Helena’s report for Young Labour Summer 2013

National Policy Forum 22-23rd June, Birmingham

Last weekend, members of the National Policy Forum headed to Birmingham for the  next stage in Labour’s policy-making process for the 2015 election. Bex Bailey,  Young Labour’s NEC representative, and two of the NPF youth representatives, Chris  Hughes and Charlotte Hale, and myself represented Young Labour at the event.

After a Q and A with Angela Eagle and Jon Cruddas, Ed Miliband gave a speech  stressing the need for Labour to make tough choices on spending should we win the  next election; simply opposing every Tory cut without setting out where Labour  would cut doesn’t make Labour appear as a credible opposition party capable of getting the deficit down. Ed gave a really positive response to my question about  Labour having a specific youth manifesto, saying it would be a great way to ensure Labour reaches out to disengaged young people at the next election. He also praised the important work being done by Young Labour and Labour Students to ensure there are active groups set up in each of the 106 target seats.

Ed Balls echoed the same economic messages and emphasised the importance of schemes like the Living Wage in maintaining peoples’ standard of living during times of fiscal consolidation. There was lots of discussion about the problems posed by payday lenders. I asked Ed about comprehensive financial education, as well as sex and relationship education, and it was great that he agreed that it should feature in the national curriculum.

National Policy Forum members then headed to policy commissions to finalise the policy papers originally published in March, discussing submissions received from members through the Your Britain website. In the Better Politics commission, we discussed ways in which we could encourage more people to vote, such as political education in schools, voting on different days or introducing new methods of voting.

In the Education and Childcare commission we debated the different options on  childcare provision available for the next manifesto.

In the evening, members were given the opportunity to ‘speed-date’ members of the  shadow cabinet with policy proposals. Loads of great ideas were suggested, but the  winners were Paul Evans’ suggestion for content levies on companies like Google and  Apple, and Lara Norris’ proposal of citizenship awards for those who contribute to  their local community. Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts and former head of policy for Tony Blair, gave the after-dinner speech.

On Sunday, the NPF discussed priorities for the next stage of policy development work, and we had the opportunity to raise big issues we would like to see addressed by policy commissions in the future.

At the commission on society, Bex spoke about the need for action to tackle the housing crisis and mentioned the great work done by Young Labour groups on our current priority campaign on youth homelessness. Bex and I both mentioned violence against women and the need for sex and relationship education in the 2015 manifesto.

In the session on politics, we agreed on the importance of citizenship education, and  discussed ways that CLPs could be more welcoming to younger members. Though  equalities comes under the remit of the politics commission, it is great that there will be equality champions on each of Labour’s policy commissions to ensure all proposed politics are interrogated for their commitment to equality.

The weekend was a great opportunity for NPF reps to engage and represent the views of members to shadow cabinet members, formulating the direction of Labour’s policy for the year ahead. The shadow cabinet and the NPF are working very hard to produce a winning manifesto for 2015 that reflects the core values of our party in these difficult economic times.

It would be great to see more young members contributing to the policy process by making a submission to the Your Britain website (http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/) and if any Young Labour groups would like help running a policy forum in their area, just get in touch.

Helena Dollimore

Vice Chair (Policy) of Young Labour

@helenadollimore

 

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