My politics, like many of my generation, was galvanised by the EU referendum. My friends and I felt like our opportunities were being taken away when we were not old enough to have the luxury of being asked. The general election in 2017 acted like a watershed moment, showing me that the politics of togetherness and hope can truly inspire. Following that I started to educate myself about politics through YouTube and the news. I stumbled upon a video from the creator CGP Grey titled "Why the UK Election Results are the Worst in History." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9rGX91rq5I&list=WL&index=16) In five minutes, it explained the 2015 general election results in detail, saying that despite only winning 37% of the vote, the Conservatives won 51% of the seats – giving them complete control over Parliament and the direction of our country.
Growing up in the Tees Valley, and volunteering at my local soup kitchen, shone a spotlight on the damage austerity was doing to towns like mine. Yet the party causing such damage could govern with near impunity when they had nowhere near majority support. From there on, I was convinced that if we wanted to be a democracy that works for everyone, where parliament accurately represents how the country voted, we had to change how we elect our representatives.
Throughout the pandemic, LCER South West ran zoom events about how electoral reform could benefit all progressives, whether you are a trade unionist, social democrat or democratic socialist. The events include an excellent discussion between Joanna Kaye and Jeremy Gilbert on why the left should embrace PR (link to their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYqtAS05QPrdR1QSLK8hrdA). Through this I learnt about the Labour for a New Democracy (L4ND) campaign. A joint campaign by twelve pro electoral reform organisations pushing for one objective. Make the Labour party support proportional representation at conference 2021.
Over two hundred and ten constituency labour parties have send submissions to the National Policy Forum at time of writing.
Being a student gives a unique opportunity. You can choose whether to have your CLP in your home or university address. You can use the knowledge and experience of places where there are many supporters of electoral reform to push the L4ND campaign where there are not. We need to do as much work as possible in the northern and midlands seats where Labour has in the past always succeeded. Here, the argument for electoral reform has yet to be won. Virtual meetings make us able to participate wherever you are in the country. When in Bristol for lockdown three, I still debated the L4ND motion in my home CLP of Darlington – succeeding in making Darlington the 150th CLP to send in a resolution.
Covid-19 has taken so much away from my generation. We must stay indoors and are not able to go out and do what every generation before us have done. It is frustrating, and it is hard. But we have so much energy and determination to make the future better than the present. That energy gives us the potential to create real change. This seemingly small change can transform politics. The potential has been made dormant by the pandemic. If we unleash it, the more open, honest, and progressive future we all want may be closer than we think.
This article was written to be published in Chartist Magazine