At the 2017 general election, youth turnout increased by 20% compared to the election two years prior, with the vast majority of these new voters supporting Labour. University students helped to overturn or deny Tory majorities in marginal seats, which stopped Theresa May from gaining her desired landslide victory. Young people are now making their voice heard in politics in a way not seen for years, so it makes sense to find out the views of those who are re-shaping the political landscape. As the Leicester University Labour society is the largest political society on campus, it’s the best place to start.
The first policy to be discussed was lowering the voting age to 16, an idea that is gaining more and more momentum in the public sphere. It was unanimously agreed that this was the right thing to do in order to further enhance youth participation in politics. Another policy that was unanimously agreed upon was making it a priority for Britain to work on creating a green economy. With young people ultimately being the ones who will have to live with the consequences of climate change, it is seen as highly important to combat it.
Another topic that was discussed was the debate around what should happen to public officials who are accused of sexual assault. This subject was particularly appropriate to talk about due to the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court judge, even after he faced multiple allegations of sexual assault. While there was more debate on this topic than the previous two, it was still agreed that public officials should face temporary suspension if allegations are made against them.
A more heated topic of debate was whether Labour should adopt a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. While some said that nuclear weapons were a costly burden that would never be used, others argued that it would be better to dismantle them as part of a deal with other nations. The split in the group on this policy bears a strong resemblance to the split in the party they belong to on the very same issue.
Another place where the group was split in a similar manner to Labour was on the party’s Brexit policy. Some argued that going through with Brexit would only harm the people that the party is supposed to defend, whilst others said that ignoring the referendum result would only anger Labour’s northern heartlands which voted to leave the EU. No consensus was formed on this issue and it’s unlikely this will happen any time soon, much like in the national party.
While the Leicester University Labour society only offers a small look at the wide variety of viewpoints within Labour, it is most likely that the agreements and splits on policy listed in this article are mirrored in other Labour societies across the country. While it may seem like these opinions don’t matter much now, they may do if the people who hold them ever enter Parliament.