Young Fabians take the red pill...
Launch of the Young Fabians Future of the Labour Party Listening Campaign
Jessica Toale & Alvin Carpio
Last Wednesday Central Working Whitechapel hosted more than 50 Young Fabians members in what will kick off a summer of events aimed at harnessing the views of young people on what the Labour Party should be doing to re-invigorate itself in preparation for the 2020 General Election.
This listening campaign will see people all over the country organise events in their local area to discuss what the Party needs to do in 2020, what type of leader we need and what activists and organisers should be doing. These views will be fed directly into Margaret Beckett’s Taskforce and Jon Cruddas’ investigation about what went wrong in 2015.
The event opened with 5 TED-style talks challenging attendees to think about the shape of the future and how to reach out to people beyond the usual suspects:
- Alvin Carpio, co-organiser of the project, outlined some of the biggest issues facing the UK and, in reference to The Matrix, challenged attendees to take the red pill and get out of our bubble and work with citizens across the UK to transform the Labour Party.
- Seema Malhotra MP implored attendees to think about the story of the future and what the challenges facing young people today will mean for policy development. She challenged us to speak truth to power.
- Bailie Aaron, a young social entrepreneur who set up Spark Inside, asked attendees to get out and speak to people who are marginalised from the political process. She highlighted the younger generation’s openness and “we-thinking” propensity, posing that we need to make politics more engaging, participatory, inclusive and diverse.
- Sam Gurney from the TUC outlined a trade union perspective on the future of the Party and the need to reach out to young people. He also called for a more coherent positive vision for the country, a leader who can articulate this vision across the country and the need to engage across communities.
- Finally, local MP Rushanara Ali spoke about the importance with which she holds the need to nurture talent and invest in young people and the future. She asked attendees to think about what the economy and society would look like in the future and how we can build collective leadership to move the Party forward.
The second half of the event split attendees into small breakout groups, led by Sarah Church with facilitators Sarah Webster, Sophia Morrell, Louie Woodall and Christos Gatsios. Participants were encouraged to discuss their thoughts around the key questions of the event. Key themes that emerged from the views of members include:
- Reaching out beyond the base – The Party needs to reach out, and also be comfortable reaching out, to people who aren’t our traditional supporters – this includes swing voters, Tories, different geographical areas and work places. This should include campaigning in non-Labour areas on issues which are key to the Party in order to be seen to be making a difference at local level and giving people a reason to vote Labour.
- Thinking differently and seeking inspiration from new places – We need to take time to evaluate where our Party stands, rethink what we do, and take time to build an electable offer come 2020. We should look for great ideas inside the Party from members and activists, but we should also engage with other people we wouldn't usually think of. We should look to international cases of parties reforming themselves, to teams in sports, pop culture, business practices, and new and challenging political philosophers.
- Leadership & diversity– We need a leader who is credible and relatable, but more importantly we need to get people from different backgrounds into politics. This means nurturing talent at all levels and as Rushanara challenged in her opening remarks, building collective leadership across the Party, not just at the top.
- Communication – We need a clearer narrative on what we stand for and where we are going to frame good policies. We need to get people enthused by what the Party stands for and not just reiterate hackneyed lines and themes. We need to give people a reason to vote Labour, and we need to regain credibility on the economy.
- Devolution of Politics – We need to ensure we devolve more power to local communities, and ensure we are not perpetuating centralised machine politics. This would include ensuring that issues that are flagged at local level are fed through to national policy making mechanism. We need to be an active part of the community, asking people how we can help and actively making a difference.
- Technology – People engage and communicate in different ways now than in the past and this will continue to evolve rapidly. We need to use technology to better gather data and engage the 16-24 year old demographic.
- Do stuff in Opposition – We need a positive set of policies and actions, rather than just being oppositional. Labour need to campaign and community organise in Opposition and be seen to be making a difference at local level.
This was just the beginning of the conversation. The debate over the future of the Party will continue over the summer and culminate in a comprehensive package of views from our members. If you would like to get further involved and share your views:
- Take our online survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2TK9HQ3
- Attend or organise an event in your local area by Friday 21st August