‘I want Keir Starmer to have a sudden massive personality change’: gen Z on their hopes for a Labour government

People aged 32 or younger have lived under a Conservative government their entire adult lives. We asked young Observer readers what they want to see from their first incoming Labour government – and if they’re feeling hopeful about Britain’s future.

‘If Labour doesn’t change much in the next five years, we could be facing a far-right threat’

Amelia Williams, 27, PhD student, south London

I tried to be hopeful: I’m not at the moment. I would like to see a lot more radicalism than what was in the [Labour] manifesto. I’m worried that, if Labour doesn’t change much in the next five years, we could be facing a far-right threat in the way that Europe and the US are. I think it’s a really important time for Labour to show what a left-leaning government can do for people to actually make some material difference in their lives and reverse some of the austerity damage.

I’d like to see more compassion towards people with disabilities and mental health problems and people in poverty. Based on what Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves have said in the past, I’m not hopeful that they’re going to bring that kind of compassion and imagination that I think politics needs right now.

‘I would love to see more protection for private renters’

Kieran Wall. Photograph: Kieran Wall/Guardian Community

Kieran Wall, 25, works in the film and TV industry, Chiswick, west London. Voted Labour

I’m certainly more hopeful than I was before watching Starmer’s speech as prime minister … there’s optimism now he has secured a majority.

I would love to see more protection for private renters, like the abolition of no-fault evictions and rent controls. Last year, I had to deal with a section 21 no-fault eviction at great personal expense because my landlord wanted to put the rent up.

Even though I’m on a slightly higher wage than when I moved to London two years ago, it’s not enough to save in a meaningful way. My rent is more than half my monthly wage, and even though I’ve moved up a bit with my job, I feel like people like me are punished.

‘Labour’s won because everyone’s sick of the Conservatives’

Atriah Thums, 25, welfare rights caseworker, Leeds. Voted Green

I want Keir Starmer to suddenly have a massive personality change. I want him to say: “My vague policies – that could appeal to anyone – were an absolute fantastic lie. I’m going to nationalise everything. I’m going to pour money into green energy. We’re going to stop calling immigrants ‘illegal’. We’re going to completely reform these horrific detention centres and we’re going to build loads of social housing.” That might be unpopular, but I think we need to do these things because the country is in ruin.

Labour’s won because everyone’s sick of the Conservatives; Keir Starmer hasn’t won the election. I don’t feel hopeful, but I’m more hopeful than if Rishi Sunak had stayed in power.

‘I’d like to see no-fault evictions stopped so we’re not displacing families’

Kayleigh Butler. Photograph: Kayleigh Butler

Kayleigh Butler, 22, Guildford. Voted Liberal Democrat

I hope there will be a lot less uncertainty with evictions as it’s really difficult to rent without it being a risk. My partner and I were issued a section 21 eviction notice and we struggled to find anywhere. We found somewhere in the end but it turned out not to be accessible. It was either that or be homeless. We didn’t feel supported and it was terrifying.

I’ve moved four or five times since I was 17 and have seen the ugly side of renting. I’d like to see rent caps and a clamping down on landlords. The main thing is to stop no-fault evictions so we’re not displacing families.

Housing instability has a knock-on effect – for me, it made it harder for my physical health, which I’m still struggling with. Housing should just be a basic right, just as it should be a human right to have a working toilet, shower, heating and a safe place to live.

skip past newsletter promotion

‘I’m not hopeful as such about a Labour government’

George Taylor. Photograph: George Taylor/Guardian Community

George Taylor, 26, postgraduate student studying energy transition systems and technologies at the University of Aberdeen. Voted Labour

Based on the manifesto Labour ran on in the election campaign, there wasn’t much in it for a young person like me, and I’m not hopeful as such. What I really want from them are two things: firstly, actual action on the cost of living crisis, raising wages and more housebuilding. I’m 26 and can’t save for a deposit on a house because it’s all going on rent.

The other thing is the climate crisis. It is the biggest challenge we face as a society, yet all the major parties still treat climate policy as an optional extra. I thought we had a breakthrough with Labour’s green prosperity plan but they U-turned by rolling back on the billions they said they would pledge.

Given how little the Labour party seem to want to invest in the country, the future in Aberdeen looks very bleak.

‘Labour was the best out of the options that were out there’

Isabelle Connell, 23, administrator for social services, Newcastle-under-Lyme. Voted Labour

I do feel more hopeful now we have a Labour government … it would’ve been really disappointing to wake up to a different outcome, and it signals a change in the right direction.

There’s been so much fearmongering around issues on both sides, like trans rights. And it has distracted from women’s safety and violence against women.

In the end, I questioned whether to vote Green or Labour, and part of that decision was the situation in Gaza. I completely understand it’s a diplomatic and humanitarian situation, but I voted Labour because I feel like now Starmer is prime minister, he can be clearer on where he stands on the issue.

On social media and mental health, there’s not really been any acknowledgment of what it’s like to be young today. The Conservatives promoted policies that seemed to affect older people, like the triple-lock pension. There is so much difficulty for us economically and we live in a country where the system is really broken.

Regarding levelling up, I’m hopeful Labour will prioritise places like Stoke and old industrial towns which have been neglected and forgotten by the Tories.

‘I’m glad the Conservatives are out, but I have no faith in Starmer’

Tharek Ali

Tharek Ali, 28, web developer, Romford. Voted Independent

I was choosing between an independent and a Green candidate in this election. I’m glad the Conservatives are out but I have no faith in Keir Starmer. He doesn’t come across as someone who is saying what he believes in but more what he thinks is the right thing to say for getting votes. I’m trying to be hopeful that that’s not the case, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’ve been voting for 10 years, and those 10 years have been all Tory. I’ve become jaded: I’d like to see more transparency and honesty in politics.

The Guardian

Leave a Reply