Here’s a piece I wrote for the Young Labour Councillors Support Network, which can also be found here.
We may not be in government but with so many Labour councillors elected last May we’re in a fantastic position to generate real change in our local communities.
As Young Labour members, we must seize that opportunity. I want to see Young Labour groups working with local councils to eradicate youth homelessness, introduce the living wage and shield the most vulnerable from the government’s savage cuts.
Leading Young Labour’s first ever priority campaign, against youth homelessness, I’ve seen first-hand the difference that our young councillors, supported by Young Labour groups, can make. I’ve visited Young Labour groups across the country to deliver campaign training and I’ve been impressed by the energy, enthusiasm and successes of our young members.
From North Tyneside to Newport, and Cheshire to Tower Hamlets, members are organising campaigns around youth homelessness and it’s young councillors who are passing Young Labour’s motion, not only committing their councils to provide for young people without homes but reinvigorating council chambers that for too long have seemed inaccessible to young people.
If elected to the National Executive Committee (NEC), I will ensure that all Young Labour groups receive the resources and training that they need to campaign effectively. I will continue to work to win the support of the wider party for our campaigns and showcase the fantastic work that members are doing, ensuring that MPs, party staff and the NEC recognise the value of Young Labour members.
As well as issue-based campaigning in our local communities, we should be out talking to voters in the run-up to the county council elections this May. We have the opportunity to make big gains in these elections, which would give us the ability to protect more people locally from the worst of the cuts and provide a voice for those being hit so hard by this government’s austerity measures. To achieve this, we need to be out campaigning.
Regional offices should be supporting Young Labour groups in organising young members’ campaign days; where they aren’t supportive, I will hold them to account. Working with trade unions, the Co-operative Party and socialist societies, we should be organising battle buses, taking young members to campaign and not just expecting them to turn up. We’ve done this in East Midlands Young Labour and not only got more people involved but we’ve cut the cost of campaigning.
Not everyone knows how to campaign or is comfortable with the idea of knocking on a stranger’s door having never done it before. I will secure the resources to hold campaign training in each region ahead of each big election to equip our young members with the skills and confidence to fight for more wins for Labour.
More young activists would be fantastic. But I also want to be out knocking on doors on behalf of more young council candidates. Research in 2010 found that the average age of a councillor was 60. We should be encouraging more young members to stand by providing the training and support that they need. We should be giving our members public speaking training to build confidence. We should be providing more information about what being a councillor involves – something that Redbridge Young Labour have been fantastic at. We should be linking potential candidates up with current councillors who they can talk to and ask questions of.
I can’t wait to get out and get more councillors elected this May, and start building the groundwork for a general election victory in 2015, but to be successful our youth movement needs to get organised.
There has never been a more important time to ensure that Young Labour is strong, effective and organised. We need to invest in our untapped membership, value our volunteers and put Young Labour at the heart of the campaigns to return more Labour councillors this year and a Labour government in 2015.