A rough definition of slavery at the time [of the Putney Debates] would include these features: it began in an act of expropriation…; it affected children and young people particularly; it compelled …exploitation Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many Headed Hydra.
Amongst the first acts of the Coalition government was the tripling of University Tuition Fees, and the removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance; thus expropriating access to higher education and secondary education from many young people. In tripling fees, the Coalition built on the fees system begun under New Labour. At the same time, the Coalition cut funding to existing Universities and called for a new set of private Universities; while making University grants conditional on teaching Coalition policy – in the form of the “Big Society”.
Not only were young people robbed of the right to higher education, but the broad education available to the wealthiest and to previous generations was to be replaced with business schools and employment-based courses.
The “structural reforms” and “austerity” measures put into place by the Coalition have seen youth unemployment soar, rapidly. At the same time, the Coalition has cut benefits. Young people are now encouraged to work as “interns”, for no salary: or to be forced into work via unpaid “work experience” and the removal of benefits.
A rough definition of slavery at the time of the Coalition government has historical precedents. The young people denied social history as part of a broad education will not be able to see what is being done to them in context. The measures introduced by the Coalition (and many of those by New Labour before) are intended to produce a low-paid, insecure, poorly-educated, quiescent workforce.