If you have Twitter you may have seen over the last week criticism pointed towards Young Labour surrounding their Equalities Conference. It was Conservative figureheads Carrie Symonds and Ben Bradley who first pointed out that no white, straight able male can attend the Equalities Conference and argued that because of this it was not equal or fair. Yet they are missing the point, the Equalities Conference is a time for disadvantaged demographics to join together, discuss issues they regularly face and solutions to them as well as to feel encouraged by stories. White, straight, able men are unnecessary for this. Having the Equalities Conference empowers those who don’t often feel empowered and having men who cannot empathise there will mean it becomes yet another place where fears, worries and successes are silenced.
The Conference is important to celebrate and commiserate, to feel encouraged to run for elections and to do life. Labour has always been the party to encourage this, and conferences like Young Labour’s Equalities Conference or Labour Student’s Liberation Conference really highlight this. Many youth face the worry of whether they will achieve their dream job because of their race, gender, sexuality or ability, and many in youth politics have seen discrimination based on their demographic. The Equalities Conference is reflective of what the youth worry and care about today, and Bradley and Symonds’ tweets show that they are naïve to youth worries.
It is clear the Conservatives currently have little understanding of the youth, and it appears that they do not care about gaining youth votes. Instead they make jibes at those involved in youth politics and are ignorant. If the Conservatives want to start winning youth votes they need to listen to the youth, and hear the fact that many youth want to see glass ceilings broken. Bradley and Simmonds’ tweets show that the Conservatives are blind to the fact that allowing straight, white, able men to every event does not allow the glass ceiling to be broken. Labour recognises this. Time and time again the Conservatives berate Labour for trying to do something about inequality, but they rarely offer any alternative.
Labour is the party of equality, it gives voices to those who are rarely heard and empower them. Labour’s young members are a force to be reckoned with because they recognise the need to solve inequality, and equalities conferences are an easy way to begin. Ben Bradley and Carrie Simonds firstly need to spend more time worrying about Brexit than making quips at 20 year olds, but they also need to recognise that the youth want equality and they want it now. Until they realise this and come up with a much better alternative to Labour’s strong solutions, they will never be a progressive and youthful party.
Photo Credit – The New Yorker.