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The Young Person Argument for Owen Smith

18/08/2016 16:48 | Updated 18 August 2016
Danny Lawson/PA Wire

For many people of my generation, the 2015 election was the first time I was able to vote in a national election. Even though I wasn't a member of Labour at the time I wholeheartedly wanted Milliband to win. I got up at 5:45 on Election Day to get the polling office before I had to catch a train to London, I cast my first ever vote hoping to unseat Nick Clegg from Sheffield Hallam and to win an election; all my hope came to nothing, the final outcome was even worse than we all expected.

That feeling of personal disappointment and anguish for an entire generation that had disproportionately suffered under the Tories for 5 years is not an experience I wanted to go through ever again.

After the election, I, like hundreds of thousands of others, joined Labour because we wanted to see change. However, a year later I found myself going through that unwanted experience again. Brexit won, even though more than 70% of young people voted to remain, and upon learning the result it proved to me Jeremy Corbyn couldn't deliver the change my generation needed.

Corbyn couldn't even convince himself, let alone the electorate, he wanted to go along with the official stance of the party and vote remain. He started campaigning late, took a holiday 2 weeks before the vote and said just days before that he wasn't "overly fond of the EU".

Numerous studies have shown that young people are the demographic that benefits most from Britain's membership of the EU, but again our voice didn't mean anything; that is why Owen Smith must win the Labour Leadership contest so that we can have a Labour government in 2020 where the interests of the young will be looked after by a government in power.

Under Smith, Labour can have a real chance at being the government we need and enact real change. He can unify the party and ensure all of the Parliamentary Labour Party and appeal to the demographics that Corbyn will never reach.

There are many die-hard Corbyn supporters and their political motivation is admirable but when the party is polling up to a 15 point deficit, there is clear evidence that the rest of the nation isn't interested. What people want is a party that presents itself as an effective government in waiting, more unified and intelligent than the one currently in power.

In a series of letters published recently, Jess Philips MP shows how many of the PLP that doesn't support Corbyn are still using the power they how to fight the Tories in a way that actually has real substance. She states how she has been working to on reversing some of the worst effects the cuts may have on people due to her involvement on the policy committee; this is what a government in waiting looks like.

Phillips iterates her support for Smith by claiming he turned up to meetings and discussions to fight against the Tories and amend their policies; this is how you make change, it wasn't rallies that won those battles but hard, behind the scenes, work.

This is what young people need, a viable Prime Minister who will roll up his sleeves and get the work done; work with, not undermine his ministers and promote their successes rather than claiming them as his own.

I do not openly dislike Corbyn, I appreciate what Jeremy has done for the party with regards to increasing the membership, and I think he has shown once and for all that the Labour party membership does want a properly left-leaning government different from the Blair years.

However, Jeremy Corbyn does not have substance to be a prime minister, even if he did overcome his massive polling deficits and win an election I still don't think he'd do the job well. Being good at speeches and motivating crowds is all well and good; but too many of his parliamentary colleagues have made substantial and cogent criticism of Corbyn's inability to lead a team, to get the job done and lead a party, surely these are the most important qualities necessary for a Prime Minister in waiting.

Labour needs to present itself as a party of government and not a movement, Jeremy may have inspired many among the often reluctant to vote young but that is nowhere near enough to win a general election. As I'm concerned, that's what the entire Labour Party should be focused on, winning the election, and so should the young who want to see their fortunes change.

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