Labour Students is made up of university Labour clubs up and down the country and is one of the largest political student organisations in the UK. Labour Students serves as a mobilising hub for progressive-minded students who act as a national campaigning force– a valuable asset if Labour are to gain a majority in 2015.
#labourdoorstep; a phrase constantly reiterated by Labour Students’ Twitter feed, once unpicked and explored, can tell the story as to why the organisation will make the difference in 2015.
What is the secret of Labour Students? The secret, if anything, lies in its pure size, as well as the dedication and willingness of its members to campaign in key target seats. In the Dunfermline by-election alone, 60+ Labour Student groups were mobilised up and down the country, putting in over 1600 hours on the Labour doorstep. Furthermore, its organisational ability is unprecedented. In November this year, Labour Students had four full coaches of campaigners in Withington, Manchester. Labour's student campaigners act as shock troopers in by-elections, dominating the ground war by talking to voters and- more importantly- getting them out to vote; something no other party can match.
As Labour Students has shown in recent by-elections, for example Corby and Dunfermline, the energy and enthusiasm of student campaigners can make all the difference in a tight election. Labour Students will make the difference come 2015 because it knows exactly where to concentrate its resources. By bringing this experience from campaigning in by-elections to bear in marginal seats, Labour Students will be doing its best to help swing the general election Labour's way. Brad Marshall, Chair of the University of Leicester Labour Society said that:
“It's this strategic, intelligent, and concentrated approach to campaigning that makes Labour Students one of the most effective forces in the fight to put Ed Miliband in Downing Street.”
Capturing marginal seats is crucial to any general election strategy, and Labour has the upper hand. University Labour societies all over the country have their own local designated priority seat to campaign in. Week-in week-out campaigning boosts the chances of any prospective candidate wishing to enter Parliament as they are aided by more than a handful of dedicated and committed students. Labour clubs also organise regional campaign days with other nearby university Labour clubs so that there is a constant on-the-ground presence, which just might unlock Number 10 for Ed Miliband.
If this wasn’t enough to send tremors down the spine of the Conservatives, the National Committee of Labour Students is able to mobilise students for national campaign days – the latest being Dunfermline. Labour students also concentrate and come together to campaign on a nationwide scale at Labour Students’ national events. For example, campaigning in Glasgow during the 2013 summer training and in Manchester during this year’s Political Weekend in November. Labour Students will make the difference come 2015 because, once its members come together, it will form a mass campaign force at the Labour Party’s disposal.
Electing Labour candidates is just one of Labour Students’ priorities; the other initiative of Labour clubs is to tackle the sources of inequality in student unions and in their local area. Labour clubs across the country, from Dundee to Kent, have been playing their part by campaigning for a Living Wage on campuses; to tackle the cost of living crisis at a time where earnings have stagnated and inflation is rising. The Living Wage campaign has been an astounding success of Labour clubs such as Dundee, Nottingham, Manchester, Leicester and Kent, who have guaranteed a Living Wage for student union staff with an aim to expand the Living Wage ultimately to all university workers. The work of university Labour clubs has had a real impact on the lives of those who depend on receiving a fair wage for the hard work they put in every single day.
Accordingly, Labour clubs are in the process of tackling payday lenders as part of the 2013/14 Labour Students priority campaign. Labour clubs such as those at Edinburgh and Leicester have already kicked off the campaign to ban payday lenders in their student unions and from advertising at university by campaigning to raise awareness of their rogue practices. Over this academic year, Labour clubs will be gearing up to tackle payday lenders by promoting more ethical affordable financial alternative such as Credit Unions, to protect and prevent students and other vulnerable groups in society alike from finding themselves in a spiral of unavoidable debt. The partnership with Movement for Change to tackle payday lenders is just one of many campaigns initiated by Labour Students that put into practice the ideas of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party. Labour Students will make the difference because it is an organisation, like Movement for Change, which is absolutely necessary for a fairer Britain.
The experience of Labour Students, from by-election campaigns; the ability to plan and concentrate resources in marginal seats; the week-in week-out campaigning in local target seats and creating real change in student unions, will serve to Labour’s advantage. No other party has the commitment, enthusiasm and ability to campaign on the same scale as Labour Students. Labour Students will make the difference in 2015 because it is a unique asset to the Labour Party; any student who joins their local Labour club will find an abundance of resources at their fingertips. Labour’s students are like an army; they are recruited from their local Labour clubs, trained up and then deployed in battleground seats. This is how Labour will win the ground war and gain a parliamentary majority come 2015.
By Alex Sargeson