A Bigger Role for the Young Left in Our Party

Deputy Leadership Candidate Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP gives her pitch to the young left.

The Labour Party has shaped who I am today - it has helped to provide me with the opportunity to train as a doctor and has given me and my family life chances we otherwise would not have had. I want everyone to experience these opportunities. It deeply saddens me to see a lost generation for whom the door closed on their dreams and ambitions on 12 December. Growing up poor and cold while my single-mum worked three jobs to support my brother and I, taught me the reality of day-to-day life for most people in the UK. My mother always told me, even through our darkest moments, that there were people worse off than us - I never forgot that and it drove me to fight to become a doctor, despite failing my A-Levels, and spurred me on to work as a humanitarian aid doctor in conflict zones across the world.
One of the most satisfying aspects of my role as an MP, is to go into schools and colleges and tell students my story - where a door closes, a window opens and nothing is impossible. It is the greatest honour to inspire young people who themselves have experienced difficulties at home and let them know that this is not the end of their journey. As Deputy Leader, I would love the ability to inspire young people across the country who feel like their dreams are now out of reach - as a Labour Party, we must strive for hope. We must listen and connect with our communities across the country.

As a doctor, when a patient comes to me with a problem, I have to listen to what they’re telling me about the symptoms before I try to diagnose what’s wrong. That’s what we need to do as a Labour Party, and that’s what I pledge to do if I’m elected Deputy Leader. We cannot put words in people’s mouths as to why we’ve lost our fourth General Election in a row - we need to listen, examine the root causes and then act.

As a Party, we’re hurting right now, but if we come together, utilising the talents and ideas from across our movement, together we can get the Labour Party off life-support. We have a phenomenal grassroots movement, arguably the best in Europe. As Deputy Leader, I want to plug into that and make sure every single member of the Labour Party is being empowered to re-shape our beloved party and help move it forward. I’ve already started this process by contacting every single Labour Councillor I could find an email address for and offering to meet with as many as I can to discuss in person what we need to be doing better as a Party. I've written to all of the Parliamentary candidates who lost in December - thanking them for their incredible hard work and asking them for their honest feedback on the election. I am hoping to hold public meetings in every corner of the United Kingdom to allow people to have their say, directly to me, about where Labour has been going wrong, and what we can do to fix it.

During the Brexit debate, although it was often conducted in a deeply unpleasant and toxic atmosphere, it was inspiring to see the voices of so many young people across the country and across the Labour movement, being boosted. I want to implement something similar within our Party by giving a much more important and visible role to the Labour youth wings, including the Young Fabians and others, both in terms of policy-making as well as grassroots activism and the public-facing profile of the Party. This will also mean tapping into the existing skills of our members and putting these skills to use to help win back seats that we lost. Together, we have the skills to win - only together, can we take Labour forward.

I’ve also suggested a scheme to offer our fantastic emergency service workers discounted membership to join Labour, so they can make their voices heard within the Party and ensure that their fantastic work remains front-and-centre of our priorities. My goal is very simple – the Labour Party has always been a broad church representing a wide and diverse range of voices – we must embrace this as a strength and build on it even further where we can.

I know I’m not the candidate with the highest name-recognition, or the most funding, but I believe I am the candidate with the most exciting ideas for how to renew our party.I will empower our grassroots, engage our young members and ensure we learn the lessons of our mistakes, so we can take the Labour Party forward together. That’s why I hope you’ll vote for me to become the next Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

All candidates have been offered the chance to write for the blog and do an in conversation event with the Young Fabian team

Rosena Chantelle Allin-Khan is a British doctor and politician who has served as the Member of Parliament for Tooting since the 2016 by-election, and Shadow Minister for Mental Health since 2020.

She tweets at @DrRosena

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