The challenge for young members in London this year is clear: we need to rally behind our Mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, and our London Assembly team to win back City Hall. It couldn’t be more important for our futures, the futures of our peers, and for Labour’s preparation for the next general election.
Boris Johnson has so far done little in the interests of young people. Rising youth unemployment figures and Government cuts to the Future Jobs Fund seem merely inspiration for the recklessness the Tory Mayor is overseeing himself in the city.
Boris has failed to oppose an outlined 23% cut to London’s Youth Offending Teams, even following the wake-up call of the riots. Haringey in particular is seeing its youth service budget take a 75% hack, with all youth clubs closing, while Boris Johnson has also overseen the closures of many of the city’s Connexions centres.
The Conservative Mayor this year raised the price of children’s travel by 50%, while hard-pinched students have seen the price of their tickets rise and rise again, too. Even youngsters suffering with mental health problems are seeing their services cut back significantly. With no jobs, no services and no guidance, the next generation of Londoners have little hope for prosperity.
Boris Johnson sees more value in investment bankers than investment in young people, and has met with millionaires more often that the Met. With no support in place for young Londoners at any level, and services disproportionately cut, an angry set of youths are now crying out for change.
But while Boris’s shameful record is clear, how do we engage young people losing out so badly under his Mayoralty, and encourage them to vote for Ken? One key tactic we’ll use towards winning in May next year is social media. Websites like this one encourage volunteers to reach out to friends and peers, while educating activists about when and where campaign sessions are taking place.
Ken also has a prominent presence on Facebook, with a page for himself and a page where student activists (Labour or otherwise) can convene and consider campaign tactics.
While virtual messages can be a powerful way of communicating, there’s still nothing like a face-to-face canvass. London Young Labour has set up a plan to work with Labour Students to deliver our message across campuses in the city. Throughout the new academic year we will be visiting freshers’ fayres, working to strengthen university Labour Clubs, door knocking halls of residence and ensuring high voter registration at the start of term. London Young Labour will also continue to hold Action Days in key areas, following successful sessions in Wandsworth and Vauxhall, and combine these with socials as a way of making young members feel rewarded for their work.
It is important Ken’s campaign also joins forces with other youth groups within the party. Next Generation and outer-London Young Labour clubs can help bring in volunteers from further afield, while young union activists will be integral in helping us spread our message to work places across the capital.
As Conservative cuts and tuition fee rises see growing numbers of young people jobless at ever younger age, we must ensure that a vote for Labour and for Ken is seen as an investment in their future.
Watch this space for news on how the youth and student wing of Ken’s campaign will soon be gathering members for campaign training and submissions towards Ken’s manifesto. There will be more information in the coming weeks, and I am genuinely excited about the role young people look set to play in this battle.