Today, hundreds of young people that were inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign will gather in Manchester for Momentum Youth and Students conference to discuss how to turn this enthusiasm into action.
I’m excited to be speaking at this conference this weekend, and here’s why.
Alongside thousands, and I mean thousands, of other young people, I was delighted to see Jeremy Corbyn elected last year. For many, it signalled a change in the way we operate.
It represented a change in the message coming from the leadership. After five years of mixed up policies written in response to the latest media focus, we had elected a leader with a consistent vision of a fairer world.
In real terms, it translated into thousands of people joining the Labour Party. A huge percentage of these new members are Young Labour – under 27 years old.
During the seemingly never-ending leadership campaign, Jeremy spoke at length about a new kind of politics. For as long as I can remember, the public has shown an extreme apathy to the political system, which shows itself most clearly in low voter turnouts and in a practical form when they close the door on you after telling you that they don’t choose to vote because politicians ‘are all the same.’ This is most prevalent amongst young people and it is absolutely right that instead of accepting this, we should be trying to do something about it, by presenting a clear alternative.
The radical idea of a new, kinder politics was also spoken about. It’s subsequently been grasped firmly between two air quotes in an attempt to criticise any disagreement between anyone on any side of the Labour Party, but regardless, the idea is sound. We live in an age when political criticism is still based upon throwing about insults about how your opponent is dressed (“put on a proper suit”, anyone?), or what their accent is, or what you believe their character flaws to be, instead of an analysis of policy and politics. This environment is toxic, and it certainly doesn’t bring young people into politics. It is time for change.
It was always going to take more than just one person to deliver these goals – it takes a movement. That is what Momentum is.
No matter what you think of another organisation existing, organising and adding to the debate within our movement, you must agree that this raw enthusiasm and willingness to engage with the Labour Party needs an outlet. What has grown has become a vehicle for this, which has resulted in debate, participation and many more people on the doorstep.
It is exciting to address a conference of young people, all inspired to campaign for Labour in their communities. Young people that ready to bring in even more people to our movement.
It is exciting to encourage more young people, new members, to engage with our structures and stand for positions at local, regional and national level. Young people are under-represented and it is time to act.
It is exciting to speak to hundreds of people that are passionate about fighting injustice, ready to campaign and organise on issues that matter to them. Momentum Youth and Students is new, it’s autonomous, it’s ready to act – and it is exactly what the Labour movement should be encouraging.
Caroline Hill is national chair of Young Labour