On Wednesday 1st March, the Labour Students National Committee met for the first time in nearly four months, for little more than an hour. In keeping with the democratic standards we have come to expect from the Labour Students full-time officials, no agenda was circulated in advance and committee members’ attempts to have any items discussed were stonewalled with little more than a shrug.
One committee member had, for instance, moved that the Committee discuss and vote on publishing a statement condemning Community Union’s recent, disgraceful behaviour at ASOS, which amounts to little more than scabbing and represents a betrayal of the GMB’s impressive organising drive there. There are several reasons why Labour Students ought to have discussed this, the main one, of course, being that Labour Students has its own sweetheart deal with Community which involves sponsorship, advertising and, one presumes, substantial sums of money. Given this ‘special relationship’, which the Labour Students full-timers often mention, the organisation would be in a good position to offer public solidarity with the GMB. Continue reading
Youth politics can be miserable. The culture in NUS and Labour Students is particularly toxic and it is to blame for a generation of jaded and cynical young activists. The student movement no longer churns out leaders like Dutschke, Wilkerson, or Hayden.
It’s understandable then that socialists are reluctant to engage in youth politics. The idea that youth politics is irrelevant and indulgent is a common refrain on certain strands of the Left. It is argued that we should spend our time on different projects with more immediate returns.
But the reality is that youth politics is much more important than we think. NUS, Labour Students, and Young Labour have long been training grounds for future parliamentarians and bureaucrats. They do more than teach how to pack a room. Youth politics teaches a generation of activists what is politically possible. Continue reading
At this year’s Labour Students National Conference in Scarborough, delegates were promised, to quote from the manifesto of our new Chair, ‘a radical change’. Indeed-and much needed it was. Poor organisation made for a chaotic conference, whilst, time and again, BAME members of our organisation told of how they felt ignored and marginalised to the point of invisibility. In the words of the BAME Officer, Huda Elmi, ‘it is like we do not exist to you’. There seemed to be a consensus that, in its current form, Labour’s student affiliate was unsustainable. Continue reading
The Young Labour conference in Scarborough this weekend has seen the triumph of the Momentum Youth and Student slate in the elections for the Young Labour national committee. The sweeping victory of the Left for the first time in 30 years presents an opportunity to create a movement capable of attracting not those who want careers in politics but those who were enthused in such large numbers last summer by the prospect of a new kind of politics. Unfortunately it is marred by the dirtiest contest for an internal election I have ever witnessed.
What the Labour Party needs is a generation of activists motivated by idealism and hope with the ambition to make the world a better, greener, more equal place, with communities that care about peoples’ needs, and workplaces that develop skills and offer secure jobs with proper wages. Not another, much smaller generation of people who would provide yet more identikit MPs in suits, of whom the British public have already seen too many. Continue reading
As a youth worker for over 17 years some of my best political conversations have been with young people. However, sadly many of those young people do not engage with the democratic systems and political parties in our country.
So I was extremely proud to hear not one, but three [one as a delegate from their Labour students group] young Labour members from Tottenham had been elected as delegates to the National Young Labour Conference taking place this month. It gave me comfort that young Labour members in my area were so engaged that they not only joined the party but also got involved.
Tottenham is one of the most deprived areas of the UK, although this may not reflect the socio-economic status of the elected delegates who live in Tottenham, we can make some assumptions that during times of austerity we know young adults are one of the groups hardest hit, therefore financial barriers would probably exist for many young members, even if not from Tottenham, but being from Tottenham is likely to increase the risk of financial exclusion. Continue reading