Tina Bhartwas: Why I am standing to be chair of Young Labour

Tina Bhartwas

I’m Tina, my pronouns are she/her, and I’m a 20-year-old student running to be your next chair of Young Labour. Our youth wing can be a more effective organising force for young people in the Labour Party. And it can be a truly welcoming place where we can learn and grow together. But that will only happen if we vote for change.

Growing up in insecure housing and on free school meals, having been homeless during the pandemic and navigating the transition to University as an estranged student (with no family contact), I know all too well some of the bitter challenges young people face under this Tory government. It was these experiences which drove me to be a Labour councillor so that I could work to protect services, extend them and advocate for my community.

Whilst Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak compete to sell tax cuts, culture wars and seek to divide Britain further, ordinary people across the country are suffering from decimated public services, a lack of good jobs and the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. Services cut, support gone. Young Labour must be rigidly focused on winning for our party and getting the Tories out. It is the only way to build a brighter future for young people and for our country.

An organised Young Labour is one that campaigns relentlessly for our fantastic Labour Party candidates and works to raise the voices of our young members. We must make sure young members are leading the party’s vision for government from the front. Women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled members, our liberation caucuses, must be heard and included. Young Labour activists are diverse and brilliant, but at the moment support is thin on the ground and many regions are struggling.

We must make sure Young Labour builds positive support networks between all of our Young Labour groups so that we can build and achieve so much more together. I will help share skills and knowledge on how to start groups where we don’t have them. I will be accountable, visible and supportive of you locally. I will help connect you with your regional or national lead – making you a full part of our work.

We must build a serious organising network – getting as many young members involved with campaigning as possible, fighting hard to get Keir Starmer into Downing Street. Not just fighting each other on social media. We have to be relentless in campaigning for better policies for all young people: tackling rising rents, the scourge of insecure work, homophobia and transphobia, and taking real action on the climate crisis. Only Labour in power can deliver on these. But we must make sure we are clear on how we would.

While the Conservatives’ cost-of-living crisis spirals into a catastrophe, lack of justice for communities like mine and the residents in my ward is nothing new. For working people who are bearing the brunt of the Conservatives’ economic crisis, feeling unsupported has been the reality of the last 12 years. Where I live in the rural East of England, young people face so many barriers to opportunity, worsened by years of Tory austerity.

That is why I want to build a Young Labour that is focused on holding the government to account and tireless in amplifying the voices of young people whom its misrule affects. We can have a better Young Labour for all of us, one that actively wants to see Labour in power and builds the mass-membership organisation that we should have, not just a Twitter bubble. As your chair, this is what I would deliver.

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