On Lessons from Portugal

In today’s article, Guy Cooper talks about how we can learn lessons from Europe, and particularly Portugal, about being both Socialist AND electable. Guy is the Youth Officer for Fylde CLP and the Campaigns Officer for Blackpool & Fylde Young Labour. He is also a member of Unite the Union and Momentum and has just done a Masters degree in the History of Art.

As I write this article, the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa is visiting Goa in Southern India. It must be a source of great pride for both Portugal and India that Mr. Costa is the first person of Indian origin to lead a European country. Alongside his reputation as an international statesman, Costa has good poll ratings in Portugal as well as an enviable reputation across the globe. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, he’s a socialist! Whilst progressive politics seem to be taking a hit across Western Europe, Costa and his Portuguese coalition government are a living, breathing example of socialism in action.

I believe that by looking to Portugal as an example, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party can win a general election, whenever it may be, by presenting themselves as simultaneously radical and competent.

The parallels between Antonio Costa and Jeremy Corbyn are striking – particularly in terms of the predictable barrage of abuse launched at both men by the dinosaurs of the right wing press and right wing politicians. We can all recall the risible attacks on Jeremy Corbyn by most of the press, and I wont give them more air time by repeating it. Similarly before Costa took office in Portugal, the outgoing centre right Prime Minister said; “I hope not to be summoned back to a house in flames.” The message is always the same, socialists cannot be trusted to run a country. It is therefore a source of great delight that Costa has proved his critics wrong and enjoys such impressive support in the country..

I believe that by emulating Antonio Costa, and following these five key points, Jeremy Corbyn can become the visionary and radical Prime Minister that this country so desperately needs.

Unite Society around an anti-austerity programme.

As we prepare to exit the European Union, it is now more important than ever that Jeremy Corbyn forms relationships with other anti-austerity champions across the continent. Once again it is an idea that Corbyn has mentioned but one that I don’t believe we have seen enough evidence of. The Tories very successfully spun the idea that austerity was the only viable economic option. Anything else would be lunacy they said. Only by demonstrating that austerity is failing across Europe will the Labour Party be able to regain public trust on the economy. I would like to see more co-operation between Corbyn, Antonio Costa, Pablo Iglesias, Jean-Luc Melenchon and others to demonstrate that austerity has failed and that there is a viable alternative.

Form an anti-austerity coalition throughout Europe.

Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to austerity has always been known and he has thankfully managed, along with John McDonnell, to transform the Labour Party into an anti-austerity movement. It is important though, to really drill the anti-austerity message home from now until the next General Election. In Portugal, Antonio Costa realised the importance of pitching himself strongly against austerity. Instead of scapegoating migrants or immigrants or welfare, Costa pitched himself and his party against the economic elite and on the side of ordinary people. If Corbyn can do the same he will begin to draw more voters to the Labour Party as we begin to feel the economic effects of Brexit.

At least discuss the idea of an anti-austerity coalition.

Antonio Costa was only able to roll back the tide of austerity in Portugal with the help of other parties. I believe that we in the Labour Party need to at least discuss the idea of a so called, ‘progressive coalition’, so that we can defeat Tory austerity. As distasteful as it may sound, we may need to consider holding our nose and working with other parties (the Glib Dems included…).

Demonstrate that being anti-austerity and fiscally disciplined are the same thing.

To win a General Election, Labour needs to be trusted on the economy. Simple. I believe that when many people hear the Labour Party fighting against austerity and demanding investment they assume that this means the Labour party will be reckless and frivolous with the economy. Portugal has proved that his is not the case. Portugal has ditched the idea of austerity and as such it has a falling deficit, falling unemployment and economic growth. PM Costa has also increased workers protection and rights which we are told by so many on the right would deter investment. Once again Portugal has demonstrated that this is not the case. In 2016 VW and Bosch invested millions of pounds into Portugal and will continue to do so in 2017. Labour needs to repeat this ad nauseam to show what a socialist economy looks like!

Be hopeful and positive!

Although it may sound a bit simplistic, after a miserable 2016 and a poor start to 2017, it would be easy for those on the progressive side of politics to let their heads drop. I believe that by looking to Portugal we can see that progressive change is still possible and that should energise us! Portugal must be a socialist beacon for all of Europe and by following its example I believe that the United Kingdom can successfully follow suit.

guy-cooper
Guy Cooper

 

 

 

An 18 month wait to fix a broken leg? Not even with this NHS

In today’s article, Bridget Malia talks about the disparities between care for physical and mental health. Bridget is a sixth form student in Stockport and LGBT officer for Stockport Young Labour.

If you’ve never suffered a mental illness- and I sincerely hope you haven’t- it can be hard to understand how frustrating, and indeed harmful, the deep-seated problems in mental health care in the NHS are. If, for instance, you broke your leg, you can expect to be X-rayed, put in a cast and given a pair of crutches within at most a few days. After all, walking around on a broken leg is not only painful but dangerous. It’s a mystery, then, that the same approach is not standard for mental health.

One of the main side-effects of any mental health problem is a deep sense of hopelessness. Conditions like anxiety and depression give sufferers a completely skewed sense of time. Five minutes can feel like seconds and hours at the same time. A month feels like a century, the future feels like it’s never going to happen and that it’s hurtling towards you like a freight train. If you’ve been told that there’s an 18- month waiting list for the local mental health service (as was the case when I was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, or CAMHS), that is the same as being told that you’re going to be stuck feeling as terrible as you do for a year and a half, which might as well be forever. Just like how walking around on a broken leg causes agony and further damage to the limb in question, having to survive with a mental health problem with absolutely no professional support can be devastating.

The situation is even worse for patients requiring inpatient care. Serious conditions such as eating disorders, types of psychosis and schizophrenia often require hospitalisation for intensive courses of treatment. With most physical complaints, patients can expect to be treated in their local hospital, close to home and family. Not so for mental health patients, who can be sent hundreds of miles and across borders for treatment. The support of family and friends, and their involvement in therapy, is widely acknowledged to be of vital importance to a good prognosis, but this is becoming harder and harder in an increasingly stretched NHS.

I’m on the more fortunate end of the mental health spectrum. I have the common, bog-standard combination of anxiety and depression, both of which can be treated with inexpensive drugs and slightly more expensive talking therapy. I’ve been in the system since I was 12, meaning I’m practically part of the furniture in Stepping Hill Hospital’s mental health outpatients units. Shuffling me from therapist to therapist and service to service simply requires a conversation between people who share an office. I have an in with psychiatrists to get me moved up waiting lists. I have a supportive, loving family and an understanding college. I live in comfortable middle- class suburbia; I’m otherwise healthy and not wanting for anything.

There are others who aren’t anything like as lucky as I am, however. The poor, the lonely, the elderly, the young, those with serious and complex conditions, addicts, those with physical disabilities- they’re the ones in real trouble. As the Tories’ cuts bite harder and decimate the NHS further, these are the ones who will slip through the gaps. I won’t beat around the bush: the mentally ill will die. That’s another side effect- both of mental illness and of a system with no time or compassion for people on the edge.

bridget-malia
Bridget Malia

On Heads, Hearts and Hands

In today’s article, Ben West, the former Secretary of the Young Fabians responds to Robert Woods ‘On a proper use of resources’ article and tells us why Labour needs Heads, Hearts AND Hands to be successful.

Back in my life before the Labour Party, I was a climate campaigner. In it, we did lots of community training. Aside from non-violent direct action training, one of the valuable things I learned was that creating meaningful political change requires three components: ‘heads, hearts and hands’. A successful strategy depends on all three: a strategy based on reason (head) and a means of delivery (hands), but with no emotional component (heart) will sooner or later fail, as will a cause which taps into emotions (heart), but which lacks a practical means of acting upon them.

It’s simple stuff, but it’s a good place – if indeed one exists – for beginning to understand the potentially terminal illness which has befallen the Labour Party. And while someone with pneumonia may only have been coughing for a few days, it is rare for someone to catch such a serious illness out of the blue. And so it is with the Labour Party. Our present condition is the symptom of bad luck – yes, there is always an element of bad luck – but also a failure to maintain good habits – culturally, socially, intellectually and even morally – over many decades.

The ‘heads, hearts and hands’ analogy illustrates that we’re not just sick, we’re also doing ourselves harm. We in the Labour Party seem to be under the impression that one has to choose between these bodily organs – that to be a Party driven by our hearts, we need to chop off our own heads, lest the facts lead us astray. Or that in order to win elections and get anything done, we need to go full-blown Aztec and start ripping hearts out, or as Tony Blair put it, ‘get a heart transplant’.

Robert Wood’s recent article (‘On a Better Use of Resources’) illustrates this point nicely. In it, his argument seemed to be that the Fabian Society’s recent analysis of YouGov election data, which found that Labour could drop to as few as 150 seats at the next election, was at odds with the Party’s work to ‘tell voters the truth’ about issues including high executive pay, soaring child poverty, and action to bring the railways back under public control.

Or, to put it in terms of my analogy, that the Party should stop obsessing over its hands, and instead focus on its head and its heart. ‘Why talk about polls and elections (not to mention the rather inconvenient internal ructions they cause!), when there is low pay to tackle, homeless to house, and trains to nationalise?’, the argument goes.

At one level, this is nonsense. Clause One of the Labour Party’s constitution makes it abundantly clear which is the priority, and what we, as a body exist to do. We exist to do things. Thinking big thoughts and letting our hearts bleed onto our sleeves never fed, clothed or emancipated anyone.We are not a pressure group, a fan club, a charity, a book group or even – though our long-term future rests on us rebuilding the trade union movement that created us – ourselves a social movement.

We exist to win power on behalf of those in society who do not currently have power. And, in a democracy, we do that by winning power through the electoral process. Many of our comrades on the Left argue that winning elections is not the only way to win power. And certainly that’s true. The examples of the trade union and co-operative movements show that consumer and industrial strength are vital too. But the reason those two movements created us, a political party, is because they realised that power in the workplace and on the high street can only be transformative if paired with the political power that comes from direct parliamentary representation.

And so, first and foremost, in a Party like ours, our heads and our hearts serve the hands, because it is through our hands – winning elections – that we achieve change. If we are heading off an electoral cliff (and the Fabian research suggests we could well be), then it’s hard to think of more urgent business, or a bigger service they could be performing on the Party’s behalf. No Party with 150 MPs in Parliament ever eradicated low pay, renationalised the railways or eliminated child poverty.

But that’s not to let the ‘moderate’ end of the Party – of which I count myself a member – off the hook either. Because it’s vital that we too don’t forget that however much the hands – the business of knocking on doors, of winning elections, of crunching the polls, of honing the message and getting out the vote – drive the whole business, they too rely on hearts and hands.

While the days of moderates who behave as if they’ve had a lobotomy while proclaiming their belief in ‘what works’ seem to have now passed, their legacy remains. In case you hadn’t noticed, in the years since the last Labour government, people have become seriously angry. What we at £40 per head Saturday political Conferences solemnly discuss and call ‘populism’ is far more simple than that: people are pissed off, and they want politicians who show that they know that people are pissed off, and who get pissed off on the pissed off peoples’ behalf. It’s empathy, stupid.

So if there are people in this Party who seriously need to think about how to engage their hands, and not just their hearts and heads, there are also plenty of others who need to engage their hearts as well as their heads and hands. You need all three. Because if we constantly repeat among ourselves the myth that a heart is all we need, or that we can sit around coming up with ideas without the means of making them practicable, then we’ve done the Tories’ jobs for them. We assist them in perpetuating the lie that it’s impossible to be both compassionate as well as responsible, or the dishonesty that says we have to choose between functioning public services and a solid economy.

You need all three.

And over more than a Century, one of the things the Fabian Society has done rather well is reminding the Labour Party of that fact. Combining the reforming zeal and idealism of the social reformers, with the hard-headed, detailed policy thinking of the great technocrats, harnessed to the tough, irrepressibly practical business of how to win elections.

And while the Fabian Society’s recent focus on the practical means through which a Labour government will one day be elected is urgent as it is sobering, it will only transform this country when coupled with our heads and our hearts as well, and when all three begin to function as one.

That is our mission.

ben-west
Ben West

The New Momentum

In this article, James Gill fills us in on the newly announced constitution for Momentum, which you can read about here. James is a member of Unite, Labour and Momentum. He serves on the Central Council of the Socialist Health Association, and is secretary of Stockport Young Labour.

Being a member of Momentum is rarely boring. The last eighteen months have seen us run a vibrant fringe festival at party conference; help thousands of new members understand the Labour Party and get involved; and contribute to dozens of local single-issue, trade union and charity campaigns up and down the country. There was also the small matter of a Labour leadership contest along the way.

All this was achieved with an ad-hoc, informal and evolving set of structures. Any start-up must simultaneously begin to deliver and to scale upwards and outwards, and imposing structure and strict accountability too early risks locking yourself into the wrong model.

In Momentum’s case, the early phase is over, and the most effective direction has now become clear. More than forty percent of members responded to a survey on our structures and priorities, with four in five saying we must focus on Labour and organise nationally using direct democracy. To this end, the organisation yesterday adopted a new constitution, giving it the tools it needs to succeed.

The headline change is the adoption of a strict “Labour first” policy. You must be a member of the Labour Party before you can be a member of Momentum. Further, the needless policy conference is transmuted into workshops and networking. These measures make it strikingly clear that Momentum is serious about a vibrant, modern and socialist Labour Party, ready to win elections.

Several nascent layers of bureaucracy have been culled, including the ineffective and occasionally embarrassing national committee and regional networks. Decision-making is consolidated in one body, the National Co-ordinating Group (NCG) – thankfully much smaller than the original national committee. Its composition is dull but reliable, consisting of online OMOV-elected members’ reps, as well as representatives from trade unions, other left-Labour groups, and four spaces for Labour councillors or MPs. Its composition is balanced by gender, region, and to ensure representation of BAME members.

Other features are more innovative. Of particular interest is the Members’ Council, a kind of “Momentum Jury Service”. This body of fifty members will be randomised every six months, and work in an advisory capacity with the NCG. This is an excellent example of the usefulness of Momentum as a test-bed for the labour movement. Creating a body like this is risky – Momentum has the scale to experiment effectively and safely.

One upshot of the changes is that local groups shake off the requirement to hold hustings for regional networks and debate policy motions for conference. Local groups now serve no formal function in the national organisation. Most local committees will be breathing a sigh of relief – they can get on with training, networking, campaigning and encouraging their members to take action to make their principles into reality.

Some members may be disappointed by the perceived loss of democracy in the organisation. After all, there are now fewer elected positions, and a much more stringent mechanism for adopting campaign priorities. But what would be the point of arguing over those detailed policies? To change the wording of the odd Momentum press release? A much more worthwhile use of your time is to engage with Labour’s mechanisms instead: the National Policy Forum, your trade union’s Policy Conference, your Constituency Labour Party, and the Labour Party Conference itself. That way you might change something which really matters.

The overall effect of the new constitution is to create a sane, stable organisation with a plausible plan. I don’t blame the many members on the left of Labour who have been put off joining us in our first eighteen months; there have been too many echoes of the bad habits of the past. But we are stronger together, and Momentum is here to stay – there’s never been a better time to make yourself a part of it.

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James Gill (pictured left)

On a Maximum Wage limit aka how to lose an election in one idea

In today’s article, Oliver Simpkin reacts to Jeremy Corbyn’s plan, announced yesterday on the 10th January, for a maximum wage.

When I woke up on the 10th of January 2017 and rolled over to check the news it was like hearing Jeremy had smacked David Attenborough in the face. But he’d done something much worse. He’d committed the cardinal sin of British politics, he opposed aspiration.

There is much to be said about the nature of Britain’s dreadfully unequal society, of a gap between the rich and poor like the Berlin Wall. For many young people growing up the de-industrialised North the idea that they will have a life better than that of their parents seems a 1 in a million chance, made for someone else, someone who can afford to put the deposit on a good life.

But the fixing of Broken Britain lies not in putting a lid on wages, but putting a rock solid bottom floor on wages. Creating a real minimum wage, raising the lower tax threshold and introducing comprehensive rent controls. This country should see no problem in people enjoying the good life, providing it doesn’t hurt anyone else. CEOs should be eligible for high pay if and only if they are paying good wages to everyone who provides the company with their labour.

A limit inspires no one. A limit at the top convinces no child that they will be able to enjoy the life they wanted. A limit will inspire no swing voter in any of Labour’s target seats that we as a party will give their families a better life. The idea of a Maximum Wage limit speaks to the left’s worst element. That by limiting high pay and good jobs we will sometimes win the votes of the poor dispossessed working classes who are abandoning us for UKIP. Voter’s will see this as the left doing a parody of itself. They’ll see this as the start of a slippery slope that ends up in us being profiled as a bunch of Commies who want to Nationalise your Nan. Fundamentally a limit on high pay is a betrayal of left wing values of progressive taxation. We lock out millions of taxable pounds for no good reason. If we cap high pay we won’t be able to tax the rich, if we can’t tax the rich the state crumbles.

Maybe I missed a memo from the Leadership recently. But Labour used to be for things. Now all I see is press release after press release in which Labour seems to against something, against low pay, against high pay, against Freedom of Movement, against being against the freedom of movement. We can’t carry on like this. We have to be for something. We have to harness the messages that took us to victory. We have to promise to rebuild a New Jerusalem, or to embrace the White Hot Heat of Technology, or invest in Education, Education, Education.

The last two elections have been Labour declaring only we can keep the ship of state afloat not because of our excellent record, or our outstanding values or our hard working Parliamentarians. But because all the other crews are rubbish at running the boat. The voters want an alternative. But they want to see what the alternative will be. Labour must find our city on the hill, our land of milk and honey to lead the British people too. Or Labour must find a funeral director for itself.

Oliver Simpkin
Oliver Simpkin

Error, youth not found. The missing link in getting young people to meetings

In today’s article, Jake Lewis talks about some of the issues that he’s had with bringing young members together within his constituency and why a better system than MembersNet may help with those problems.

If you’ve ever been involved with the organising and/or leadership of a Young Labour group you’ve possibly been in this position, “how do I get more people coming to meetings?”, “it’s always the same few that come”, “I wonder if those emails actually got through to them?”, “I hope the next meeting gets more people.”

Now this isn’t always the worst sign in the world, it can show ambition and determination to improve your local party at every possible turn. But frankly by this point I feel like it’s starting to reflect my irritation, if not more so confusion, at not being able to understand where the missing link is in young people interacting with the Labour party once they are members.

Just a quick reminder of numbers for you all – In December 2015, the Labour party had 388,000 members. This then boosted to 515,000 members in July 2016, with another 181,000 registered supporters added ahead of the September 2016 election.

[Source: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN05125/SN05125.pdf]

So in theory, we shouldn’t be doing that bad for numbers within local parties, and we’re not in the majority of cases, however there is a single key issue. That issue is attendance, especially so with young people. Here’s a quick example from where I live, in my constituency we number over 100 young members, on average for the past 5 monthly meetings I’ve held I’ve gotten around 2 or 3 members attending. That, surely, must point out that there is an inherent issue, especially when I am not the only one. After talking with several other members of LYON, including a fellow Youth Officer, I’ve found that it’s incredibly common for local young membership to be high while actual attendance is rock bottom.

From what I can gather there are two main causes for this lack of attendance, first MembersNet- the means the party uses to communicate with its members- is exceptionally difficult to use and second, emails are quite possibly the worst form of communication that there is when first contacting young members.

So first things first, MembersNet. If you haven’t had too much involvement with the Labour party in the past then you won’t have seen this system before, so here it is below.

membersnet

No I have not miraculously transported you to the 1990s technology convention, this really is the system the party currently uses to contact members. It looks like it’s been dropped from an old Windows 3.1 system from 1992. At least, you would think, that it would be pretty easy to use, right? Well honesty, you’d be wrong. And this rant would go on far longer, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m only talking about young people. See, the issue currently is how complicated it is to use MembersNet to send emails to any member, not to mention how hard it is to format a good one using the system and how hard it is to tell if anything has been sent or received. This often results in Youth Officers being completely without the tools they need to do their jobs.

And of course there’s my first point, when the hell did we, as young people, believe that emails were going to get our comrades attending meetings? Besides our politically active selves, how many people do we really think check their emails, excited, for an email from the Labour party? The reliance on emails as a system, when we just got out of debt, increased funds and when we have all this new manpower we could be using to call members, it’s a genuine shock that constituency parties are not getting more support.

If we want to talk about threats to our party, member apathy may be one that we could confront right here, right now, and we need to if we want to perform even better in elections.

jake-lewis
Jake Lewis

On a better use of resources

In this article, Robert Wood the Lancashire Rep to the NWYL committee, questions the Fabian Society’s prioritised use of resources, following their recently published report of Labour’s chances at the next General Election.

As it’s the new year, this is the time when we all return to work or studies after the season of goodwill, only it would seem that sentiment seems to have been forgotten by some within our party.

One of the great things about our party is that we are able to incorporate groups of differing views such as Momentum, The Fabian Society, Open Labour and Progress. These groups all have a purpose and their own specific goals and visions for the Labour Party. Each one of them have an important role to play in creating an open and democratic internal debate on direction for the Party and manifesto building.

However this doesn’t always happen, partly due to a minority, albeit a vocal one, of each of these groups, forgetting who the real enemy is. Maybe all these groups could create a rule for membership that by signing up, members agree that both a Blair or Corbyn led Labour Party, is preferable in government, to the Tories, regardless of their leader. This is a view that every Labour Party member should hold.

But this doesn’t seem to be the case. Many on the left, right and somewhere in the middle, of the party spend far more time on social media vilifying other parts of the Labour Party than this horrid Tory government. We are giving an easy ride to Theresa May and her band of thieves.

What we, within the party, often forget is, although the internal operations of the party might be really important to you or I, the public do not care one jot about Momentum, Fabians, Open Labour or Progress. When they go to vote, the ballot paper says: The Labour (& Co-operative) Party Candidate(s).

This week we saw another example of this internal squabbling being played out in the media. Instead of letting the important #RailFail campaign be the focus of the media’s attention on us, The Fabian Society release a report claiming we can’t outright win a General Election under our current, and twice elected, leader.

Travelling to work is getting more and more expensive every single year, under a Tory government who only care about the 1%. Yet the Fabian Society have put their resources into publishing this report.

This week, to mark ‘Fat Cat Wednesday’, The High Pay Centre published a report showing that the average pay of FTSE 100 Chief Executives is £1000 per hour. This is compared to minimum wages varying from £7.20 to £3.40 an hour. These people earn more in just 1 hour, than many full time workers do in over 7 weeks. Yet the Fabian Society have put their resources into publishing this report.

Homelessness has doubled since 2010, while funding for homelessness services has halved during this time. It was estimated that we’d have around 120,000 children homeless on Christmas Day and it continues to rise. Yet the Fabian Society have put their resources into publishing this report.

Child poverty rates were getting so bad under this government, that to avoid embarrassment, they changed the definition to hide their failure and still it continues to rise. Yet the Fabian Society have put their resources into publishing this report.

There have been disabled people, including those without arms or legs, being told that they are “fit for work” and are therefore not entitled to their benefits and have died as a result of the inhumanity of people like Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and Priti Patel. Yet the Fabian Society have put their resources into publishing this report.

I’ve spent much of the Christmas and New Year break, trying to make Lancashire Young Labour’s Big Out Day in Buckshaw Village on Saturday 28th January, as helpful as possible to the party’s effort to keep Jenny Mein in the leader’s office at County Hall. This event requires a lot of time and some money to make possible. If I knew the Fabian Society were sat around looking for things to do and spent money on, I would have asked them to organise and pay for it instead. There’s still time if the Fabians want to offer to help get our young members more involved in our campaigning. We will be going out and telling voters the truth about this government. The facts, including those above, that the media hide and instead fill their coverage with reports like this.

That would be a better use of your resources.

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Robert Wood

Stockport Young Labour and Representing Young People

Daniel Oliver is an active Labour Party campaigner and the current Youth Officer for Stockport Constituency Labour Party (CLP), at the end of last year he was elected as the Chair of the new Stockport Young Labour group. In this article he talks about the group and the importance of engaging with young people.

Last year our Party carried out a national consultation aimed at improving engagement with young members and with young people as a whole. In Stockport we organised an informal discussion event to gather the views of local members and to feed in to this consultation. As well as discussing other issues that are important to young people, the key message from the event was that younger generations feel removed from the decision-making processes in our Party and in our communities.

It was therefore agreed that an official Young Labour group in Stockport would be of benefit to local young people, with the group being specifically designed to engage them in decision making, policy discussions and campaign activities. After liaising with North West regional office and the four constituencies in Stockport borough, we were able to launch Stockport Young Labour in December at Seven Miles Out, a local arts centre. All young members were encouraged to attend the event and to nominate themselves for positions on the group’s first committee.

As 2017 begins, I am delighted with the initial response that we have received from young members. With new members coming forward to take on committee positions and the group having held and supported successful campaign events, Stockport Young Labour is already making a positive difference to our local Party. I am particularly proud of the diversity on our committee, with BAME and LGBT representation as well as a gender balance of male and female members.

The group’s committee will be meeting soon to discuss our plans for the year, with these set to include some exciting ideas. In particular we will be looking to deliver regular campaign and training activities for young members, supporting the Labour Group on Stockport Council and participating in Andy Burnham’s mayoral campaign.

It is more important than ever that young people have a voice in our society. With pressure to conform to a socially acceptable standard and to thrive academically, with the growing difficulty of owning or even renting your own home and with a shockingly high rate of mental health problems in young people, a strong voice is needed to speak up and campaign for positive change in our communities. I am confident that over the coming months and years, Stockport Young Labour will be in a strong position to work with local Labour campaigners and representatives to deliver this change, representing all young people across our borough regardless of their background and political views.

Stockport Young Labour is a step towards rebuilding public trust in Labour’s policies and values; by engaging with, and politically educating young people in schools and colleges, out in the community and online, we can present our Party as it really is- one of equality and opportunity.

dan-oliver
                       Daniel Oliver

 

Rail Fail

In today’s article, Alex Graham talks about the expense of rail travel and the potential wider economic impacts it has.

As I sit down to write this blog post, we are 3 days into 2017. My Christmas stocking has been put away for another year, although the extra calories I consumed over the festive period will be harder to shift, I have (just about) overcome my New Year’s hangover and today, like the majority of my fellow workers, I am heading back to the office after their festive holidays.

The holiday season is a notoriously expensive yet going back to work might be even more so. Whether you drive to work or cycle or, like 1.4 million people in this country (ONS Figures, 2013), take the train to the office, 2017 is going to see people spending an even greater amount of money on transport to their jobs.

This article will concentrating solely on those taking the train. The average cost of a ticket has increased by 27%, 3 times faster than wages, since David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010. Cost increases in the north are particularly hard hitting. For example, since 2010 a 12 month season ticket from my nearest train station, Rainhill- the birth place of passenger rail travel- to Manchester Victoria has increased by £648 while the price of a season ticket from Chester to Manchester has increased by £740 during that time.

When the Tories took office, we were promised that higher prices would lead to higher investment in the railways. This is again the line that was trotted out on BBC News this morning. Like many members of the public, I wouldn’t mind paying more money if the rail services were better run, the trains were cleaner and faster and more of them arrived on time. The reality is that many vital infrastructure projects have been put back because of spending cuts and commuters have been paying to improve the profit margins of the rail company’s shareholders without seeing an equal improvement in the service they receive.

The Tories have often claimed they want to ‘make work pay’.  By pursuing policies that allow rail prices increases they make it more expensive for people to get to work and disincentivise work, especially for the lowest paid in society. This is not just hypocritical and going against their own rhetoric, it’s economically incompetent and just one more example of the Tories’ failure to deliver on the basics for a fair and modern economy.

We need a rail service that is run for people, not for profit. This is why I support the plans of the Labour Party to bring the railways back into public ownership. Under Labour’s plans there would be increased investment in a 21st century rail infrastructure including publicly owned high speed rail, fairer fares and a stronger voice for passengers in how decisions are made.

This is a modern, fair and economically competent rail system for our 21st century world and I would encourage you all to vote Labour to help remove the Tories from office and end this RailFail. For more information about Labour’s Campaign, please visit http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/rail or check out Twitter under #Railfail on or around Tuesday 3rd of January.

Outcard Photo
Alex Graham

Twas the Night Before Christmas 2016/17

Following last years brilliant take on the Poem The night before Christmas for the NHS Bursary campaign (available further down the thread list). David Collett on behalf of the LYON team presents this years poem with is a brief overview of 2016. We hope you enjoy and Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to all Young Labour Members , Lyon x

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, things had changed in the house,

Tories ruled with majority while Lib Dems moved out.

Cameron had gone, succession plans made with care,

Not Boris not Gove but Theresa May in his chair.

The public had voted for Brexit instead.

While pollsters and experts left scratching there heads.

And Labour in turmoil Smith launched an attack,

But members were clear Corbyns not for the sack.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

New contracts for Doctors were rejected we gathered.

With threats to impose, Hunt stood strong and steadfast,

But a deal was achieved after talks with ACAS.

And as GOLD hung from necks of  Olympians Glows,

Andy Murray took Wimbledon with new baby in toe.

Then to our surprise and our wonder a new England manager appeared,

a nations hopes were renewed, BIG SAM ! he was here.

But after one win it was over so quick,

Stung by the media big sam had to quit.

And more rapid than eagles the obituaries came

As national treasures extinguished there flames.

First Lemmy ! and  Bowie ! then Rickaman and Prince!

with Wogan ! and Woods ! Then Ali : Long Live The King.

With tributes and Murals and plaques pinned up on walls

there Contributions to the world will be missed by as all.

And as leaves from the trees fall to ground as they fly,

Major Tim Peak shot up into to the sky;

above all the housetops the astronaught flew

186 days for GB, And got back safely too.

But then, in a twinkling, we heard from BBC news,

That Bake Off was cancelled and going to move.

As bakers in England picked them selfs off the ground,

it would appear the tent was channel 4 bound.

Paul said he’d go hoping the others followed suit,

but Mel Sue and Mary declined stood resolute.

Now not to break with tradition, with paws white and fur black,

A new pet for the foreign office, Palmiston the Cat.

His eyes—how they twinkled and whiskers a plenty,

But Larry of downing street wasn’t to friendly.

And over the pond trading blows too and throw,

As we all sat and watch the Clinton vs Trump Show.

Trump said Clinton lied, her emails they were seized.

While Hillary worked on morals, she said Trump was a sleaze !

But to our disbelief and the world just a plenty.

Donald Trump was victorious a political revolutionary.

While Nigel Farage made a name for him self.

Plans to make him ambassador to USA quickly shelved.

And with no plans for Brexit and no clue what lies ahead

trigging article 50 fills many with dread;

A hard or soft Brexit final plans were disturbed,

as the high court had ruled Parliament had to vote first,

As we await supreme ruling austerity continues and grows,

What awaits us in 2017 nobody knows.

With a new year dawning we await labours call

while we will always remember more unites us than divides us all.

Well i hope you enjoyed some festive delight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

 

14479769_559225714285777_6514873223860473242_n By Cllr David Collett.