Labour Students, set up in 1971 as a campaigning organisation for student supporters of the Labour Party and social democracy, has now got a broad, diverse membership of young people who work together to help create a fairer society for us all. From Liberation to Living Wage, from Democracy to Social Justice, Labour Students has always been on the forefront of winning for Labour and winning for the country.
I am a Labour Student myself and, like many others, have been involved in student politics and the National Union of Students (NUS). Currently, there are six members of the Labour Students NUS group, who help to influence policy and dynamically engage with students in campuses the length and breadth of the country. From Tuition Fees to EMA and the Make Child Poverty History campaign, this intrinsic relationship between two of the widest and largest movements of young people in the world has been extremely effective in highlighting the views, opinions and unique ideas of a generation that is viewed as secondary by today’s government.
But now it is more crucial than ever before that Students and Young people are involved in politics. The Coalition has scrapped EMA, cut citizenship education, hiked tuition fees, and made access to universities a nightmare for young people. Our young people in this country are some of the most gifted, ingenious, articulate and idea-driven people I have ever met. With people like Liam Burns heading up the NUS, students around the country are starting to have a real voice in issues that concern them. Labour Students has driven that change, has embraced the intelligence of our young and has spearheaded the campaign for equality. But we haven’t gone far enough.
Labour under Ed Miliband has taken Labour Students under its wing, but this needs to be more prevalent. Young people need a voice. This is why I support the Votes at 16 Campaign, and I think all Labour MP’s should too. But the point is: the Labour movement has to show young people that their voice matters and that, collectively, we can achieve so much together that we never could on our own. On issues like Lords Reform, Education, Health, Voting, the Environment, students and young people throughout the country have so much to offer in terms of research and opinion. But yet this government still ignores them. This is what must end and, with the help of Labour Students, it will.
With more than one million young people unemployed today, a need for a unique student-led ‘reclaim our voice’ campaign has never been higher.Labour Students needs to be at the forefront of a UK-wide pledge that young people will never be ignored again. We need to mobilise: knocking on doors, signing up MP’s and Councillors to our campaign, petitioning Parliament, lobbying on LGBT, Black, Woman, Disabled and other minority issues. Labour Students needs to show the public that the media-driven image of young people as troublemakers and hoodlums is totally inaccurate, and that we are actually an active proponent of equality, diversity, and opportunity. Within a multi-faceted society such as ours, unity is the only way possible.
And it is that unity which Labour Students and the Labour Party need to provide.