focus on expanding our university presence in the face of increasing hostility to our student supporters from student unions, leading me to form Ukip Students.

Freedom of speech and expression is something I feel very strongly about, and I see its erosion by groups such as the NUS as a real problem facing universities today, and it something I feel really needs to be protect.

I thought long and hard about standing as a candidate in Sheffield Hallam.

About 20,000 students live in the constituency.

While few of them were here to vote for Nick Clegg five years ago, all of them are now suffering for his broken pledges.

So I am glad for this opportunity to represent a student-heavy constituency and the people of Sheffield Hallam.

Nick Clegg made a liar out of me five years ago, and I feel I have a responsibility to hold him account for it by giving the forgotten students a voice in this election.

The Star is hosting an exclusive election debate with the candidates for Sheffield Hallam in the run-up to the general election.

Send your readers’ questions to ellen.beardmore@thestar.co.uk

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