Young Labour Conference 2009 - Elections Print E-mail
Friday, 17 April 2009 13:15

Sam Tarry for Young Labour Chair


Cat Smith & Tulip Siddiq as Equalities Officers for Young Labour


There are several opportunities to score victories on the left at this Saturday’s Labour Youth Day in Gillingham. For many years the Labour Party’s young members have been denied the basic democratic principle of being able to elect their representatives, with favoured careerists instead being anointed by higher authorities. This year, however, is the first for a long time in which elections will be held, and it has been refreshing to see a vibrant young left get their act together and campaign for change. This Saturday comes on the back of left wins in many of the regional positions today; in London (Tom Copley), the South East (Tom Miller), North West (Kate Fry) and Yorkshire and the Humber (Joe Riches).

Sam Tarry’s candidature for Chair has seized the imagination of scores of young Party members. His sound leftwing principles, experience fighting the BNP in East London and involvement with a number of Labour-supporting organisations have helped him pull together a grassroots movement within Young Labour, which is determined to open up the organisation to ordinary young people and provide them with the tools to set up and run campaigns on issues close to their hearts such as the Living Wage, student debt and the climate crisis. Other leftwing candidates in the election are Cat Smith, standing for Women’s Officer, and Tulip Siddiq, standing for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Officer.

Cat Smith has many years of activist experience under her belt. She grew up and studied in the North-West, where she won more votes than any other Centre Left Grassroots Alliance candidate in her region in the National Policy Forum elections of 2007. She has campaigned consistently for the opening up and democratisation of the Party with a particular focus on Young Labour, launching a campaign for Young Labour democracy from her involvement with Lancaster University Labour Students.

Smith, a trade union representative for the T&G’s Parliamentary branch, is known for her principled leftwing stance on issues from Iraq to women’s rights. As Women’s Officer she hopes to combat the ‘jobs for the boys’ culture within Labour’s Youth structures, link Young Labour with organisations such as Abortion Rights, arrange speaker events with inspirational women and hold confidence and skills building workshops for young women members. Her many friends describe her as a deeply principled and hard-working campaigner who could play an exemplary leadership role for Young Labour women.

Tulip Siddiq has for many years been committed to the anti-racist movement. She is highlighting the under-representation of BAME people in modern politics, and also intends to address Islamophobia, BAME relationship with the media, poverty among BAME sectors of the population and the serious threat posed by the BNP. Among her policies, Siddiq plans to introduce a mentoring scheme for Young Labour BAME people, conduct research into the issues of greatest concern to young BAME people, and create a partnership between Young Labour and anti-fascist organisation Searchlight.

Both Cat and Tulip have worked together on the executive of the T&G Parliamentary Staff Branch in their campaign for recognition by the House of Commons Authorities. Based on their commitment to workers’ rights, they are taking the agenda for youth politics in the Party beyond students in higher education, by highlighting the need for greater rights for young workers in apprenticeships and campaigning for equalisation the national minimum wage so that it no longer discriminates on the basis of age.

Any delegates attending Labour’s Youth Day this Saturday can be sure that a vote for Cat Smith and Tulip Siddiq will be supporting a new young left which is enthusiastic, organised and gaining increasing recognition, primarily through its stand for democracy in the Labour Party.