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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How will Labour handle the Trident vote?

Shadow cabinet ministers have been promised a free vote and dismiss suggestions that the party should abstain. 

At some point this year MPs will vote on whether Trident should be renewed. It is politics, rather than policy, that will likely determine the timing. With Labour more divided on the nuclear question than any other, the Tories aim to inflict maximum damage on the opposition. Some want an early vote in order to wreak havoc ahead of the May elections, while others suggest waiting until autumn in the hope that the unilateralist Jeremy Corbyn may have changed party policy by then.  

Urged at PMQs by Conservative defence select committee chair Julian Lewis to "do the statesmanlike thing" and hold the vote "as soon as possible", Cameron replied: "We should have the vote when we need to have the vote and that is exactly what we will do" - a reply that does little to settle the matter. 

As I've reported before, frontbenchers have been privately assured by Corbyn that they and other Labour MPs will have a free vote on the issue. Just seven of the shadow cabinet's 31 members support unilateral disarmament, with Tom Watson, Andy Burnham, Hilary Benn and Angela Eagle among those committed to Trident renewal. But interviewed on the Today programme yesterday, after her gruelling PLP appearance, Emily Thornberry suggested that Labour may advise MPs to abstain. Noting that there was no legal requirement for the Commons to vote on the decision (and that MPs did so in 2007), she denounced the Tories for "playing games". But the possibility that Labour could ignore the vote was described to me by one shadow cabinet member as "madness". He warned that Labour would appear entirely unfit to govern if it abstained on a matter of national security. 

But with Trident renewal a fait accompli, owing to the Conservatives' majority, the real battle is to determine Labour's stance at the next election. Sources on both sides are doubtful that Corbyn will have the support required to change policy at the party conference, with the trade unions, including the pro-Trident Unite and GMB, holding 50 per cent of the vote. And Trident supporters also speak of their success against the left in constituency delegate elections. One described the Corbyn-aligned Momentum as a "clickocracy" that ultimately failed to turn out when required. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.