Alternative Economic Analogies for Labour

Ask somebody to describe the national budget and they will, at some point, most likely use the analogy of a household budget to explain it to you. Starting from this assumption, it is easy to see why people believe that we should cut our cloth to fit our budget. This model puts the onus on reigning in spending and waiting for better times. Bad times mean that you should cut luxuries and make as many savings as you can on essentials. This is an analogy favoured by the Conservatives and has been one that has featured consistently in their campaign of austerity against Britain’s economy.

Therefore, while people don’t necessarily ‘like’ seeing the Tories cutting government funding and, contrary to the belief of some Labour members, even recognise and care that it is badly hurting many of the working poor, there is a logic to why they tolerate it. They believe that projects such as investment and welfare spending, whilst important, should be scaled back to fit the economic times.

That this is an issue for the Labour Party is well known both within the Labour Blogosphere and amongst the public more widely. It has been written about on many occasions. What would now normally happen in such an article is a polite explanation of why the household budget analogy is wrong. This is perfectly admirable and necessary but it sort of misses the point. The reason that the household budget analogy works is because it is relatable and it is time that Labour got some of our own.

This isn’t a case of talking down to the public or trying to pull the wool over their eyes. To think in this way is to oversimplify the problem and stops us from effectively combatting the Tories’ arguments. It is probably born of the fact that many of the people likely to be involved in these discussions and reading this blog are likely to be political animals who devote a lot more of their time to thinking about political issues than the average person on the street does. By using such analogies, Labour will be able to get their basic point over quickly and set the framework for the public to engage in a debate of how the values we share should be put into practice effectively.

Here are my attempts to write two such relatable analogies, the first concerning investment rather than austerity as a path to economic success and the second concerning maintaining reasonable welfare levels, both play off the existing household budget analogy and go as follows.

Investment Rather Than Austerity

Think about your household budget. Each month, or maybe more frequently, you sit down and figure out how much money you have coming in, you then work out which essentials you need to buy and how much money you have for luxuries and leisure spending. As bad times hit you start to scale back the luxuries, you go on fewer nights out, buy fewer take aways and have more home cooked meals and nights in front of the TV. If times get even worse, you may even change from so called ‘big brand’ food products to supermarkets’ ‘own brand’. Now, imagine that you are offered a new job with much better pay that would enable you to switch back to ‘big brand’ items and spend more on your luxuries than you did before. The catch? This job requires you to buy a car. As you don’t have spare money at the moment, you must borrow to invest in this car. Do you turn down the new job just because you can’t make it fit into your current budget? David Cameron would tell you to turn the job down. That is the wrong answer and no way to grow an economy back to strength.

Welfare Spending

What if you do turn down the job? You are stuck in the same situation with the same small household budget. You and your partner have two children that you’re very fond of. You sit down and evaluate your household budget. Times are getting even tougher and money is being squeezed tighter than ever. Your biggest expense is the children. You have a choice to make, you can cut back some of your own spending as well as cutting back on some of the children’s extra- curricular activities or you can make one of your children ‘redundant’, refusing to support them anymore and penalising them for not being able to work. This, however, will make the other child better off. If you’re a reasonable human being then you probably thought that the second choice was laughable then you’re right, it is. Yet this is the choice that the Conservatives are making. They are cutting welfare benefits and tax credits for the most needy members of our society, penalising people who are unable to find work for not finding work and cutting them off from the mainstream. And, just like if you made one of your kids redundant, the knock on effects for those left out in the cold will only get worse further down the line. They will be less likely to go to university or get a degree, less likely to find a job and more likely to turn to crime. Just as parents should look after their children because they need the most help, the government should ensure that it governs in the interest of those who need the most help.

So there you go, two alternative economic analogies. I am not saying that these were perfect analogies and of course there are holes to be picked in them but I hope they can be used to make our point effectively and would very much like to see Labour modifying the way in which we communicate with the public.

Outcard Photo
Alex Graham- Editor

On an Open and Honest Debate

In this piece, James Mawdsley tackles the issue of an ‘Open and Honest Debate’ in the Labour Party, what the phrase means and how we should stay focussed on fighting the Tories. James is currently studying at Birkenhead sixth form college spending far too much time playing guitar or reading a book of some description, currently reading rules for radicals by Saul Alinsky.

“An open and honest debate”. This phrase seems to be the buzzphrase in the Labour Party at the moment. It is used whenever a shadow minister is questioned on what Labour’s stance on an issue is. This was an idea used over the leadership election which drew people to Jeremy Corbyn and inspired a new way of doing politics within the party. Now, six months down the line, all sides agree that this open and honest debate has turned more into a mudslinging match than a debate to decide the direction and future of our party.

When Corbyn described the idea of an internal policy debate it conjoured images of heated and principled debates at CLP meetings; of a revolution that would shift the power within the party away from the PLP and towards a more democratic process that would give the expanding membership more control over party policy. It may be unfair to comment on actual concrete policies that the party holds. No party has a concrete manifesto in place this early in a Parliament- indeed there was an identical situation following Miliband’s election 5 years ago with no official manifesto being produced until the following conference- and there is still a lack of clarity on our own positions. Many in the party find troubling regardless of the faction they identify with.

An example of what I’m talking about could be our lack of clarity on issues we all as Labour members agree on. One such issue is housing policy. While the drastic need for housing has been brought up on many occasions by Corbyn and other shadow ministers to great effect, we lack an alternative answer that seems credible to the electorate. Although this is partly due to the absence of a manifesto for this year, the deep rooted and very obvious factionalism that exists in the party today does not help. Instead of holding an open and honest debate about policy we are “debating” the validity of Corbyn’s leadership- an issue which simply shouldn’t be brought up. I personally did not vote for Corbyn and do not agree with some of his positions on key issues but I would prefer to have the debate over the issues rather than Corbyn or his team.

I have no doubt that, by the end of conference in Liverpool this year, we will have hard and fast positions that Labour can put to the country. Before that point we must have this debate within the party of the direction that our policy should take. I would always argue that we need to provide a strong alternative to the Conservatives. It seems like they have been able to do a lap of honour after the election with Labour unable to provide a realistic alternative. The reason? We are not discussing what the alternative should be. Yes, it is true that voters and everyday people are looking through the prism of the media to see what the Labour party stands for and we have always been given a bad light as a result, but we can’t just sit around and moan about this. We have to shake off the image of incompetence created because of this infighting. Voters look for direction and certainty for which party to vote for and while 2020 may seem a way off people are making their decisions about our party now.

There is no truer thing in the Labour party that no matter how “bad” you see the current direction of the party it will always be better than the Tories and we need to start acting like it. No, I’m not saying that Corbyn should be untouchable and we should not disagree with him on issues but we need to challenge our own views and come together so we can be the alternative to the Tories that we need to be. Going forward, we need to focus on how we can improve the lives of ordinary hard working people who want the best for their families because, after all, surely this is why we are passionate about politics and above all why we are all Labour.

James Mawdsley
James Mawdsley

Why Young Labour Needs to Be More Engaging

David Collett is the current chair of Blackpool Young Labour and has been a Labour member for 11 years. David this year teamed up with other nurses to create the Keep The NHS Bursary Petition gaining over 150,000 signatures. David also coined the term #BursaryOrBust and was involved in the campaign resulting in two parliamentary debates and mass protests in London, Manchester and Newcastle.

This year, a group of passionate nurses and I created the campaign #BursaryOrBust, where I learnt the valuable lessons of communication and networking on a national scale. This year also saw the reformation of Blackpool Young Labour, and it was through this process I realised how much of an insular organisation Young Labour can be.

It is no secret that Jeremy Corbyn has enthused the nation, with younger voters significantly contributing towards the current Labour Party membership. So why are we not more welcoming? Anybody between the ages of 14 and 26 are automatically members of Young Labour and for those wishing to take full advantage of their newly granted youth status might (as I have recently discovered) find it difficult to get started. Whilst setting up Blackpool Young Labour I, like many new members have needed to visit the Young Labour website for information on reps, delegate and even the basic structure of the Young Labour Executive. And there is nothing! I recently discovered all the secrets to the YL structure are nicely nestled within the rule book. But, as a member of 11 years, it struck me why would anybody want to read it? Surly this basic information should be readily available so that any new member can get a grasp of who their local rep is or who to contact to get involved without having to sift through pages of rhetoric and policies.

People may well argue that new members can ask their local MPs, Councillors or even Labour HQ itself. But why should it be such hard work? Why are we not empowering any inquisitive young members- who might not want to bother anybody (or declare their interest just yet)- with the tools they need to make that leap from quiet support to roaring activism. This lack of transparency can only turn those in need of information toward other means such as social media. Twitter and Facbook are undoubtedly valuable resources to allow YL to spread messages instantly to its members. But at what cost? Anyone who might have been brave enough to search for #YL16 a few weekends ago would have seen the torrent of chaos overshadowing any positive messages coming from Scarborough. It stands to reason that anybody hoping to catch a glimpse of the inner working of Young Labour will have seen those tweets. If it left some longstanding members questioning their future involvement then what must newer or younger members have thought?

It is also important to mention the void of Young Labour specific publicity sent to members. I regularly receive emails to my spam folder about sending messages to PMQs or how I can win dinner with Diane Abbott. But with all the resources available to the party I rarely receive anything Young Labour specific.

Young Labour should be about younger members developing their interest in politics and meeting likeminded individuals in safe environments. Allowing our younger generation to develop to a level of participation they feel comfortable with, from painting banners drinks brews and talking about current events. To sitting around tables with JC himself discussing policy. We must be more welcoming and transparent to those new members who are not necessarily in the know or who don’t have friends on the inside, by promoting exactly what Young Labour does and how we can be a force for change. Not just for younger people but for the party and the nation.

David Collett
David Collett

Reflections of a new member

In this article, Calum Redhead reflects on his first few months in the Labour Party fold and looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the Party from a new members perspective. Calum is a graduate of Newcastle University where he studied law. He now lives on the Wirral and is studying to become a solicitor. When he isn’t studying or engaging with the Party he likes to play the piano and travel.

I joined the Labour Party in May 2015.

I was actually a returning member. I briefly joined the Labour Party at school but cancelled my membership before going to university. After such a disappointing general election result I felt that it was time to get involved again.

I attended my first Labour event last year. I received an email inviting me to a ‘new members’ event in Merseyside. This gave me the opportunity to meet other members, attend my first Labour meeting and find out how I could get contribute.

The event was inclusive, welcoming and accessible. I met MPs and members of Young Labour. I left the evening feeling engaged and keen to do more. The event was one that the local Labour Party should be proud of – well organised, well attended and engaging.

Having had the opportunity to interact with Young Labour members at the meeting I attended some other local events. The YL members were warm, friendly and passionate. They were keen for new members to get involved and happy to help me navigate the internal systems and terminology of the party. It was inspiring to meet many young members who were so well informed and dedicated to their cause.

These meetings drove me to get more involved. I attended my first public protest at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. I began to read more about the Labour Party, its history and how it develops policy. The friendly welcome I received from the members I had met drove me to do as much as I could.

My overriding reflection for this piece is that the Labour Party has huge strength in the quality and commitment of its members – especially within its youth branch. Unfortunately, I have also had some less positive considerations as a new member.

The well publicised disputes at this year’s Young Labour Conference were disappointing. Anyone who followed the conference in the press, on Twitter or indeed here on LYON will have seen the issues.  This wasn’t the first time that I had heard whisperings of internal party disputes at meetings and events, but the YL Conference was the clearest example to date.

I appreciate that as a new member I can only really consider these internal disputes as a relative outsider. I also agree that frank discussions should take place as to how the systems of democracy and inclusivity in the Labour Party can be improved.

Nevertheless, it was disappointing to feel that I had joined a Labour Party that was not united by its aims of making Britain fairer and more equal. Instead it was, at times, internally split. To hear of factional splits within the membership, instead of its collaborative efforts to achieve common goals was disheartening for a new member.

I have also found it difficult to find consistent and reliable information about the Labour Party and its member events. Information is spread thinly between local and national websites, various Facebook pages and events on social media. Indeed, a worrying number of links to Labour Party websites were either broken or empty. That said, the Young Labour information has generally been much easier to find and members are keen to help.

The Labour Party should be making use of new member’s keen to discover the party and contribute where we can. Of course its not the job of the party to force new member’s engagement, but at times its has been much harder than it should have been to find out details of a meeting, or the methods to vote for a delegate, or the structure of CLP and branch meetings – to name some personal examples.

As already mentioned, in my short time with the Labour Party, it seems that that the strength within the party comes from its membership. They have helped, welcomed and inspired me over the past few months. But whilst the people who make up the Labour Party are strong, the systems and internal disputes – at times – seem to weaken the party.

The Labour Party should continue to connect with (and make use of) new members who come to the party with fresh energy and a desire to help. I have no doubt that the members I have already encountered will continue to do this. But it is possible that the party will be damaged by more internal disputes and poor utilization of member’s skills. I see this as something which could diminish the valuable enthusiasm of new members and, in my opinion, this would be to the detriment of the party.

Calum Redhead
Calum Redhead

The EU Referendum: How Labour can make a positive case

In this article, Edward Parker Humphreys tells us how Labour can make a positive case for Britain’s membership of the EU. Edward is a Young Labour activist based in Lewisham East CLP. Having been a party member since the age of 14, Edward is now in his final year of secondary school and hopes that London will be turning red this May, both for his beloved Arsenal Football Club and, of course, Sadiq Khan. Being born in July, Edward will miss out on a chance to vote in the EU referendum by just 19 days, but is still determined to have his say in the campaign and the role Labour has to play, as he sets out in this article.

When you look back over the last few decades of British politics, it is often apparent that, along with death and taxes, Tory infighting over Europe has long been one of life’s few certainties. Indeed, the merry-go-round of senior Conservative politicians trading insults over the last few weeks seems to have only reinforced this stereotype, with Cameron, Boris, Hammond and Gove all taking chunks out of each other as campaigning has intensified.

Although this of course makes for a rather entertaining spectacle, the divisions within the Conservative Party over the EU referendum provide Labour with more than just an excuse to grab the popcorn and watch the Tories implode. Instead, we have a huge opportunity to take centre stage in the debate over the future of the United Kingdom in the European Union and run a positive, dynamic and engaging campaign. Aside from a rather tepid statement of support for the EU and its protection of workers’ rights and the environment from Corbyn, Labour have failed to attract much attention in the news coverage of the referendum campaign so far.

Given the enormity of the decision facing the UK on June 23rd, one would hope that Labour would be slightly more vocal when it comes to promoting the EU as a force for prosperity, peace and social justice, in order to avoid the damage a Brexit would cause for the country and also show that the Labour Party is once again ready to engage with the big issues facing our country in a unified, coherent and convincing manner.

First of all, we should not be afraid of making the economic case for remaining in the EU. Having spent the last eight years tainted in the eyes of public, albeit unfairly, by the problems the 2008 financial crisis caused for the UK economy, here is a chance for Labour to help restore their economic credibility, as well as helping to ensure that the jobs, trade and consumer benefits which the EU provides us with are not lost for good. Whether it be in agriculture, where thousands of UK jobs depend so heavily on EU subsidies, our manufacturing industry, which would be further crippled by increased trade barriers outside the EU, or the developing technology sector within the UK, where EU grants for research and development are crucial in allowing us to build up a comparative advantage in this field, the UK economy would face a huge amount of risk and uncertainty if we were to leave the European Union. Labour’s vision of rebalancing the economy, creating more middle-income jobs and reducing the level of income inequality can only be realised if the three industries mentioned above are properly supported and a vote to leave would be a hammer-blow to jobs, businesses and investment within the agricultural, manufacturing and technology sectors. Not only does EU membership provide us with the better-quality jobs this country so desperately needs, but the trade it facilitates is crucial to closing the unsustainable trade deficit which has been consistently ignored by Osborne since 2010, whilst its environmental regulations helps create a sustainable economy which is able to prosper without causing further damage to our planet. On top of this, EU competition law has, on the whole, been a positive thing for consumers, ensuring lower prices and protecting against anti-competitive practices which seek to exploit customers, although there is a certainly an argument to be made about how these rules should be reformed to make state-ownership of industries such as the railways more achievable. If we want to see an economy which is both fairer and more prosperous, then remaining part of the European Union is an absolute must, and we as a party should be doing much more to highlight that fact.

In addition to this, the EU is crucial to the security of the UK and the wider international community. The debate over Trident will continue to rage within the party, but a much cheaper and more effective deterrent to war and conflict exists in the form of the European Union. Europe has been a relatively peaceful place since the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community after World War Two, the pre-cursor to the current European Union. Indeed, the success of the EU as a force for preventing war was perhaps best demonstrated in 2012 when the union was actually awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When it comes to tackling terrorism, arguably the single biggest threat to UK security in the 21st Century, the international cooperation which the EU facilitates is essential in foiling plots which seek to harm innocent civilians and undermine our democracy. Having been skewered as a ‘threat to national security’ by the Tories, the Labour Party can dispel this myth by campaigning to remain within the EU and highlighting how crucial our membership is to avoiding conflict and protecting UK citizens from terrorism.

Finally, membership of the European Union is key to defending and improving the social justice which we, as a party, have fought for since the days of Keir Hardie. Central to this is, of course, the employment rights enshrined in EU law, as Corbyn has rightly emphasised in recent weeks. Maternity leave, trade union membership, paid holidays – all of these, and many more, are protected by being members of the EU. The European Union also provides fantastic opportunities to address issues such as multinational tax  avoidance, the flaws within our financial systems and the ongoing refugee crisis. All of these complex, international problems affect the UK, and they can only be solved by working together as a European community. If Labour is serious about building social justice within Britain, it has to ensure it is willing to remain part of, and contribute to, the development of a Social Europe.

The debate over Europe is a perfect opportunity for Labour to demonstrate that it is the only party with the country’s best interests at heart. The European Union allows for an economy which is both fair and prosperous, a country which is safe at home and advocates peace abroad, and a society where social justice is at the forefront of our politics. Over the next few months, we should be making this argument as a united Labour Party, in order to prevent a Brexit and to show that Britain’s future can be better and brighter with a Labour government at the helm.

Edward Parker Humphreys.jpg
Edward Parker Humphreys

Labour must fight to maintain the Union: Background Facts

In this article, James Christopher Maxwell seeks to provide the background facts for you to use to make the case for the UK to stay in the EU. James is currently Vice Chair of Liverpool Young Labour and a first year Politics student at the University of Liverpool University. In his spare time, James engages with student politics, watches European dramas (especially Nordic Noir), and likes to spend time with friends and family.

The Prime Minister has finally finished renegotiating the terms and conditions of British membership of the European Union. Cameron’s political theatrics were played in full view of the British public, with the performance involving all 28 EU Member-States and various EU institutions lasting several supposedly dramatic months. The Prime Minister has finally proposed to have the in-out referendum on 23rd June 2016; subject to Parliamentary approval.

Despite Cameron’s claims that he has managed to secure Britain a ‘special relationship’ with the EU, the reform package that has been presented before us fails to address the real fundamental problems with the EU and British membership of it. But despite the failings and problems associated with the political union, fundamentally, British membership of the EU is vitally important for our economic security, national security, maintaining our standing the world, as well as opening an avenue for the Labour Party and our European sister-parties to further the advances of social democracy.

This article presents somewhat simplistic but effective facts that enable you to develop your own arguments against withdrawing from the EU. The facts, I believe, provide a good foundation that will hopefully enable you to develop arguments that you can use on the doorstep; campaigning for a decisive ‘In vote’.

It’s the economy, stupid!

The economic argument often presented in favour of EU membership is that businesses and industry will lose out if Britain decides to withdraw from the largest trading bloc that is on our doorstep. This argument is undoubtably true, and it has been estimated by the CBI that the net benefit of EU membership to the UK is in the region of £62bn-£78bn per annum. That figure concisely presents the economic benefits of British membership of the EU, but lets be honest, for most of the electorate that figure is too remote, and for some it may seem difficult to link that benefit to their daily lives.

To put the economic benefits into perspective, here are four statements to consider:

  • The average family is £3,000 better off in the EU than out.
  • Cheaper flights to Europe and roaming charges abolished by June 2017.
  • 790,000 new jobs would be lost if the UK pulled out of the EU.
  • 50,000 apprenticeships could be put at risk if we decided to leave.

The EU allows Britain to play a role in the world

Long gone are the days where Britain could act unilaterally when it comes to addressing the nation’s concerns. The threats facing Britain today are far from conventional with the growing threats from terrorism, hybrid warfare, and environmental concerns.

The European Union allows the United Kingdom to play a legitimate role in an increasingly globalised world.

Through the EU we have managed to achieve:

  • Sanctions against Russia in the light of the annexation of Crimea.
  • Striking a deal to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Sanctions to limit North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
  • Intervening to bring peace and conflict resolution in newly formed/recognised European nation-states.
  • Providing training and expertise to law enforcement in multiple developing nations.

All countries can have their own unique foreign policies, but when it comes to pressing issues, a 28 nation-state bloc is much more effective in addressing global issues than the fragmented foreign policies of various nation-states.

The EU enables Labour to advance its cause

Being out of power at a national level can be frustrating to all those who take issue with Tory austerity measures and those who support progressive politics. Being in the EU allows Labour and our European partners to advance the cause of social democracy, even in the face of Conservative governments. Right now, Labour’s European Parliamentary Party (Party of European Socialists/S&D) is the second largest party in the European Parliament. We are able to influence the agenda of the EU to advance our cause by being a member of the European Parliament’s ‘grand coalition’.

What we have managed to achieve in the EU:

  • Promotion of gender equality.
  • Protection of women within the workplace.
  • Guaranteed maternity leave.
  • Equal-pay and anti-discrimination laws.
  • Guaranteed holiday leave.
  • Abolition of the death penalty across Europe and promoting abolition worldwide.

Turnout in European elections is dangerously low, but if we manage to decrease apathy this will further legitimise our calls for Europe to improve the lives of its populous and further the cause of social democracy.

I hope, therefore, that I have helped to give you some ammunition to argue not just a case for staying in the European Union on the 23rd June but for a Labour case for staying in the European Union.

Disagree with James? Let us know and we’ll publish your response.

James Maxwell
James Christopher Maxwell

The Case Against Trident

In this piece, Imogen Tyreman replies to James Aspinall’s Pro-Trident piece. Imogen was a South West delegate to the Young Labour 2016. Previously, she was the Campaigns’ Officer for her Amnesty International Student Group and the Women and Marginalised Genders’ Officer at Royal Holloway University. She has recently set up a new blog focusing on women from history and also runs one focusing on current affairs here. In her spare time she enjoys playing the trumpet and bassoon.

The issue of nuclear weapons has never been an agreeable topic. The first march against nuclear weapons in the UK took place in 1958 from London to Aldermaston. 50 years later, the topic is still causing controversy both between and within Parties. Here, I set out 9 reasons we should not renew Trident.

1. It’s not independent

Like most things, just because the Tories say it all the time, doesn’t make it true. In 2005, defence specialist Doctor Julian Lewis MP admitted that without support from the USA the possibility of trident ‘becomes very slim to the point of invisibilty’. Although submarines and warheads are made in the UK, the missiles themselves are dependent on the USA and we pay an annual £12m towards this. Oh, and the US also controls our access the gravity and weather data that’s vital if we ever want to actually launch the weapons.

It's not indpendent

2. War has changed

Edwin Bramall, former Chief of Staff of the British Army and Chief of Defence Staff wrote in an article, “Today, I do not believe that the circumstances on which the rationality of our deterrent were based apply. The present threat is no longer interstate but from a multiplicity of ill-defined non-state players. Our deterrent has not, does not and could not counter such threats.”

War has changed

3. Britain has changed

Let’s be honest, we’re not the world power we once were, and therefore less of a threat to other countries. Instead of letting fear rule us, why not lead the way to a more peaceful world where we don’t have to rely on mutually assured destruction to get along?

4. It’s not a mandate of patriotism to support Trident

Not patriotic to support trident

If we truly cared about our country, we would invest time and energy into making it better and improving relations with others, rather than ensuring we’re perceived as a perpetual threat.

5. We can make better use of our workers

GMB
Paul Kenny, General Secretary of GMB said its “time for the real voice of working people in our defence industries to be heard in this debate”

It’s all very well to argue that we can use the money in other ways, like funding more nurses or education, but our first and foremost thought should be for the people who will be set to lose their jobs if we scrap Trident. There are plenty of worthwhile engineering and defence projects that we can put more into, and this is something Corbyn has promised to do if Trident is scrapped.

6.  The overall cost

Trident

Even members of the Conservative Party, such as Crispin Blunt, have said that we’ve reached the point where Trident is no longer value for money. Whether you take the £23.4bn figure given by the MoD or the £100bn from CND, there’s no way we can justify it in a time of such austerity.

7. It’s illegal

ICJ

Article 96 from the International Court of Justice states that to actually deploy trident would break international law. Though a good argument, I’m somewhat skeptical of it; if we launch trident it probably means there’s no one left to care about the legality of it anyway.

8. It goes beyond a weapon of war

Fallout
Fallout from a Trident D5 Warhead- it reached into the North Sea

 

 

Fallout from a Trident D5 Warhead; it reached into the North Sea The current missiles have a range of up to 7, 500 miles, and their destructive power is thought to be equivalent to around eight Hiroshimas. Put simply, it’s inhumane and wrong, and in no way is supporting this the right thing to do.

9. It’s not stopping any attacks

As for whether we’d be safe if we made the decision to scrap Trident, just ask Germany, South Africa or any of the 188 other countries without a nuclear deterrent.

Imogen Tyreman.png
Imogen Tyreman

 

 

On the fight for fair pay for young workers

In this piece, Charlotte Nichols sets out the argument for fair pay for young workers and argues that unionisation is the only way that it can be achieved.

In our annual reminder of just how little the government values the labour of young workers, the new National Minimum Wage rates were announced this week. These new rates will take effect from October 2016.

Paying the National Minimum Wage is, in effect, a way for your employer to tell you “I would pay you less if I could, but it is illegal”. That doesn’t diminish the good that Labour did in introducing the NMW. In fact having that floor for wages has disproportionately benefited young workers, and particularly young women, BAME and disabled workers who are much more likely to be paid at or near the minimum wage. That said, that there are different floors for young workers (with a further tier to be introduced from April with George Osborne’s “National Living Wage” for over-25s) effectively entrenches age discrimination, for that is exactly what paying younger workers less for the same work than their older colleagues is.

Much of this discrimination is predicated on the idea that wages for young workers are merely “pocket money”, a view that does not take into account the lived experience of so many- both within the Labour movement and outside.

Many young members do not have families they can rely on to help them out financially, either because their family cannot afford to do so, or because of the nature of their domestic situation (independent adults, care leavers, people who have had to leave home because they are LGBT or to flee domestic violence, and young adults who have been bereaved to name just a few examples).

My rent is not any cheaper because I am 24. The supermarket doesn’t charge you less for your shopping if you’re 19 than if you’re 29. Utility companies don’t rip you off less because you’re 21. Having children doesn’t cost less because you became a mum at 23. Your work is not worth less than your colleague who the government says is worth £7.20 to your £6.95 because they were born a few months before you.

This devaluing of the work young people do goes hand-in-hand with an explosion in unpaid internships and bogus apprenticeships since the recession, not to mention zero hours contracts that over a third of workers aged 16-24 are now on. How can we expect employers to think our work is of equal value if our government doesn’t?

Our demand for fair pay should look like this: the National Living Wage to be increased to align with independently established voluntary Living Wage rates, and to be effective from the age of 18 alongside an increase in the under-18 rate. If you’re considered an adult under the law, you should receive an adult wage.

Fair pay for young workers is something the trade unions have been pushing for years. Trade union members aged 16-24 receive, on average, 38% higher wages than their non-unionised counterparts. Unions have also negotiated away ‘youth rates’ in hundreds of agreements across the economy. It’s clear that the next stage of this fight- fair pay for all young workers, enshrined in law- will be fought by young trade unionists with Young Labour standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them. If you’re not a member of a union yet, what are you waiting for? Let’s fight this together, and let’s win.

Charlotte Nichols
Charlotte Nichols

Breaking Barriers in Young Labour

What follows is a piece by Asher Mohammed on breaking down barriers in Young Labour. Asher is 15 year old and is currently Youth Mayor of Waltham Forest and a youth engagement part time worker. He is also the Walthamstow CLP youth officer, founder of Waltham Forest Young Labour and has recently been elected as Young Labour’s National U19s officer! In his spare time away from the Labour Party he is in Year 11 and limbering up to sit his GCSEs this summer. This piece was originally published on http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2016/03/11/breaking-barriers-in-young-labour/.

My name is Asher Mohammed; I’m 15, a school student and was recently elected as the National Young Labour U19s officer. Currently, anyone who is under the age of 19 in the Labour Party is expected to attend canvassing sessions or race to the local Labour Party for a photo session for social media  but then have the door slammed at their face when it comes to real policy discussions. Unfortunately, like most caucuses in the Labour Party, the U19s section is still shackled by a possessive apostrophe of tokenism. I stood to deliver radical changes to the U19s section.  I want to take U19 members away from desiring a photo opportunity with Jeremy Corbyn and stand up and be counted.

Firstly, I want to ensure that young members are engaged within the Party’s policy making process. During election times we are among the first to canvass for our party. I want to ensure we have regular discussions with U19s across the country and ensure our Young Labour campaigns reflect the ideas and contributions of all our members.

Secondly, I want to work with the national committee to set up a hardship fund specific to U19s. Most members who are u19 are studying and rely on financial support from our parents or family. Conference costs are pricing our young members out of democracy. Politics shouldn’t be about money, it’s their talent and qualities that we should be after, not their pockets.

Thirdly, I will introduce regular training for U19 members. From public speaking to campaigning workshops, I believe it’s our duty to enhance the skills of our young members to make sure we are giving them their money’s worth for the cost of their membership. There is a lack of U19 representation within internal Young Labour positions; I will ensure this is improved.

Lastly, as a Pakistani Muslim, events at Pubs can be so inaccessible. Moreover, most U19 members can’t even legally drink, so staying at Pub socials for more than an hour can be both a painstaking and uncomfortable experience. Though I would love to, I’m not calling for an anti- alcohol revolution, I just want to ascertain that our socials are representative of our membership.

There is a long way for the U19s section of Young Labour to go. If Young Labour doesn’t take us seriously, then how will the national Labour Party? For me, my position on Young Labour committee isn’t to enhance my CV, vote in line with a particular faction or just to become popular within the Labour Party. I was so proud to meet U19 members from around the country and discuss the changes they want to see. If just 28 U19 delegates out of hundreds of delegate positions available are elected, that is a problem. If a 14 year old has to pay £200 to attend a Young Labour conference in the most inaccessible conference location, that is a problem. If a 14 year is so intimidated that they are afraid to stand for an internal election all because of their age, that is a problem. As U19 officer I will work tirelessly to sort these problems out. I was brought to never take no for an answer, and will I? Hell no!

Asher Mohammed
Asher Mohammed

A newbie’s guide to getting active

In today’s piece, Lydia Snodin continues her ‘How to’ series with a how to guide to getting active in the Labour Party.

You know when your life changes overnight?

Well in November 2015, I moved my Labour Party membership from Brighton Pavilion CLP to Ealing Central and Acton CLP.

Phew, it feels good to say it out loud.

I’ve been a Labour activist for over three years in two constituencies. In that time there have always been too few young people going to along to meetings, canvassing sessions and taking on local roles.

This month’s blog is some advice from one young person to another on how to make the leap from passion to action – how to get involved in your local Labour Party:

1. Volunteering doesn’t have to be completely selfless

Local parties vary, but in general they don’t have fantastically developed systems to filter people by talents and skils into roles. Mull over what you know as well as what you have yet to learn.

Local organisers, the party employees who run the campaigns and canvassing, are key contacts for this. It is okay to be selfish with how you want to spend you time volunteering. In fact, I’d say you’ll enjoy it more AND be more likely to continue in the longer term which is better for everyone

In the words of parks and rec:

treat yo’self

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[parks and rec pic: credit: http://hellogiggles.com)

2. The local Labour Party is your oyster…

Here comes the fun part – *hehem* I mean obviously it’s all super fun – but especially enjoyable is seeing what the local party has to offer. Check out the events listed on the CLPs website, they might email you updates or even just contact them asking what’s coming up.

There’ll be some social stuff, canvassing (speaking to voters in person and on the phone) and lots of meetings – the Labour party knows how to run a damn fine meeting.

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A very early canvassing session, one of my first, in late 2013 with activists in Brighton

3. Door knocking: it is better than it sounds, promise!

Okay, once a dog chased me through someone’s garden. It was totally fine though, the owner came out of the house and calmed them down – IT WAS FINE.

*composes self*

After saying  you should treat local events like a political pick n mix (the best kind), I’m going to have to insist you do one thing: door knocking.

Door knocking sessions are teams of brave activists venturing out in wind, rain and occasionally sunshine to speak to the guys who elect us: voters. I’ve written a fuller explanation of why and how we do this ‘on my personal blog’.

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A world exclusive look at my door knocking kit: a bag with many compartments, an umbrella and a tiny notebook- I know I’m too cool, don’t worry.

I’ve done virtually every campaign activity from the most basic counting out leaflets to running a campaign weekend with 20 young people, three door knocking sessions and pizza on the beach. You don’t realise until you order Dominos to come to Brighton beach that ‘deliver it to the beach’ is too vague.

I always come back to door knocking. Speaking to voters in person, chatting to other activists and maybe best of all, the post-canvass pub trip are what makes the Labour party the one for me. It never fails to remind me why I insist on dragging myself out of bed on Sunday mornings to ring the bell of a stranger’s front door.

4. Quick one – always wear comfortable shoes canvassing, both you and your feet will thank me later.

If you’re so inspired you can’t wait a second to get those walking boots and pound the streets, ‘find Labour party events near you right now’

Lydia X

Lydia Snodin
Lydia Snodin