Andy's answers to your questions
1. How do you plan to get young members more involved in the Labour Party?
I started my leadership campaign by asking you what your priority was for the future of our party. That wasn’t just a gimmick: every single response will get read and will inform what I say and do over the next few months. The reason I did that is because Westminster politics has failed to listen to young people in recent years. Only 43% of the youngest age group voted, compared with 78% of over 65s. That is a damning indictment on all political parties. If we want to inspire more young people to get involved with politics, and to become involved with the Labour Party, then we need to start by listening to them and developing policies which inspire them. That is what Labour under my leadership will do.
2. What is your strategy to press the Government to allow 16 and 17- year-olds to vote in the European Referendum?
I’d want to see Young Labour lead a national campaign on this issue. The arguments in favour of allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote are overwhelming. It’s not right that 16 year olds can serve our country in the Armed Forces and pay taxes, but can’t vote. The future of our country’s place in the European Union will have a drastic effect on everyone’s lives. It will arguably have more impact on young people than anyone else, because of the effect on businesses and jobs at a time when a lot of 16 year olds are thinking ahead to their future careers. They must be part of that conversation about the future of our country. It would also be good for political engagement – 75% of 16 and 17 year olds voted in the Scottish referendum, which is an amazing turnout. If we engage young people at 16, and show that they can have a proper voice, it would have a long-lasting impact on their interest in politics.
3. How can Labour get more women and young people, as well as BAME, disabled and LGBT members to stand for selection as candidates?
We need to start by making sure our top team is representative of the party and society at large. I have said that my shadow cabinet will be at least 50% women and I will make sure that women hold the most senior jobs too. I will get to work straight away by appointing a woman as Shadow First Secretary of State to create balanced Labour top team taking on the Tories at PMQs. Labour will look, feel and sound different under my leadership. I will have a front-bench full of diversity, different backgrounds and accents. But we also need change from the grassroots too. When over 50% of people living in a constituency are from a BAME background, 50% of the shortlist should be from a BAME background too. And if we are serious about getting people from all walks of life to put themselves forward for selection, we need a far better candidate support programme for council and parliamentary elections. Right now, if you don’t have the money, or the contacts, it can be near impossible. I want to change that.
4. Do you support an equal minimum wage for young people?
Too many working people are currently living in poverty, and that’s why Ed Miliband was absolutely right to champion policies like an increased minimum wage and incentives for employers to pay the living wage. But millions of young people have been left out of this debate. Young workers can get paid as little as £3.79, and apprentices as little as £2.73. I know many of these young people will be doing exactly the same work as older workers, yet in some cases getting paid half the wage. So I want to put an end to young people getting exploited in the workplace. I’d ask the Low Pay Commission to advise on introducing an equal minimum wage for all. And I’d like to see the financial support available to university students made available to apprentices too. When we’re debating pay and the cost of living, young people must be a part of that conversation.
5. How can Labour get more young people involved in politics and increase electoral turnout amongst young people?
I’m committed to making our relationship with young voters more like a conversation and less like a lecture. I want to run an engaging party; one that connects with our members and with voters as a whole; one that works for young people and develops policies which will help everyone get on in life. That’s why I’ve been championing policies to help people get on the housing ladder and into a secure, decent job. Too many politicians don’t seem to realise how hard it now is for young people to get on in life. We need to reach out to all of those who have lost trust in Labour and show them that we’re worth supporting.