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Why We Need a Socialist Young Labour

Young people are tired of their lives being limited by low wages, student debt, high rents and systemic inequality. They need radical change and a Young Labour prepared to fight for it.

Young people in Britain today face a deep crisis. From runaway rents to unaffordable student debt, insecure work, cuts to social services and rising youth unemployment, it’s clear that a second economic crash of our lifetimes will have painful long-term impacts.

As a youth worker, I spend every day face-to-face with the realities of this crisis. I’ve seen the devastating effects of austerity on youth clubs and mental health services; I’ve watched as young people scraping to get by have been exploited by their bosses or used as cash cows by their landlords. I’ve seen the racism that holds back so many of our generation and frustrates their aspirations.

The status quo cannot continue. And young people need to hear that message loud and clear – on a daily basis – from anyone in politics who wants to represent us. There is no future in focus group politics that avoids conflict at the expense of those who need us most. If the Labour Party fails to side with young people, to show them we believe in their cause, we will lose their solidarity and our chance at building a better world.

These can’t just be idle words. Young people need systemic change – they need a politics that organises workers to fight back against terrible conditions and sides with tenants as they face a wave of evictions. They need answers to the climate crisis and a vision of the future that is shaped by a Green New Deal, which can help prevent ecological disaster and build a society worth living in. This is what left-wing politics should be about.

Over the past few months, Labour members on the Left have watched in dismay as socialist MPs have been pushed out of the Shadow Cabinet, human rights have been abandoned at home and abroad, and a reluctance to enter into conflict with the Tories has left Labour looking, at times, as if we stand for nothing. If this path continues, we will lose the support of a generation which looks to us for leadership – and whose energy this party needs to change the country.

The moderates in Labour want to isolate the Left – but not only that, they want to discard our policies and cast us back to the days when this was a party that happily joined right-wing attacks on ‘benefit scroungers’ and refugees. We need young people in Labour to organise and fight back against this. And we need to build a Young Labour that gives us the space to do just that.

Before the Corbyn years, the youth wing of our party was exploited by those on the Right who saw it as nothing more than a launchpad for their political careers. Despite staunch opposition from the Labour Party establishment, those of us who are committed to building a youth movement have fought for and delivered change for the membership in recent years – introducing democratic election processes and greater representation of young workers.

But we have only just begun the long road to building an organised, socialist youth wing that is a campaigning force in every community. We cannot afford to return to the days when Young Labour did not have the courage to speak out about social injustice or organise young people to fight for radical policies. Nor can we allow the space for debate to be closed down by a party establishment which too often sees young people as an inconvenience at best.

On October 19th, ballots open for Young Labour National Committee elections. This isn’t just about electing a committee – it’s about ensuring we have a space in the party for socialists to organise and a cause for young people to rally behind.

In these elections, Young Labour members can show that the demand for socialist policies has not gone away. And that it will not go away – because our futures depend on real political change. For a Socialist Future is the group of young activists standing to deliver this message.

We aim to build a Young Labour centred around grassroots activism; one equipped to get boots on the ground and placards in the air whether for Black Lives Matter, trans rights, climate change or rent strikes. We will build a Young Labour that is diverse, radical and always speaks truth to power.

We believe there is no path forward without young workers and the revitalisation of our labour movement. We will run a young workers’ conference to put industrial action at the heart of our youth wing, launch a membership drive in precarious and low-paid industries, and equip our members against the coming youth unemployment crisis.

We will fight to defend our landmark Green New Deal policy, to ensure that the party supports tenants and takes a principled position against the demonisation of migrants. We will oppose efforts to push us into wars abroad and attack our human rights at home.

For a socialist future activists are proud to stand on our track record of organising and socialist politics.

To young socialists in the party we say stay, fight and organise with stubborn determination and furious solidarity.

Vote for young people to have a future in the Labour Party, vote for a youth wing that inspires you – and know that, in us, you’ll have allies who will stand with you against the injustices you face.

Voting opens Monday, October 19th.

Vote for a Socialist Future:

Jess Barnard – Chair
Lara McNeill – NEC Youth Rep
Lamar Campbell – International
Hasan Patel – Under 18s
Shannon Jezzard – East
Nekisa Gholami-Babaahmady – South East
Connor Slomski – North
Annie Maloney – Yorkshire & The Humber
Daisy Carter – South West
Caoimhe Hale – London
Patricia Johnston – Scotland
Kat Harlow – East Midlands
Mohammad Suhail – North West
Lewis Griffiths – Wales
Nazifa Zaman – West Midlands
Nabeela Mowlana – Student
Fraser Amos – Student
Micaela Tracey-Ramos – Student