Southampton Labour Party Blog
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.
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...
Our Labour councillor for Bargate, Sarah Bogle, has written this great article about the upcoming anniversary of women gaining the vote. It is so important that we exercise our right to vote.....
Tuesday 6th February is the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which historically gave (some) women the vote for the first time, 8.5 million women over 30 and who owned property.
Equality of voting age (at 21) with men did not come till a decade later, but this was a significant step forward after many years of campaigning and protest.
2018 was also the year that women first got the right to stand for the UK Parliament, and 100 years on, we now have 208 women MPs 32% of the total.
Local government should be more representative, but we still have a way to go. Southampton has just 12 female Councillors out of the 48, just 25% of the total, Labour has 9 of them, and hopefully there will be more after this year’s local elections on 3rd May, partly thanks to Labour’s policy of all women shortlists (AWS).
I was first elected as a Councillor in Bargate on a 15% turnout, at which point I was delighted to be elected but quite upset at the level of voter engagement. Turnout has increased, but this has been partly because many of our more transient population are not registering in the first place, because of the new individual voter registration system.
It is strange to think that women were prepared to die for this right to vote not that long ago, and many countries, that right is still not established. Now, significant numbers do not even register to vote, and many never use their vote, particularly in local elections. I hope the focus on this important centenary this year will inspire more people, and particularly women to use their vote.
Our Labour councillor for Bargate, Sarah Bogle, has written this great article about the upcoming anniversary of women gaining the vote. It is so important that we exercise our right...
Do you love cycling? If so do you know about this group?
Underpinning the ‘Clean Air Launch’ in Southampton on Wednesday 7th February was also a meet of the Southampton Cycling Forum, which meet several times during the year to discuss the key issues that cyclists face within the City. Chaired by the Labour Councillor for Peartree, Eamonn Keogh, its aim is that, by bringing together the interested parties, including the City Council and developers, more people will ride in Southampton and do so in more safety. An obviously noble cause that will also help combat Southampton’s air pollution challenges. It is attended by a passionate group of people that have great knowledge of Southampton’s cycle ways and the challenges that cyclists face as Southampton grows and prospers.
Representatives of the City Council were there to give updates on current development plans and were happy to take away suggestions on how future development projects could better support cyclists. There was also some good discussion around challenging perceptions that the car should be the priority in today’s day and age. Southampton, Europe’s most wooded city, already has significant green spaces and many cycle ways, but it is obvious that there is great interest in making Southampton even more cycle-friendly, to further prioritise cycling and walking, and to encourage people out of their cars.
The group is open to anyone in the City who has a passion to see more and improved cycle ways in Southampton, and all abilities and ages are welcome. Ideas and feedback on current issues are most welcome and this will be feedback to the Council.
To ask to join the group, please email: Councillor.E.Keogh@southampton.gov.uk
You can read about what has been discussed at previous meetings here: https://myjourneysouthampton.com/news/minutes-southampton-cycle-forum-october-2017
Information on Cycling in Southampton Here:
Do you love cycling? If so do you know about this group? Underpinning the ‘Clean Air Launch’ in Southampton on Wednesday 7th February was also a meet of the Southampton...
How teaching persuaded me that I must join Labour
(By Tom Williams)
I started training to be a teacher in 2009. By the time I qualified, we had a Conservative-led coalition government, so over the last eight years, I have witnessed the devastating effects of Tory policy on primary schools. Obviously, pretty much the first thing they did came for our pensions. That's almost a side issue for me though.
For me, the genuinely heart-breaking thing has been the way children have suffered. Support staff have diminished, meaning that children who need more support no longer get it. This has a knock-on effect on every child in every class. So as well as NQTs buying glue sticks and feeding poverty-stricken kids out of their own pockets, we now see pretty much every child getting less adult attention than they would have under Labour. This affects not just their learning, but also their emotional wellbeing. Even by the Conservatives' own capital-obsessed rationale, cutting funding for schools is nonsense. Bizarrely, this government don't see schools as economic multipliers. They can't seem to grasp that children having a proper education helps the economy as well as helping the children.
And it's not just cuts to schools that are destroying the lives of children. As teachers, we are often in contact with other similarly under-resourced bodies, for example, social services and the police. We also deal with parents forced to work every available hour for derisory wages, meaning that their children are almost necessarily under-parented. Most teachers don't see themselves as heroes or martyrs- we're just people who want to help, and perhaps have some fun while we do so. The only party that will help us do that is Labour.
How teaching persuaded me that I must join Labour(By Tom Williams) I started training to be a teacher in 2009. By the time I qualified, we had a Conservative-led coalition... Read more
This is one of the most common issues that we hear about in Southampton when out on the #labourdoorstep.
We must continue to put pressure on the current government to invest in the NHS, and to listen to the experts that tell us that it needs additional support and resources.
Please consider coming along and lending your support to this great cause!
This Saturday, on the 3rd February (12noon, Bargate Street) there is a day of protest planned to support our #NHS, which is particularly important during this current crises. This is one...
Campaign committee rooms: Not without their inspiration!
You might be like me, one of those people who has always had political views in line with Labour, but happy to watch from a distance. In January, I finally nailed my colours to the mast and joined the party. Listening to lots of people that work in either health care or education, I decided that enough was enough and that I could not, in good conscience, sit on the sidelines anymore and had to get involved in one way or another. I was expecting to 'learn the ropes' a little bit for a few months, make some new friends, and start to carve out some kind of niche where I could help, potentially around social media or events. Imagine my surprise then when a certain someone called a snap election and the whole ethos of the party changed suddenly in the most wonderful way. I remember Corbyn being asked in a television interview a few months prior whether he would be ready for an election if one was called, and he replied that he was with confidence. This proved to be spot on as the Labour Party machine leaped into action with a costed manifesto, catchy slogan, and a message of hope.
My concern was that as I had just joined the party, I wouldn't be able to really use any of my natural organisation and planning skills (I am an event management practitioner and academic by trade) due to still learning everything. However, I thought this would be fine for this election and I still made the effort to get out door knocking and generally supporting where I could. I was then very excited to be asked to use my skills to coordinate a committee room in Southampton Itchen, in support of Simon Letts. I was a little nervous about jumping into the deep end but trusted that I would not have been given anything that I couldn't do and was eager to learn and to do more.
So on the morning of the 8th, I turn up at the base and was quickly shown the ropes. I got my head into gear and was able to grasp things reasonably quickly and accurately. My role was to coordinate all of the volunteers coming into the office that day and then get them out into the wards with folders to door knock and encourage people to vote. I was expecting a lot of down time, management of a few volunteers, and to be swallowed up into the great election machine so that I couldn't really enjoy it. However I don't think I could have been more wrong and figured this out fairly quickly as the first volunteer came through the door promptly at 9am. By 10am the room was clearing buzzing with keen and like-minded people wanting to make a difference.
Logistically I was told that everything we did in that office ran very smoothly that day and no folders were unaccounted for at the end of the day, and with well over half of all the street and roads being covered. However, that isn't what this blog is about...
I found myself absolutely speechless by the enthusiasm of most of the volunteers that came in from all walks of life. Despite being quite active in the party since January, I only recognised a few faces through the day and the lesson I take from that is more about the sheer number of people that decided they wanted to do something, anything, that they could in order to get Labour every last vote that was possible to protect our NHS and give our children the best possible future. They didn't just appear from within the constituency boundaries, but from as far away as Stockbridge (Winchester/ Salisbury area) and the Isle of Wight. Several of them saying 'we just wanted to make a difference but couldn't where we lived', before rushing out into the pouring rain in an area that they didn’t know, to go and convince people that they didn't know, to vote for a candidate that they had very likely never met.....What good sports!
Organising such wonderful volunteers through the day was definitely a wonderful challenge to have. Despite some moments being utterly crazy, one moment that is particularly worthy of note, was the arrival of all of the Unite and Bakers Union fairly early in the morning. Their passion and energy was so inspiring that it nearly had me running out the door with them, folders at the ready! This great team made light work of a good portion of streets in quick time and braved the poor weather through much of the day.
Then there were the young voters, who are suddenly being talked about so much. We had one girl helping us for a few hours who wasn't even old enough to vote but that appeared completely engaged with the process and completely committed to the cause. There was the 18 year old girl who spent most of the day with us, and even stayed when her Dad had to rush off home, before returning in the evening for the final push! These people made me wish I had taken a stand in politics years ago, and I just hope that they do indeed get the country that they want someday, as it would be a sight to see.
I do think that it’s worth noting very clearly the great atmosphere and sheer good will that was on offer. It was moving when people turned up, clearly tired, overworked within their day jobs or juggling family care, but simply saying 'I only have an hour but wanted to play my part'. I just think about how much easier it would have been for these people to stay at home or not brave the traffic, but they wanted to do whatever they could.
We finished the committee office just after 9pm. I felt a bit guilty sending people out in the rain at half 8 in the evening, but everyone wanted to do every last thing they could to get Simon into parliament and to not look back wondering. As it turned out every vote clearly did matter. I managed to stay up until gone 5am when the results were announced, and as happy as I was for Alan, I was disappointed for Simon, and the key people that had spent so much time supporting him. The strange, amazing feeling that I had not experienced previously though was that I actually felt part of it in some small way. It was clear that Labour had very effectively attacked the Itchen seat. Although I felt disappointment, I would have felt even worse had I not been involved at all!
So why am I writing this.... simply because I wanted to shout from the rooftops about the types of incredible personalities that we had that day, working to do everything they could to build a better future for everyone, not just the privileged few. There were no volunteer politics, no long discussion on whether you were pro or anti Corbyn, and certainly no negative vibes. I can't think of a better use for a rainy day, and am very grateful to have played my part.
One might say that our little committee room was living proof of Labour's vision for Britain. There was a place for everyone, passion and determination were in no short supply and there was a real appetite for change, with everyone in the room choosing HOPE!
Campaign committee rooms: Not without their inspiration! You might be like me, one of those people who has always had political views in line with Labour, but happy to watch from...
'We encourage our members to write about issues that they are passionate about, and to share their experiences of being part of the Labour Party. Our blogs will always be respectful, but we hope that you will enjoy reading them. If you have similar views and passions then why not consider joining Southampton Labour party (Click Here). We want to build a country that works for the many, and we want politics to be welcoming to all who seek to build a better tomorrow."
'We encourage our members to write about issues that they are passionate about, and to share their experiences of being part of the Labour Party. Our blogs will always be...