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The Ideas of Jeremy Corbyn Are the Ideas of Young Progressives Across Europe

29/07/2016 16:23 | Updated 29 July 2016
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

As the Chair of Young Labour I have the great privilege of representing young members of the Labour Party both to the Labour Party, to the general public, and sometimes even abroad. Last week was one of those instances, when I led a Young Labour delegation to the Young European Socialists - the organisation representing the youth wings of the socialist and social democratic parties across Europe.

When I was elected Chair this February I made my politics clear: that I am a socialist and a feminist, and that I am 100% behind Jeremy Corbyn's ideas. This has not changed. This last week, spent with young people from across Europe, reminded me of why.

Across Europe, young people have lost faith in the business-as-usual politics of the status quo. We grew up being told that the politics of the so-called centre ground would slowly but surely improve our lives. To some extent this was true. But after the financial crisis, this promise was shattered. We are now the first generation in a century who can expect to grow up worse off than our parents. We are unemployed or struggling with casualised work. We struggle to pay our rent, and cannot even dream of buying a home. Our education has been toyed with by ideologues, then privatised and marketised. And all the while, the those at the top continue to get richer and richer.

Of course, much of the blame for this is down to right-wing governing parties. But all too often our own parties have failed to reverse these trends or, worse still, continued them ourselves. It is perhaps no surprise that so many social democratic parties have been kicked out of government across the continent. We're not changing minds, winning arguments.

The politics of the centre, which seems to forever move to the right, has failed our generation, and those pitching at the 'centre' are losing support across the world. I fear that the political debate could become split between two forms of right-wing: the neoliberalism that sells out our future and populist nationalism that divides our communities. If we do not act now, this could drown out our positive vision for a fairer and more equal society. If it does then it will be young people who will bear the burden of our failure.

But alongside my fears I am also filled with hope. I have found hope in the commitment of the young people in the Labour Party, and of those in left-wing parties across Europe. And when I speak to them many tell me that they have found renewed inspiration from Jeremy Corbyn. While the membership of our sister parties is falling and ageing, UK Labour has become the biggest socialist party in Europe, and with an average age twenty years younger than a year ago. Our European friends are stunned and cannot believe that we would even consider removing him.

With the constant in-fighting in Labour it is sometimes easy to focus on the back-and-forth and neglect the political ideas. But my job is to ensure that the interests of young people stay at the front and centre of our party. That means taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Simply - we cannot continue with the failed strategy of the past decade.

Changing the captain, whether to Miliband or Smith, means nothing if the ship stays on the same doomed course. As a captain Jeremy Corbyn is certainly not beyond criticism, and I have been more than happy to criticise him at times. But his politics are a new map for the Labour Party, for a route that we can all take together. The ideas and the movement behind him represent the future of socialist and social democratic politics, and young people cannot afford to fall overboard.

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