Ed Milband addresses Labour Party conference, 2012. Photo: Getty
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Labour's young people manifesto keeps the promise of Britain alive

The launch of Labour's groundbreaking young people manifesto today is further evidence of Ed Miliband's determination to put the future of the younger generation at the heart of this election campaign.

The launch of Labour's groundbreaking young people manifesto today is further evidence of Ed Miliband's determination to put the future of the younger generation at the heart of this election campaign.

This generation of young people are energetic, creative and leading a new era of innovation. They believe in personal responsibility but are crying out for a Government which is on their side. They have been abandoned by a Tory party which has nothing to say to young  people and the Lib Dems whose broken promises have not only damaged their own support but massively corroded trust in politicians and the capacity of politics to make a difference. Too many young people are weighed down by debt and held back by insecure work with little prospect of career progression. Home ownership is a distant dream. One young person said to me recently echoing the sentiments of many, "I've worked hard and done everything right, but I'm stuck in a rut and don't feel good about the future."

Labour's manifesto, a Better Future for Young People, addresses these issues with an overriding commitment to restore the promise of Britain that each generation should do better than the last.

It is plan to support for young people pursuing their ambitions and fulfilling their potential –

to give them a stronger voice in shaping the decisions which affect their lives and our democracy.

One of the clearest illustrations of how this government is failing young people is the growing number of careers and professions which are effectively closed shops, only accessible to young people who have significant financial means or family support – “the Bank of Mum and Dad”.  This deeply entrenched unfairness is seen in the internships offered in highly sought-after sectors like the arts, media, fashion and finance, where young people are expected to work unpaid for months at a time. This means those without financial support are locked out of opportunities. It is partially responsible for the alarming stalling of social mobility in Britain, It cannot be in the interests of British business to limit their talent pool now and fail to invest in the next generation of workers.

Building on the excellent work by Labour's Shadow Minister for Universities, Liam Byrne, Ed Miliband is announcing today that an incoming Labour Government will legislate to ensure that anyone undertaking work experience for more than four weeks should be paid at the very least the minimum wage.

We are confident this will be supported by the vast majority of responsible employers, many of whom already do the right thing. As with current legislation governing the minimum wage, people undertaking voluntary work will not be affected.

Labour’s Manifesto for Young People was drawn up after extensive engagement with young people across the country through our Shape Your Future campaign. It addresses many of the issues they tell us are holding them back and making them feel insecure about the future.

 Other measures being announced today include:

  •  Reducing graduate and national debt, by cutting tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 and increasing student maintenance grants by £400
  •  Guaranteeing high quality apprenticeships for all school-leavers that get the grades.
  •  Making work pay by banning exploitative zero-hours contracts, and raising the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 by October 2019.
  •  Investing in the jobs of the future and showing our commitment to climate change by making Britain a world leader in low carbon technology over the next decade, creating a million more green jobs.
  •  Ensuring no young person is left behind, by guaranteeing a paid starter job with training to all those unemployed for more than a year.
  •  Tackling rising housing costs, by building more homes, helping first time buyers and legislating for longer and more affordable tenancies in the private rented sector.
  •  Strengthening the voice of young people by giving 16 and 17 year-olds the right to vote.
  • With polling day three weeks away, Labour is once again challenging conventional wisdom in this election.

We are focusing on the hopes and ambitions of young people, not writing them off as disengaged and disillusioned. By doing so, we are recognising that only by utilising the talents of all young people will Britain succeed in the future. We are backing young Britain but also the parents and grandparents who have devoted their lives to ensuring their children and grandchildren have better life chances than they had.

Labour's young people manifesto can be read in full here.

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Theresa May knows she's talking nonsense - here's why she's doing it

The Prime Minister's argument increases the sense that this is a time to "lend" - in her words - the Tories your vote.

Good morning.  Angela Merkel and Theresa May are more similar politicians than people think, and that holds true for Brexit too. The German Chancellor gave a speech yesterday, and the message: Brexit means Brexit.

Of course, the emphasis is slightly different. When May says it, it's about reassuring the Brexit elite in SW1 that she isn't going to backslide, and anxious Remainers and soft Brexiteers in the country that it will work out okay in the end.

When Merkel says it, she's setting out what the EU wants and the reality of third country status outside the European Union.  She's also, as with May, tilting to her own party and public opinion in Germany, which thinks that the UK was an awkward partner in the EU and is being even more awkward in the manner of its leaving.

It's a measure of how poor the debate both during the referendum and its aftermath is that Merkel's bland statement of reality - "A third-party state - and that's what Britain will be - can't and won't be able to have the same rights, let alone a better position than a member of the European Union" - feels newsworthy.

In the short term, all this helps Theresa May. Her response - delivered to a carefully-selected audience of Leeds factory workers, the better to avoid awkward questions - that the EU is "ganging up" on Britain is ludicrous if you think about it. A bloc of nations acting in their own interest against their smaller partners - colour me surprised!

But in terms of what May wants out of this election - a massive majority that gives her carte blanche to implement her agenda and puts Labour out of contention for at least a decade - it's a great message. It increases the sense that this is a time to "lend" - in May's words - the Tories your vote. You may be unhappy about the referendum result, you may usually vote Labour - but on this occasion, what's needed is a one-off Tory vote to make Brexit a success.

May's message is silly if you pay any attention to how the EU works or indeed to the internal politics of the EU27. That doesn't mean it won't be effective.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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