I should start this by declaring an interest – both as a party member and someone who put their name forward to run as the London Regional Representative on the Young Labour National Committee. This isn’t meant to be a criticism of any of those running or already part of it, but more a meandering on the processes involved.
When I got the information through my door regarding the Young Labour elections, I was quite excited; all the talk of how the party doesn’t connect with members obviously hadn’t filtered down to the YL section. As one of the ‘newer’ members (though long-time supporter, I should add), the idea of regenerating the party and making things right appealed to me, and I wanted – and still do – to be a part of that. So I took my excited self off to one side, consulted a few friends & sent off my personal statement.
But then I got to thinking…
The structure of the voting seemed OK at first. You have to be elected by your region to be a Rep, then the Chair and other positions are chosen from those elected. Fair. Simple.
But not really.
You see, the – arguably – more important positions are chosen at the Young Labour Conference. A conference which only a minor percentage of members will attend due to cost, location, prior commitments or, probably, weather. This percentage may be even lower since the only information I have on it currently is that it is to take place in February, somewhere in Scotland. Quite frankly I’m waiting for Gandalf to turn up at my house any minute, gift me a ring and charge me with a quest, but I digress…
Would it not be more sensible to let the majority make the bigger decisions? Let local CLPs choose their Regional Representative – after all, they will be who they are accountable to – but give the power to vote for the rest to the entire country? Idealistic of me, I know, but somebody who is accountable to all should be chosen by the many, not the few (this is also fairer on them).
This would also have the advantage of giving everybody a fair platform. I have seen the manifestos of two people running for Chair, both London-based (and both very good). This makes sense, obviously, since I am London-based and keep an eye on the local information and people already involved, be it via twitter or other means. But are there any others who haven’t utilised social media, or who I have simply not been made aware of? What about those who aren’t/weren’t heavily involved in the political or social media scenes but may turn out to be the best candidate of all?
Does all of this even matter if I get the information for conference so late I am unable to get time off work to attend and vote for them anyway?
As the younger generation, we are seen as the future of the party. So the changes should start with us. They may seem small, or insignificant, but a few years down the line I guarantee the difference will be visible.
We need to take advantage of the tools at our disposal to help spread the word – we can’t have access to member lists and contact details, so we make do with effectively using twitter, Facebook, websites to provide as much information as we possibly can. They need to be up-to-date, interactive and welcoming to all – they are instant, easily found, and a great way to get people involved.
For us young ‘uns, the first thing we do usually is google for what we want so, logically, the first port of call for all new members will be the Young Labour website.
A website, by the way, that has no dedicated forum or interactive section for members to talk and engage, or to discuss policy ideas. A website whose last listed event took place in April. 2009.
But that’s a post for another day…