YF Discusses Future of Labour Youth Movement
Last weekend, the Young Fabians hosted their fringe event at Fabian Summer Conference where panellists discussed the future of the youth movement. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party Leader is seen by many to hail a new kind of politics with a fresh approach that listens and opens up the debate.
We were keen to explore whether this has been reflected within the youth movement recently, especially considering recent allegations of, and inquiries into, discrimination. Members had the opportunity to hear from some fantastic speakers from a range of organisations both within and affiliated to the Party, including Martin Edobor, Young Fabians Chair; Caroline Hill, Young Labour Chair; and Bex Bailey, former NEC Youth Representative.
Our packed room of young members spoke volumes about the level of engagement within the youth movement. However, it was made clear that we continue to have a long way to go with regards to opening the doors and holding them open when it comes to engaging young people in the party and its affiliated organisations.
Members raised a range of points from the need to bridge the gap between the youth movement and the party in order to deal with the quandary of what happens once members leave the youth movement; to the need to support young people out on the doorstep while also moving away from the perception of young people as campaign fodder.
There was a particular focus on changing the party’s perspective in terms of how it views it’s members, with Bex Bailey arguing the importance of changing the narrative from young people being considered the ‘future’ to young people being seen as participators of the ‘here and now’. Bex spoke at length about the need for further training opportunities, especially for young women. In addition, she highlighted the need to change political culture to make political institutions more accessible to everyone from a range of backgrounds and groups, for instance tackling online abuse and providing bursaries for young members to take part in campaign days.
There was a call from Caroline Hill to end the vicious cycle of non-voting young people de-incentivising politicians from targeting policy at the youth, which ultimately further disengages young people from political systems. Caroline referred to the need to learn from our EU sister parties in terms of the role the youth movement plays within the party structures. She discussed the importance of reviewing Young Labour and its relationship to the broader party as part of the on-going party reform that is being led by Tom Watson MP, citing the potential for a Young Labour block in elections to support young candidates.
Martin Edobor summed up his views on the subject in his triad of ‘power, people and policy’. Martin made a case for the need to tackle structural inequalities through working together, utilising the surge in membership and providing the tools that will ultimately enable the Labour Party to take power.
The vibrant and engaging discussion could have continued with members eager to quiz our panellists on how we increase participation and accessibility to the youth movement. Take a listen to our podcast for the full discussion. We look forward to continuing the debate and of course offering some of the solutions within the movement in the coming months.
You can listen to the event on our Soundcloud here.