A good weekend for CWUYouth, but the real test is yet to come

It has been a good, but busy weekend for CWUYouth.

People Assembly programmeWe had the London launch of the People’s Assembly – fully supported by the CWU. It is right that we were represented, and some memorable speeches by Owen Jones, Frances O’Grady and Mark Steel were described by very many participants as “inspirational”.

Peoples Assembly AudienceThere are times – and Saturday was one of them – when words like “solidarity” and “collective action” come to life and give us back our optimism and confidence that an alternative to the current grey, oppressive climate is more than possible.

STUC LogoAt the same time, 400 miles away, the largest ever CWU Youth delegation to the Scottish TUC Youth Conference were making a big impression. Fully supported by branch and regional officials the Scottish Regional Youth Committee has got off to a flying start. Chantelle McNally, David Crombie, Scott Hartles, Darren Brown and Ian Allen played a full part in a highly successful conference.

David Crombie at STUC 2013David moved a motion on protecting the Universal Service Obligation and Darren was elected to the STUC Youth Committee. The voice of our 2,000 young members in Scotland is being heard more clearly than for a long time.

Coming on the back of fruitful negotiations with O2, the members’ clear call in consultative ballots for Royal Chantal McNally at STUC 2013Mail not be sold off, BT’s Chief Executive Officer giving up his job for a seat in the House of Lords, and his counterpart in Royal Mail receiving an eye-watering bonus payment, it’s been a busy week.

And literally in the middle of all this – in Birmingham to be precise – was the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum. I know there is scepticism about some of the Labour Party’s bona fides. Ed Miliband’s comments about public expenditure, made on Saturday, were seized upon by those of the left, the right and the far left. But I would really urge people to read the rest of his speech – see link below.

Many are often concerned that Labour is not clear enough about making positive commitments. This speech gives grounds for cautious optimism. But there is no room for complacency whatsoever. We must continue to organise and push and press for our Party to be more reflective of our values.

I don’t see there is any unavoidable contradiction between the People’s Assembly and the National Policy Forum and the motions adopted at the STUC Youth Conference. They are all signs of progress towards an inclusive movement that must reach out beyond the “usual suspects” of political activists and trade unions. We have to embrace community groups in the broadest sense. That is why the People’s Assembly tour of Britain, being paralleled by the TUC’s Anti Austerity bus

That’s because policy and political change is not made in conferences or policy forums. There needs to be engagement with as many people as possible. Our own work has discovered that there are as many people who do not vote and will not vote as there are people who we need to persuade to change their vote. That is the real challenge facing us as we move forward.

That is why the CWU and CWU Youth is lucky to have good people and good structures to work through. The issues and struggles that we face in the workplace are just the other side of the coin from the issues and struggles we face in our communities. Trade unions have to be an agent for change; otherwise you could argue what is our purpose.

“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it life is not worth living”, said inspirational gay activist Harvey Milk in 1970s. “…. and you got to…..go to….. give em hope”. We need to have hope and give hope and this weekend showed we can do both.