Henna Shah: Why I’m running for chair of London Young Labour

I’m running to be chair of London Young Labour because I want to build a radical, active and liberated youth movement in our capital. The Labour Party has the power to transform lives – I know this because a Labour government transformed mine. From the district nurses who supported us to care for my mum as she battled with severe mental illness and terminal cancer, to the teachers who went the extra mile to help me do my best, and to the hospital staff in our amazing NHS who showed more compassion and care than I could ever have hoped for. 

Now more than ever, we need to do all we can to get Labour into power, to fight for the rights of working people in the face of exploitative employers, landlords and corporations. That’s why we need to equip Young Labour activists with the tools they need to organise for change in their communities, and to work closely with trade unions to protect young workers in our city.

My aims for London Young Labour are simple: to build an active campaigning force that wins change on issues that matter to young members in London, helps deliver a Labour government, and a youth movement that stands clearly with marginalised communities in the face of oppression.

As an anti-racist campaigner, I know that none of us will be free until we all are. We must fight against racism, transphobia, misogyny, ableism and homophobia wherever we see it in our party and wider society. This means organising and building power to tear down oppressive structures and transform our institutions. As a founding organiser of #CharitySoWhite, an intersectional anti-racist campaign in the third sector, I know what it means to do this and win – and I want London Young Labour to take up this fight in our party and in our city. I pledge to ensure that London Young Labour has liberation at its core, working alongside and empowering LYL’s liberation officers, so that every young member is welcomed into our movement and can fulfil their full potential as Labour activists.

Our movement must live through action. As well as mobilising our members to win elections through phonebanks and canvassing, London Young Labour must be the home for young activists looking to organise in their communities. If elected chair, I will use my experience of training anti-racist organisers to build a programme of political education that is accessible for all members and not only teaches about our shared Labour history and values, but that centres an understanding of power and privilege and the practice of community and trade union organising.

I know that we cannot deliver this ambitious programme of organisation alone. We are privileged to have thousands of talented young people committed to our cause – looking to decolonise the curriculum, fight for a living wage, and end the hostile environment – we will give them the tools and connections they need to make it happen. That’s why, if I’m elected, I will build a network of youth officers across London, providing them with the tools to run effective campaigns in their own CLPs and train other young members to organise on issues they care about.

Our country and our city are facing a once in a generation fight and now is the time for us to stand together. Stand together to fight systemic racism and the rise of the far-right, a fight against exploitative landlords peddling unsafe housing, and a fight against a climate crisis that could see the end of life as we know it.

This year has seen the Tories turn a blind eye to the devastation of Covid – showing more clearly than ever why we need Labour in power. The difference between watching Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson in action is like night and day. An active youth wing, campaigning in every community, can help deliver the Labour government we so desperately need, get Keir into Number 10 and keep Sadiq in City Hall.

That’s my hope for London Young Labour. If you’d like to know more about me, you can follow me on Twitter, or take a look at my Facebook page. Voting is open from October 19th. I’d love to have your support to build a youth wing in our capital that will do all it can to deliver change in our communities and get us back into government.

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