A message from Ama Uzowuru, NUS Vice President for Welfare

It would be a good idea to give those of you all a bit of an update on one of the key welfare issues discussed – tenancy deposit protection and what’s happening next.

Today two EDMs went down that we worked on with Unipol student homes.

EDM 1557 is regarding deposit returns in university halls of residence. In the housing act, there is legislation ensuring that all tenants get their deposits returned within 4 weeks from the end of the tenancy.

For those of you that have waited months and months for those deposits, and have consequently out of pocket when paying your deposit on your next house you will understand how vital it is that you can get your deposits back as soon as possible. However, being that universities are seen as different to other landlords in legislation, they are exempt from having to meet the legislation laid out in the Housing Act as long as they signed up to either the ANUK/Unipol/NUS code or the UUK/GuildHE code.

This EDM is asking that universities therefore are forced to adhere to the same regulations as other landlords as it stipulated in section 233 of the Housing Act.

EDM 1558 is about altering legislation to ensure that students that are currently unable to get their deposits protected can. Let me explain some more. Tenancy deposit protection is only applicable to assured shorthold tenancies (AST). One feature of an AST is that the annual rental income of the property must be below £25,000 a year. This figure was set in 1990 and has never been changed, whereas the housing market has seen drastic changes over this period of time. If the annual rental income to qualify as an AST was changed constantly in reaction to the housing markets changes the equivalent figure today would be £53,000.

£25,000 may still sound like a figure that your house would never exceed however students in a house of 5 all paying 100 per week exceed this limit. And that’s not a particularly high rent for London or the South East. And many students live in bigger house shares than that. You would only need to be paying £just over £70 a week in a house of 7 to exceed that limit.

This means that there may be as many as 40% of students in London and the South-East and 10% elsewhere that simply cannot get their deposits protected. Which we think is unacceptable.

The more signatures of MPs that these EDMs receive the more likely that these issues will get the attention they deserve and improve students’ rights in terms of their deposits.

We’ve written a model letter that you can use, or write your own to alert your MP to these EDMs and urge them to sign it.

Thanks again to those of you that came along to regional conference and to the sessions on this and your constant support in all our campaigning.


Vigil at the Czech Embassy in London this Thursday - No to US Missile Defence

12 noon - 1.30pm, Thursday 29th May

Opposite the Czech Embassy, corner of Notting Hill Gate and Clanricarde Gardens, London W2

Join Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament this Thursday at a vigil in support of two leading Czech activists who have been on hunger strike in Prague since the 13th May.

Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar of the 'No to Bases' movement have begun their action only a few weeks before the Czech Government is expected to put the treaties accepting the Missile Defence radar to the vote in Parliament. Despite 70% of the Czech public opposing the system, the vote in the Chamber of Deputies will be very close - perhaps coming down to a single vote. Maximum pressure is needed to show that not just Czech, but European public opinion is against the system.

As well as joining us on the vigil, you can send a message of support directly to the hunger strikers and write to the Czech Ambassador using our model letter, see here.

See our other articles on this issue here and here. If you would like to find out more about out European and International activities click here, fill in our survey to join the network or contact


Activists respond to Brown call that ‘communication is a force for good’. Save the Labour Party (STLP) today released internal Labour Party policy documents in a form enabling all Party members with Internet access to comment and see each other contributions.

This unofficial service is a collaboration between Save the Labour Party, Compass Youth and Comment on This – which has developed a facility that displays consultation documents in sections with a Comment area attached – enabling all respondents to see openly and transparently what others are proposing.

The initiative, which is opposed by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee, coincides with a speech by Prime Minister and Labour Party Leader Gordon Brown highlighting the power of communication tools such as the internet and their potential for uniting people and challenging

STLP Chair, Peter Kenyon, said: “If Gordon Brown wants to restore his political authority inside and outside the Labour Party he should institute an immediate inquiry. Why are party officers blocking the use of readily available communication tools to enable all Party members, or the public as a whole, to take part in Labour’s latest policy review?”

An Open Letter was sent to Brown last month signed by 10 leading Labour Party figures drawing his attention to the need for an open and transparent review. This call for support was rebuffed in a letter from Labour Party NEC, Dianne Hayter, who says that the process is already open and transparent.

STLP is seeking to reserve access to Labour Party members until a technical solution can be agreed to segment comments from the general public from those of Party members. This will enable Labour Party members’ view to be analysed separately and compared with those of the general public.

STLP has attracted support from all sections of the Labour Party. It has close links with other
campaigning organisations in the labour movement in England, Scotland and Wales, including the Campaign For Labour Party Democracy, the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, and Compass Youth.

The Labour Party policy documents have been released through the Party’s intranet, MemberNet, restricting access in the first instance to Labour Party members registered on the site. They are believed to number some 40,000 out of around 180,000.

Click here if you are a member and you will get access to the link to the open source version of the manifesto documents.

If you would like to find out about our other blogging & social media activities, please click here. If you would like to get involved in these, contact us at


We asked if you wanted to support Votes at 16 here and here. Now you can send a letter to your MP asking them to support the bill. It couldnt be easier just follow the link here.

Do you believe:

Young people deserve the vote at 16?
Young people should have the right to representation?
Young people have the knowledge and information to vote?
Young people are passionate about political issues?

Many of you have been campaigning on this for a long time and now the day has finally arrived when all your hard work might just pay off.

The Votes at 16 Private Members Bill proposed by Julie Morgan MP is scheduled for Friday 6th June 2008 at 9.30am in the House of Commons main chamber.

Elections and Labour's crisis: finding solutions

Bit of a plug, but I have a post up here on the topic above, and am inviting all comments.


A bit of a side point in the article, but a point nonetheless.



It is not popular among socialists to stick up for those who gain priveleges over others, and rightly so. Often students come within this bracket.

On reading the recent interview Soundings did with Jon Cruddas, one gets a sense that the effects of this particular educational inequality is being remedies, because demand is not following the growth of higher education. Degrees aren't needed by capitalist society as much as the government reckons. Accordingly, far from being empowering, we are led to a situation where the job market is 'levelling down' in terms of the number and quality of opportunities it can offer people, but people are only equipped with the means to grab these diminishing or inadequate opportunities, rather than stepping in to guarantee opportunity itself.

Accordingly in our personal lives, our generation finds that there is little opportunity to progress as the managerial stratum of our ageing population stays in place, and a possible recession looms; we end up working in bars, at best.

There is absolutely nothing wrong, of course, with working in a bar. The problem is firstly being stuck there, secondly with getting a degree (with all the associated time and efforts) based on false promises of an expanding employment market, and thirdly having to pay for it where you did not pay before, (erroneously) placed on the back of the same misguided premise. As a side note, I must dissent from the official Compass/SNP/Lib Dem policy of 'Graduate tax'. If we agree with taxing the privileged, let us have a far more sociologically accurate 'rich tax'.

But really. Who wants to pay more to be overqualified? And is it just that such a situation is allowed by government to exist?


On the 4th June, Julie Morgan MP will be hosting an event and discussion to launch the Voting Age (Reduction) Bill. This is a bill that she is has presented to parliament which seeks to lower the voting age to 16 across the UK .

MPs are due to debate the bill on the 6th June, but before they do this Julie is inviting young people to the launch in parliament to have their say and to tell MPs why the voting age should be lowered.

At the same time that Julie Morgan and the Votes at 16 campaign are working on this bill, the Government have announced a Youth Citizenship Commission that will be set up to look into whether the voting age should be lowered.

We think this shows that the Government are considering the idea carefully, and may well lower the voting age soon if we can give them a good reason to do so. This event and this Bill are about giving the Government lots of those reasons, and we will be sending everything that was said to the Youth Citizenship Commission so that they can take note.

We are encouraging young people from youth councils, youth groups, schools and FE colleges to come to the event as delegates from their youth organisation.

Places are strictly limited to a first-come first-served basis, to book your place please e-mail


A fundraiser for Hands Off Iraqi Oil campaign and Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions

Naomi Klein - Lecture with Q&A

Monday 19 May 2008 @ 7pm

Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Road (opposite Euston Station), London NW1 2BJ

Tickets £7/£5

Naomi Klein, award winning journalist and author of the renowned anti-globalisation manual No Logo, will be in London at Friends Meeting House on 19 May for the launch of the paperback edition of her latest book,
Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

She will be discussing her book and the corporate takeover of Iraq and signing copies of her book which will be on sale. The Hands Off Iraqi Oil campaign will be hosting the event.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions and Hands Off Iraqi Oil. Tickets are on sale now here.


We thought that you would be interested in an event our partners One Voice are doing next week with their Youth Leaders in Jerusalem, which you can tune into remotely at 5 pm on Monday, the 19th May 2008 by signing up here.

It's a chance to ask young Palestinians and Israelis directly how they see prospects for resolution in the current climate and what they're willing to do to achieve it.

We also thought you would like to see a recent blog about OneVoice written by Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. Thanks to everyone who has left their comments - you’re welcome to write yours here.


This isn't a petition - it's an invitation to participate in a unique creative event on the streets of London next Thursday 22nd May, involving the Dalai Lama on his UK visit. To help send the message of Avaaz's 1.66 million-strong petition for Tibet-China dialogue peacefully around the world, we're mounting a 3-mile-long human chain handshake connecting the Dalai Lama to the Chinese Embassy, just after his speech at the Royal Albert Hall.

The Metropolitan Police have given Avaaz the green light for up to 2000 participants – but the event can't happen without you. Not everyone can travel or be free at this time (late afternoon/early evening next Thursday), so think about it for a minute -- but if you can, please sign up now to participate in person in the handshake event in Central London -- just click here.

Please include your email and phone number so that Avaaz can be in touch with all the details of where you need to be and when. Here is the plan for the event, called "Give Peace A Hand":

On Thursday 22nd May, the Dalai Lama will be in the UK to meet with Gordon Brown – an event which will result in worldwide media coverage. He will also give a speech at the Royal Albert Hall, finishing at 4.30pm.

One of the people who shakes hands with the Dalai Lama will turn to shake another person's hand, that person will turn and shake someone else's, and so on. The handshake will flow out through the streets of London, along a spontaneously forming human chain – around Hyde Park Corner, up to Marble Arch, along Wigmore Street and up to the Chinese Embassy.

People power on the streets of London will reach out to the Chinese leadership, and to the world. No national symbols, no flags or banners – just a simple message of positive connection and dialogue. The global media will be alerted to this novel event, which will be filmed from end to end. We could reach millions.

Tentative contacts have resumed between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese government, so there's hope - but as documented in a new film, The Unwinking Gaze, previous talks went on for years without progress. We are still a long way from meaningful dialogue, and the danger is that the situation will only become worse after the Olympics. We need to do all we can to encourage real talks, before it's too late.

We will assign you to a place in the handshake, which will begin at 4.30pm at the Royal Albert Hall. If you aren't free until 5.30pm or later, we can put you on the final route between Marble Arch and the Chinese Embassy in Portland Place. It will finish around 6.30/7pm. But if you want to participate, it's very important to click this link and sign up now!

Some of us will be in London anyway, others will want to travel in and bring friends - but many will have prior commitments. So don't worry if you can't participate – and thanks for all you do. But if you can, we'd love you to join Avaaz -- it'll be a great experience, and it could make a real difference.

PS if you have any questions about the event, feel free to email Rob Bolton now at


Below are the details of the J4C actions that begin in London this week. Thanks to the people who came on Saturday.

The actions are happening because of a few reasons. There are several major cleaning contractors in the City of London. Between them, they clean the majority of floor space in corporations and public sector buildings throughout the City and Canary Wharf.

The overwhelming majority of their workforce consist of migrants from Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. There are many challenges in unionising this workforce , the largest being that many workers are undocumented and risk reprisal from the employer. It is also a very fragmented workforce; there many languages that are spoken, many different shift patterns and small clusters of workers spread throughout the city.

In late 2006/ early 2007 , the TGWU forced several of the major cleaning contractors including ISS, Mitie, Lancaster, & Greencrest to sign a union recognition agreement. After a year of negotiations it became obvious that they would not sign voluntarily. The agreement meant that the cleaning contractor and their clients were committed to:
  • negotiate with the trade union for the pay and conditions of their workforce.
  • allow access on site to trade union organizers and officials to meet with workers during the workers’ paid time.
  • recognize the union shop steward (delegate) on site.
  • implement ‘fairshare’..this means that if the trade union yields a raise and pay and conditions on site, then workers who have not become a member of the trade union must pay a percentage (I think its 80%) in ‘bargaining fees’ to the trade union.

So why are we in dispute with the companies again?

Well…there are still a few contractors in the city who still haven’t signed the agreement at all. They are: Pall Mall, McClellands, & Sodexho. So we need them to sign up.

Then there are the contractors who have signed up but aren’t implementing the agreement properly. The most aggressive of which is ‘Lancaster’ who are dodging the union on access and recognising shop stewards. Lancaster is arguably the most unethical cleaning contractor in London. In mid 2006 Lancaster cleaners at MERRIL LYNCH were told that there were going to a training session off site. They were taken to another location and raided by home office officials..and taken to detention centres.

And then there’s the contractors who still aren’t paying decent wages, sick pay and holiday pay. These include companies who have and have not signed the agreement.

So , as you can see…..we have a lot of work to do before the exit strategy kicks in on this campaign.

Now here is the schedule of demonstrations this week. We are going to start by hitting PALL MALL. At the end of the week we start on LANCASTER .

If you can only come to one demonstration this week please make it the THURSDAY demonstration at 4pm.

Contact Anita on 07900405787


Monday May 12: 4pm 250 Bishopsgate E2
Meet 3.50pm Liverpool St Station.

Tuesday May 13: 12noon 250 Bishopsgate E2
Meet 11.50am Liverpool St Station

Wednesday May 14: 7.30am
Picket: Ethical Corportation: The Responsible Business Summit 2008.
Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel 18 Albert Embankement London SE1 7TJ

Wednesday May 14: 12noon 250 Bishopsgate E2
Meet 11.50am Liverpool St Station

Wednesday May 14: 4pm 250 Bishopsgate E2
Meet 3.50pm Liverpool St Station

Thursday May 15: 12noon 250 Bishopsgate E2
Meet 11.50am Liverpool St Station

Thursday May 15: 4pm 250 Bishopsgate E2
Meet 3.50pm Liverpool St Station

Friday May 16: 12noon
Meet St Pauls Tube – Gresham St Exit – for LANCASTER hit.


So this is what everyday social democracy is then, I thought, reading the article by Jon Cruddas and Jonathan Rutherford about why we have lost this connection, we don't know "how to speak to people's insecurities...the joys, pleasures and frustrations of everyday life" relying instead on the blind faith of the markets or out dated electoral tactics of targeting an illusory Worcester Woman or Mondeo Man.

John Denham, a proponent of targeting marginal voters, particularly in the South of England argues that Labour's "promise of fairness must be rooted in our determination to create opportunities for those who want to take them, not over-protection for those who don't.".

I agree, so why protect those who inherit excessive wealth rather than those who work for it, those who risk our money on the stock exchange, those who use expensive lawyers and accountants to avoid tax using legal loopholes?

Denham continues to argue that "This is a society that has a positive bias in favour of those who earn their way. And has a bias against those who are not prepared to; or who want to take more than their fair share.".

I agree, so why not ensure agency workers get the same rights as their colleagues, why not enable people who are forced by their employers to work over 48 hours a week preventing them to enjoy quality time with their friends and families, why not introduce a living wage which enables people to live a decent life, why not regularise migrants who have been living here without a serious criminal record and cannot access healthcare, why not enable individuals in privately-run residential cares home to benefit from the Human Rights Act, why not equalise the minimum wage for everyone irrespective of age?

Or do agency workers not earn their way, do people working an unhealthy amount of time not earn their way, do people on the minimum wage take more than their fair share?

We should stop making assumptions about the electorate. The assumptions that southerners are so prosperous, so comfortable and so self-centred that all they want to be is demanding consumers whether at the supermarket or in public services. In reality, many would vote for policies like Surestart, affordable housing and a living wage. The assumptions that marginals and lower middle classes are the key to a Labour victory, when our support amongst lower middle class voters has dropped by 9 percentage points since 2001 but that it has also dropped by 8 points amongst working class voters. Maybe we need to start treating people like the citizens that they are, with their complexities and contradictions.

As Dan Elton argues, it's about "giving people a hand up, not a hand out" and as Ken Livingstone mentions, it's about "everyone sharing in that success".

For all those disappointed or disillusioned by the government, there is hope. Jon Trickett proposes:

"A progressive tax system is a start - a system that helps those on the lowest incomes while making sure those on the higher rungs pay their share, and a living wage to make sure those who go to work can support their families. If we need to fund these measures, we should be looking to the energy companies with their billions in profits per quarter, yet still squeezing people into fuel poverty. Or perhaps at the £76 billion of wasted money that will be channelled into renewing the Trident submarine system."

We recently enabled people to submit ideas to the Manifesto of the European Party of Socialists. We can also look forward to Compass' forthcoming launch of the "biggest policy and ideas creation process the country has ever seen".

On a more light hearted note, we apparently need a candidate for the next mayoral elections in London who has "the politics of Polly Toynbee and the public profile of Jeremy Clarkson". Any takers?


In the last set of Mayoral elections, Ken Livingstone’s independence from New Labour effectively meant that he was able to ride out the storm that swirled around it. That storm has now become a tempest.

After eleven years, the Tories have finally started to triangulate new Labour, gesturing leftwards (albeit without any substance) on the environment, tax and spending,and a plethora of other policy areas. To us on the left, this situation was a totally predictable situation which naturally extends from the logic of New Labour. Itwas bound, if allowed to carry on, to result in the hardening of a coalition built around neo-liberalism. New Labour is not as well suited, in terms of its material base, to this situation as a well-run Tory party.

Labour may have changed to accommodate the middle class and avoid the firestorm of the bourgeois press; but fundamentally, it will always rely on the votes of the working class, as long as it retains any distinctive character from the other two parties.

Livingstone, for the first time, has lost out from the same process which has blighted Labour across the rest of the country, that is the re-opening of the contradiction between working and middle class voters who congregated around a shared interest in opposing the conservatives in 1997. The anti-Ken suburbs turned out in massive areas to remove the mayor who had deprived them of the privacy of their morning car journeys. They were fast-tracked there by Boris Johnson’s sophisticated election machine and the dominance of the Evening Standard press monopoly which, though a natural opponent of Livingstone on ideological grounds, has directed special hostility towards him since he publicly drew attention to their support for German fascism during the Finegold affair. Working class turnout was also high, but not as high as that from the suburbs. Perhaps if there was more enthusiasm for Labour generally, the situation would have been salvageable.

Livingstone gets a lot of flack on the left, which I feel is unjustified. There are the Kremlinesque excesses of the pabloite Socialist Action members who staffed his office, and of course the Qarawadi affair. With regard to the latter, Livingstone was right to point out that the cleric is no more homophobic than many Christians. The problem with this response, while it is correct, is that it does not address why a mayor would want to invite homophobic fundamentalists of any religious background to share a platform with him. Either way, Livingstone's gradually accrued list of questionable decisions did not help him. One cannot also help to question the level of his advocacy for London as a financial institution; the amount of wealth floating around cannot have helped his vote!

One must however remember that this is the man who has delivered a London Living Wage,the Oyster card, opposition to Iraq, and support for Venezuela. He has renationalised a big chunk of the railway network (improving it at breakneck speed), fought privatisation on the tube, and implemented an environmentally graded congestion charge system which has penalised those who despoil our air and see themselves as above concepts such as ‘public’ transport.

During Iraq, and the other various attacks New Labour has made on the weak, Ken has been an inspiration to me, a beacon of principle, populism and until now, electorability, floating in the Blairite sea of modern middle-class politics. He effortlessly straddled the gap between Labour's Socialist Campaign Group, and the 'soft left', of which I claim membership. He will be sorely missed. His failure to gain re-election comes as a blow to most Londoners, but it will pale in comparison to the outrageous assaults his successor is duty bound to commit. It is also wise to remember than he cruised in on Second Preference votes from the fascist BNP, who now hold a London Assembly seat to boot. This also goes to highlight the failure of Respect, the Left List and the Greens (who retained two seats on the GLA).

Hopefully we will see more of Ken Livingstone in the future. When (not 'if') reactionary Tory fun figure Johnson ruins everything, perhaps Ken will return to avenge his earlier defeat. As so often, the democratic left can only hope.


On Europe Day, the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions launches a photo competition on intercultural dialogue seen through the eyes of young Europeans!

In the framework of the 2008 European Year of intercultural dialogue, the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) organises a photo competition which will enable young Europeans aged 18-25 to share their vision of the dialogue between cultures in their city and region. This competition will be officially launched on 9 May, Europe Day, and will close on 30 September 2008.

A jury composed by PES Group members, representatives of Agence Vu' and Notre Europe will select 6 the winning photographs among all the entries downloaded on the PES Group website. The six winners, each of whom will be awarded a prize consisting of a professional digital camera, will be invited to Brussels to participate in the Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which will be organised on 26-27 November 2008, on the fringe of the CoR plenary session. An exhibition of the “Europe Works” project, accompanied by the photos of the competition, will be displayed at the CoR Headquarters from 24 November until 5 December 2008.

For more information on the photo competition and the modalities of participation, please visit the website of the PES Group in the CoR.

See more on our european and international activities


You might think that waking up to Labour’s electoral disaster and Boris Johnson’s election as mayor would be the worst hangover imaginable, but then the gripping reality of the social recession hit home - “more than two million people in Britain are forced to endure intolerably poor working lives and subjected to daily exploitation and abuse from employers”. My political hangover doesn’t compare with these stories from the report “Hard Work, Hidden Lives”

  • “Construction workers who were injured at work but were not entitled to welfare protection.”

  • “Workers who had spent 70-hour weeks on around £2 an hour who had no choice but to keep working when they were ill, as they could neither afford to lose a day's pay nor risk the sack.”

  • “I was so badly off that I was barely living”

It’s the people, stupid

Our government “has never talked openly and honestly about tax...every penny earned by hard work is taxed, while windfalls of those born lucky go free”.

Both the government and the opposition “outdo each other in their anxiety to appease the superclass”.

The New Labour strategy is indeed dead. Those struggling financially – whether they live in the Labour heartlands or the marginals, whether they constitute the so-called working or middle class, they are all concerned about similar issues such as “insecurity and anxiety caused by flexible labour markets, the lack of affordable housing, sharp price rises, concerns about pensions, worries about securing places in local schools, immigration and the widening gap between the rich and the poor”. They have all suffered a “deliberate choice to give more to the better-off ever...banked it and forgot it”.

While the lowest earners have just lost their 10p tax rate, the wealthy still get an unearned £700,000 untaxed. Every penny earned by hard work is taxed, while windfalls of those born lucky go free.

Will Hutton argues that “there has not been a gap between the rich and poor on the current scale ever in history...It is unstable. Sooner or later, there will be popular outrage and a political response”.

Popular outrage but no political response

Despite the opposition having “little solid policy in key areas...big ideas...remain vague...conflicting messages about cutting taxes”, despite the government using “the language of the right” we suffered a catastrophic electoral loss.

Despite the wristband diplomacy of the repetitive name-checking of the Make Poverty History campaign, “the young have never heard any politician explain what progressive tax is for”. It’s no surprise then that there was popular outrage against the government, despite the Tories offering no political response whatsoever.

As someone said “most of them will tell you it doesn't matter if the Tories get in, because they will get shafted again, but it’s what they expect, it’s not what was expected for their votes over the past 10 years. The majority would tell their children to vote Labour, most now tell them not to, or not to vote at all.”

Where do we go now?

With the campaigning and intellectual leadership of Crosby and Johnson, right wing activists mobilised to get out the vote for the Tories, but so did the left.

Despite being ignored and mocked for calling the government for fairer taxes and more equal rights for all, activists have been on the doorstep day and night still relentlessly trying to persuade voters that this time round, the government would deliver a better deal for them.

These activists are all that’s left to save the Labour Party (no pun intended). Those who left the party and those who are still members but couldn’t face campaigning for a party that isn’t listening to them – those are the activists that we so desperately needed in outer London and across the country, those are also the people that the party leadership thought wouldn’t leave as they had nowhere else to go.

Those are also the people that have been “prepared to endure being constantly slagged off by other members for even being a party member, or for having thoughts different to those of the isolated, disconnected, unchecked and unaccountable leadership.”

Chuka Umunna argues that “Labour needs to clearly and succinctly give the answer to the question "why and for what purpose?" in a way in which people can connect.” This goes for both the public and for the party’s own members and activists.

Let’s make inequality history

Labour has always been a necessary but insufficient vehicle to campaign for fairness and equality for all. Many activists might now wonder if it is even still necessary. But let’s try and be optimistic that it’s more than a government and not forgot the amazing work that many Labour activists and politicians have done despite the government -

“Livingstone's 12% advantage over Labour's national score - a sort of progressive premium - has important lessons for the party nationally as the battle over its future direction heats up. It's also clear that the kind of progressive coalition and policies that Livingstone favoured - on transport, housing, privatisation and redistribution - are a good deal more popular with voters than the rudderless triangulation currently on offer from Gordon Brown.”

Andrew Rawnsley states “it is now possible to shut your eyes and imagine a smiling David Cameron strolling along Downing Street.”

When will the government learn to pass the shut-your-eyes test, so the public can seriously imagine that Labour can fight for better equality for our society and ensure everyone get’s a fair deal?

How can we mobilise young people to make inequality history?

Compass’ Programme for Renewal offers some clues: “Democracy is about getting involved, being listened to, shaping events; they understand that it is never simply about voting. Clearly, mobilising people on the streets must never replace the formal process of representative politics, but political parties need to be able to connect to social movements that are expressing widespread concerns.”

At Compass Youth, we are trying to build and facilitate a dynamic and vibrant network that campaigns for greater equality and democracy and nurtures progressive values across society.

We recognise the need to engage the next generation in being the actors of that change. We feel it is time to engage in distinctive and influential ways to shape our future.

We want to make connections that will keep the Labour movement in touch with the most dynamic and innovative ideas and campaigns, but also improve understanding between the Labour party and the wider progressive movement. At the heart of what drives Compass Youth is that it is shaped by the ideas and people that form it.

Join our networks to develop our skills and campaign on the issues that matter to you.

Sign up for the Compass conference where we will be facilitating a session on “Going global in the fight against equality”

...If not now, then when?

Noel Hatch, International Officer, Compass Youth

All is not lost

"Ken Livingstone has five children by three women" screamed one headline, "Johnson admits using cocaine as a teenager" shouted another.The other candidates for London mayor were never really going to get a look in. Two larger than life characters, oozing charisma, the personification of their politics. This was no ordinary election.

After a decade of national success for the reds, the blues are allegedly on the march and politics has got interesting again, it is said. Last night's results will be viewed in this context.

It was always going to be a difficult set of results for Labour, though it was not quite as bad as many had expected, with Labour down 162 councillors around the country at the time of writing. However, it is the London result that everyone is waiting for. What happens in the capital will dominate the weekend's headlines and set the political scene for next few weeks. So what will the London result tell us about the state of the parties and, most importantly, the forthcoming general election? In the short term, it obviously matters; in the long term, its significance is surely questionable.

People may not know what tier of government has competence over which policy area but they do draw a distinction between the local and the national. For example, on the doorstep in Streatham (admittedly not a bellwether seat), the overwhelming majority of voters voiced strong opinions on the two principal mayoral protagonists, but this was mostly to do with their like or dislike of the personalities involved.

When asked about the government and the prime minister's performance to date, the majority of voters in Labour and non-Labour wards in Streatham were not rushing to judgement, even after the 10p tax rate saga (an avoidable and regrettable mistake made by a party that has lifted hundreds of thousands out of poverty since 1997). Many are waiting to see how the PM responds in the coming months.

These doorstep encounters are, of course, not reflected in the polls which suggest a bleaker picture for Labour. But the polls have been bouncing all over the place since last summer and the general election is some time away. There is still a good deal to play for.

For those outside the Westminster bubble, politics is not a game. They want to know how the politics of each party will make a tangible difference to their daily lives. First and foremost they want the government to take the long term decisions to ensure economic prosperity and stability in an uncertain world which affects jobs and mortgages,. But parties need to do more than act as competent managers of UK plc.

Labour must present the public with a vision of the kind of society it wants to bring about if it is to convince voters that it deserves a fourth term. It needs to show that government is not simply a matter of service delivery and management, but about transforming society. Labour needs to clearly and succinctly give the answer to the question "why and for what purpose?" in a way in which people can connect.

Gordon Brown did that in a passionate speech he gave to the Compass national conference four years ago. He said that Labour should seek to create a Britain where "the town square is more than a marketplace, the city centre more than where people buy and sell, the community more than a collection of individuals". He continued: "a measure of success would be that people think not of the hospital, or even just of my hospital but of our hospital" and in every town and city people would talk "not just of the school or even of my school but talk with pride of our school at the heart of our community."

He needs to return to that kind of oratory and complete the story so there can be no doubt what Labour is for, what it is doing and where it is going.

Chuka Umunna, Compass and PPC for Streatham

Published in Guardian