With the elections to Labour’s National Policy Forum in full swing, the Young Fabians Blog got in touch with all the candidates competing for the position of Youth Representative to learn more about what the NPF means to them, and what sort of policies young people across the country want to be introduced when Labour next enters government.
Chris Hughes, candidate for NPF Youth Representative, North West:
For me, and lots of other Young Labour members, the National Policy Forum has been a group of people that have been completely disengaged from us. If I had a penny for every time someone in the past week or so has asked ‘What the hell is the NPF?!”…
I’ve seen the effect that the National Policy Forum has had on Constituency Labour Parties all over the North West. It has given CLPs a real tool to engage with the membership in a way that asking them to come and campaign in the rain could never do. Ordinary members could come along to a Policy Forum on any given policy area and have their say without having to build up the courage to stand up in front of a full room and express an opinion.
Sadly though, these policy forum type events have been few and far between, to say the least, for Young Labour members.
In the past, the Youth Representative has been elected to the National Policy Forum by standing as part of a slate dubbed ‘left’ or ‘right’ wing and receiving thousands of votes from members they wouldn’t even be representing. Now, however, only Young Labour members can vote for the Youth Rep. Now, whoever is elected is going to have to actually work.
The NPF needs to open up numerous channels both online and offline for young members to express their ideas. I want Young Labour members to feel comfortable and confident in expressing their view and vision of where the Labour Party is going.
I’d also like to try and arrange a policy workshop for Young Labour members at North West Young Labour conference. I’m proud to be Chair of Young Labour here in the North West, but we seriously lack any policy discussion at our conferences. I feel that this is essential for a conference at any level of the Party.
I think that for Young Labour members to actually feel engaged with Labour’s policy process, they have to be consulted on the policy that will actually affect their lives. During my campaign, I’ve asked lots of Young Labour members and lots of young Trade Unionists what their top policy priority is at the moment. Typical responses I got back was on things like ending legal loan sharking, equal marriage, a National Living Wage, and votes at 16.
I think by changing the way the National Policy Forum works with Young Labour, and other groups such as LGBT Labour and Labour Women’s Forum, we can actually produce policy that comes straight from the grassroots of the Party.
Chris Hughes is a candidate for NPF Youth Representative, North West
The Young Fabians do not endorse any of the candidates for the position of NPF Youth Representative