On Saturday I was a speaker at the East Midlands Young Labour Conference in Leicester and was delighted to see the enthusiasm and calibre of Labour’s new generation.
Discussing issues like Britain’s role in the world in the coming years, the situation in the EU and reforms to the banking sector, our local students and other young people impressed and brought forward many original ideas.
I was really pleased, not only to be asked to speak, but to be able to see such hope for the future. This generation is capable not just of building on the successes of its predecessors, but of learning from their mistakes and providing the impetus needed to continue developing the social, democratic Britain we all aspire to.
Even the best and brightest of our youth do however need support, and to be given the chances to get ahead. Their prospects have however diminished under the coalition with youth unemployment rising to 23%, tuition fees set to treble and EMAs [Educational Maintenance Allowances] abolished. While Labour tried to help those families most in need with schemes such as Sure Start, the coalition has been cutting too far and too fast, decimating apprenticeship schemes and youth centres and complicating access to higher education for those from poorer backgrounds.
The daughter of a miner, who moved to the East Midlands for work, I am grateful for the chances I was given and what I have subsequently been able to achieve. These opportunities are however being taken from our own children, their futures being damaged by incompetent and ignorant leadership, which serves only to isolate Britain on the world stage and to undermine her citizens at home.
We all then need to work together to ensure that the future offers the same, and indeed better, openings. On Saturday I met young people who are prepared to do exactly that; a new generation which knows the importance of political activity and works, week in week out, not only to educate themselves within their respective libraries and lecture halls, but also campaigns and organises on issues that concern us all. They are a shining example and one which I hope we can all support to ensure that Britain and its children have a future to look forward to.