Over the summer a dozen young people took part in the first year of Stephen Timms‘ Political Summer School. A great programme to give young people an insight into politics. As part of this programme I welcomed them to the Newham Council offices to discuss the role of the council, the job of a councillor and how to run a political campaign.
We had a really fun day and it was great to see them so engaged and interested in politics. The highlights for me were:
– watching their robust (!) conversation with the Mayor and Chief Executive about the varied services the council delivers from housing to youth provision and how you choose priorities in a landscape of shrinking resources
– introducing them to Tulip Sidiq, a Councillor in Camden and Prospective a Parliamentary Candidate for the Labour Party who gave them a valuable insight into running for Office and campaigning locally
– helping them work on designing their own parties with a manifesto and a campaign and communication plan. They used data about their local community to create a party that would appeal to residents in East Ham. They were then put in front of the Dragons (aka Cabinet Members Ken Clark and Forhad Hussain) to present their campaigns. The Equality Party won though the People Party (whose main policy resembled rent caps) came very close.
I hope the young people enjoyed their time with us and left feeling more enthused about getting involved in politics. It is a worrying reflection on politics that most of the students I met before the summer at a local sixth form could not name prominent politicians like Gordon Brown, George Osborne or Nick Clegg. And the kids at a local primary school thought Councillors just dealt with parking (though to be fair it does feel like that sometimes! And it beat the time when I spoke at a primary school about how exciting it is to be a councillor and my slot followed a Farmer who had bought in real animals…)
If you are a local person under 25 and interested in getting involved in the Labour Party please do check out the Newham Young Labour Facebook Page. NYL is an incredibly friendly, vibrant and interesting group which would make you feel very welcome and introduce you to lots of new people including prominent politicians and fun, local activists. It is about to go through a revamp so now is an excellent time to get involved.