Elections for delegates to Young Labour’s policy conference close at 12pm on 13 September.
These elections are a chance to take a step forward in making Young Labour a democratic, campaigning organisation, that reflects the enthusiasm and support for left wing ideas among the tens of thousands of new young members.
For decades Young Labour has been a stronghold of the party’s jeunesse dorée – young right wingers who used it as a ladder to fast track their careers in the labour movement.
They are determined to maintain their stranglehold because Young Labour’s national conference elects a representative to Labour’s National Executive Committee, which is finely-balanced between pro- and anti-Corbyn members.
Massively outnumbered by the influx of new members, the right were only able to cling onto their control of the NEC youth rep after running a smear campaign against the left wing candidate in elections last February.
Despite the balance of forces being overwhelmingly in favour of the new left wing young membership, Young Labour’s stunted internal democracy makes it very difficult to unlock the potential unless we win control of the organisation and revolutionise the youth organisation’s democracy and political agenda.
Unfortunately the left slate is not itself a model of democratic and transparent organising which the left should set as an example to the movement.
The faction fight in Momentum which saw supporters of Jon Lansman unilaterally dissolve Momentum’s democratic structures, before ratifying them in a fake ‘referendum’, has left Momentum with less internal democracy than Young Labour.
Momentum’s youth organisation ‘Momentum Youth and Students (MYS)’ which itself has no formal existence within Momentum’s structures, has an elected committee which has not met for over a year.
With the exception of Scotland, the candidates for the Momentum slate were selected by an opaque and clearly undemocratic character; presumably compiled from submissions by Momentum office staff.
Several members of the Momentum slate are responsible for this sorry state of affairs, either by supporting the dissolution of Momentum’s democratic structures, or by trying to purge the MYS committee of their opponents during the second Labour leadership election.
A rival ‘Grassroots socialists’ slate organised by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty is standing against the Momentum slate in London, on the pretext that there wasn’t a democratic selection process for the official slate. The Grassroots socialists slate should not be confused with ‘Grassroots Momentum’ an attempt to democratically organise Momentum’s local branches, which was wrecked by the AWL’s decision to endorse candidates to Momentum’s impotent NCG.
Without excusing the responsibility and gross contempt for democracy exhibited by leading figures in Momentum, the AWL slate leaves itself open to the charge of hypocrisy and risks splitting the left vote for factional purposes: the very definition of factionalism.
There’s nothing wrong, in principle, with deciding you don’t support the politics of, or the way in which the Momentum slate was selected, and deciding to run your own slate. We too have little confidence in the political principles or democratic credentials of many candidates standing on the Momentum slate.
But the Grassroots slate, which variously masquerades as an “NCAFC” or “Clarion Supporters” [The AWL’s Labour Party magazine] slate does not actually have a serious enough political difference with the Momentum slate to warrant splitting the vote.
Add in the fact the AWL’s fellow travellers on the Momentum National Coordinating Group are standing on the official slate and you get the strong impression that they are trying to have their cake and eat it. It does not give confidence that if more AWL backed candidates were elected they would behave in anything other than a similarly self-serving fashion. If the AWL were cut in on the deal and given a few candidates on the slate it is vanishingly unlikely that they would have stood on principle and refused to participate.
This grubby factionalism leaves both sides looking as bad as each other and is seriously off putting to young members getting involved in political activity.
But given the importance of rooting out the right wing from their trenches, and given the fact that Momentum’s slate will attract the support of Corbyn supporting members who want to see a different leadership, we urge socialists to give a united vote to the Momentum slate.
This vote should be exercised under protest with a firm statement that this is the last time that left wing members will accept slates or candidates dictated by Momentum and drawn up behind closed doors.
If, as we hope, the Momentum slate wins, then there will be sharp differences between those elected on fundamental questions: workers’ right to free movement, the struggle for democracy in the labour movement, the political and campaigning priorities of the Labour left.
Those debates should be had out in a vibrant, democratic and mass Young Labour organisation, where the active participation of large numbers of people can negate the petty squabbling for power by left bureaucrats or sects that plagues the movement.
That is the kind of Young Labour we are campaigning for. To get there we need to drive out the right, elect pro-Corbyn candidates and then organise the pressure to maintain the momentum towards genuine democracy and political change, driven and decided by the members.
That’s why urge Labour’s young socialists to vote for the Momentum slate and join us in organising for those goals.
Scotland: Lauren Gilmour, Emily Robinson, Chris Barber and Michael Muir
Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire: Frankie Leach, Lauren Stocks, Charlotte Nichols, Kirstie Smith, Leigh Drennan, Rob Wood and Connor Naismith
Cheshire and Merseyside: Liz Warnock, Sarah Doyle, Zoe van Couter, Damian Bailey, Fieldhelm Doolin and Andrew Peak
Yorkshire and the Humber: Annie Maloney, Connor Fisher, Liam Penny, Charlie Hind
East: Annie Hatley, Rox Middleton, Lizzy Kelly, Emily Fox, Ollie Hill, Sean Leggatt-Bulaitis, Christy McMorrow and Isreal Geniuss
London (North and East): Jenny Killin, Lydia Gray, Asher Mohammed, Beth Foster-Ogg and George Charalambou
London (North West): Artin Giles
London (Central): Lara McNeill, Elisabeth Mahase, Faisa Hassan, Sahaya James, Freddie Seale, Owen Lowry and Louis Mendee
London (South and South East): Faiza Mahmood, Daniel Frost and Tom Hymas
West Midlands: Huda Elmi, Rida Vaquas, Mohammed Mumit, Minesh Parekh, Felix Ling and Harry Shaw
East Midlands: Emily Carter, Lauren Mitchell, Danie Chance, Mairi-Frances McKay, Nadia Whittome and Arthur Aitchison
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight: Cal Corkery
South East (Sussex, Kent and Surrey): Sarah Cundy, Charlie Mower, Nathan Phillips and Josh Chown
South East (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire): Becky Boumelha, Nekisa Gholami, Ali Avci and Tom Zagoria
South West: Alex Mockridge, Kiah Tasman, Charlotte Owen-Caw, Zoe Shipton, Riley Cox, Logan Williams, Kieran Glasssmith, Zachary Murrell-Dowson
International: Lola May