Yvette Cooper

Yvette's answers to your questions

1. How do you plan to get young members more involved in the Labour Party?

We strongly need more young people involved in the Labour Party. The Tories have hit young people hardest - and they count on young people being less likely to vote or get involved in politics to hold them to account. Lots more young people have joined in the Labour Party in the last few years. But let’s be honest. CLP branch meetings aren't always the most exciting way for young people to get involved. We need more party campaigns led directly by young people, with more imaginative use of social media. We need to build strong Labour Clubs at all our Universities and reach out more into further education.  We also need more and stronger Young Labour Groups in every locality, building upon the success of the likes of London Young Labour and Wirral Young Labour.  We also need to work closely with our Unions to ensure that young people active in Unions in the workplace join us as Party members and affiliated supporters. And we also need to show that Labour has a vision for the future that is exciting to be a part of - for example campaigning on the great challenges of the future to protect our planet from climate change, and for greater equality in our country.

2.       What is your strategy to press the Government to allow 16 and 17- year-olds to vote in the European Referendum?

We need to put huge pressure on the Government to accept our amendment for 16-17 year olds to be able to vote. I voted for the amendment in the House of Commons this month, but it didn't get enough support to win. Our best chance next is to win this in the House of Lords, but it also needs a strong public campaign involving teenagers from across the country, Young Labour, Labour Students and organisations such as the British Youth Council, NUS and Bite the Ballot so young voices are heard. In the Scottish referendum we saw young people have a real impact.  They were key campaigners for both campaigns and voted in phenomenal numbers.  But then they weren't able to vote in the General Election. I’m delighted that all our members from 14 to 114 can vote in this election for the next leader of our Party.

3.       How can Labour get more women and young people, as well as BAME, disabled and LGBT members to stand for selection as candidates?

Parliament should look like the country - it still doesn't. We've made progress in the Labour Party but need to do more. I'd love to see more young people standing - for Parliament and in local council elections too. That means making sure there is enough training and support - and that we do more to encourage young people to have a go. I was first selected to stand as an MP when I was 28 - much to my surprise as I just thought I would have a go. I want to see more people do the same thing. In 1923 we elected our first female MPs - Margaret Bondfield, Dorothy Jewson and Susan Lawrence.  Today there are more Labour women in Parliament than ever before - 43% of our Parliamentary Party. But we still need to go further. That's why I have long supported all women short lists, why I would make sure half the Shadow Cabinet are women, and I think its time we smashed the last glass ceiling in the party and elected the first woman leader of the Labour Party, and first Labour woman Prime Minister too! I've also set a target to double the number of BAME MPs at the next election, and I want to see far more done by the party to support LGBT candidates and to make it easier for disabled candidates to stand. We need to look again at the financial cost of standing for selection and election which can make it impossible for some people, and also make it easier for parents to stand. In the next five years we can start with making changes in local government. If we are to have a Parliamentary Party that is truly representative of Britain we must start in our town halls and council chambers and work with Young Labour and party groups from day one.

4.       Do you support an equal minimum wage for young people?

The minimum wage is one of Labour’s greatest achievements - and I was proud to vote for it. But it is now falling behind, and the gap for the apprentice and youth wages has grown substantially. I'm calling for the Low Pay Commission to review this urgently. The Apprentice and youth rates were initially introduced at a lower rate to make sure employers didn't avoid offering apprenticeships, training, and first jobs for young people with no experience to get them started on the career ladder. But since then gap between the main minimum wage and the under 21s wage has widened from 50p an hour to £1.37 an hour and the Apprenticeship wage is stuck at just £2.73 an hour even though some current apprenticeships involve too little quality training, many first jobs don't include any career development and young people are not getting the chances they need. I think we need a major review by the Low Pay Commission to look at both the Apprentice rate and the youth rates so we can increase young people’s wages and also increase training, career development and youth employment. And we need to do far more to promote a Living Wage too.

5.       How can Labour get more young people involved in politics and increase electoral turnout amongst young people?

Young Labour and Labour Students are the heartbeat of our Party.  It was young members in seats like Cambridge and Cardiff Central that helped get new Labour MPs elected in May. We increased the number of 18-24 year olds who voted Labour at the General Election from 31% in 2010 to 43%. But the Tories take advantage of the fact that only 45% of 18-25 year olds voted on May 7th compared to 78% of those aged 65 and over - and that's why they think they can hit young people hardest.
I want to see votes at 16 and much stronger citizenship education in schools. And Labour should keep campaigning on big issues that affect young people - including things like apprenticeships, student fees, rents, sexual harassment, votes at 16 and so on. But in the end I don't think young people are convinced by retail politics offers for young people - the so called "vote labour, win a microwave" approach. We need to be campaigning on the big issues that affect young people’s future such as climate change, equality and social justice - so we have a big vision that young people want to be part of. So many young people aren’t apathetic; they just don't currently see Party politics as a way to change things. We have to convince people that Labour can.

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