Keir Starmer says he wants young people to find their voice and speak with confidence – that’s exactly what we did, holding him accountable for yet another U-turn on the climate crisis.

Protesters interrupt Labour leader Keir Starmer’s speech. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Yesterday morning, we disrupted Keir Starmer as he launched his fifth and final ‘mission’ for the next Labour government.  

Why? Because we desperately want to see a Labour government committed to protecting people here and across the world from the climate crisis. And to remind the Labour Party that to really stand up for young people, they need to commit to a Green New Deal, announce policies that will tackle climate change and fix our economy, and stick to their word when they do. 

We are in a moment of crisis. Widespread, rapid, intensifying climate change threatens us all. We want a future in which our communities can thrive, and we want a government that will put people and the planet first. But right now, the Tories, big corporations and the wealthy elite are running this country and the planet we live on into the ground. 

Profits boom for a select few while bills and NHS waiting lines stack up for the rest of us. Black and brown people are facing the double sting of economic inequality and environmental injustice, young people are getting screwed over by greedy landlords, and our communities and wildlife are crying out for help.  

We know the Tories are going to try to fight the next election by dividing us—by scapegoating migrant families and striking workers. We can’t let Labour follow suit. It’s time for the politicians who want to run this country to pick a side. Are they with Sunak and his billionaires, or with us?

Yesterday the Labour leader spoke about breaking down barriers to opportunity for young people. But there is no greater threat to our future than inaction on the climate crisis. Starmer also spoke about the importance of oratory skills for teenagers like me to thrive, though he didn’t seem to want us to use those skills when we make the point that the priority for our generation is bold action on climate change. 

I want to see a future government that is committed to tackling the climate crisis both at home and abroad. We won’t stand by and allow private companies to continue making billions as heating becomes a luxury, or be silent in the face of extreme heat, flooding and droughts. These values of care, fairness and justice are ones that should be central to the Labour Party.  

Last year Labour announced some encouraging policies at their annual conference and said that they wanted a ‘fairer, greener future.’ But in the last few months, Labour has u-turned on key economic, social and environmental issues. Not only have they backed down on their pledge to spend £28 billion in its first term in government on a green transition, but they’ve reversed a previous pledge to scrap the Rosebank oil field. And they’ve also scrapped important commitments which would change thousands of young people’s lives, like rolling back on rent controls and abolishing tuition fees.

We felt compelled to take this action, we wish we didn’t have to. But we know that concerns about the climate and economic crisis are strong throughout society, both young and old, and the Labour Party’s lacklustre approach is simply not enough.  

If Labour wants the support of young people, they need to listen to us and set out a bold vision for the future. This means wealth taxes for the top one percent, public ownership, progressive and permanent windfall taxes on fossil fuel companies and other polluters, a National Nature Service and a Green Jobs Guarantee within the first 100 days of a new Government.

When we were on stage yesterday, Keir said he would speak to us later. Just a few hours later, he tweeted that we ‘shouted him down’. Despite this, we are still asking Keir to honour his words and agree to meet with us to discuss the Green New Deal. Keir and the Labour Party need to understand that in an election where for the first time, millennials are likely to outnumber boomers as a share of the population, young people are an important part of any coalition they need to win—and they need to start listening to us.

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