We Need to Show Young People That the Labour Party Is the Best Vehicle for Change

Ian Murray writes his pitch to Young Fabian members for the Deputy Leader position ahead of ballots dropping.

My seat of Edinburgh South shouldn’t be a Labour seat. It’s a tiny red dot in a sea of nationalist yellow again.
I’ve won the seat by building a broad coalition of voters, and organising on the ground. A fact of British politics is that a Labour Government still runs through Scotland and that is why we need to send out the message by having a Scot at the top of the UK Labour Party that every nation and region of the Uk matters. It is only by winning back Scotland that we can have any realistic chance of having a Labour PM again. The scale of the challenge is huge. We need a 13% swing to get a one-seat majority with no Scottish Labour MPs or an 11% swing if we get 16 Scottish Labour MPs. The 1997 Labour Government got a 9% swing. This is the scale of the challenge and one that will require fundamental change to meet.
I have only been able to do that because of the support of the countless young activists who have tirelessly campaigned alongside me – particularly in my case, Edinburgh Labour Students. I owe them so much.
The young people who travel across the country, knocking on doors for Labour candidates - come rain or shine - are the backbone of our party.
We simply cannot win elections without them.
Yet sadly, the great resource of young campaigners was wildly misused in the last general election.
Activists were sent to constituencies we had no hope of winning while long-serving Labour MPs, like my friend Vernon Coaker in Gedling, lost their seats. We had a campaign ground strategy that was directed by a handful of advisers in our London HQ, not the candidates and activists at the coal face.
That should never happen again.
Not only were the efforts of our activists misdirected in December, but far too often the party treats them as nothing more than an unpaid postal force.  Young people have so much more to offer than that and we must learn from their ideas. Look at how young people forced the climate emergency on to the agenda.
As a very active Fabian Society member (we’ve done a large number of events recently, I know how much we all do to advance the causes that are dear to our own hearts and the Young Fabian movement plays a critical role in that. The voices of all Fabians are critical to the future direction of our party and I am determined to ensure they are heard.
It’s not enough to have a campaign room well-stocked with tea and cakes on election day (though that is of course a necessity).
We must do more as a party to support young Labour members and activists.
I have been told time and again of bullying and intimidation within the Labour Party.
Many members, including young people, feel uncomfortable attending CLP meetings. Frankly, that should come as little surprise when in some areas those meetings can feel like factional battlegrounds.
As Deputy Leader, I would root out bullying and intimidation, and work to create a culture that welcomes all and any members to feel like they can have their say.
The greatest gift the party could give our activists is a Labour victory at the next general election. That way the Labour Party can show young people that it is the vehicle for their ideas to be put into practice. That is what I want to see.
It is only by being in government that we can tackle the challenges of our time – the greatest of which is climate change.
As a result of our defeat we now face another five years of a Tory government more interested in flag waving than working to reduce our emissions. That much is evident from the UK’s own climate targets, which aren’t ambitious enough, and yet are still set to be missed by the government.
COP26 in Glasgow later this year offers an opportunity for world governments to step up their efforts to help save the planet. Yet all we have from the Tory and SNP governments is political point scoring. I hope the Labour movement will take an active role at this critical conference.
Earlier this month, I wrote to both the UK Government and First of Minister of Scotland, urging them to get around the table. Political bickering, while our planet burns, will save nobody.
Labour already has a fantastic set of environmental policies. Our Green New Deal proposals are world-leading, and exactly the kind of platform we should be standing on – a vision fixed on the future, not the past.
But, as with every policy, we can only deliver it if we win the next general election. That is why I am standing to be Deputy Leader. And part of that is to look to the future. What does the UK look like in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time? How do we engage with disruptive technologies? What will the world of work look like with automation and artificial intelligence? Where are the careers of the future? How does our education system need to change to respond to these challenges? Can young people ever afford a house or higher education? These issues are your issues and I want to provide a platform as Deputy leader for us to have a radical progressive platform for the next election that involves your input and ideas.
I believe we have to listen to what the public told us in December. One more heave will not do it.
We must change and become a serious alternative government, or face a future as a perpetual party of opposition. That let’s everyone down.
With your support, we can achieve that change - and deliver the Labour government this country so desperately needs.
Ian Murray is a Scottish Labour Party politician serving as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland since April 2020 and Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South since the 2010 general election.
He tweets at @IanMurrayMP
Do you like this post?