A memo to Labour: Stop dissing the youth

A new climate fail in the Labour manifesto sparks disappointment

So, Labour’s manifesto is out. We have had time to read and absorb it. We are writing this piece because we are dismayed about what is missing from it.

We are not alone. We at the Climate Majority Project are working closely with an inspiring youth-led group, Teach The Future. They successfully persuaded Labour to include a substantive commitment in its manifesto on beefing up climate education. Sadly, however, that commitment has been reneged upon: on reading the manifesto, the commitment has simply disappeared. 

Labour have whispered to campaigners, ‘Trust us’, they have said that they will go ahead and legislate on this anyway, even though it is not in the manifesto. Frankly, that request for trust is a little much given Labour’s habits of retreat. NOW is the time when campaigners can pin parties down. 

If something isn’t in a party manifesto, it most probably isn’t going to be done. Unless a big fuss is created.

Bear in mind that if something isn’t in your manifesto, the Lords can block it, even if you do try to bring it forward.

There are real consequences to not including something in a manifesto.

Basically, if it’s not in the manifesto it’s a pretty safe bet that it will not be implemented within a five year term, other things being equal.

Every climate concerned citizen should therefore be concerned about this latest refusal to take responsibility for the future we pass to the next generation. There is no better place than in classrooms to create environments that support young people through the difficulties of fuller climate awareness, and  help convert climate awareness to courageous action. 

Climate concerned citizens must therefore seek to make sure that the commitment that was made to bumping up climate education is returned to, and followed through with gusto.  We in the Climate Majority Project are working to co-create a coalition, the Climate Courage Campaign, that unites teachers, students, parents, scientists and mental health professionals around an effort to assure that the next generation has the spaces they need for handling together the difficult truth about the state and prospects of our world. Of course children cannot change society alone! Though millions of them could help to sway their parents. Our kids need to be resourced to face the truth together; this is nothing less than basic pastoral care. But its consequences could be tremendous. That is why we see this campaign as crucial.

Labour remain on course for a vast majority. With great power comes great responsibility. If Labour wanted to signal clearly its commitment to a future for our young people, an easy way to do so would have been putting this climate ed bill, that the youth have demanded, into its manifesto. Furthermore Labour should be happy to commit to full and accurate education as this would build support for climate action — if indeed Labour plans on taking action.  Citizens should think carefully now about how best at this election to signal their unhappiness with Labour’s latest dodge of responsibility.


[The authors are Liam Kavanagh and Rupert Read, Co-Directors of the Climate Majority Project. You can find more information about the Climate Courage Campaign (and how to get involved) here: https://climatemajorityproject.com/climate-courage-campaign/ ]

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