Over the week of the 13th to the 20th of July, Young Labour and Labour Students attended the 10th summer camp of the European Council of Socialist Youth (ECOSY) in the coastal Camp Veli Joze, Savudrija, Croatia. Counting over forty people, it was the biggest delegation ever sent from Great Britain, up over one-thousand percent from the previous year. The high turnout is a great part down to the work of Curtis McLellan who, although I can’t imagine is a great supporter of Left Futures, did a brilliant job as Labour Students International Officer. After a long plane and coach journey it was quite surreal to suddenly arrive in a beautiful coastal resort for a music concert full of young socialists from across Europe when I had been in my South London flat only that morning.
The quality of the discussion at the camp was very good and there was a clear consensus in opposition to neo-liberalism. Throughout the week, there were meetings to discuss drafts for a “Camp Declaration” (which can be seen on the summer camp Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ecosysummercamp2012). This is an impressive document which really lays out youth opposition to austerity and free-market economics and should give real direction to our mother parties in the Party of European Socialists in breaking away from the 30 year old neo-liberal hegemony. There were also events organised by delegates such as a pride march, a feminist march and a peace march led by the Bulgarian delegation following the news of the airport attack over the weekend.
I ended up being the delegation’s unofficial choirmaster, leading Young Labour through all the socialist hits such as “Bella Ciao”, “Bandiera Rossa” and Brecht’s “Einheitsfrontlied” as well as our own “Red Flag” and The Strawbs’ “Union Man”, (not forgetting of course “The Internationale”). I think Young Labour has a lot of work to do in improving its singing repertoire so I may dedicate some time to that project in time for the next camp. Indeed I think Young Labour should try to get more involved in the Labour Movements’ cultural events by organising delegations to festivals like Tolpuddle and the Durham Miners’ Gala. This would be a real chance to develop Young Labour as a vibrant youth group with its own traditions and make the organisation stronger.
It was amazing to see the really strong young socialist organisations from around Europe. They are terrific examples for how Young Labour should be. Young Labour’s sister organisations have real autonomy in how they are run and in determining their policy and, as a result, are thriving youth groups that are assets to their mother parties in terms of campaigning and attracting young voters. I hope that the Labour Party in Great Britain will take notice of these examples and grant the same rights to our own youth section.
The ECOSY summer camp 2012 was an absolutely incredible experience of sun, sea, sand, socials and (of course) socialism. I can absolutely recommend going next year. Lets have a 100 strong delegation in 2013!