With the Young Labour National Committee Elections fast approaching, we at LYON have given both candidates for Chair of Young Labour a chance to set out their vision for how the organisation would be if they were to win. Up first is Caroline Hill. Caroline Hill is a trade union representative on the Young Labour national committee, and is running to be chair of Young Labour. She is a newly qualified teacher working in a primary school in North London. She is also really excited that it’s half term this week!
My pitch for chair of Young Labour is simple: we need to think bigger, bolder and louder. The organisation has just tripled in size in the past 6 months, so it’s definitely the right time to be thinking about doing things differently, and reaching out to more people than ever before. My vision is based around focusing on three main things, and getting them right: campaigning, political education and democracy.
Campaigning. No one doubts Young Labour’s amazing capacity as campaigners. I’ve had the privilege of campaigning alongside thousands of YL members before the General Election. However, the reality of campaigning means that we need our activists in key seats, knocking on doors. We shouldn’t expect them to have to pay their own way there just to volunteer for us. As an organiser with the Labour Young Trade Unionists Network, I organised campaign weekends in 16 different key seats where activist’s food, accommodation and travel was all paid for. I want to replicate this as Young Labour chair so that young members can enjoy campaigning, meet activists and not be out of pocket.
But campaigning shouldn’t just be about hitting the doorstep. We all joined Young Labour because some issue touched our heart – so it’s time Young Labour got serious about issues based campaigning, by running a national priority campaign, to engage new members that are interested in lobbying and making change in their communities.
Political education. Young Labour could be playing a key role in the education and training for members, but where is it now? Right now members are expected to pick up policy, ideas and history all by themselves. That puts them at an immediate disadvantage within the party. Time to level the playing field and run training and education events to let young members develop and learn their own brand of Labour politics. I will run an annual political weekend with representatives from the PLP and the trade union movement.
Democracy. The national chair will be elected by less than 1% of members. How on earth can we engage our members if so few of them are involved in the big decisions? We need to shake up our system with One Member, One Vote for each position, then look at how we can increase turnout. By running better communications and changing how we hold our committee members accountable, I believe we can make Young Labour a much more open and transparent organisation.
We need to change the way Young Labour operates. By running campaigns that young people care about, by running courses and training to empower our members, then engaging them in our structures, I believe we can transform the organisation into a vibrant, democratic and engaging movement.