The recent loss of the Gabba ward to the Greens must serve as a wake up call to the ALP in Queensland. While the loss of a Brisbane City Council seat may seem a small concession it is emblematic of a broader problem – a cultural shift by young voters away from the Labor Party and to the Greens. A succession of conservative policy decisions and a failure to interact proactively with millennials have lead us to this position and if we don’t act now we face a generation of entrenched Greens voters.
Recent policy announcements from the State Government have led to backlash from young voters. Labor’s position on crucial policies such as the Adani mine and lock-out laws has seen polarisation of young and more broadly progressive voters. Views of young people can often be missed by “classic” data collection techniques, but one only has to look through the hundreds of comments on social media to see we are clearly failing to consider a huge demographic in society. These sorts of policies are exactly the reason that it is imperative for the Left to not only control conference floor, but to use our numbers to prosecute our policy agenda. Without a clear, progressive policy agenda we become reactive and regressive and cede our authority over left-wing issues to the Greens.
We know that it is the Left that pushes the progressive policies through the Labor Party, and we should not be afraid to tell people. In the past we have seen important issues that Labor members have dedicated years to, claimed as Greens victories. A clear and progressive policy agenda is one half of the battle. Conveying our policy agenda to disenfranchised progressive voters is the other. The argument that campaigning against the Greens distracts from our true fight against the Tories no longer holds water. Of the seats we have lost to the Greens, we are yet to win back a single one.
If we do not begin forming a clear agenda then we will no longer be able to rely on the youth vote.
By Clare Manton, Laura Manton and Jess Tibbitts, Members of Young Labor Left.