Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/790/17820
Will angry youth turn to Labour?
Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs
Polly Toynbee's recent Guardian column (22 November) contained a damning criticism of the Con-Dems' treatment of young people.
But Polly, a Labour Party member, is deluded if she thinks, as suggested in the article, that the Labour Party will be the ultimate beneficiaries of youth frustration and protest.
Has Polly forgotten the last New Labour government? It was a report initiated by the Labour government of Gordon Brown (a hero in Polly's eyes at the time) that proposed trebling tuition fees in 2010.
It was a Labour government, under war-monger Tony Blair, that first introduced tuition fees. And even the current Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has ruled out reversing the fees hike.
Rachel Reeves, newly appointed shadow welfare minister, provoked an angry backlash from trade unionists and organisations including Youth Fight for Jobs when she promised to be "tougher than the Tories" on welfare.
Miliband has promised if the Labour Party is elected in 2015 that they will continue Con-Dem austerity.
What will this mean? That the misery Polly details - one million young people out of work, zero-hour contracts, £9,000 a year university fees, rising homelessness - all this will be continued and exacerbated under a Labour government.
Young people have been politicised and radicalised by six years of economic crisis. The student movement in 2010 gave us a glimpse of the brutal reality of what the Tories and Lib Dems really stand for and of the true role the police and capitalist media play in society.
Young people have no memory of Labour as a party they can fight back in. Quite aside from standing with us, the Labour Party has purposely put itself in opposition to the big struggles that have erupted in the last few years.
Young people were the biggest supporters of the public sector strikes in 2011, which Labour condemned.
Polly thinks Miliband's vacillating platitudes will win the Labour Party the youth vote. She has to be kidding! Take a look internationally.
A feature of all recent youth movements, from Occupy Wall Street to the Spanish Indignados, has not been an openness to 'austerity-lite' Labour Parties, but a rejection of establishment political parties altogether - and rightly so!
Polly should look to Greece where support for the Labour Party's equivalent, Pasok, has plummeted following the severe austerity measures of the Pasok government. In fact Pasok is performing so dismally that many on the left now describe it as an 'ex-Party'!
In 2015 a Labour vote may be seen as the best way to kick out the Con-Dems. But Miliband should be warned - the record-breaking disapproval ratings of the government of François Hollande in France, who has failed to end either austerity or crisis, show what will face a future Labour government of cuts.
Polly and other Labour Party commentators have been quick to attack Russell Brand. But the response to his call for socialist revolution reflects young people's desire for fundamental change.
Labour has been so vicious because the comedian exposes their complacency and increasing irrelevance.
Some right-wing commentators have been quick to misconstrue what Russell Brand said, particularly when he explained why he didn't vote.
In his own words: "a system that serves the planet and the people, I'd vote for that". Polly should take note.
In Seattle, Occupy activist and Socialist Alternative candidate, Kshama Sawant, inspired young people to vote.
Standing openly and clearly as a socialist, Kshama, demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage, rent control and a tax on millionaires, beat her pro-big business Democrat opponent, winning more than 90,000 votes.
Workfare, zero-hour contracts, merciless attacks on benefit claimants as scroungers - all reveal that the three main parties have failed to tackle the youth unemployment crisis. Ask any ordinary person how to fight unemployment, they'll say 'create jobs'.
Polly correctly points out that young people are being disproportionately affected by the cuts. The Con-Dems have brutally escalated these attacks but they were well underway in 2010 - that's where we were left after 13 years of New Labour's tuition fees, attacks, and privatisation.
Young people and workers deserve our own genuine political alternative. That is why I'm standing as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in the 2014 local elections to offer young people like me a real alternative to the Tories and a future worth fighting for.
In The Socialist 27 November 2013:
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party review