Connecting Passions: Lessons from uniting Young Labour Campaigners

In today’s article, Injy Johnstone talks about how important it is to make connections with Young Labour members worldwide to share best practice and help left and centre left parties win elections all over the globe.  Injy Johnstone is the International Secretary for New Zealand Young Labour, a delegate to the International Union of Socialist Youth and has campaigned in elections in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Door knocking, leafleting, constituent clinics. These could be agenda items for a UK Young Labour meeting sure but did you know they could just as easily be agenda items for Young Labour meetings in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere in the world? The only difference being our accents and perhaps the weather outside.

The Labour movement is about campaigning for a fairer go for people, decent work, housing and education. This doesn’t change across borders. Unsurprisingly therefore as Young Labour campaigners we share common successes and difficulties in these tumultuous political times. We stand a lot to gain from international collaboration.

Practically this means the ability to share campaigning best practice. With the roll out of new technologies alongside our tried and true pavement pounding; there is room now more than ever to share the successes of our campaign innovations. To illustrate this, in April 2016 I was sitting in a Starbucks in Vancouver with some Young Liberal Campaign Leaders and they told me how their election was won on the doorstep. Not only that, but they simply couldn’t have done it without embracing smartphone canvassing. Having never heard about that until then, I was able to bring that back to New Zealand Labour and I’ve now been promised a smartphone-friendly canvassing solution for use on our doorsteps too.

Developing international best practice campaigns also means sharing training resources and strategies for recruiting and retaining volunteers. Techniques to sign members at student union days or how to lobby the senior party on issues. Best practice campaigning also has an international camaraderie aspect. Which means that, should you want it, through a quick email or facebook message to New Zealand you have a fresh sounding board for your ideas.Two heads are better than one, and it’s even better if those two heads have had a diversity of campaign experiences between them.

International collaboration also means learning lessons from each other. In terms of accessing the effectiveness of different types of campaigning, winning elections, losing elections, they all tell a story about the Labour movement in the modern world and that’s a story all Labour campaigners need to have the latest on. Will NZ see another Trump/Brexit type shock result in our election? Although hard to tell, after the lessons learnt from this, we now know all the rules of the game have changed. We have to make more of an effort than ever to get engaged with and listen to our communities and collaborate with the best and brightest campaigners from around the world. So we can start to see the real difference that having Labour Governments all around the world would make.

LYON are currently in the process of organising for a group of UK Young Labour members to go to New Zealand and help them help Labour win their general election on the 23rd September. If this is something you’re interested in then email to find out more!

Injy Johnstone

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