Member Tom Honeywell writes about Wirral Young Labour's successful food bank appeal, and how Young Labour groups can and must make a difference in their communities.
I’m sure we can all remember election night vividly. Whether you were at home in despair as David Dimbleby announced ‘That exit poll’ or wrapping up a campaigning session blissfully unaware. Optimism dropping away as fast as our very own MPs. That realisation that all that we had fought so passionately against would be enacted, making us feel like a tsunami wave of hopelessness had engulfed us. We cannot let that happen again and we must campaign, but knocking on doors wouldn’t be enough, we have to do so much more.
We need to capitalise on all our brilliant new members. Now standing at 300,000 or over 600,000 if we count supporters, many of which are young people, in the Wirral alone we have had over a thirdfold increase in Young Labour members. It’s all well and good attracting people to the Labour Party, but we must also engage them, enthuse them and make them feel a part of our movement. Regardless of who we announce as our leader on the 12th of September this has to happen. We can only unite around our party's values, and unless we act on them and unify we cannot do anything useful at all. Trickle down politics doesn’t work, we have to be a grassroots movement, now more than ever.
Although we cannot wait for five years to help people, we have to help them now. Being in opposition doesn’t mean we must simply hold the Government to account, nor does it mean we are a government in waiting, it means we must also be effective in our opposition and right the wrongs of those we oppose. We have to do our upmost to help people now. Five years is a long time in politics, and the most vulnerable and destitute in our society cannot wait that long. From 2014 to 2015 over 1,000,000 people were forced to use foodbanks, this is only set to get worse, people are relying on us now and we must address this.
Young Labour needs to lead the way, we need to be both innovative and creative in our approach. We need to look for new ways to campaign and be constructive. New ways to engage all parts of our movement and the community in general. After all we achieve more by the strength of our common endeavour than we achieve alone. Young Labour has to cultivate this approach to politics and act as a catalyst for our groups to succeed at helping those who need help the most.
Recently Wirral Young hosted a variety show for their #WYLFoodbankAppeal campaign, whereby a wide array of musicians performed, a comedy act evoked laughter, and thought provoking poetry was recited. Alison McGovern MP was also in attendance to inspire and explain why campaigns like this are so important to those most deeply affected by the actions of the Government. This campaign aims to be effective in opposition by raising money, awareness and of course material goods for the food banks in Merseyside.
This campaign has already been successful in raising over £300 and more than 110kg of goods for food banks, in just one night. Over the next four months Wirral Young Labour will be following this and supporting their #WYLFoodbankAppeal campaign with a series of fundraisers and charity events to further this ideal of being effective in opposition. By doing this Wirral Young Labour hope to provide local food banks with the supplies they so desperately need. In a way that involves people from outside our membership, allows new members to get involved in our movement in a variety of ways and most importantly addresses a problem directly. Allowing our movement to be effective in opposition.
This has to serve as a challenge for our groups across the country, campaign hard, not just to win elections, but also to help people in your community. So that in five years we can write an article celebrating what we’ve achieved in opposition, proving how much we can do in government.