When I was a member of the Labour Party Young Socialists, we prided ourselves on being as much of a pain in the arse to the adult party as was humanly possible.
In those rare moments when we were not heatedly discussing finer points of the Transitional Programme and passing resolutions demanding the nationalisation of the top 200 monopolies, we organised regular protests and demonstrations against the Thatcher government.
I realise that the express purpose of Young Labour is to be as unlike the LPYS as possible, and as far as I can see, it does a remarkably good job of being well-scrubbed, blandly Blairite and duly deferential.
Those activists I have met have an undeniable Mormon missionary vibe about them. You almost get the impression that they turn away geeky uncool teens suffering from dandruff or acne, on the grounds that that would be detrimental to their squeaky clean image.
That said, I have heard reasonable reports about its national chair, Sam Tarry, whose politics are recognisably related to those considered to be soft left during the Bennite period.
What I do wonder is how well the organisation is connecting with the young people it is supposed to represent. Sure, it would be anachronistic to go back to the political style of the LPYS under the leadership of Militant Tendency. But it would be nice for us old ‘uns to see the party’s youth wing take some sort of initiative on youth issues.
Today we learn that unemployment among 16-19 has topped a million. This less than a year after the Coalition scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance. Joined up policy, much?
I’ve just looked at the Young Labour website, and at the time of writing, this wasn’t considered to be worth a mention. Compare and contrast with the attitude of the Socialist Party, which recently mobilised some of its younger membership and periphery to re-enact the Jarrow march, precisely to highlight the return of mass joblessness.
Pull your finger out, kids. If it pisses them off at 39 Victoria Street, so much the better.