Kira Millana Lewis speaks to Roar on behalf of the KCL Labour society on the topic of the upcoming general election.
R: Are you, as a society, happy with Labour’s position on Brexit?
K: So, I, ultimately, campaign to remain. The fact Labour now supports public deal is something I’m really happy with. I would think any option has to go back to the public in another referendum and would see this as the only legitimate way of ending it.
So, while personally I would be a little more towards remain than the party line, I see the value of other opinions. Labour is a broad church. Therefore, a second referendum is really the only solution I see. It is in the Labour Party’s constitution to be democratic, so we have to give the decision to the people. As circumstances change, we should be able to change our minds. Another referendum would be an opportunity to do this.
R: Do you think it is fair to characterise this as a single-issue Brexit election?
K: No, I wouldn’t. I worry about it being a single-issue election because for the years following Brexit we would be stuck with a government too focused on Brexit. What the Labour Party can do is offer a solution to climate change in this country, revolutionise education, support democratic values and get an NHS that works for us.
I worry about it being changed into a Brexit election as while Brexit is the most pressing issue right now it is a symptom of wider factors. My dad was one of many people who voted for Brexit because they wanted change. He was so sick of minimum wage jobs all his life. The last thing we need is someone to talk about Brexit for five minutes and then spend the next five years cutting back services. We need to tackle the issues which caused the Brexit vote head-on and make real changes in this country.
R: Will this be the first election in which the climate issue substantially affects how people vote?
K: Now more than ever we’re seeing climate change take front and centre and not be one of those creeping things in the background. Calls for a green new deal have changed that narrative a lot and Labour are putting that front and centre. We are in a position to try and shape the narrative for future elections now the student climate strikes and extinction rebellion have put the issue in people’s minds.
Climate change is a pressing issue, but it is one of many issues that have been ignored by neo-liberal policy. Labour are bringing it back into focus and other parties like the Tories are having to catch up. Even still it is only the Labour Party that is saying we will revolutionise jobs, unionise workers and create new education routes so our climate policy matches up with the economy.
R: Outside of the Brexit debate, what are you proud to be able to say your party stands for in this coming election?
K: Climate change, workers’ rights and public services that work for everyone. They would be my three.
R: How do you reconcile your support with anti-Semitism in the party?
K: There are people who I absolutely will not be campaigning for. I will campaign for Ruth Smeeth who is the chair of Jewish Labour and MP for Stoke-on-Trent. I respect the views of anyone else who will not be campaigning for specific people too. We need to remember that we are not entitled to anyone’s vote, so if the Jewish community says, ‘we don’t want to vote for you’, we have to understand that that’s on us. I continue to oppose antisemitism in the Labour Party, and we’ll see what happens with the EHRC report.