By KD Tait On 5 June, Momentum Youth and Students will hold its founding conference in Manchester. The conference is open to all members of Momentum under 30, or in education.
This is the first national meeting of a section of Momentum and is a chance to ensure that young Labour members take advantage of the opportunities presented by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party.
The Queen’s Speech announcing the government’s proposals for this parliament confirmed that the Tories want to free tuition fees to rise to stratospheric levels, push ahead with the privatisation of all levels of education and drastically reduce the number of FE colleges.
Opposing these attacks and developing a plan to fight for the kind of education we want will be an important way for Momentum to win school, college and university students to Labour and revitalise Young Labour and Labour clubs by infusing them with a spirit of political debate and a campaigning focus.
While education will clearly be a priority for many young members, the conference will rightly provide a chance to discuss organising young workers, fighting for liberation and equality, and presenting the case for an alternative and progressive economic policy.
The conference is scheduled to agree a constitution and elect a leadership “to take forward the work of the organisation for the next year”. Unfortunately, with no opportunity for local Momentum or Young Labour groups to submit motions on political or campaigning priorities to the conference, it seems that it will be difficult for members to agree a collective plan that could bring people together on the basis of thorough political discussion and democratic decision making. This is a shame, because Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership genuinely enthused a huge number of young people and we shouldn’t waste the opportunity to bring people into political activity by giving them a stake in the organisation.
Many have seen that involvement of young people following Corbyn’s election has been patchy. An excellent first meeting of Lambeth Young Labour saw many members pointing out reasons for this: boring CLP or Ward meetings, obstruction or hostility from the right wing, a lack of political discussion and activity beyond voter-identification and door-knocking, a feeling that young people are treated as second class members.
So it’s important that the conference strikes the right balance between political debate and decision making alongside introducing new members to the valuable traditions and methods of working class organisation that collectively empowers individuals to have a say on what the organisation as a whole does. Every new organisation has its teething problems; these concerns aside, the conference is an important first step to building a grassroots youth movement that can develop its own politics and strategy to campaign for socialism.
See you there!