Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the next general election sees the return of a Labour government.
The Tories are using their return to power to unleash an unprecedented and ideologically-driven attack on our communities and the life chances of millions. The Tories cut, slash and burn agenda is leaving 1 in 5 young people unemployed, will drive down living standards for most and hits the most vulnerable hardest whilst protecting the wealthiest.
But to win again, Labour needs to need understand the reasons why we lost and offer an alternative.
We believe that Ed Miliband was right to say we must learn why five million people stopped voting Labour during the 13 years we were in power. The loss of these voters lay behind the general election defeat; it was certainly not a resurgent Tory party, which was unable to even form a majority government on its own.
However some in the party seem determined to repeat the old errors. Some continue to advocate economic neoliberalism and triangulation, whilst others advocate a backward step to pre-1945 welfare provision, social conservatism and concessions to racism.
As younger Labour Party members we believe the Party must move on from such thinking.
We grew up with a Labour government and saw the improvements in the health service, the new schools and early years provision. We recognise Labour’s increased investment and spending on public services was the right thing to take forward our country. We are proud of the minimum wage, the EMA and the equalities agenda that Labour advanced. But for so many of our generation, Labour became a party of the establishment. It failed to ensure growth was shared fairly enough – whilst the very wealthiest got ever richer; it raised tuition fees, pursued war, attacked civil liberties and let immigration be demonised.
To win, Labour must be willing to articulate a modern left politics and reconnect with the coalition of supporters it lost and the vast majority opposed to the Tories’ reactionary agenda. The same people who are most under threat from the Tories reactionary agenda include those we must win back to Labour: young people, ordinary working people, the most deprived and impoverished, ethnic minorities and women. A positive agenda from Labour that protects people’s living standards, defends public services against further Tory onslaughts, builds a green economy, champions equality for all and a just and peaceful foreign policy can help us do this.
Tens of thousands have already joined the Labour Party, rebuilding a winning alliance under Ed Miliband’s leadership, including many younger people who worry their future is being sold off to pay for the mistakes of the ‘buy-now, pay-later’ generation.
As the next generation of Labour supporters, we want Labour to tackle the Tories and their reactionary politics head on and offer truly progressive alternatives. As younger members we want to see Labour re-elected at the earliest opportunity and believe this requires a progressive programme that can deliver social justice.
Heather Elliot and