Author: georgeaylett123

After long and careful consideration, I am proud to announce that I have submitted the necessary documents to put my name forward to be Labour’s candidate for the Hull West & Hessle constituency.

I moved to Hull a few years ago, and I am proud to now call this beautiful city my home. Hull West & Hessle deserves a strong Labour voice and somebody who will stand up for their interests in Parliament. I believe I will be the person to do this.

I want to thank Alan Johnson for the last 20 years of service to the constituency and I wish him all the best in the future.

Labour were the party that introduced the NHS, the welfare state, the minimum wage, Sure Start, devolution, the first climate change act, the Open University, maternity pay, paternity leave, the disability discrimination act, the equal pay act, the race relations act, the winter fuel allowance, to name a few. All of these policies have had a positive impact in Hull.

Not only are Labour proud of our past, but Labour offer the policies and a vision which will significantly benefit the people of Hull West & Hessle.

Whilst the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP want to see vast cuts to public services, Labour’s message; for a £10 living wage; for free school meals; for public ownership of our railways; for keeping the pension triple-lock; to name few; are policies which will help people up and down the area.

On top of this, I also think it’s time for young people to be heard in politics.

I believe in political diversity. All people from all backgrounds should be represented in politics. However, young people are not represented in Westminster. The needs of the youth are being ignored and, in return, young people are choosing to ignore politics. This may be one reason why voter turnout for young people is so low (it is estimated that around 44% of 18-24 year olds actually turned out to vote last time). This cycle needs to be broken – and having a young person as a political representative can help achieve this.

Labour’s platform will ensure that politics will work for the many, not just a privileged few. I hope I will get to opportunity to be the candidate who will represent everybody, from all backgrounds, in Hull West & Hessle.

On Corbyn and the crisis for social democracy across the West

These are difficult times for Labour – perhaps the most difficult since it emerged as a major political force in the 1920s.

Across the Western world, we have seen the rise of right wing populism and the decline of the traditional centre-left. This has been deleterious for advocates of social democracy.

Closer to home, Labour have been struggling. According to the polls, there is an enormous gap between Labour and the Conservatives – one poll even suggests that we are behind the Tories and UKIP when it comes to connecting with working class voters. Although we kept Stoke, beating UKIP leader Paul Nuttall in a seat that voted 70% leave, it was an absolute disaster that we lost Copeland – a seat we held for over 80 years. We need to win over 100 seats in order to win in 2020. We should not be declining.

The public do not know where Labour stand on key issues. This is because of the failure of our comms and strategy. Corbyn’s 10 pledges, which were adopted at 2016 conference, have the potential to appeal to key swing voters – but it seems like we are only talking about the NHS. We are failing to get our message across on Brexit; on the economy; on immigration; on welfare; to name a few. The quote ‘Labour will save the NHS, but the NHS will not save Labour’ comes to mind. We are failing to reach out of our comfort zone – this is a strategy which is doomed from the very start.

In summary, there is an existential crisis for the left across the West and there is the complete failure so far for the left to communicate our message. These are the problems that Labour face. So, how do we fix it – and what can we do?

Now, some will say that Corbyn needs to go. But let’s look at the reality.

Some have called for him to resign. However, Jeremy Corbyn has already stated that he will not leave his position as Labour leader. The two leadership elections both came out with a decisive outcome – Jeremy Corbyn won them both – both with overwhelming majorities. For him to stand down just 5 months after winning a 2nd leadership election (with 62% of the vote) is just not going to happen.

Because of this, some have called for another leadership challenge. But these questions needs to be asked: Who/what is the alternative? and who is the challenger? The answer: There is no answer. A 3rd leadership election would likely lead to another win for Jeremy Corbyn, meaning months looking inwards. This will only damage Labour further – and the result would be the same: Jeremy Corbyn would likely remain as Labour leader.

I backed Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader twice. Do I regret voting for Corbyn? Not at all. In the 1st leadership election, his voice was absolutely necessary for Labour to hear – he turned our party from one which advocated some unnecessary cuts in 2015 into an anti-austerity party. He injected bold ideas and radicalism back into the heart of the Labour Party.

When it came to the 2nd leadership election, he was a better candidate than Owen Smith. When it came to the biggest issue of our time, Brexit, Corbyn understood that we had to come out with the best Brexit plan rather than reject the referendum result. Smith’s anti-Brexit platform would have been disastrous in our heartlands and key English marginal seats (the overwhelming majority of which voted leave). Not only this, but Corbyn’s vision was still right, with ideas which have the potential to counter right wing populism and to attach onto the anti-establishment mood. However, as mentioned earlier, our comms and strategy are completely failing, meaning the vision isn’t being seen by the people we need to convince to vote for us – and responsibility must be taken for this.

There is a crisis for the left, and the left need to adapt in order to survive – this includes the left in the United Kingdom. We need to combat this. We should do this by winning the battle of ideas – we already have committed to; public ownership of our railways; a £10 minimum wage; allowing communities to run their own energy firms; and a National Education Service. We should be offering more radical policies like; the Basic Income; allocating Brexit money to our NHS; advocating co-operatives with profit sharing for workers; affordable housing; significant investment in science and technology; to name a few.

There are vast problems for Labour and there is no quick fix. Some will blame Corbyn, but it should be clear that he is not going anywhere. The vision is right but we are failing to effectively communicate them. However, instead of looking inwards, all wings of the party must unite and come up with a coherent strategy to win. We must take risks, we must reach out of our comfort zone and we must offer a radical alternative to counter right wing populism. That is the only way I think we can win.

The crisis of social democracy – the left must adapt in order to survive

To put it plainly: The ever-changing political climate has been deleterious for advocates of social democracy.

With Brexit, Trump, Le Pen and right wing populist movements rising across the world, the left are struggling to maintain their ground. Seemingly, in the eyes of the electorate across many nations, social democracy is failing to offer modern solutions to modern problems. In order to counter this, the left must adapt – or the consequences could potentially be fatal at the ballot box. The left need to offer a bold, coherent alternative to counter right wing populism. This requires radical ideas – ideas that mean a fundamental change from the norm.

One thing we have learned over the past few years is that the political landscape has profoundly changed. It is no longer as simple to say that elections are ‘social democracy vs the centre-right’:

– Austria, 2016 – Far-right Presidential candidate for the Freedom Party of Austria wins 49.7% of the vote. UPDATE: Vote was annulled and re-run, Hofer lost – but still won over 46% of the popular vote.

– United States, 2016 – Donald Trump wins the Presidential election. One poll stated that 81% believed that Donald Trump was the ‘change’ candidate.

– And there could be more to come in 2017 – Marine Le Pen could potentially be the next President of France, Geert Wilders could be the next Dutch PM.

It’s not just the populist right making gains:

– Greece, 2015– SYRIZA sweep to power. Social Democratic PASOK lose 20 seats.

– Spain, 2016 – Podemos receives more votes than PSOE.

– Iceland, 2016 – The Pirate Party take 10 seats at the Althing.

The traditional ‘left vs right’ has changed – and social democratic parties have been caught in the crossfire.

Why has this happened? One important factor to consider is that many people feel left behind – they feel like politicians have not heard them. It is the duty of the left to stand up for everybody, especially those who feel like politics is not working for them.

The way the left communicate their message is extremely important – but the thing is, the right are good at doing it. In the United States, the message ‘Make America Great Again’ resonated with those who feel like the political class no longer serves them – a significantly more powerful message than the Democrat’s ‘Stronger Together’. In the Brexit vote, we saw three powerful words from Vote Leave: ‘Take back control’ – those who have been left behind have felt powerless, and they felt that Brexit would give them control. This is where the left are failing and the right are succeeding – this can very easily be seen at home. As I mentioned in an article I wrote for Open Labour back in February 2016: ‘The Conservatives’ short, simple and coherent messages e.g. ‘long term economic plan’ resonate with the public – we (Labour – from 2010-2015) tried this, but kept on changing our message from ‘cost of living crisis’ to ‘squeezed middle’ to ‘one nation Labour’ – we must have a consistent message for the next five years – e.g. ‘invest to grow’, ‘for millions, not just millionaires’, ‘prosperity not austerity’– or something along those lines – a simple message that connects with the voters which can be repeated over and over again.’

One failure of comms is focusing on issues which the public do not prioritise – far too many times has Trident been the headline over the last year. At times, it felt like the comms strategy was to ‘avoid the media’ (I’m sure the comms team do not intend to do this – but Labour members are still seeing Trident/Divisions dominating headlines) – there are significant improvements that need to be made in comms, and it needs to be done quickly. Instead of seemingly ignoring the media, we must work with them – otherwise it allows public perception to be defined by our opponents. On top of this, Jeremy Corbyn should appear on the TV as much as possible – yes, the shadow cabinet do need to appear as well – however with every passing year in the UK it seems that our style of politics has become more Presidential – the electorate are placing their faith in the person to be their next Prime Minister – he needs to appear more to ensure that he defines his own image, rather than letting the Conservatives define him.

It’s not just comms which are important – but, of course, policies.

The Labour Party created the NHS, the welfare state, the minimum wage, Sure Start, to name a few. It is these radical ideas that not only changed the country for the better, but ended up being legacies that have been respected by the public – radical thinking is bold, and if done correctly: popular. It is radical thinking that Labour need to tap into again.

Some ideas that could help Labour:

Basic Income – restructuring welfare: a universal system which could eliminate poverty, top up wages and help sole traders. (I will write a piece about why Labour should adopt this in the near future and the goals that ‘Labour For Basic Income’ hope to achieve)

National Education Service – Corbyn mentioned this in his leadership campaigns – when it comes to education: universal free childcare, class sizes under 30, scrapping tuition fees, restoring maintenance grants, restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance, investment in Further Education (and of course, the way in which we fund it all)

Brexit and ‘the £350 million a week’ – If we are to remain outside the EEA (which seems increasingly likely), it will mean we will no longer have to contribute to the EU budget. What message would it send if Labour were to adopt the position to adopt the position to put £350 million a week into our NHS? It would show Labour are listening whilst the Tories are ‘out of touch’ – it would give the left the opportunity to define the conversation and hammer the Tory record on the NHS.

Policies we have committed to: £10 living wage, public ownership of the railways, community owned energy firms, 1 million homes built in 5 years (helped by allowing local authorities to borrow to build), advocating co-operatives up and down the nation – to name a few. These are ideas which can help us win, and I’m confident Labour can help set the agenda if comms improve.

(It should be noted that I backed Corbyn twice because his vision is one which is a coherent alternative to right wing populism – I am aware of the uphill struggle the next few years will be, the polling etc – but I feel Corbyn’s vision is one which can help Labour at the general election – as Clive Lewis said: ‘‘Corbyn is the best candidate because in his own way he understands some of the economic and moral challenges we face and is the product of a deep desire for something new.’)

One issue which is fundamentally important if the left across the Western World are to regain trust of those who feel left behind: Immigration. It is consistently seen as the most important issue for voters before and during elections, particularly in the UK. It dominates on the doorstep – and it is the duty of the left to understand the concerns people have about immigration. But this is the important bit: We must discuss immigration – because if we do not then the right wing populists set the agenda. It. Plays. Into. Their. Hands. But we must *never ever ever* pander to racist and xenophobic language.  The net economic benefits of migration are not being felt by many communities – which is why reintroducing the migrant impact fund will ensure communities with high levels of immigration will feel the direct benefits. There has also been failure to invest in English language services – many have concerns about integration, therefore it should be the responsibility of the left to listen and invest in areas where people are concerned. Migrants significantly contribute and benefit our nation – which is why it is extremely important that the left must change the narrative; we are one nation; all people in this nation contribute; no matter what your gender, race, religion – let’s work together to keep Britain strong.

On the topic of narrative change – we need to embrace our patriotism – the left have implemented policies which have help everybody in our country regardless of their background or financial circumstances – as mentioned earlier: NHS, welfare state, minimum wage, Sure Start etc – it is the left that is patriotic entity, we need to embrace it and take it back from the right wing populists.

Now, I’m not saying that this is simplistic. I’m not saying ‘expect a landslide win if we adopt Basic Income – do nothing else’ – obviously. It is a mixture of factors – we need the right vision and strong comms to deliver our message to the electorate in order to succeed – you cannot have one without the other.

To sum up everything above: If the left can’t define itself – then it’s opponents will, and right wing populists currently are. The left must; adapt; embrace the changing political climate; and offer a clear, coherent alternative to right wing populism – it is the only way we can win.

 

My last meeting on the Young Labour NC – and why members in the South West should put their name forward

Tonight’s Young Labour meeting was my last as the rep for the South West.

For those of you who don’t know – I am currently at university studying outside my region. Last year I was able to balance my time – visiting the South West frequently and be based in the region during the holidays – I was able to fulfil my role as the SW rep and focus on my studies. However, numerous things in my life have changed which will mean that I will not be able to do this anymore, which I don’t think will be fair on young members all across the South West.

I believe in the principle that regional reps should be based in their region/available in their region on demand. Although I was in this position last year – I am no longer in the position to do this anymore; therefore I feel that somebody new should take on the position.

I need to focus my time and energy on my degree, personal goals, and helping Labour where I am based most of the year (and that will be near my university and the surrounding areas).

I was incredibly proud to be elected over a year ago – and I’m sure my successor will do an incredible job taking over.

I’d like to thank the Young Labour National Committee for their fantastic work in the party – every single person on that committee is doing an absolutely amazing job – I wish them, and my successor, the best of luck in the future.

Now – the next steps:

To the best of my belief, I believe that the general secretary and youth officer have come to the conclusion that the next SW rep will be elected by the NC to serve on the NC – for those who are interested in standing, send in a short statement to the chair of Young Labour at: younglabourchair@labour.org.uk.

The role is a very rewarding one – representing young members all across the SW – I’d highly recommend that young members in the South West put their name forward for the position to be considered by the NC.

Brexit: How should Britain proceed?

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 18.48.01.png

Those famous words: ‘Brexit means Brexit’ – but what does it actually mean? In all honesty: who knows? All we know is that the Conservative government plan to invoke Article 50 (the formal mechanism for leaving the EU) by March 2017.

Firstly, it should be mentioned that Theresa May’s government have many many questions to answer – 170 questions have been asked by Labour over Brexit (1), and the government must respond to them in detail, and every single answer must be scrutinized line by line. This decision is not just important for the next few months, but for the next few generations.

The decision the government makes will be crucial for Britain’s future and Britain’s place in the world – getting this wrong would be devastating for our country. But what are the options?

Ultimately, there are three options available:

  • Leave the EU, join the Single Market/European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Leave the EU, stay outside of the Single Market/EEA
  • Ignore the referendum result and stay in the EU

Let’s take these one by one.

Option 1 – Leaving the EU, joining the European Economic Area (EEA)

This option has been called ‘soft Brexit’ by some – Norway and Iceland are two nations which are inside the EEA but outside the EU. The essential concept behind it is this: Britain would leave the European Union – however, in order to retain 100% access to the single market, the UK would join the European Economic Area. This is obviously a positive – remaining in the EEA would bring stability to the markets, and having 100% access to the single market would avoid a business exodus.

However, what does signing up to the EEA mean? It would likely mean paying into the EU budget, abiding by many EU laws, but losing our say in how those laws are made – inside the EU we would still pay and abide by EU law, but we have 74 MEPs, a commissioner on the commission and a seat on the Council of the EU to influence decisions – outside the EU but inside the EEA: 0 MEPs, no commissioner, no seat on the Council of the EU – Neil Kinnock defined this as: ‘pay, obey, no say’.

Essentially, this would be ‘EU-lite’ – free movement of people, full access to the single market, EU contributions and abiding by many EU laws – the difference is, although we may regain ‘control’ in some areas (e.g. fishing, like Norway), we will lose our legislators in the European Parliament.

Option 2 – Leaving the EU, staying outside of the European Economic Area (EEA)

This would mean rejecting membership into the EEA – one immediate problem with this is that it means the future of Britain’s economy would be wholly uncertain, due to the fact that it is not confirmed if we will have access to the single market – trade with the EU makes up 44% of British exports (2). It may take years to create new trade agreements which will need to happen if we leave the EU – years of uncertainty will likely cause lasting damage to the economy.

However, on the flipside – some argue that although it may take years to create these agreements, once they have been finalized then Britain’s place in the world may be strengthened, the argument ‘short term loss, long term gain’ has been said time and time again by some of those advocating Brexit. It also can be said that being outside of the EU/EEA does not mean that we will lose total access to the single market – one trade deal being negotiated between Canada and the EU would mean that 99% of tariffs would be removed (3) – why can’t a similar trade deal be made between the UK and the EU?

It should also be mentioned that Canada does not pay into the EU budget – and outside the EU/EEA, it is very likely that the UK would not either. The issue of sovereignty was also a key issue during the EU referendum – and being outside the EEA would mean that parliament would become more sovereign (that isn’t to say that it becomes completely sovereign, we still share sovereignty with NATO under Article 5 and with supranational regulation from the WTO (4)).

In summary – being outside the EEA/EU would mean we would not pay EU contribution fees and a possible trade agreement could still give us access to the single market – however, this is not guaranteed, and the uncertainty behind this would be massively damaging to the country. Is it worthwhile?

Option 3 – Ignore the referendum result and stay in the EU

Arguably this is the most controversial (and least likely to happen) option. If the government chose not to invoke Article 50, it would mean staying in the EU – that would mean essentially be similar to the outcome of option 1, but with the added bonus that we keep our legislators – meaning we still can influence EU laws.

However, the consequences would be enormous for democracy. Any party advocating this option would likely face massive backlash and ultimately would be wiped out in a general election. What message would this send to the world as well? It would say that democracy only matters if those with power agree with the people – this undermines the principle that ‘politicians are servants to democracy and that democracy is a service to the people’. We should not put barriers in the way of democracy just because we might not like the outcome – the people of Britain have spoke, and that result should be respected.

 

These are the three main options which are realistically available to the government – what do you think is best?

 

My personal opinion is this:

I think ignoring the referendum result would be an absolute disaster for democracy, and if my party were to ever take up this position (which luckily they haven’t) I fear it would be political suicide – although 2/3rds of Labour voters voted remain, the leave vote was concentrated in Labour’s heartlands in the North, not to mention the vast majority of marginal seats needed to win in England voted leave as well – to sum up: pledging to ignore Brexit would damage us in key swing seat marginals and in our heartlands.

Brexit really should mean Brexit, so we must leave the EU, however this leaves us with Britain either joining the EEA or staying out of the EEA.

Given these two options – I fear joining the EEA whilst being outside of the EU would be the ‘worst of both worlds’ – it would not satisfy those who voted remain as we would lose our position of power within the EU, and it would not satisfy those who voted leave as it would mean we would likely still pay into the EU budget and abide by EU law – and the contributions and sovereignty were both key reasons why people voted to leave the EU.

Given this – it seems the least worst option is to stay outside of the EEA. However, trade negotiations must be done quickly to minimize the damage to our economy – however, and this is crucially important: I do not trust the Conservatives to get the best deal for workers in Britain.

As with everything political, it brings Labourites back to the fundamental point: we need a Labour government in order to get the best deal for Britain.