This is the report that I have submitted to my first ordinary meeting of the London Labour Regional Board.
I am the newly elected Youth Representative on the Regional Board. I was elected on the 15th February 2016 through an online ballot of all young members in Greater London and will serve a two year term. I am active in London Young Labour and am training to be a primary school teacher.
2 Young Members
There are over 12,000 young members in London. I have struggled to get hold of accurate membership figures in the past but I understand that this time last year the figure was closer to 5,000. Anecdotally, it appears that only a small proportion of these new members have become active in the party in either the youth wing or their CLPs.
3 Local Young Labour Groups
There is no centrally collated list of Young Labour groups so it is difficult to know their exact number. My own count puts the figure at 18 but there may be more. Of these, approximately half have launched in the past year. Some mapped onto CLPs and others to boroughs. Levels of activity vary considerably: some organise regular discussion groups, campaign sessions, and socials; whereas others might only be a Facebook group with intermittent events.
4 London Young Labour
London Young Labour represents all young members in London so officially its membership stands at 12,000. However the number of young people who have engaged with London Young Labour over the past 12 months is probably fewer than 1000. Its biggest event, its Annual General Meeting, was held this January and was attended by just over 150 people. Despite the huge increase in membership, this is roughly the same as the year before.
At its peak last year London Young Labour organised 11 events in a month. The focus at the moment is rightly on the London elections, with at least one phonebank per week alongside canvassing most weekends.
London Young Labour’s elected committee includes those elected at its AGM alongside the Regional Board Youth Representative (me) and the Young Labour National Committee Representative, Sabrina Huck, who was elected at the same time and through the same system as me.
5 Priorities and obstacles
It is clear to me that our young members are a highly valuable and under-utilised resource. Too few are ‘activated’ and engaged in either our campaigning activity or our party’s structures. It is my view that local Young Labour groups, and London Young Labour, are the best way to welcome these new members into the party and empower them to become active locally, regionally and nationally.
However, Young Labour groups need more support to reach their potential. In particular, many face two obstacles: lack of access to membership and lack of funding.
5.1 Access to membership
Sensitivity around data collection means that many Young Labour groups do not have direct access to their membership contact details. This means that they have to rely on their CLP, Borough or Region to contact their members. This often creates long delays or, in some cases, means that the email never reaches its desired recipients.
There is provision within the Labour Party Rulebook for Young Labour groups to be funded through a proportion of young members’ fees. I realise that resources are tight but I am keen to investigate the feasibility of this option. It would support Young Labour groups to better connect with their members, put on more interesting and engaging events, and empower greater youth leadership.