2017 LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE DELEGATES REPORT

I arrived on Saturday 23rd September 2017 and booked into the Kings Hotel Brighton not knowing what to expect from the next four days, within an hour I had received a phone call from one of my former FBU officials saying ‘what you up to tonight Trevor? I have a mate that is showing a film on the struggle of Palestinian Firefighters,’ that sounded interesting, so off I went to this fringe meeting and met up with Jim Malone a Scottish Firefighter that had been to Palestine and had seen first-hand the conditions that Firefighters had to work under he was also involved with the making of the film.

The film was some sixty minutes long, I can only say that I was so engrossed that it seemed like ten minutes, the film starts with Jim being introduced to the Palestine Firefighters and inspecting their equipment, only to find that they have a fire engine with some 250,000 miles on it, hardly any personal protection equipment, it later transpired that Jim through the Scottish FBU had donated some firefighting kit, which was withheld by the Israeli government for six months because the FF helmets could have been used for protection by soldiers, if you are not aware; the Israelis have an embargo around Palestine.

They interviewed the Palestinian Firefighters, one who had taken a bullet to the shoulder from an Israeli soldier whilst on duty, the most annoying thing is that Firefighters all over the world only want to serve, protect, and maintain life, they have no political, religious, or racial agenda, this proved to be the case when they interviewed Israeli Firefighters at a later stage of the film.

This was a great introduction to my first fringe meeting at conference, I attended many more fringe meetings with doctors, nurses, teachers, Blue Labour, Hope not Hate, and of course Fire Brigade Union meetings.

On the first day of conference with a thirst for knowledge and a little bit of trepidation, I walked the half mile down the sea front to the conference centre, being handed more and more information leaflets the closer I got. Most of these leaflets contained interesting information, they also informed me of times and places of the fringe meetings for that evening.

As I walked through the first set of security you could feel a buzz of excitement, which grew to a crescendo once inside the centre itself, as I walked round all the exhibitor’s stands, bearing in mind the fringe meeting I had attended the night before, I found it rather ironic that the Palestine solidarity campaign stand was directly behind the friends of Israel stand, separated by a dividing wall.

So, time to take my seat in the balcony for the opening speeches, only to be told conference we have a delayed start due to the number of people and delegates attending, after a thirty-minute delay the leader of our party entered and lead his cabinet onto the stage they received rapturous applause and chants of ‘oh Jeremy Corbyn’ that went on for some time, conference was called to order and Harry Donaldson took to the lectern and gave the CAC report (Conference Arrangement Committee. A CAC report is produced every day and available for free which sets out daily business and times of speeches or you can use a phone app) This was followed by a minutes silence for all those that had lost their life’s or been affected by the tragic events in London, Manchester and other parts of the UK, respect was also shown for former colleagues that had passed.

The speeches that followed over all the days, were inspiring such positive messages of hope, pride, and dignity, building a anti austerity program, having a sense of belonging to our country, renewable energy and bye, bye to Zero hours contracts, a proper living wage, the list goes on.

If I had to have a gripe about anything it is that I paid some £170 for a balcony seat for the duration of the conference, which does not entitle me to be present for the Leaders speech, on that note I would like to thank Matt Wrack from the FBU for obtaining a ticket for myself and Sam Tarry for his help.

To finish on a lighter note, I found it absolutely hilarious to watch the delegates on the conference floor with parrots on their heads, all kinds of flora and fauna and much more, trying to attract attention so they could be chosen to address conference. This process needs to change in my opinion.

One address that really stuck with me was a lady Jewish by birth, who spoke so eloquently about the Israeli/Palestine situation, stating that “if things are wrong they are wrong, we have to have open conversations.” She concluded with; “I believe that what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinian people is wrong, as I am Jewish you cannot call me I am an anti-Semite. We need to have this conversation.”

I cannot finish without reference to JC speech, and no JC is not Jemma Collins from TOWIE. An all-encompassing, all inspiring speech without a cough or P45 in sight, the unity amongst delegates a seemingly harmonious government in waiting with a very strong message:

FOR THE MANY NOT THE FEW

What have I taken from conference? Everything. We need to be open and honest, and have those difficult conversations. We are a party on the rise connecting with many, some 400,000 new members, let’s not let infighting destroy what we have achieved in such a short space of time under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Trevor Mckeever – TULO Officer for Dagenham and Rainham CLP

Prospective Labour Council Candidate for South Hornchurch Ward

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A Manifesto for Hope

So another General Election done and dusted although the residue of this one seems to be lingering longer at the National level!

Here in Dagenham & Rainham, Jon Cruddas MP was comfortably re-elected, despite the best efforts of the Tories and UKIP, with the highest percentage of the vote achieved by Labour. So how did we do it?

When the election was called, the Tories let it be known this was one of their target seats, as did UKIP.  What was the Tory strategy? The Tories felt a lot of their support lay in the three Havering Wards. Their mantra, as we all now know, was to keep stating “Strong & Stable” and tough Brexit. They stressed this at all times, avoiding local issues, and with little visibility from the local Tory candidate. I think it’s accurate to say the Tory candidate wasn’t pounding the streets of Dagenham & Rainham daily. Lots of money was thrown at the seat resulting in many leaflets, but even those did not address the issues in Dagenham & Rainham. The result indicates that the electorate is more sophisticated, politically aware and invested in local issues. The Conservatives took them for granted, under estimated them and this huge mistake was one that worked to our advantage.

Jon has been working with many Havering resident groups, fighting the building over Greenbelt land in Havering and the proposal of 30,000 new homes without consulting the residents.  Who was responsible for the overseeing of these proposals? The Tory Council. These kind of decisions didn’t sit comfortably with residents. Jon had been campaigning tirelessly to get improvements to the rail service on C2C. The response to this was tremendous and this is an ongoing campaign. These are two examples of why being a Community Champion is an important aspect of being the elected MP.  Jon keeps close contact with his constituents by, for example sending e mails out regularly, issues a newsletter and has a website that has fresh pieces weekly on local issues. If you live in Jon’s constituency you know what is going on and who is looking out for you.

Initially when the election was called, there were “gloom and doom” predictions, Labour were predicted to lose seats across the nation. Campaigning at the ground level, it changed when the Labour Manifesto was produced and so too when the Conservative manifesto was released. The Tory Manifesto robbed the country of any hope. Essentially it said to any-one needing social care- watch out we are coming for your property. Someone said to me the other day, history students will one day write essays about why Theresa May called an election for party interest, not the good of the Nation. Additionally, I would add that they tried to win this with a manifesto of no hope, not costed and no vision for the future. At a national level too, the Tories underestimated the electorate.

UKIP did not see any gains as essentially their purpose has been fulfilled. Brexit had been voted for. The dream of being the party of the working people had not been realised with disastrous by election results and many leaders. I am not complacent though. We must learn lessons from their periods of ascendancy and Labour voters have turned to them in the past and we must continue to listen and engage with our voters’ concerns

Dagenham & Rainham received so much help and assistance.  It truly was very inspiring.  On Action days and Election Day we had 150-350 people outside the constituency coming to help. Labour’s ground operation I feel is second to none.  Our social media campaign was huge. Essentially the big LOCAL issues, such as Moped riders in Dagenham or the “concreting over in Havering” would receive circa 20,000 views. Contrast this with how long would it take us to deliver a leaflet to that many people and who, to be frank, may not read it? The Tories on a national level massively utilised Social media, and as costs for this continue to “bump up “, there is a danger that the prices could “lock out” democracy. Labour nationally should be continually striving to improve its use of Social media.

The Labour manifesto promised that Tuition fees would be scrapped, building of council homes and the nationalisation of the railways.  The percentage of vote of the youth for Labour was huge. 61.5% of people under 40 voted Labour. The Manifesto made politics relevant to the youth and gave them hope. In their lifetime they were being presented with real socialist policies and as it was election time, the policies could be discussed without the usual mainstream media bias and hysteria. What politician could show their face at Glastonbury and get the reception Jeremy Corbyn did?  At Pride festival last weekend when Theresa May’s message was relayed, there was crowd booing, and much mention of the DUP agreement.  The “nasty party” is well and truly back.

Although the “momentum” is with Labour, there is still a long way for us to go. We need to appeal to the wider electorate. But we are “onto something.” The operation that went into motivating and mobilising the youth could be undertaken in other area, such as the Seaside towns. Labour could offer a vision to them and to the former Industrial areas In need of investment and a future of hope.

Another area of concern is what I would deem the traditional working class vote. Labour still hasn’t answered or offered a vision to them that answers their concerns. The living wage and the abolition of Zero hour contracts is a start, but with automation and companies’ constant cost cutting for profit, this is always at the expense of the loyal workers. With salaries being put on levels of 1975 it’s hard for people who earn the lower salaries, to feel they are sharing in the wealth of a country. Rents need to be capped and housing solutions need to be offered.

People who know me well, realise this is a drum I keep beating. Labour Councils need to stop being seduced by developers bringing in regeneration projects, or worse still new housing with-out a scrap of social housing. Affordable housing cannot mean 80% rents. Watching the national tragedy of Grenfell unfold, at the time of writing, only 18 people have been rehoused. That’s because councils have been let off the hook over many years and allowed not to build council housing. They have allowed gentrification of areas and anyone who dares comment is called a “dinosaur.” It’s interesting to watch the language of the councils that allow this; it’s always couched in terms of aspiration or bringing wealth to an impoverished area. Often the Council officers directing these schemes ironically are on huge salaries, pensions and benefits and often hold a bias against social housing. Developers now on planning Boards give a sum of money towards social housing but that is piecemeal and utterly inadequate.  Our Voters would embrace a bold vision on housing, and we would win over Tory and former UKIP voters. Let’s sound that vision loud and clear – on social media and on the doorstep of our communities.

Margaret Mullane – Councillor for Village Ward in Dagenham, CLP Secretary, member of Unite and GMB, Office Manager and a leading member of Jon Cruddas 2017 re-election Campaign 

Suffragists or Suffragettes?

Women’s political history is something that has always been an interest to me from a young age. Growing up I was fascinated and politically inspired by the suffragette movement. But as my studies have took me further I have realised that the difference between a Suffragist and a Suffragette is a conversation that commonly occurs amongst women who follow and promote the votes for women campaign.

During the women’s suffrage movement, there were two main groups of women who dominated the streets and the news. These were The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), and The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929) was President of The NUWSS and Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the WSPU. Mrs Fawcett is remembered as the primary leader of the constitutional (non-militant) wing of the women’s suffrage movement and whilst Mrs Pankhurst’s WSPU did not use militant tactics at first, it did carry out a highly-visible militant campaign from 1905.

The movement for women’s suffrage is often marked as beginning around 1860 and ending in success in 1928. With the NUWSS around before the WSPU came on the scene, Mrs Fawcett didn’t agree with Mrs Pankhurst’s way of campaigning. Mrs Fawcett believed in using law-abiding, non-violent means to gain the vote for women, including petitions, lobbying and spectacular marches. She believed in women being respectful to the law, to be able to prove they can be ‘good citizens’.

On the 12th July 1910, The Women’s Franchise Bill passed its second reading where the home secretary, Lloyd George, declared it ‘anti-democratic’. With the bill being dropped, Mrs Pankhurst lead her Suffragettes to parliament. The women were forced back onto the streets by the police who manhandled them in a brusque and brutal way, and this became remembered as ‘Black Friday’. When a new bill was proposed the WSPU and the NUWSS organised a massive procession in June 1911. This was when outright militancy began. The new strategy that The WSPU carried out involved opposition to all parties and attacks on private and public property – never on human life. The campaign involved smashing windows, setting fire to property and post boxes, throwing acid on golf courses and other ‘men’s’ methods.

It’s safe to say that this period in the early 1900’s was an exciting yet tumultuous time for women in Britain. The argument for both parties are valid, but I must express my personal admiration for the WSPU, and Mrs Pankhurst’s Suffragettes. Although I don’t agree with violence solving issues, the period that these ladies lived in was a very detrimental time for women who were expected to carry out duties of a house wife and mother and nothing else. If I lived in this period I certainly would rebel against the overwhelming chauvinistic mentality of men, not only in high powers but at home too. I would have wanted equal rights for women, the chance for women to be educated fairly, the chance for women to vote. With the Government treating women so unfairly and the stigma that was attached to being a woman activist at the time, no wonder The Suffragettes wanted to destroy property of men. The frustration must have been unreal.

Mrs Fawcett is and will always be an advocate for the equality of women and highly respected, but I felt by her playing it ‘safe’ with the reoccurring thought of having to ‘prove’ that women could be ‘good citizens’ to gain equality – this in my opinion, was preventing the development of what women could really accomplish. Women are not to be tamed, we are far too passionate, and I think during the 1900’s the struggle of being understood by society for women must have been extremely difficult.

So what’s your opinion? Are you a Suffragist or a Suffragette? I would love to hear your opinion! Tweet me at @LabourFay

Fay Hough – Havering Co-ordinator & Youth Officer, Dagenham and Rainham CLP

“Oh, you’re from the States? So, what are your thoughts on Donald Trump?”

I have probably heard this question at least thirty times since I arrived in London almost two months ago. In that time, I have talked to many British locals about politics, and all have pounced on the opportunity to mention how the American political climate is simply unbelievable. The very mention of President Trump (yes, he is my President after all) induces a slight chuckle out of them before our conversation continues. You could ask 100 people about how he or she predicts the state of the US will be in 3 years, and each person will have a slightly different answer than the next. So, the message of this article will not be about President Trump’s benefit or demise to society. This article is here to emphasize how Trump’s election is just one example of the rise of populism in global politics.

For those that do not know, populism is the political ideology that serves to appeal to the common people and oppose the privileged elite. Americans were privileged to see this manifested in two opposite forms during the 2016 election: on the furthest of left we had Bernie Sanders, the socialist Democrat from Vermont, and on the most surprising of right we had Donald Trump, the eccentric billionaire businessman. Both were keen on tapping into the demands of the lower-class workers who wanted to fill Washington D.C. with representatives that served their best interests. As we all know, it worked more in Trump’s favour in the end. However, the overall election proved that people had an increased sense of political efficacy and were ready to use that to their personal benefit.

Similar events have transpired in other forms across the world as well. In those same British political conversations, if we aren’t talking about Trump, it is safe to assume we are talking about the effects of Brexit. Countless people in the UK were dumbfounded by the groundbreaking referendum result from last summer, and many are still coming to grips with how it will change the United Kingdom’s stature in the global economy. Those who did support Brexit, though, were eager to take back control of the pound and secure domestic jobs from immigrants. Comparably in France, Marine Le Pen nearly won the French presidential election a couple months ago representing the French National Front, one of the most successful populist parties in the world. While she narrowly lost, she still has a tremendous following that has significant influence over the French political landscape.

What is it, though, that has caused this populistic uprising? Leaders like Trump and Le Pen have influenced people by desiring more autonomy on a global scale. They have nationalistic ideals geared towards improving their country economically, and, in some way, militarily. Direct marketing slogans like “Make America Great Again” and “Take Back Control of Our Country” allowed these populist movements to gain more of a following during their campaigns. These tactics are not groundbreaking, but they are tapping into how many people today are feeling.

I am a Political Science major at the University of Florida and I have incorporated as many international relations courses into my curriculum as possible. If there is one thing I have taken away from those courses, it is that global political trends are cyclical. The 2016 US election was not the beginning of a revolution, but a signal of evolution. Populistic governments are something to look out for in the next few decades, but as history has shown, nothing is indefinite.

Jonathan Frish – Political Science Major, University of Florida – FIE Intern for Jon Cruddas MP

Case study – young people in politics

Politics is a topic which many young people are not very involved in and somewhat avoid, I believe that the lack of subjects that are related to politics is having a major impact on the young generation. At my age, many people are not aware of the various actions and achievements of Parties and the benefits that the public are receiving due to the actions of politicians.

Politics surrounds our modern society and therefore awareness of the subject is hugely important. I think that political parties can reach out to more people in education by making politics a viable option for GCSE, alongside the current subjects such as Business & Economics and Design & Technology, this allows an interest in politics to be forged at an early age which could result in more of the population becoming more aware of the ongoing actions of politicians. It would also be beneficial for party leaders to visit secondary schools during their campaigns as, although we cannot vote yet at this age, knowledge and understanding of the subject may influence our future actions and career choices.

Overall, I believe that for a subject that is so relevant to our current events and society, there is a lack of understanding from secondary school students pre-A-Level. This could change very quickly if parties targeted the younger generation a bit more throughout their campaigns to raise awareness, this would be beneficial for the students and the party as it would improve the knowledge that students currently have on politics and the issues around which it surrounds.

Name: Bobby Zhu

Age: 16

From: Chelmsford

Hobbies: Sports-orientated (Basketball, Swimming etc.)

Future Ambitions: I hope to continue my studies at KEGS for sixth form and study Law at university after completing my A-Levels in two years’ time.

Employing Society

Political earthquakes taking the form of Brexit and the US presidential election have brought inequality, globalisation and automation into public debate. Global trade and new technologies have made the world a richer place, but have failed to address the worsening domestic inequalities found in many advanced economies.

In the UK, the worst examples of domestic inequality are often found in deindustrialised areas. Already victims of global competition and then chronic underinvestment, a third punch to the gut was administered through the financial recession and following austerity. Families find themselves at increased risk of poverty by virtue of where they live, and the increasing casualisation of work doesn’t help. The increase in zero-hour contracts leave some trapped in an involuntary cycle of low paying work and unemployment. The rise in self-employment bodes ill too. The Resolution Foundation estimates that the average wages (in real terms) of the self-employed are lower now than they were in 1995.

It should be no surprise that a rage is building against the machine. For some the wheels are falling off, for others it stalled long ago. Allowing this state of affairs to continue will only drive further division in our society. Policies going forward must recognise the failure to address these inequalities over the last 40 years. It must also recognise that though cash transfers support those suffering from poverty and unemployment, they do little to change the forces at work that cause these inequalities in the first place. Structural changes are needed across the economy in order to build one that provides everyone with the choice of a fair wage and the social benefits that stable employment can bring.

One way to begin tackling inequality would be the introduction of a voluntary job guarantee, giving unemployed individuals the choice to work on public projects for their local community and improve their skills, in exchange for a socially inclusive wage. With proper implementation a job guarantee could serve as a powerful tool around which structural economic issues could be solved.

First, it promotes a minimum standard of employment. Earning your keep shouldn’t mean submitting yourself to exploitation. Giving employees an alternative would encourage firms to improve practices and compete to retain their employees, promoting higher productivity and work standards that benefit us all. Firms that can only compete because they subject employees to poor work conditions would be rooted out. In the end the job guarantee is always there to support displaced employees as the economy changes meaning nobody loses out.

The job guarantee also provides a direct channel for local investment. Administering the scheme through local agencies would ensure projects are planned around the specific needs of each community and its residents, avoiding a top-down approach. Investment wouldn’t only target structural needs, but also environmental and cultural ones which would enrich and enable communities in ways that profit-focused investment might not be able to.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a job guarantee is focused on the individual. The skills and interests of those on the scheme are matched to the needs of their community (with some compromise). A job isn’t just about earning an income, but also a way to develop and improve ourselves. A job can be an outlet where we share our potential and passion for the benefit of those around us.

Would we rather support others by giving them the chance to contribute to society, whilst improving their skills and knowledge?

Or do we leave them on a scrapheap of excess labour, marginalise them and sacrifice what their potential could have brought into the world?

The answer should be clear.

Babatunde Salau – Young Labour Member, Whalebone Ward

Women’s Empowerment Month in Barking & Dagenham

Politically how are we as women faring?  We have 51 labour councillors and many of them are women. However – are we treated in the same way as male colleagues? I would argue no.

The elected Councillors can put key women in positions of power, but what is the day to day experience like?  Have any of us here been at a venue or council event, and male colleagues reach out to shake our male colleagues hands and then eventually get round to us, or even not at all.

I have been on site visits and this has happened many times, what do I do? I go over and shake the people’s hands and get them to acknowledge my presence.  I am not disputing that our husbands, partners, sons, uncles, cousins and male friends may be amongst our strongest advocates but we are a long way from equality. In some council departments the presence of women is very low.

Much has been achieved but it is still a work in progress.

Having a keen interest in politics, I watch most political TV programmes. How many times when Theresa May is on TV, does the camera shoot to her shoes? Ok they may be nicer than Andrew Marrs shoes, but it distracts from the political message that is sought to get over. How many column inches were given to her leather trousers or a secretary of state’s handbag?

Donald Trump is an interesting Subject. We may all groan, but here is a man who has been elected by the American people, to be the American President. Not all who voted for him were men, or he would not have got elected. We have to ask ourselves as women why would an American Woman vote for Trump?

We also have to ask, why did women hit the streets (rightly so) in the UK and worldwide to campaign against him? But haven’t done so in solidarity for the women of Saudi Arabia, or the young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Or the young girls raped in India? Are we saying that as a Western Leader we hold Donald Trump to a greater accountability? Could it be we are saying western lives matter more than other countries?

Am I a Feminist? Yes I would say I am. But I would argue at this point Feminism has failed many women worldwide. We still hear of court cases where a serious rape has occurred and we are told the female had been drinking and hence a question mark over the innocence of the woman is put forward.

Women still earn much less than men, that is true across the world. In Western countries we will recount our historic victories but then choose not to look to other countries where the rights of women, are not unlike what women in this country suffered one hundred years ago and far worse.  If child is sick, or an elderly relative needs care, the emphasis is placed on women to find solutions, not men.

I have heard women say when a man forgets a Christmas or birthday present for a work colleague at work, “you would think his wife or partner would sort that out”. That’s a very high standard to place on women.

Women  bring a different skill set and perspective to politics, thank goodness! Many times what a woman can say in ten minutes, can be more effective than two hours of debating in a meeting with the same conclusion. I think many of the women here tonight have a lot to give, and I would urge them to think of a political career, and lend their voices to future Women’s Empowerment Month’s at Barking & Dagenham Council.

Councillor Margaret Mullane – Village Ward Councillor and Dagenham and Rainham CLP Secretary

CWU East London Postal Branch Political Report: Political Side of Life Still Relevant

The problems we face as a Union are affected by the political background as are the problems our members and their families face outside of our place of work.

The political situation affects our children’s future.  For example, will they be able to access good jobs and will they be able to secure decent housing at a reasonable rent.

The Labour Party is still the only party that has got any real intention or possibility of securing a better future for ourselves and our children.

We are facing the worst housing crisis for a century, we have a health service in meltdown, cuts to services, and reducing pensions along with an ever-rising retirement age all affecting everyone except the very privileged.

New Leadership Hope

Our Union has twice successfully given its support to Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, not just because he was always there for us, giving his support over the years in the various battles we went through, but because we found that when we supported a Labour government between 1997 and 2010, that Government did not support us very much in return.  In fact, we needed to fight against an initial privatisation attempt in 2009 and also faced many industrial disputes in which the Tory anti-union laws were either threatened or used against us.

Prior to our Union pushing back the privatisation attempts of the last Labour Government our Union came close to disaffiliating from the Labour Party.  While I fully understood the reasons for the Union considering disaffiliation, that was something I was opposed to because it would only have ever given us a bit of short-term satisfaction.

It was because of the failure of past Labour Governments to properly stand up for working people that meant when the Labour Party leadership election came, members of the Labour Party elected a leader who politically stands against the cuts to public services, really is in favour of truly affordable council housing, supports a well-funded NHS, and wants to stand up for workers’ rights.  As we know, this decision was not made just once, but twice and with an even bigger majority the second time.

But for this, the Labour Party may as well not bother to exist.  If it is to be another version of the Tory and Liberal Parties, what point does it have?

Workers Battle in Labour Party Not Yet Won

However, despite having a Labour leader who is a great friend of the CWU and working people generally on every front, there is a lack of willingness from the majority of current Labour MPs to support this turn to support working people.  The leopards are not changing their spots, as the old saying goes.

As well as the MPs, a powerful right wing and anti-working class group still controls the Labour Party machine, its structures in other words.  In many respects this group is stronger today than ever before, and seem dedicated to making it almost impossible for good working class socialists to get onto Labour’s approved panel as prospective councillors and MPs.

In the past local parties could decide such things without outside interference and it means that many skilled, talented people with both work place and life experience are excluded while the ‘professionals’ from the right wing Liberal elite get through.  Our Union now needs to be part of changing that.

Get Involved

Financial support from Unions, and a general, but largely passive support for the Labour Party, is great, but membership and activity is absolutely crucial if we are to bother with the Labour Party at all.

Affiliated Unions can have their own delegates to Constituency Labour Parties as well as give extra support through the political fund if that party selects CWU members as prospective Councillors and MPs.

At present the party has a mountain to climb if it is to become anywhere near to forming a Labour Government.  To do this it must have good quality representatives – the days of so called safe seats, where you could stand anybody, are gone.

The Labour Party’s position on the EU debate exposed how completely out of touch the right wing of the party are in not recognising the reality of how the EU has been used as a vehicle to drive down workers terms and conditions with big business using a flood of cheap labour and allowing companies to outsource work to low paid workers on temporary contracts or on pretend self-employed tickets.

It was also bizarre that our own union leadership supported Labour’s right wing in supporting the EU when it was in EU law that a country, no matter what government they had, are not able to keep services in public ownership or retake them back into public ownership.  The EU forced countries such as Romania to privatise their whole public sector, leaving them along with many other European countries, economically devastated.  They were sold a lie!

No trade unionist or socialist could ever support such an outfit in my view.

The only trade union pro-leave argument given in the media was on Radio 4 by an RMT representative.  With the Blairite section of the Labour Party supporting the EU still firmly in control of the party organisation and not wanting to move on or make the party a genuine broad Church as it was to some extent in the past, we have many battles and problems to confront in the futureBut more importantly we do have many good members who could become active and the Labour Party is now already the biggest political party in Western Europe.

There is no short cut on this, so I would urge everyone to get active and join the Labour Party as a union representative.

Councillor Lee Waker – Political Officer East London Postal Branch CWU

Healthy, Interactive Political Debate

As a student majoring in Political Science at a university in the small town of Waco, Texas, I am often immediately stereo-typed by my peers as being “too political” or “too opinionated,” just because of what I study. At my university, as is common with many young people throughout the United States, politics is often seen as a taboo topic of conversation, and one that should be avoided so as to prevent any potential conflict that could arise from it. It appears that students either feel as if they personally do not know enough about current political affairs, or they feel that the other student has an opposing or contradicting opinion. Regardless of what the reason is, avoiding political debate in a discussion seems to have become an unspoken rule that, as a Political Science major, I tend to break all too often.

With that being said, upon arriving in the United Kingdom for a semester abroad, I was pleasantly surprised to find that young people are not only open to political debate, but actively seek to engage in it with one another. I can name countless occasions – whether that be on the tube, at a coffee shop, or even at a lively pub on a Friday night – where I have encountered students discussing their opinions on Brexit, the new Prime Minister, etc. They seem to be unapologetic about their views and opinions, and have strong arguments to support why they believe what they do. Furthermore, whether one student agrees or disagrees with the other, they are still willing and able to listen to what their peer has to say (contrary to many American students). After each side has expressed their views, they then either continue their debate, or take the discussion with them to ponder on later.

Over the past few months in the UK, my admiration for British students being unafraid to “talk politics” has only increased, and since dwelling on the subject for quite some time, I have established numerous benefits to young people engaging in political discussion:

  • The possibility of participating in a political debate creates the incentive to actually make oneself aware of what is going on around them, whether that be in the affairs of their local government, or matters involving the state and federal governments
  • Political debate increases ones argumentative skills and public speaking skills, which are invaluable skills to have when entering the job world
  • Opposing opinions on political matters allows both parties to consider their peers’ arguments and evaluate whether they were convinced by any specific points made

While there are many additional reasons to engage in such discussion, it is so important for young people to hear from various different perspectives on politics, instead of shying away from these opinions. Because we are young and impressionable, we are in the unique position to take all that we learn from class, from the media, and from the perspectives of our peers, to then form our own, unique political opinions.

Upon completing my semester abroad, I will be eager to return to the States and encourage a more positive connotation in regards to political debate, instead of the negative connotation that currently exists. Thank you, the young of Britain, for showing me the benefits of engaging in healthy, interactive political debate, and that by doing so, we are bettering ourselves and the society around us.

Isabella Haelen – B.A. International Studies, Baylor University 2018, FIE Intern at Office of Jon Cruddas MP

How Labour can connect with the young working class?

I describe myself as Working Class. Why? Well, I live in rented accommodation, I attended my local Comprehensive school, I’ve grown up watching my mum and dad work extremely hard to put food on the table, as an adult I live on the breadline and commonly use the phrase ‘I rob Peter to pay Paul’ in order to settle bills. I live by the government guidelines of what they deem to be the lower class because unfortunately I don’t have the money to branch out, I don’t have any rich family to inherit from.

I don’t allow this to define me. I am different from many women you may meet in the political world. I went to University, and I graduated with first class honours, but I didn’t study Politics, I studied Music Performance and Technology. I owned my own Dance School for 5 years here in Dagenham, which saw over 220 students pass through my doors overall. I’m a massive sports fan following Chelsea Football Club and my beloved basketball team The New York Knicks. I wear head scarf’s and gold hooped earing’s. I come from a musical family and have everything on my iPod from Etta James and Joni Mitchell, to Biggie Smalls and Jay Z. I speak fast, I’m opinionated and sometimes I like to be just as surprised of what comes out of my mouth as others do.

Yet amongst all of this, I am the Youth Officer for Dagenham and Rainham Labour Party, I am the Havering Coordinator for Jon Cruddas MP, I am the Women’s Officer for Havering Young Labour, and I am a proud parent campaigner and activist. Why am I telling this to you all? Because it’s real. Just as I am sure all your life stories are. We are real people. We have faced struggle, we have faced deprivation, we have grown with strength and we have welcomed happiness. I am an example of realism. Something the current Government lacks.

So this leads me to speak about how Labour can engage with young Working Class People. I personally feel it is all down to real life issues. High Uni Fees – the fear they feel of enrolling at Uni because they are not sure if they’ll ever be able to afford the cost. Education and the threat of privatisation – young people don’t want to feel segregated. They don’t want to feel that the standard of their education all comes down to what mum or dad can afford. The NHS, many young people study years upon years to become our next generation of Doctors and Nurses. Many are currently Junior Doctors suffering at the hands of Jeremy Hunt and his Tory Army, whilst also being scrutinised for the busyness of hospitals as Theresa May continues to ignore the fact that The NHS is now described as ‘a humanitarian crisis’. Tap into the issues that matter to these young people the most, find out how it affects them locally, campaign alongside them, show them what Labour can do for them, how it can support them and gain the backing of MPs in Parliament. Give them that sense of pride that their fitting for something they believe in, and that their fight can make a difference.

Young people are hungry to make a difference. Whether that be a small issue or a nationwide issue. The youth are the future of our Country. They will decide the rules and regulations for my son’s generation. Treat them well. This world is a dog eat dog world and over many years it’s become cold and disheartened. I’m one person, yet I feel I can make a difference, and that’s all thanks to the belief my local Labour Party has put into me. Imagine if we did that for so many others?

I am going to finish this speech with one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite politicians, the great Jo Cox..

‘We have more in common with each other, then things that divide us.’

Fay Hough – Havering Coordinator, Dagenham and Rainham CLP Youth Officer, Havering Young Labour Women’s Officer