On Unity in the Red Rose County

In this article, Robert Wood talks about unity within the Labour Party, specifically Young Labour in Lancashire. Robert has been a member for 6 years was recently elected as Lancashire Rep to the North West Young Labour committee.

“Now is the time for unity.” I am sure this is a phrase we’ve all heard or seen recently by different people in the Labour Party. There’s a reason for that. It really is the time for unity. With the rise of the far right here, on mainland Europe and over the Atlantic, the only way the left can win is by being united. It is vitally important that the PLP do so, in order for us to be in the best position we can to win a general election, in 2020, if not before. However, it isn’t just there we need unity.

For too long, Young Labour groups in the greatest county of them all, Lancashire, have been left isolated. Greater Manchester and Merseyside groups do joint campaigns and socials which means they can regularly communicate on what each other are doing, in order to not only be coordinated, but to share best practice. This means that when a group is struggling, they can help each other out.

The large increase in membership in 2015, gave the opportunity for a YL group to start up in South Ribble. Setting up a young labour group is really hard work, especially if working alone. I know, I have been there. I didn’t succeed when it was just me. But back in 2011, when we first set up Blackpool & Fylde YL, I did have the support of 2 recently elected young councillors and a campaign organiser. When the group that had been built up left, either through age or leaving town, the group fell apart. Then earlier this year, we re-launched when fellow Labour-LYON writer David Collett, came on board.

With inexperienced members, the South Ribble group struggled and the rest of Lancashire couldn’t help. Why I hear you ask? The answer is we simply didn’t know. Lancashire didn’t have communication links in place to ensure that South Ribble had somewhere to ask for help. We must make sure this never happens again!

Recently representatives from Blackpool & Fylde, Chorley, Preston, South Ribble and West Lancs YL groups met to create a working group between the YL groups of Lancashire. This group, imaginatively named “Lancashire Young Labour”, will meet regularly to discuss improving Young Labour across the county. We want to use this opportunity of unity to ensure that the groups already involved strengthen with each other’s support but also to see new groups set up in order to have every part of the beautiful red rose county covered by a Young Labour group.

However, bringing members together doesn’t end at getting the group chairs sat round a table, especially when such large areas of the county don’t have a group. We can do more than that. Every 3 months, Lancashire Young Labour will have a “Big Day Out”. This will involve going to a marginal local ward, county division or constituency, starting with a campaign session, followed by an all young members meeting and concluded with a social event. The meeting will give an opportunity to the Lancashire Young Labour committee, including the Lancs Rep to the NWYL committee, to feedback to members on what they have been up to and to listen to members about what they want to see going forward.

Lancashire Young Labour’s first Big Day Out will be on Saturday 28 th January 2017. Check out our Facebook (search Lancashire Young Labour) and Twitter pages (@LancsYL) for more details.

Robert Wood

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