Over the next decade the United Kingdom faces challenges of an extraordinary magnitude. Slowly, but surely limping out of the worst recession in living memory, this country must continue to modernise itself, as it has always done, in order to make itself fit for its time. In the spring of 2010 the people of the Britain will have a choice; whether to retain the Labour Party as their government, or to change to the Conservative government, a party whose ideals and policies deserve to remain where they belong – the past. It is our party’s duty to challenge the tried and failed dogma that the Conservative government so readily presents to the electorate.
However the manner in which the Labour Party goes about this will be vitally important to the future of our country. For I believe that to pursue the policy of mindless partisanship and class war against the Conservative Party will not only serve unsuccessfully for our party, but more importantly for the country. It is our duty to offer the citizens of this country a choice. We must continue to stand by the liberal, progressive principles on which the Labour Party is established on.
Robert Kennedy once said, ‘Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.’ I believe that it is these words that should drive and motivate us, as young people to deliver change and hope to a nation, which has suffered years of partisanship between the two main parties, and scores of broken promises. But we can be the generation that alters this status quo. I am convinced that there are many talented individuals from all racial, religious and economic backgrounds who can come together and make change happen, thus writing another illustrious chapter in the history of our country. Change can only happen if we embrace each other’s differences, celebrate the values we share. If we can do this, we will be able to create the sort of country we want.
The responsibility that we have is the direction that our country intends to move in the next decade. We must be ready to offer not only rhetoric, but solid policies to the British people. Progressive tax systems, a national care system for the elderly; education reforms, including raising the age of starting formal education to seven years old, and doing away with up-front fees for university students, replacing it with a graduate tax – these are just are some of the possible policies that the Labour Party should be presenting to the electorate. Only progressive, radical thinking will show the British people that we remain restless and eager for change. That although we are the party of the NHS, the minimum wage, equality legislation for minority groups, as well as so many other successes, we also seek to continue the reforms that we have often initiated. The work of the progressive liberal is never complete. We must not tire to challenge those who believe that change cannot happen.
Our country needs a political party who will stand up for people who think that all is lost. Whether they are Black, White, Indian, Pakistani; man, woman; young, old; poor or more affluent; gay, straight; disabled or not disabled; whether from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, we need to show the people that we are the party of equality. That we are the party of diversity and fairness and ambition, and all the other inspirational values that this country shares. As was highly publicised last year, the expenses scandal affected British politics deeply; it is the job of all the main political parties to begin to rebuild the trust with the electorate. Never again should the House of Commons be so hideously undermined. This institution should be the foundations on which our democracy is built upon. It is essential that we make our politicians realise how much damage they have inflicted on our political system; we, in the Labour Party, must spearhead a decade of democratic empowerment to all our citizens, but especially those who feel they have already been forgotten – ethnic minorities, the working classes and young people.
However it is a mighty task, one that cannot be solved by any one person or programme, but by a collective and common effort. Our lives are too short; this should not be the time for hopelessness or austerity. This should not be the time for division and conservatism. What we need in this country is hope, a desire for change; Britain needs a government who is determined to all that is possible to make life better for its people. We, in the Labour Party, must be the bastions of the progressive and liberal advancement that our country will undoubtedly need, if it is to keep its place in the world.
BULS member, Callum Anderson