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 see introduced when Labour next enters government.
Dan Johnson, candidate for NPF Youth Representative, North:
This election for the NPF is probably the most important since its creation. Over the next two years the work of creating our policies for the 2015 election will be undertaken.
One of the biggest complaints among Labour members is our lack of policies. They want to oppose the Tories but also offer an alternative which we can communicate to the wider public to try and win their support.
Being a Youth Rep brings has its own unique responsibilities. While dealing with the debate over tuition fees and other student-related issues make up part of the role, it is important not to neglect other young members who have already finished their education and are now in work, or those who have taken a vocational route and avoided the fees incurred at university. It is understandable why tuition fees make the headlines and vocational qualifications do not, since it is the children of media professionals and political elites who attend university and who will have to pay for it.
I think that Labour (and more importantly Ed Miliband) has shown that the tag of ‘Red Ed’ is not accurate, that people are on our side and that we’re the only Party that speaks for them. This means we can finally get to work on dispelling the right-wing myths that permeate our media. Too often on welfare our response is that benefit cheats are bad, but we neglect to mention that the overwhelming majority of benefit recipients are good, honest people who want to work, that the money from benefits that isn’t claimed far outweighs any fraud and abuse, and that tax avoidance dwarfs the money claimed by fraud. We get caught up in making a snappy argument, instead of taking our time and making a measured case for real change.
The same can be said on immigration or Europe. Now that we have gained the support of the public in the last two local elections and in the opinion polls, we can discuss uncomfortable issues and ensure that people are well-informed, instead of reinforcing negative stereotypes in an effort to win support in the media.
We need to win back Middle England, but the arguments of 2010 or even 1997 won’t work. We need to set out a vision of where we want to go, a vision of Britain in 2020, after the first term of a Labour government. How will we reform our NHS when it is under-funded and scarred by Tory reorganisation? How will we make all schools better, rather than leaving many in inadequate buildings while lavishing money on a chosen few? How will we encourage the creation of jobs and long-term investment by companies rather than short-term gain for shareholders?
These are the questions that need to be answered, and these are the questions the NPF needs to take up in earnest.
Dan Johnson is a candidate for NPF Youth Representative, North
The Young Fabians do not endorse any of the candidates for the position of NPF Youth Representative