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It’s quite an exciting thing that over the past few years so many Young Labour members have won so many council seats. Since 2012 we have seen quite an influx of young people elected to councils up and down the land and unsurprisingly most of these young people have been members of the Labour Party.

I was elected to Swansea two years ago and was also appointed to the Cabinet at the same time and if I was to say that’s it’s been plain sailing ever since then that just wouldn’t be true. It’s been fantastic but certainly not easy.

Unsurprisingly at the beginning there were the general comments about age coming from the Councillors who thought ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest’ was still showing at the Odeon and that Wifi was a pet name for someone’s partner, but that seemed to die down after a while.

No, the real challenge has always come from policy and sheer caseload.

In Swansea our entire manifesto and mindset is geared towards tackling poverty, and I think we’ve managed to achieve a couple of pretty good things around this extraordinarily testing task. With help from experience in Labour Students and with Movement for Change we managed to secure a Living Wage for over 3,000 staff members in Swansea, we’ve been leading a very strong anti pay day loan (Sharkstoppers) campaign and we’ve significantly restructured the council to focus on three of the key areas of deprivation.

We’ve set up our own Food Bank from scratch in one of the areas that needed it the most and we were the first Council in Europe to embed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into council policy.

Naturally a lot of this work means long and sometimes antisocial hours, very high public and private scrutiny and it means that you have to bite your tongue sometimes when all you want to do is tweet something funny your chief whip says or blog about your travels.

And if I’m honest sometimes it can be very tough. Sometimes the pettiness can be demoralising, the watchful eyes and comments can be overbearing and the fact you always have to put on a good show can make you want to pack it in there and then, move to Germany and start a new life selling prized sausages in a market.

But then you remember that actually it’s completely and utterly worth it. You remember the vision and the ambition and all those people that campaigned for you and voted for you and wanted you to step and try to turn that hope they felt into palpable change on the ground.

You remember that you can achieve a huge amount and that the opportunity and ability to something like this doesn't come around too often.

So if you're a newly elected councillor, good luck. You'll be fantastic. Some bits will be tough and there will be days when you want to pack it all in, but just keep your chin up and try not to tweet anything offensive.

And if you're thinking of running in the future then weigh up the time commitment, ask yourself if you definitely want to be doing this for the next x amount of years, and if the answer is yes then give it everything you've got and show them what us young folk are made of.

Councillor Mitch Theaker is a Young Labour member and Cabinet Member for Opportunities for Children and Young People on Swansea Council. He tweets @MitchellTheaker.

A breath of fresh air: being a young councillor by Mitch Theaker

It’s quite an exciting thing that over the past few years so many Young Labour members have won so many council seats. Since 2012 we have seen quite an influx...

You don’t really appreciate a campaign until you live near a hugely marginal, key parliamentary seat a year away from a General Election.

On 5th & 6th April 2014 Young Labour groups, Labour Students and Young Fabians from across the country joined Wirral Young Labour in Esther McVey’s constituency Wirral West to do a whole weekend packed full of campaigning. Esther sits on a mere 6% majority and Labour’s candidate Margaret Greenwood is hoping to reclaim the seat in 2015. It was a fantastic weekend with a brilliant social in the evening and an exciting opportunity to meet members from up and down the country.

It is allowing us to plan innovative engagement opportunities and in August we are hoping to take winning Wirral West to another level. We are currently organising a ’31 Days for 2015’ campaignathon whereby we’re asking members to commit to at least 24 campaigning sessions in August with the aim of making 4,000 contacts. For this we will pay for a monthly, all areas travel pass for members so they can get across to these sessions and for those who do come to 24+ we’re going to buy their National Conference pass to ensure all members have the opportunity to go regardless of financial issues. There will also be socials and exciting events each week after sessions.

Living near a key seat has given us the chance to really claim some ownership of pursuing a Labour victory on our own doorstep. Even more so to use it as a way to get our members behind this important cause by holding socials, huge campaign days, offering to pay for travel and using it to help members experience conference whilst building a new membership by engaging the wider community.

A key seat provides an opportunity to recruit new members and 14 were signed up on the doorstep during the Upton by-election in Wirral West, by that example we now carry membership forms on every campaigning session because it really is the best way to engage.

I feel very lucky to be involved in Wirral Young Labour with such an exciting 11 months ahead of us. And I know we’re going to use the General Election to our advantage to engage more young people in politics and encourage them to use their vote. So it’s definitely the best time to get involved and see what’s going on!

Jasmin Beckett is a member of Wirral Young Labour. She tweets @JasminAmelia.

A view from the frontline: key seat campaigning by Jasmin Beckett

You don’t really appreciate a campaign until you live near a hugely marginal, key parliamentary seat a year away from a General Election.

After just over one year of organising, networking, and campaigning, Warrington Young Labour (WYL) is now the largest & most active political youth group in Warrington. 

Our main aim is to create a unified and engaged youth community through effective campaigning, local volunteering, and unique social events. At our 2013 AGM, we elected a full committee to lead us into the New Year, and our first action was to ensure WYL had a bold presence at any event, so we invested in bright red T-shirts branding our logo and the locally iconic Golden Gates. Eye-catching, vibrant and easily recognisable, they have given us a professional image, and well recognised local identity at any event.

Warrington has a thriving and diverse music scene, therefore WYL’s first social was an event which brought those bands together onto the same stage. On the night, twelve acts performed, including ‘Above The Underground’ who had just come back from a US tour. The event was a great success for its wide appeal and minimal political agenda; the only connotation to Labour was the name ‘Rock The Red’, and our members simply received a discount on their ticket. Our second event was even bigger, with around 100 students in attendance for "Rock The Party" where three local DJ's performed a Dubstep night in a local bar. We are looking to host our third event this Summer, where individuals can purchase a "One Nation" wrist band and receive discount drink & food deals within Warrington's upcoming "Cultural Quarter" venues.

Gaining an online presence we found was crucial in engaging the 26,000 young people in Warrington. Our Facebook and Twitter has had thousands of hits, through simply posting pictures of every time we are together campaigning, socialising, or at an event. In each photo, we reiterate what WYL is all about and how people can join, which has actually led to many sign ups over the last year. When it comes to campaigning, every Tuesday our members host the CLP phone bank, which has risen from approx. 400 contacts to 1,450 a month since WYL was established. To keep the moral high, we offer Domino’s Pizza on the ‘Two for Tuesdays’ deal (other pizza delivery companies are available!), which rest assured goes down well with our members.

But an important part of WYL, is our work outside of the Party. Over the last year, we have worked with Warrington Pride, Hope Not Hate and local mental health charity HeadStrong in supporting their work across the town. A group of our members also signed up for the National Citizen Service, and took part in Social Action Projects to help local charities.

But whether it’s leafleting or dialling digits, hosting or holding Labour stalls, or doorknocking with our candidates, Warrington Young Labour is active all week round. It was a privileged to receive "Best New Young Labour Group 2014" at Young Labour Conference, and is testimony that through friendship and good fun, we are building our party, changing the face of our party and through direction action, ensuring the Labour Party maintains its control of our Town Hall and continues its successes south of the ship canal, to win back Warrington South in 2015.

Tom Jennings is the Chair of Warrington Young Labour and tweets @TomJennings94.

New group, big impact: Warrington Young Labour by Tom Jennings

After just over one year of organising, networking, and campaigning, Warrington Young Labour (WYL) is now the largest & most active political youth group in Warrington. 


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