The future of the left since 1884

Generation justice

Labour success will only come if young people are on side, writes Athian Akec.



There is a moral clarity that comes with being young. We examine the world through the lens of unending possibility. We do not disregard the challenges ahead or the barriers against progress but have greater faith in what could be. That is why across the globe we are leading the fight against systemic racism, climate change and other major social justice issues. We are the climate strikers. We are the Black Lives Matter protesters. We are generation justice.

Labour has a mountain to climb against this 80-seat majority government, and if the party is serious about winning in 2024, it must mobilise young voters like never before. In particular, the party must make a concerted effort to galvanise the student vote, as there are some important marginal seats Labour must win where students could decide the outcome.

But to ensure a greater turnout of young people in the next election, our party must be seen as a viable tool for transformational change. And for that, the leadership, NEC and wider membership must represent young people’s concerns around economic, environmental and racial injustice.

Our experiences, having grown up during a decade of austerity in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, are of economic precarity, inequality and exclusion from opportunity. Living in the age of social media, with global connectivity like never before, we are a generation in tune to the injustices unfolding all across the world. This was evident with this summer’s mass Black Lives Matter protests in which we saw young people, unashamedly radical, turn out in record numbers calling for racial equality. This generation of young people embraces community, interdependence and a commitment to leaving no one behind.

Huge numbers of young people are pushing for Labour to do more to tackle the existential threat of climate change. Central to our 2024 platform must be a Green New Deal to deliver good, green jobs, and decarbonise the economy. Rights for gig economy workers, the scrapping of tuition fees and the regeneration of public services are important too. We must redistribute wealth, power and resources to the communities which need them most.

Well before 2024, Labour must undertake a recruitment drive of young, motivated and talented campaigners to communicate the politics of the next generation.

A stronger social media game will be key to Labour’s success. We have to invest heavily and use the next four years to create and refine a social media strategy capable of winning over young voters en masse. The internet is our most powerful tool to directly connect with the voters of tomorrow. Three things must guide us in this area: tapping into what young people value; making the content short but powerful; and making stronger use of social media a long-term priority.

But we must also embrace multigenerational policies. Better social housing would help the young and old. Strengthening the NHS must be one of our top priorities too – it is our nation’s greatest institution that serves us from cradle to grave. Building a fairer education system for lifelong learning is also a must.

The coronavirus pandemic has placed us at the crossroads of history; we have a choice between a fairer economy, a greener climate and tackling racial injustice or returning to the same old broken systems, the same old cycles of needless pain and suffering. But Labour can help us reach a more equal world. Young people will support our party if it shows commitment to implementing real change: change that will transform lives and deliver real hope.

Image credit: Sushil Nash/Unsplash 

Athian Akec

Athian Akec is an activist on knife crime, inequality and climate change.


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