If anyone had the opportunity to watch the Brit Awards last Wednesday, they probably would have been met by a performance from Skepta, who until 2016 was relatively unknown…outside Generation K that is.
During his performance of his awesome bass beat song Shutdown, he rapped:
‘We don’t listen to no politician
Everybody on the same mission
We don’t care about your -ism and –cisms’
That’s specifically a problem Labour needs to address. The youth of today isn’t just sceptical of politics, they have no interest at all in engaging in what we have to say. So how do you talk to a generation that believes politicians can’t ever relate to their life or upbringing?
Prominent Labour supporter Ross Kemp went into areas of London (Peckham & Brixton) in his ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’ series to meet with youths, who not only live in danger and uncertainty, but believe the Government has no interest in their life.
One youth said ‘F*ck the government, they aren’t going to listen to six black boys. They want us to live like this.’
So, how did politics in general get to the point where even when we discuss equality, it’s viewed with scepticism about the truth of our sentiment?
I think if anyone has had the opportunity the read Charles Clarke’s ‘The too difficult box’, he touches on the subject of policy areas that are too contentious. Young people have a number of priorities that are in opposition to my grandparents’ era for instance.
We’re typically more socially liberal, there’s an emphasis on equality and ethical causes. Religion among young people isn’t as widely practiced, with more occurrences of agnosticism and atheism. In basic terms, young people are sick of politicians dodging the big questions. Climate change, poverty and Social justice not just we can move the needle but a commitment to eradicate the problems.
I come from an area of Scotland that has areas of poverty beyond what should be imaginable in the 21st century. Its only getting worse. Young people especially see huge debt burdens coming their way, little job prospects, wages stagnating and homeownership quickly evaporating before their eyes.
When Skepta says we don’t care about your –ism and –cisms…that applies to Socialism, too. We need to re-fashion the entire wheel here because we as a party either remain a Dinosaur and perish, or evolve into something fit for today.
That also includes our route to market in connecting with people. Ever tried to call someone under 20? I have, my younger cousin said it’s weird to call someone, just text…I’m 26! How do we phone bank to a demographic that wants to avoid social interaction?
Labour needs to go viral. We need to raise our social media game, Jeremy joined Snapchat that’s a good move. Him steering a ferry on the Mersey…not so thrilling if I’m honest. Tom Watson went to Glastonbury and that was something of a revelation and got trending. We had Ed Miliband’s Milifandom in 2015.
Let me be clear. I’m not saying we give up on our socialist principles. Perhaps, though, we need to realise that those words don’t embolden people like they used to. Taking it back to base level about people’s lives, struggles and hopes might emerge a new trust in politicians.
Labour needs to be the party of trust, the party of the Skepta generation.