The Labour Party is in a crisis. A political party which is no longer connected to the very people it is supposed to represent. In the midst of a civil war, Labour’s youngest members have yet again been sidelined, ignored and rejected.
Don’t take it from me, talk to the thousands of under 19 labour party members who this week were left disappointed, again. Under the National Executive Committee’s rules, members who joined after the 12th of January are unable to participate in the leadership election. They can, however, sign up as registered supporters. U18s though were unable to do even that.
Even though I myself disagree with the registered supporter system, largely because I don’t believe your democratic voice can be determined by your wealth/ ability to pay £25, U18s have again for no rational reason been left out.
This includes those young people, who when previously asked, would shrug, laugh and dismiss the whole concept of political engagement. This includes young people whose parents may have never voted and have no political background. This includes my school friends, who joined the party a few months ago, only to now be told they have no alternative to participate, they have no say, their participation in the Labour movement isn’t valued.
How ignorant can a political party be, to disengage hundreds if not thousands of young people who have just got involved in politics. It’s beyond belief that a party who claims to stand with young people has time after time again ignored people of my age. They held a youth conference in the most inaccessible and unaffordable location, they held a youth review during summer exams, they fail to converse with young members at CLP/Regional/National levels.
I, even though having been a member of the Labour Party for two years, have never felt so let down. This is a direct rejection of young people from the Labour Party. The simple fact that this was not noticed or raised at all on social media by most Labour politicians, disappoints me, but in no way surprises me. As Young Labour U19s officer, I felt it was my duty to raise this with as many high profile Labour people I could. The response, as a whole was apologetic but not progressive. How can we ensure something like this doesn’t happen again? We can’t!
That’s why I’m making a plea, to every Labour member, politician, trade unionist, act now. Listen to us, speak to us, hear us, share platforms with us. I, as many fellow U19 members are too, am tired of repeating the same thing time after time again. Our purpose is more than just to be in pictures, door knock and be statistical figures for you to boast about how you’re in touch with young people.
I know, this will probably fall on deaf ears. But it’s so vital to keep that glimmer of hope alive. Take Young people seriously. Much thanks.
Asher Mohammed is Young Labour U19s Officer