Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Nostalgia is not enough

23 and under, what an age group to be in. Things have not been looking great for us for a while, have they? Educational Maintenance Allowance scrapped, university fees tripled and a struggling further education sector in a number of regions.

Not only that, but the prospect of owning a home is now a distant fantasy.  We fool ourselves that we are content living in cramped accommodation. That really, five people on a decent wage are truly blessed to be sharing a three bed flat with no living room and a bathroom the size of a postage stamp.

And I have not even begun to unravel the effect that Brexit is having on the job market, in the housing sector and on the cost of living.

What is truly the icing on the cake of disappointment here, is the fact that so many of us across the political spectrum, have resigned ourselves to the fact that Labour probably will not be in power for a while.

This is a hard pill to swallow when so many of our generation joined the Labour party because we grew up under a Labour government; we saw first-hand the difference that a Labour government made to our families, our communities and our schools.

We saw how an improved education system and targeted programmes meant that working-class kids no longer saw university as something out of their reach, but instead a reality. We saw first-hand how early intervention and multi-agency working helped thousands of vulnerable families through Sure Start. That is why we are nostalgic about the Labour party.

Knowing that my little brothers have never lived under a Labour government makes me want to scream with frustration. But if the Labour party is going to get anywhere, we need to agree that banging on about the last Labour government will not help our cause. Whether it is trashing the successes of the last government or pretending that it was perfect and that Tony is ‘bae’, it is time to move on, but learn from our time in government.

But, where to go to when things are looking so dreary? I think the answer is local government. Yes, yes, my answer is very predictable, I am a Labour councillor. But when we look at the biggest problems facing my generation, I see so many answers from local government.

House building? Local government. Clamping down on unscrupulous landlords? Local government. Helping young people into work? Local government.

Our councils have a hugely important role to play and even with the crushing financial blows many of them have faced in the last few years, councillors and council staff are finding innovative solutions to so many of the problems we face.

The Labour party may not look like it is in power any time soon nationally, but locally we are doing the best we can to alleviate the worst effects of the Conservative government. If like me, you are 23 and under and unhappy with the current state of play, do not get nostalgic for the good old days, no matter how tempting it may be. Get engaged in your local Labour party, meet your local councillors and work with what we have got, because the reality is Labour still has power in town halls all across the country and it must not forget the voters that put us there.


Samantha Jury-Dada is a candidate in the 23 and under section of the Progress strategy board elections. She tweets @SJuryDada



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Samantha Jury-Dada

is a member of the London Young Labour executive committee

1 comment

  • Blair just continued the Thatcher project. The Blair/Brown years weren’t Labour years at all. Wasted opportunity. Thank heavens for Corbyn.

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