If anything good came from the 2017 snap general election, it was the mass mobilisation of young people to the Labour cause. No one saw it coming, especially a prominent section of the older, Tory-leaning generation who had been too busy dismissing us as avocado-munching millennials to realise how politically engaged we were. In the wake of this, the Labour Party has to be able to make the transition from simply mobilising young people at rallies and on social media, to organising and educating at all levels, from grassroots CLPs and University Labour Societies through to the Young Labour National Committee.
Young, working-class people across the country are united in their struggle against Tory austerity, increasing tuition fees, extortionate rents, unpaid internships, and insecure jobs in the gig economy. In Southampton & Romsey we have the added complication of living in the South East where everything is more expensive, from houses to beer. This is all well and good for those in well-paid, secure work, who can afford the benefits of living in the South East, but for young people working in supermarkets or as Deliveroo riders, it just presents another barrier. With two universities in the city bringing in a large, transient population of young people needing somewhere to live, the rent issue, in particular, is a prominent one here in Southampton. Ridiculous agency fees, high rents, absent landlords and substandard living conditions are a blight on young people who are just starting out on their own and make saving up for something better almost impossible.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. In the fight for equal rights and a more progressive society, young people are always at the forefront. With social media, young people are talking to and learning from people all around the world, living vastly different lives to our own. To truly transform the lives of the many we need to embrace both class politics and identity politics that transcends borders, and in a city like Southampton with its diverse population, international links, and strong Labour tradition, we are in a real position to do just that, with young people leading the way. When a Labour government comes to power it will be our young members, as well as young trade unionists and social justice activists, who are driving the radical social and economic transformation this country needs.