This is the third of our Bants with Baby Back Benches interviews. Through this series we want our readers to get to know the youth leaders of our political parties, ready for our eventual youth leaders debate, and the upcoming election.
This edition is with Adam Brand, the Chair of Princes Street Labour
If you’d instead like to listen to our complete conversation click here
By Liam Davies, interview by Paul Simperingham
Paul started by asking Adam why he chose to join young Labour and why he became Chair.
Adam described his upbringing, stating that he came from a traditional Labour background. He grew up in state housing, built by the first labour government. Adam first entered into the political sphere when he started studying. In 2017, he got ‘knee deep’ in campaigning for the election that saw Jacinda Ardern become Prime Minister. When telling Paul why he became Chair of the uni group he said that it wasn’t really his decision. Due to the previous Chair leaving the group he was ‘tossed the role.’ This, however, has not lowered his resolve and enthusiasm for campaigning with the group during this election period.
Next Adam was asked what he saw as the role of the Labour youth wing, and how it relates to the Labour Party.
The role, as Adam put it, is an intermediary between youth/students and the party. He further stated that another role was to be a ‘Pain in the ass’ for the party. By this, Adam referred to holding the main party to account on issues affecting students, such as climate change, mental health and education. During elections, both national and local, the youth wing also campaigns with incumbent and hopeful MPs in their respective electorates.
Why is youth engagement so low, and how can it be increased?
Adam started by saying that there is no simple cause or solution to this problem. However, he goes on to say that politics can be inaccessible to some. He believes this is driven by a lack of civics education in schools, where youth don’t learn a basic understanding of how the system works. Adam further says that it can be a lack of habit. This is why Young Labour has a policy that would lower the voting age to 16. Citing studies, Adam said this policy would help create a voting habit from a younger age when young people are still in school. If you vote once, you are more likely to create a voting habit; this is part of why he thinks older people are more likely to vote consistently.
Possibly the most important question Paul asked: Why should young people vote for Labour this election? How will students be better off if Labour is in government in 2020?
If Labour could form a government without New Zealand First, Adam believes that they would be able to focus on issues that matter to students; things like climate change and electric transport.Policies that will affect students in more direct ways include increasing money for universities, increasing the minimum wage, and unlocking education so people can retrain in new careers post-covid. Furthermore, Adam said housing is another policy area that Labour will work on if re-elected. This includes policy around renting and flats, of which many students reside; insulation, fire alarms and leaks will be addressed and incorporated.
Labour if given the chance would certainly implement many policies meant to benefit students. The question is… Will you vote for them come September 16 2020?
Come see Adam debate the other youth leaders at Baby Back Benches event! While it has been delayed due to lockdown, to keep up on updates event info can be found here