Saturday, 22 December 2012

A manifesto, of sorts.

I am delighted to have been elected unopposed as the Youth Rep to the London Labour regional board. I am really excited to take on the role at what is such an exciting and important moment for young Labour members and Labour as a whole, and work to make Labour more friendly, accessible and welcoming to young members (something that has improved considerably during the time I have been active within the party; but there is still more to be done).

I just wanted to just post my manifesto here, cause although I was lucky enough to be unopposed, I still wanted to put it out there, so there would be something by which I can be held accountable.

Also please check out all the other people standing for various positions if you haven’t already; there are some amazing candidates up for various positions:

I first joined the Labour party in 2010, and was a very active campaigner within my CLP, but was almost completely unaware of how to go about getting involved in other aspects of the party or how to connect to other young members. I am standing for Youth Rep on the London Labour regional board because I want to work to ensure that all young members in London are able to get involved; because come 2015 young people need to be at the forefront of the fight against a government which is putting the future of our whole generation at risk.

I will work with CLP Youth Reps to help them recruit more active young members to their CLPs, and ensure they keep their young members up to date with what is going on in their CLPs, as well as letting them know about other ways they can get involved with the party (such as through Young Labour, Labour Students, Young Fabians etc). I will work with CLPs who don’t currently have youth officers to recruit more active young members who can fulfil the role.

In order to ensure young members are a fighting force in London, we need to offer them more than just occasional requests to campaign. I will help to facilitate regular campaigning days in key seats in London, and help young people get involved in campaigning with their CLPs; as well as liaising with members in safe seats to help them get involved in campaigns in more marginal seats. But I will ensure that this is combined with other social and policy focused events to make young people feel a part of the party they are campaigning for.

Looking at the success of Tower Hamlets Young Labour, I’ll examine the merits of having smaller Young Labour groups in different parts of London to work alongside London Young Labour, and help to set up such groups.

I want to work with sixth forms and other political organisations (including those I may not personally agree with) to get Young Labour in schools talking to young people about how to get involved in politics, as London Young Labour did in the run up to the mayoral campaigns; this was a brilliant scheme that needs reinvigorating.

Trade unionism is, of course, a central part of the Labour party; but it is, worryingly, declining in our society. As well as working and campaigning alongside young trade unionists, we need to be encouraging far more young people to be joining trade unions. I will organise events for young members who are not currently in trade unions with trade union officials and young trade unionists to facilitate and encourage this.

And, crucially; I will work to make sure every young member knows about what is happening and what they can get involved with. You shouldn’t have to already know the right people, or follow the right twitter accounts to know how to get involved; and too often young people, especially those not at university, don’t get involved just because they don’t know how. I will ensure that London Young Labour has an up to date social media presence and website, that CLP Youth officers send out regular emails (or that CLPs send out regular young member specific emails in cases where there is currently no youth officer), encourage people to set up facebook events for events and campaign days, and make sure these are linked to in emails and work to ensure young members are always welcomed and not simply overlooked when they first try and get involved. Getting involved in the Labour Party shouldn’t have to be a series of ever more complicated challenges, and I will work to make Labour in London an open and accessible community for all. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Talking about UKIP on the doorstep...

Out campaigning during the recent Rotherham by-election I, and many other Labour activists, encountered first-hand the rise in support for UKIP; I’ve met the occasional UKIP supporter here and there on the doorstep, but nothing like the number I was meeting here. According to a recent ComRes poll, most of UKIP support is not coming from those who voted Labour in 2010, and anecdotally I’d be inclined to agree.

However, this doesn’t change the fact that there are former Labour voters who are turning to UKIP; enough that Labour activists need to know what to say to them on the doorstep. And, I think, there’s still a lack of understanding about UKIP policies and what UKIP really stands for; and there is so much there for us to attack.

Because these voters might support UKIPs policies on the EU and immigration – and of course there are serious issues there we need to address – but I doubt that Labour/UKIP swing voters support grammar schools (or a voucher system for schools, for that matter), or increased privatisation of the NHS, or a 20% flat tax and the resulting cuts to public services. UKIP’s far right economic policies are quite, well, right wing, and if the person you’re talking to is a libertarian then fine; not much you’re going to be able to do about that.

But to those who are supporting UKIP because of their immigration/EU stance, or as a protest vote, Labour activists need to start talking about what else UKIP stands for; the libertarian-leaning, free market party is far from on the side of the working class (or, you know, most people).

Additionally, there’s the interesting (and admittedly, impressive) issue of UKIP getting former none-voters to vote; these voters most likely part of Labour’s target demographic, but where Labour has failed to get them out to the ballot box. And although I may not be thrilled at their party preference, it is good that these people are engaging with the political process. And we should be talking to them. Because now they are engaged, hopefully, they’ll be more inclined to talk us, both about what UKIP really stands for (because, like the former Labour voter, I’d hazard a guess that they wouldn’t be a fan of large chunks of UKIP’s policy program) and about what Labour stands for, and what Labour can offer them in government.

None of this is to dismiss the reasons people are turning to UKIP; as well as the issues of the EU and immigrations there’s, of course, a general disenchantment with mainstream politics and politicians, and we should take seriously how we address these issues.

But we must also start properly attacking UKIP’s dangerous economic policies; and get our activists talking about them to voters who are unlikely to support such policies if they are made aware of them.