If they really want a Labour government, young voters need to move on from Jeremy Corbyn

As a 16-year-old party member, I voted for Keir Starmer to be leader because he will make a real difference to young people's lives

Ed Miliband says Keir Starmer is 'definitely' a better leader than he was

I joined the Labour Party when I was 14 because I believed people in this country deserved better than to be blamed for economic failings. Living in Bradford I have seen the devastating impacts that a Tory government can have, like cutting £262 million from the council’s budget since 2010 due to government cuts to local authorities. This has seen vital public services reduced and as a result, poverty is rife. Bradford has the highest levels of child poverty in the UK, with 22 per cent of children living below the poverty line.

Personally, I was heartbroken when the Labour Party lost the general election in 2019. I was so looking forward to all the incredible things that a Labour government would deliver, like ending the use of foodbanks and the investment in young people that we desperately needed. But I understand why we lost. Nearly every single door I knocked on in my hometown of Shipley in West Yorkshire, people just didn’t trust Jeremy Corbyn – whether it was his failure to tackle antisemitism or his mercurial position on Brexit.

In the Labour leadership election, I voted for Sir Keir Starmer, because of his promise for unity and to tackle the antisemitism crisis within our party. Already, three Jewish peers have re-joined the party under his leadership.

As youth officer for my local party, I voted for Starmer due to his pledges to young people. For example, he is backing votes at 16 and is also calling for the return of the Future Jobs Fund – which will benefit a lot of my generation.

But the deciding factor for me was the email Baroness Doreen Lawrence sent to all Labour members, with the title: “Keir Starmer Changed My Life”. Stephen Lawrence was killed 27 years ago in a racially motivated attack as he waited for a bus. He didn’t find justice for almost two decades – failed by the justice system and an institutionally racist police force – until 2012 when two of his killers were finally found guilty and sent to prison. As director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer led the charge to bring Stephen’s killers to justice. This heartfelt email by Baroness Lawrence illustrated to me that Keir will always do the right thing and fight for justice and equality.

Nevertheless I have seen a lot of young people turning away from the party because of Starmer and this is deeply disturbing. He’s been accused of being too right-wing – this idea is utter nonsense. He believes passionately in social justice and wants Labour to become a credible force to deliver it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was a huge supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, I joined the Labour Party because of him, but unfortunately he didn’t win. Instead of pining for the Corbyn government we never got, we as young people must now put our faith in Starmer. Otherwise, we risk splitting the left-wing vote and we will never get the Labour government that we desperately need.

Much of the animosity stems from the fact that Starmer is viewed as a “Blairite”. But using labels such as this or “Corbynite” only creates division. We are the Labour party, our members are us, we are a political movement for everyone, irrespective of wealth, social status, education or occupation. We are a party built on the principles of compassion and caring for each other, for those who need our support within society the most.

We should not demonise previous Labour governments. Any Labour government would be far superior than our current one. Worryingly, when we undermine our own successes, our voters do not gain confidence in us, perhaps the opposite. The Conservatives on the other hand understand that winning is everything, it is bigger than personalities or party allegiances. Perhaps this is the most pertinent lesson we could learn from our fourth successive general election defeat.

I am optimistic that Labour can win the next general election. The Tories’ attempts to deal with the pandemic have highlighted their incompetence and their policy of austerity had us totally unprepared. Millions of people face the misery of unemployment as a recession is likely to happen. This will likely be exacerbated by a damaging no-deal Brexit. The plight of the health service will worsen with the Tories’ new trade bill, which will inevitably lead to the sale of our NHS.

The way we can overcome the unsavoury and unnecessary split in the Labour Party is by unity and compromises. Members who didn’t vote for Starmer have to accept the results of the election and support him. Let us disagree, yes, let us engage in constructive and healthy, vibrant debates, but we must have the maturity to remain civil, rejecting the tendency to become derogatory.

Our policies, leadership and movement are defined by our members. If we cannot respect ourselves, how can we expect voters to trust us to represent them? Our leader, whoever is democratically elected, exists to give us all a voice – a voice for the voiceless – and it is important that we do not forget that.

We as the Labour Party must look towards the future and put our faith in Sir Keir Starmer. Otherwise we will face another decade of austerity.

Qais Hussain is a 16-year-old GCSE student and Labour Party youth officer from Shipley, West Yorkshire

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in