Three weeks ago, the Young Fabians International Network held a debate on the EU referendum. The event was chaired by Kirith Ahluwalia, Vice-Chair of the Young Fabians International Network. Panellists included Suzanne Evans, who is a board member for the Women for Britain campaign and former parliamentary spokesperson for UKIP, Dan Callaghan from the Young Fabians Finance Network and a Vote Leave campaigner, Emma Reynolds MP who is a board member for the Labour In for Britain campaign, and Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton North East. Finally, we had Kieran O’Halloran from the Stronger In campaign, who gave the audience his personal views on Britain and the EU.
We had a lively and open debate amongst the panellists for 45 minutes. It was interesting to have a non-Labour Party perspective from Suzanne Evans, and also to see how her views aligned with Dan Callaghan’s from the Young Fabians Finance Network. Emma Reynolds provided excellent counter-arguments and did not hesitate to jump in and correct the Leave side where she felt necessary.
Kieran provided key points for why the UK should remain in the EU, as well as delivering a Labour Party perspective. Questions from the audience were then asked. Some of the most notable questions included whether the Out campaign agreed that it has been dismissive on the EU helping to achieve peace – a fact that was also highlighted in Patrick Stewart’s parody video that was used by the Guardian to how what the ECHR had done for Britain. Fears were raised about whether or not we would still have the same preferential treatment that the UK currently has with the EU if we were to leave, and panellists were also asked what their vision for immigration would be if we did leave.
Suzanne argued that leaving the EU would mean:
- Taking back control of our borders
- Higher wages for workers
- Cutting flows of EU migrants who would be happy working on lower wages
She also emphasised that a vote to leave would allow Britain to regain its vote and voice and that nothing would change upon leaving the union.
On the other hand, both Emma Reynolds and Kieran O’Halloran noted that a vote to leave would:
- Hinder worker’s rights and could lead to unfair dismissals
- Free-trade deals wouldn’t be as meaningful outside of the EU
- We would be in a weaker position if we were to leave as there is no guarantee we would be treated the same way by the EU
Countless news articles, video clips, and campaign material has been posted and issued from both sides on the EU Referendum, but I wanted to get a sense of what people were really thinking.
Surveys were issued out to the audience members, who were asked to take part in the poll and give their views on why they had selected either to remain in the EU or leave. Audience members were also asked if they were undecided and why. The results and comments provided deeper insight into how people are feeling about our relationship with the EU.
Out of 34 participants who were surveyed, 25 voted to remain, arguing that the key reasons for voting this way were that there was a lack of a sufficient alternative and that it was more about
Britain’s place in the world. Scotland’s future as part of the UK also came up as a concern if we were to leave, and it was thought that EU membership would be better for agriculture, global issues – such as environmentalism, and national security. The sentiment was that we are stronger in the EU in terms of our global position and that we could reform and develop the EU from within.
Six people said they would vote out of the EU because of the EU having a pro-austerity agenda, which would conflict with their personal political beliefs. Other issues that came into the firing line were women’s rights – which has been a topic of debate when it comes to the EU. Suzanne Evans highlighted that a Brexit would fare better for women at the debate, which Emma Reynolds suggested was not going to be the case. It was argued that the EU has done more for women’s rights and employee rights than Britain could have done. Immigration and the impact this would have on the labour market if we were to remain in the EU, was listed as a key reason to vote leave, as well as the pressure this puts on the NHS. A lack of democracy was also associated with our membership of the EU, and there was a fear that this discourages political participation.
Other factors in people’s decision-making included trade agreements, which both Suzanne and Dan argued would be better if we were to leave the EU, and rather unsurprisingly, immigration and the labour market. This survey demonstrated that both the leave and remain camps have done their research and that they are focusing on the issues that people care about the most. However, there is still distrust amongst people as to whether or not the facts being presented by both campaigns are correct or not, and it appears we still have some work to do to help people decide how to vote. We had three people who were undecided, and I suspect there are much more that have yet to choose their side.
Young Fabian Vice-Chair, Ria Bernard who is leading the YF Women in Leadership Series set out her guide to better representation of women in Labourlist grassroots online blog.
She argued that:
Women’s representation in politics is poor, with a celebrated although shockingly low 29 per cent of female MPs sitting in Parliament. The Labour Party has put in place measures to facilitate improved female representation in Parliament, such as all-women shortlists. With a 50:50 shadow cabinet and a Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) comprising 43 per cent female MPs, the Labour Party is seemingly heading in the right direction towards gender equality in Westminster.
She emphasised the importance of men playing a role in helping to achive better gender balance in wider society. Arguing that
we should be focusing on how we change the culture of society. We should be acknowledging the fact that children are created by women and men, a joint venture that should result in joint responsibility.
To read all of Ria Bernard's article click here
The Women in Leadership Series is underway, and the next event is the next event will be exploring the barriers to the Bar faced by women in the legal profession.
The Young Fabians in collaboration with the YF Law Network will be hosting some incredible speakers from across the legal profession, seeking to explore issues such as differences in gender representation in different areas of law; why gender parity differs between barristers and solicitors; and how we break down the barriers to women reaching the Bar.
We have a fantastic line-up of speakers including:
Sara Ibrahim – Barrister specialising in employment law and equalities issues. Sara is also a former Young Fabian Chair.
Charlotte Proudman – Barrister specialising in family law and an advocate for women’s rights. Charlotte is also a media commentator on progressive social issues.
Charlotte Thomas - Barrister specialising in commercial law and public law. Charlotte is also conducting a research report into gender representation at the Bar.
Rebecca Meredith - Barrister in Commerial Chancery law and Chair of the Young Fabians Law Network.
The Women in Leaderhsip events are open to all Young Fabian members both womena and men, to RSVP for the event click here.
The Panama Papers set the world alight, revealing the secret world of offshore tax havens used by the political and economic elite.
The Young Fabians have been leading the debate on tax reform, getting to the crux of the issue.
On 19th of April, the Young Fabians held a roundtable at Portcullis house examining the issue of tax evasion, global corruption and the future of Britain's Overseas Territories.
The Young Fabians International Network event was led by Christos Gatsios, Chair of theYoung Fabians International Network. The speakers included: Catherine West MP, Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Toby Quantrill, Principal Adviser for Economic Justice at Christain Aid, Naomi Hirst, Adviser to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption. Catherine Wensink, Manager of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum Martin Stanley, Secretary of the UK Chagos Islands Support Association.
The Young Fabians Finance Network will also be hosting an event on Tax Havens with Professor Ronen Palan at Fabian Society HQ tonight at 19:00.
Here is an update on the Panama papers leaks thus far:
- The US Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into the widespread international tax avoidance schemes exposed by the Panama Papers leak
- President Barack Obama says "There is no doubt that the problem of global tax avoidance generally is a huge problem. The problem is that a lot of this stuff is legal, not illegal".
-Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, said last week that “When taxes are evaded, when state assets are taken and put into these havens, all of these things can have a tremendous negative effect on our mission to end poverty and boost prosperity,”
- Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, said the leak showed that “the [international tax] rules appear to be skewed towards” the global rich. “Clearly what has resulted from the review of these Panama Papers indicates that however important [international tax rules to prevent] base erosion and profit shifting … it is unfinished business,”
Last week Young Fabian Chair, Martin Edobor spoke to Manchester Labour Students on the topic of Trade Unionism and the NHS. Trade Unionism remains very relevant and important today, trade unions are the largest volunteer member organisations in the country and are the bedrock of the Labour movement.
Martin reflected on the historic struggle for workers rights "Trade unions and the use of collective bargaining have been providing British working men and women with the important rights for over two centuries."
He also put the importance of trade unionism in the context of the current Junior Doctor contract dispute, here is what he said about the strikes:
In 2012 the last Coalition government drew up plans for a new junior doctor contract, however, talks broke down in 2014. They restarted late last year, however, a deal could not be reached. This was due to the fact that the government were proposing an unsafe and unfair contract.
The contract would first of all re-define what a normal working week would mean for a Doctor - Saturday would be classified as a normal working day. In addition to this altering normal working hours. This would mean that junior doctors could be maed to work more frequent unsociable hours for the same or less pay.
This has lead to Doctors striking for the first time in over 40 years.
In Feburary Jeremy Hunt took the unprecedented step to impose the new contracts on Junior doctors without the concent of a whole prfoession.
This has inflamed tensions, Doctors have had no choice and now will escalate action. The next two strikes will be afull walk out including emergancy cover. This may sound drastic and the reason we have arrived at this place is because we have a government determined to attack the doctors, police, teachers, nurses in an attempt to ideologically shrink the state at the publics expense.
On 7th April, Young Fabian and Fabian Society members gathered at Aston Univeristy, in Birmingham to discuss devolution and it's potential impact.
The event was chaired by Luke John Davies and panel speakers included: Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East, Cllr Claire Spencer, member of the Birmingham City Council, and Vicky Fowler former Labour PPC for Nuneaton.
The discussion focused on the new West Midlands Combined Authority, which launched at the beginning of April 2016, following Manchester as part of George Osbourne's plan to bring devolution to the core cities of England. Combining the cities of Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Solihull the new combined authority is seeking to prime the pump of the 'Midland's Engine' .
You can listen to the event here
The Young Fabians will be hosting more events in the regions in the coming weeks and months.
The Young Fabians Education Network held their inaugural event on 15 July at the House of Commons.
Organised by Channon Zhangazha & Joel Mullan (Vice-Chair & Chair of Young Fabians Education Network), the event began by dissecting the Conservative government’s target of reaching 3 million Apprenticeship starts by 2020. However, rather than focusing on the futility of statistics, the debate focused on how to ensure the best possible outcomes for learners and to encourage businesses to offer more high quality apprenticeships
Panelists John Woodcock MP (Shadow Minister for Young People), Mike Thompson (Head of Early Careers at Barclays Bank), Ashley McCaul (Chief Executive at Skills for Growth) and Tom Bewick (Managing Director at New Work Training Ltd) led the lively member-led debate, which was chaired by Channon Zhangazha.
The recent announcement of an Apprenticeships levy was cautiously welcomed as well as the move to ensure that employers take ownership of Apprenticeships standards. A discussion subsequently ensued as to the role of training providers, the lack of adequate careers guidance in schools and the wider purpose of state education – whether solely focused on academia and higher education, or to empower students to explore more vocational routes at an earlier stage.
For more information about the member-led Young Fabians Education Network – including what you can do to get involved – please contact its Secretary, Jun Bo Chan on email@example.com.
Last week our Regional Outreach Officer, Kyalo Burt-Fulcher, appeared on Sky News to make the case for a living wage. Kyalo argues that, although the new National Living Wage is a positive step, it does not go nearly far enough. He was up against the Adam Smith Institute's Sam Bowman; as you'll see, things get quite tasty towards the end of the interview.
As a follow-up, we asked Kyalo to give some reflections on the debate and on the issue of the National Living Wage itself. Here’s what he said:
Any increase to the minimum wage of £6.70 per hour is a welcome step, given that full time jobs often do not pay people enough to live on. However, the National Living Wage (NWL) so far only constitutes a 50p increase, whereas the Living Wage Foundation calculates an actual living wage (i.e. the amount someone needs to live on) to be £8.25 per hour*, and £9.40 in London. This is because their calculation is based on the cost of living, while the Government’s one is arbitrary and based on getting positive headlines.
Worse, the NLW will not even apply to under 25s. People who are old enough to buy alcohol, get married, and fight on the front line for this country; and have been so for up to seven years! This is the latest in a long line of policies which suggest young people are the least of the Government’s concerns: tuition fees increased, EMA scrapped, housing benefit restricted etc. Meanwhile, pensioner benefits remain completely intact, even for top rate taxpayers.
Of course, these are arguments against the Government’s policy on the grounds that it does not go nearly far enough. However, my co-interviewee, Sam Bowman, does not defend the Government. Instead he takes the laissez-faire view that there should be no increase to the minimum wage at all; citing over 100 studies that apparently show that it will cause unemployment.
The only problem is that they don’t, as he admits to begin with, but then seems to forget over the course of the debate. The fact is that the effects on unemployment will depend on the level at which a minimum wage is set, and the economy it is set within. It is therefore unsurprising that the studies produce a mixed picture; in some cases imposing a minimum wage appears to increases unemployment, in others it has no noticeable impact.
As such, we don’t really know how increasing the minimum wage will affect UK unemployment. The figure repeatedly quoted in the debate was the OBR’s central estimate that by 2020 the NLW would increase the numbers of unemployed by 60,000. However, the OBR’s report (p.206) also notes that the same calculation would produce an estimate anywhere between 20,000 and 110,000, with only a small change to their ‘elasticity of demand’ assumption. When you also factor in the uncertainties around their other assumptions (which the report describes as ‘significant’) it becomes clear that these projections are highly spurious. Indeed, there are even reasons to believe increasing the minimum wage might reduce unemployment. Poorer people will be able to spend more money, thus stimulating economic growth.
Ultimately die hard free marketeers almost always argue against the introduction of any protection for workers (including having a minimum wage at all) on the grounds that this will hamper businesses and increase unemployment. This is transparently incorrect. We live in a time of both near record employment and more comprehensive regulation than ever. If we had listened to Thatcherites and their predecessors, workers would have literally no protection against exploitation but I doubt there’d be any significant difference to unemployment levels. Of all the things that affect unemployment, regulations on business is one of the least relevant; yet I don’t expect to hear the Adam Smith Institute calling for, say, an increase to adult education spending.
So that is the libertarian case; what do we weigh against it? A significant raise for nearly 3 million of our country’s lowest paid workers, and potential rises for around 3 million more on the second rung of pay scales. And remember, these are workers who currently do not earn enough to have what the British people consider a minimum standard of living. Even if the OBR’s guestimate is correct, for every job that might not be created, there are between 50 and 100 of the poorest workers who will definitely get a raise. You can make your own judgement, but I know which side I’m on.
*Of course, the NLW is intended to rise to £9.35 per hour by 2020. Unfortunately the actual living wage is projected to be £10.30 by this point.
Agree? Disagree? Like to give Kyalo a piece of your mind? If so, you can tweet him at @KyaloBF
This Spring, the Young Fabians are launching a new project on defence and security policy. Read on for details of how to apply.
From Daesh to Ukraine, a resurgent Russia to emerging threats such as cyberterrorism, Britain faces a broader range of security risks than at any time since the Cold War.
Running from May to September in parallel with the Labour Party’s own Defence Review, this project will consist of a series of expert speaker events, field trips and discussions.
The Young Fabian Review will investigate what a credible, affordable and ethical defence policy might look like for the Left, working towards a final Report to be published later this year.
How to take part
The project will kick off with a launch event on the 11thof May (more details soon). As capacity allows, events and activities throughout the project will be open to all members.
However, applications are now open for a 12-person 'core group', which will write the final report and organise events and activities across the UK.
To apply for a place on the core group-
- A short essay (between 700-1000 words) answering the following question:
To what extent is the concept of ‘national security’ relevant to Britain in 2016?
- A list of any practical skills or experience you can bring to the group.
The deadline for applications is Monday 2nd of May - please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The core group will be gender balanced, with six men, and six women.
- Additionally, six of the places on the group will be allocated on the basis of research and written skills, with the remaining six allocated on the basis of a proven interest in or knowledge of the subject.
- If, for accessibility reasons you need to apply via an alternative method, please get in touch
- Applications from members based outside of London are particularly encouraged
If that looks like a big ask – then it is! We’re looking for people able to commit considerable time and effort, to run some great events, and who are capable of producing a high-quality final report that is rigorous, controversial and influential.
So whether you’d like to apply for the core group or to take part as a YF member, looking forward to having you involved.
Young Fabian Chair, Martin Edobor delivered a speech to University College London Union's Debating Society at their annual Founders Dinner and Debate, alongside Kate Green MP, Chris Bryant MP and Professor Kurt Barling. He spoke in proposition of the motion 'This House Has No Confidence In Her Majesty's Government'. which passed the house with a huge majority.
Speaking in opposition was James Berry MP, Sir David Amess MP, Rupert Myers and Ben Harris-Quinney, Chair of the Bow Group. The motion passed the house with a huge majority, and the Labour Proposition team won.
The UCLU debating society has over 100-year-old tradition of debating the above motion, Martin followed in the footsteps of previous Young Fabian Chair's in speaking at the event.
You Can listen to Martin's speech here.
To kick off the Women in Leadership Series and in recognition of International Women’s Day, the Young Fabians held a panel event with Seema Malhotra MP, Caroline Flint MP and Ivana Bartoletti, Chair of the Fabians Women's Network. The event took place at the Palace of Westminister and was Chaired by Young Fabian Vice-Chair, Ria Bernard.
The panel discussed how we break down the barriers to women taking on leadership roles in politics – both in the Labour Party’s youth movement and Parliament. The Young Fabians will be hosting further events as part of the Women in Leadership Series, so please watch this space.
Listen to the debate here.