Young People

Labour and the Greens tied amongst young people? Not even close…


labour young people infographic

I created this infographic in response to a local Green candidate sharing a similar one claiming that the Greens and Labour neck and neck, with data from January. She insisted that the polls were still the same today.

Upon my demonstrating that they are, in fact, very different, she branded it “bullshit” and deleted my post. So I’m sharing it here, for the world to see. Because I’m not going to be censored or bullied into silence by a Green Party who find facts inconvenient.

If anyone wants to check the data, my source is cited in the infographic itself, and the raw data can be found here, on YouGov’s website. Enjoy.

Liam Byrne and #shapeyourfuture come to Southend


liam byrne southend visit
Southend doesn’t usually get big name politicians visiting. For one thing, it holds two safe Conservative parliamentary seats (Nominally safe… -Ed). But it is, without any doubt, a town crying out for radical innovation and change. Just look at the growing rejection of the Conservatives at a local level.

I was delighted that Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Minister for Universities, Science and Skills, on Thursday concluded his #shapeyourfuture road trip along the A13 in Southend.

In Liam’s own words, the road trip was about listening to young people.

Last week Ed Miliband launched Labour’s #shapeyourfuture consultation. We want to hear what from young people about their hopes and aspirations and what they want from a Government that represents them.

I am helping get #shapeyourfuture on the road, listening to young people and encouraging them to speak up, register to vote and make their voice heard.

Read on…

Youth in Revolt


george osborne laugh

My generation are selfish bastards. It’s a well-documented thing.

We’re the “me” generation, I’ve been told more than once. We’ve had everything on a plate, we’ve had it so easy. When our parents had to work, we got awards just for turning up. Our exams got easier every year, not like the O-Levels Mum and Dad did.

It’s background noise, the hum which shapes our daily lives. Ungrateful. Undeserving. Spoilt. It gets to the point that we tune it out and carry on with our lives. Because what else can we do?

The truth from our perspective — from my perspective — however is quite different.

Read on…

Officiating the Youth


Last night, I was invited to my first meeting of the Maidenhead CLP Executive Committee. Which sounds probably about as exciting as it was. I was privy to discussions about the future activities of the local party, and how we can increase both our profile and impact on local politics in an area where the Labour Party isn’t really seen as being that relevant.

One of the results of that meeting is that I am now Youth Officer for Maidenhead Constituency Labour Party. The role itself is still a work in progress, but I’m hoping to be able to create a “youth group” of sorts within the party itself. I’ve got a number of ideas of ways to do this, but it’s going to require some thinking regarding execution.

It’s already occured to me that this is going to be difficult. More difficult than my prior experience of youth organisation within the party, which all pretty much boils down to university. Universities are ready made crucibles of political ideas, where students are for the most part already energised by the political atmosphere, and where the main task is to harness that abstract movement with solid ideas and policies.

Maidenhead, unfortunately, is not in the immediate proximity of any higher education institution. The closest is probably Reading Uni, but the idea that there will be many Reading students within the local area seems a fallacy. There is plenty of student accommodation in Reading proper, and vibrant student political groups to match (Reading Young Labour, I know, does a fantastic job with them).

So this new role is going to require different ideas, different methods. There are many more young people in further education and work, whose interests and thinking will be drastically different to a university populace. Like I said above, I have a few ideas already about how to approach this, but I’ll be canvassing others from people and organisations with more experience in this field than I, and brainstorming with the rest of the local party.

I’m really planning to put my all into this. I’ve got plenty of time on my hands at the moment, and I feel that if we can motivate a groundswell of local young people with Labour ideas and policies, then we can begin to challenge the Tory hegemony in the area. That, and as with most things, the party could do well for an injection of fresh young blood. New people and new ideas keep a party fresh, and marching forwards.

So here’s my flag, set on Maidenhead ground. By the time the next general election comes around (potentially 2015- actually coinciding with the next local elections across the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead), I want to have a keen and enthusiastic team of young people, looking to challenge the Tories and reclaim their home.

This Demonic Youth


Maybe A-Level results getting better year on year is a sign of young people working harder, rather than of academic decline? (Graph from BBC News website, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11012369)

Young people today really are little shits, aren’t they?

I mean, if they aren’t lingering on street corners and mugging old ladies, then they are rioting and looting across the country. And then they all take easy exams and get qualifications which aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, because A-Levels have gotten much easier, and swan off to university to do “non-degrees”.

Surely these little bastards are the sole reason why the country is going downhill, right?

Today is, of course, A-Level results day, which means that all across the country 17-19 year olds have been tearing open brown enveloped and gazing upon the results breakdowns therewithin with either glee or devastation, and crashing the UCAS site with judicious mashing of their F5 keys. And the pundits have probably already begun rolling out the tired, annual accusations that A-Levels are a walk in the park nowadays, not like twenty/thirty/forty/etc years ago when you had to wrestle bears just to come out with a pass, or whatever.

It’s the same story every year, and it gets horrendously tiresome.

And on top of that, it’s not a fun time to be a young person at the moment. If you’re not being blamed for rampant civil unrest and the breakdown of society (when it’s actually more likely that you were involved in the clean-up than the destruction), then you’re a feckless waste of space whose achievements are denigrated, and whose very existence is considered a burden.

The fact is, the government makes a palpable show of not caring about the youth- but to be fair, whilst the Lib Dems courted young people at the General Election and then deserted them, the Tories never really seemed to promise them anything at all (leaving aside Cameron’s ridiculous “hug-a-hoodie” PR moment. Tuition fees have been trebled, education budgets have been cut, youth services are being shut down across the country, and even the EMA which would allow less priviliged children continue their education is being heavily curtailed.

But take a look at our society today. This isn’t the Britain of the fifties, where the majority of kids went to work (mostly in industry) at 16, and only the very gifted few went to university. Today we are a post-industrial, largely service economy, and increasingly an undergraduate degree is essential to get anything more than a menial, minimum-wage job. And this is the message that is sent to young people, that if they don’t go to university then they have failed.

With that in mind, is it any surprise that A-Level results would improve year on year? Young people are put under tremendous pressure, because A-Levels are their gateway to higher education. They are forced by their circumstances to work incredibly hard, and the results (I feel) show that.

So here’s to all those who got their results today. Ignore the media, the pundits, and (occasionally, and embarrassingly) the government, saying that you’re some sort of demonic horde, to whom qualifications have come too easy. You’ve worked damn hard, and done damn well, whether or not you met your university offers (or indeed, whether or not you’re going to go to university). The day will come when we’ll be running the country, and I’m not despairing quite yet.

Youth in Revolt


This is the fate which I, and thousands of other young people across the country, fear will be their long-term future.

(This piece was written for the website of Maidenhead Labour Party, where you can see it at its original home)

These are not terribly enjoyable times to be a young person. Of course, they aren’t exactly fun for everyone else, unless you happen to be an old Etonian politician, or the CEO of a bank. But young people seem to be taking a real hit at the moment.

The recent rise in tuition fees has been a definite headline-grabber, with thousands of students taking to the streets in an apparently futile bid to force the Liberal Democrats to honour the vote-winning promises they made before the election. But beyond that, there are so many other regressive policies which are already devastating the life chances of the young.

The rise in tuition fees is a poorly constructed cover for a massive cut to the budget of higher education institutions. This means that universities will be forced to cut back the facilities and services they offer to students starting from September 2012. So yes, students will be paying a good deal more for a good deal less. Which doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me.

And this, of course, is if they get to university in the first place. The withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance, will hit thousands of sixth form students and prospective students. Introduced in 2004 by the Labour government, it was aimed at encouraging young people to remain in education, by giving them the funds necessary for them to do so. It was a lifeline for the poorest young people in our society, giving them hope of getting a better education, and a better job at the end of it. That lifeline has now been cruelly cut by Michael Gove and his Department of Education.

And even for those who manage to get into university, life isn’t rosy. I have just finished studying for a Law degree at the University of Sussex. Three years of hard graft, and now I’m finding it incredibly difficult to find a job. The recession has meant that there are less jobs available, but even now that we’re moving out of recession (albeit into stagnation, thanks to George Osborne’s misguided economic policies), there are graduates from the previous few years still fighting for any new jobs.

Youth unemployment in the UK is currently at record levels- something in the region of one million young people are not in employment, education or training. My biggest fear as a young person at the moment is that I will spend the next few years queuing outside the Jobcentre, irreparably setting back my life chances. I know that this is a fear unique to myself.

So what is the way forward for young people, in today’s climate? Well, the best thing that anyone can do is keep trying. The moment you give up is the moment you lose- and they win. But more than that, and I am biased here, I would remind young people that in thirteen years of government, Labour massively expanded education and provision for helping them into jobs. For example, the Future Jobs Fund, which was one of the first casualties of coalition austerity policies.

I’d also remind them that the Labour party is still fighting their corner- and tell them that active, passionate and enthusiastic Labour party branches are to be found all across the country. And if you’re under 27, it costs only £1 to join.