What Young Labour Could Be

When young people are protesting for social justice, standing up to rip-off bosses or striking against landlords, I want them to know that Young Labour will be on their side.

Our generation has come of age at a time of crisis. From low pay and insecure work to student debt and sky-high rents, young people face an economy that frustrates our aspirations and makes life so much harder than it should be. With Covid-19 it has only become worse – as we are scapegoated by the government, used as cash cows by universities and are the first victims of escalating levels of unemployment.

When we look to the future, it can be hard to feel hopeful. The imminent climate catastrophe threatens to cause chaos throughout our lives. We will have to deal with the long-term impacts of a rising far-right, who are intent on deepening racism, sexism and anti-LGBT+ bigotry. The political system, as it stands, offers little hope for change.

Throughout history, the Labour Party has been at the forefront of building so much of what makes this society worth living in. As a junior doctor, I see every day the value of our National Health Service – and believe deeply in Nye Bevan’s vision of a system where healthcare is free, public and universal, not a commodity to be bought and sold.

My parents didn’t go to university, and as a young person now saddled with debt, I have seen first hand how an inaccessible education system is being further dismantled under the Tories to the point that it shuts out ordinary people. This drove me to find a political voice in the Labour Party.

I know we don’t face our generation’s crises alone. Every day we meet people of the same age living with the same problems and the same commitment to changing the world. They need a voice in politics representing their beliefs, fighting for their interests – and helping them to organise. That’s the Young Labour I want to build if re-elected as Labour’s NEC Youth Representative.

A Radical Generation

This generation is the most radical in decades – we want to see a fundamentally different society, based on socialist values of equality and justice, and we’re prepared to fight for it. From the climate strikes to Black Lives Matter, tenant organising and trade unions, young people are building movements that can write a better future.

If re-elected as your NEC Youth Rep, I will work every day for the election of a Labour government – one that implements the policies we need, from a Green New Deal to ending zero hour contracts and solving the housing crisis. But I know that this generation can’t wait for the next election to see meaningful change. Our futures depend on fighting for it today.

I want to see a Young Labour where young members feel confident standing up for what they believe in – and where they are empowered to do so. When young people are protesting for social justice, standing up to exploitative bosses, or striking against their landlords, I want them to know that Young Labour will be on their side. And when those young people decide to join an organisation to win the better society they deserve, I want it to be this party and this youth wing that they come to.

In spite of our mass membership, Young Labour is currently being starved of resources, which leads to inactivity on both a national and local scale. Better funding will allow us to build Young Labour groups across the country, in the hearts of communities, and enact the policies we pass at conferences into relevant and wide-reaching campaigns, using all the creative talents of our members.

Democratic Reforms

I am standing for re-election having represented young members and fought for a democratic and socialist Labour Party for the last two years. As NEC Youth Rep, I have fought to democratise Young Labour – codifying one member, one vote (OMOV) elections, regional committees and an annual Youth Conference in the Labour Party rulebook. Young members now have the power to change their own rules, run their own events and elect their own representatives.

Over the past two years, I have worked tirelessly to increase the voice and representation of young workers in Young Labour and have tackled the anti-union hostility which for years has put off young workers from getting involved in our party. We must ensure our party remains the political wing of the trade union movement.

Together with the Young Labour committee, I supported a campaign of political education to help young members develop and express their views. I have sought to empower local Young Labour groups and lobbied for the party to produce a Youth Manifesto for the last general election. I led the way in restructuring our student wing – ending its use as a vehicle for political stitch-ups and a rung on a career ladder.

I have consistently argued for increased levels of funding for Young Labour and for the party to give us the resources to make the organisation functional at the grassroots. This successfully led to the delivery of our Young Labour national events. And if re-elected, I will continue to lobby the Labour Party for better resourcing.

But I want to go further: I have always argued that Young Labour needs to be the voice of young members in the party – not the party’s voice to young members.

This means we need real autonomy to fight for the causes we believe in, and sufficient funding to support those efforts. This is particularly important in making our events accessible to young workers, the unemployed and carers – and I will continue to campaign for the resources we need.

NEC Record

As your NEC Youth Rep, I will always be clear about my politics. We can’t forget that this Conservative government went hard and won big on false promises of radical change to left-behind communities.

There can’t be a return to the false comfort of business-as-usual politics, or backtracking on our responsibility to stand with workers in struggle. We need a Labour Party that is serious about a socialist alternative that takes us from anger to hope and victory.

In delivering that vision, Labour’s NEC must be the crucible of the party – a place where members, socialist societies and trade unions come together and shape our direction. This has not always been the case, and members have a right to feel frustrated by a lack of democracy and accountability.

For the past two years on the NEC, this is the fight I have waged – to ensure our party represents the best traditions of the labour movement. I will continue to advocate for a transparent body with the political convictions resilient enough to take us into government.

Now ballots are open, it is vital for young members to vote. We can’t afford for our demands to be ignored. Vote for your voice on the NEC, vote for the policies you believe in and vote for the Young Labour you want to see. Support me in this vision, and let’s build it together.