As the Young Fabians embark upon a wide-ranging project to set out our view on the Future of the Labour Party, Jessica Toale talked to Peter Kellner about the General Election, the future of the Labour Party and the imperative young people have to bring a fresh perspective to politics…
The election result was categorical from the voters and harsh to the Labour party. Hate the Tories, as we do, there is no denying that David Cameron and George Osborne received two million more votes than Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. The latter even lost his seat. Miliband resigned from the leadership.
One of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who is called The Long Game. In it, the Doctor unveils a centuries-long plot by the Daleks to conquer Earth. The villainous pepperpot robots are discovered lurking on the edge of the solar system, patiently awaiting the perfect time to strike. When the attack comes, it is sudden and overwhelming. Earth doesn’t stand a chance.
"Let there be no doubt – May's election results were nothing but devastating. But out of such a low point, there is no alternative other than to keep our heads high. We must re-build and re-organise so we can look towards 2020 and win.
It was with this objective in mind that the Young Fabians hosted an event in Parliament last month on "the Path to Renewal". The event provided a space for members and guests – including Diane Abbott and Wes Streeting – to give their views on what went wrong, and what to do next.
On 18 June 2015, the Young Fabians hosted ‘What is the path to renewal?’ in the House of Commons to discuss the future of the Labour Party. The member-led discussion sought to be broad and inclusive by drawing on the views and experiences of ordinary members.
The fall of the Scottish Labour Party has been well documented as of late, especially by the right wing press, and the post-mortem has begun. Much soul searching is required if Labour is regain its presence north of Hadrian’s Wall, and the party may well have to evaluate some harsh realities.
It was not a perfect day.
On June 20th, I joined an ambiguous but nevertheless large amount of people who marched against austerity from the City to Parliament Square. I wish I didn’t have to. I voted to oust the Tories on May 7th in the only credible way to do so; by voting Labour. The protesters in this crowd, however, probably did not. They were from the SWP, TUSC, the Greens, Communists, Left Unity. It sometimes makes me wonder whether the left, or at the very least leftist puritans, enjoy being in opposition because they enjoy the outrage and opportunities to stage protests. The protest for me wasn’t a fun day out, it was a legitimate grievance of my fears and anxieties of, having grown up under the Tory-led coalition would now spend my early twenties under a Tory majority. I am anxious. Anxious because my future feels utterly bleak. It was not a trendy or fashionable day out, it was an expression of that fear. For some attending it was possibly the same, but I was as angry at the people who had pitted my future on voting TUSC or Left Unity at this protest as I was at the Tories overlooking us from their Whitehall offices.
On October 20 2012 I took part in an anti-austerity march through central London. I trudged down police-lined streets with comrades from my student days under a gunmetal grey sky, every now and then belting out the lung-busting chant: “David Cameron! Get out! We know what you’re all about! Cuts, job losses, more money for the bosses!”
More than any other event in the political calendar to 2020 the promised EU referendum has the potential to drive a wedge between the Labour Party and its voters in the deindustrialised areas of Northern England. Just as the Party suffered in Scotland from its association with the Conservatives and the wider establishment in the Better Together campaign, it may soon find itself campaigning alongside its political rivals in the battle to keep the UK inside the EU.
Amidst the wreckage of an overwhelming electoral defeat, there is one point of light to inspire Labour activists in the months to come: the chance to shape the party. The Labour movement is just that – a movement, driven onwards by thousands of people from across the country, north and south, rich and poor, young and old. We are the movers. The party’s future direction is ours to define.
On 7 May Labour faced an evening of disbelief and a night of saddened realisation. As a party we are now finding the strength to reassess, learn and rebuild. At the forefront of that process is the election a new leader.
“It is not seemly for you to mourn, it is not seemly for you to delay. You have received a legacy soaked in the heart’s blood of your brothers. The pregnant deed waits for you.”
Hannah Blythe and Callum Totten
As part of our bid to secure a Labour victory the Young Fabians recently held a ‘London Marathon’ session – campaigning in four seats over one weekend.
Canvassing is not just an opportunity to win Labour votes – it’s a chance to listen to people, be challenged and to understand what people want from their MPs. The marathon allowed us to share these conversations with fellow Fabians, other activists, parliamentary candidates and Labour councillors.
I have been enthralled by British politics for as long as I remember, but my involvement until recently has been limited. I have been a Labour Party member for three years, but I have been somewhat of an armchair supporter. This all changed, however, when the Labour Party came calling at my door a couple of months ago and asked if I wanted to help out.
Wes Streeting is one of the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) profiled in the new Young Fabians pamphlet 'Fifteen for 2015'. You can read the pamphlet here.
In politics, is it where you’ve come from or where you’re going that counts? Too often politicians are judged or even dismissed out of hand for coming from a certain background. Those that don’t fit the mould ‘don’t have what it takes’ to succeed in the cut-throat world of Westminster, say the doubters, and should stay on the side lines.
Jo Stevens is one of the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) profiled in the new Young Fabians pamphlet 'Fifteen for 2015'. You can read the pamphlet here.
Jo Stevens has a taste for campaigning. I ask her how she musters up the energy to go canvassing door-to-door in her constituency of Cardiff Central day in, day out, and the answer surprises me. “I get adrenaline from it, I enjoy it,” she says. This enthusiasm is reflected in her team’s voter contact rate. Jo claims the local party has talked to 13,000 people in Cardiff in the first three months of 2015 alone, and that many residents are being doorstepped for the third or even fourth time in the final push towards May 7.
Steve Race is one of the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) profiled in the new Young Fabians pamphlet 'Fifteen for 2015'. You can read the pamphlet here.
Few MPs deserve to be kicked out of parliament more than Hugo Swire. The Conservative representative for East Devon was recently caught on camera by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme joking that benefit claimants could afford to donate thousands of pounds to the Tory party at a glamourous fundraising ball attended by some of the wealthiest people in Britain.
Melanie Onn is one of the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) profiled in the new Young Fabians pamphlet 'Fifteen for 2015'. You can read the pamphlet here.
Grimsby is coming back. At its peak in the 1950s it was the biggest and busiest fishing port in the world. In the decades since it has experienced a slow decline as the forces of globalisation and economic change conspired to gut traditional industries. In April 2014, the town was named a youth unemployment blackspot by The Work Foundation with a jobless rate for 16-24 year olds of 25%.
Political disengagement amongst young people has been a problem for a while. In a post-expenses, post-Savile, post-phone hacking age, many established institutions are mistrusted, political parties most of all. Even the Lib Dems, who rode into coalition on the young vote, are in the doghouse after abandoning their tuition fees pledge. Younger people are incredibly interested in political issues and are hungry to find out more. Sadly, many don’t because they’re scared of asking the wrong thing or looking stupid – no surprise given the combative nature of UK politics. It’s really important to address those fears head on, which is why I hope Ask Amy can be a useful tool to hundreds of young people across the country in the run up to the general election.
Ollie Middleton is one of the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) profiled in the new Young Fabians pamphlet 'Fifteen for 2015'. You can read the pamphlet here.
Labour is a party that speaks to all generations. After all, the triumph of progress over reaction can only be secured by people of all ages, races, and backgrounds pulling together as one. It is therefore inspiring to see so many young Labour candidates standing for parliament this year engaging and organising their peers in the cause of a better society.