By Sacha Marten, candidate for Young Labour NC Student rep
We are Young Labour members who want to get organised, in the upcoming Young Labour elections and beyond, for a radical and active young socialist movement. Coming from a generation for which the unsustainability of capitalism is all too clear, we want young Labour to establish a clear alternative based around democracy, class struggle, internationalism, and protecting life on Earth. To the millions of young people angry and dissatisfied with the status quo, we want to show the power of getting organised on the street, in schools, workplaces and universities. Learning from history and looking to the future, bold politics can win pay rises for young workers, bring together students and teachers to democratise education, and change the conversation to build a genuinely worker-led Green New Deal.
The climate strikes, the Black Lives Matter movement, the A-Level U-Turn protests all show passion and potential for change when young people get organised. It is a shame that Young Labour has not been there in the past to act as a link between grassroots movements and the organised labour movement. Beyond holding posts on committees and an unhealthy clique culture, we want to transform Young Labour into a significantly more outward facing organisation that is active, radical, and relevant to young people up and down the country.
A key initial part of this is a democratic rejuvenation of the organisation. Groups need access to their own funds and data to organise locally, and we should all have the chance to come together annually for an independent and sovereign Young Labour policy conference to determine our positions and campaigning. Committee meeting notes should be made available to all members, we should be honest and bold about our politics, we can and should lead by example! In the past young Labour organising has relied far more on who you know than anything else, and this needs to change. An open and inviting space for discourse, learning and debate will only strengthen our movement and encourage more groups to be set up where none previously existed.
The problems faced by our generation are urgent, and cannot wait for (or expect) elections to solve them. Instead, confident and supported Young Labour groups can act as training schools for young members to organise in their workplaces, communities, schools and universities, winning concrete demands to tackle the injustices facing young people. Labour should be the party of the strikes, and Young Labour should be directly supporting the Youth Strike for Climate movement, both practically for demonstrations and with resources, and more widely by spreading climate action more widely through the labour movement. Youth climate strikers have made clear many times the need for a worker-led just transition, but the labour movement is still sleeping. With British Gas workers set to take industrial action and NHS workers mobilising on the streets, it is a crucial time to be bringing climate and workers’ struggles together to effect real change in the fossil fuel industry.
By being radical and practical, a revitalised Young Labour can appeal to the millions of young people who want to change capitalism, but do not yet see a socialist alternative. Whether it be young workers in hospitality or hospitals, there is great demand for an equalised and significantly higher minimum wage, more secure contracts, and a 4 day week. Meanwhile an ever growing number of young people are unable to find work, or see their studies attached to spiralling debt. Young Labour can and should be vocal about fighting back on the basis of working class self organisation, getting young people active in unions or forming new ones where none exist.
Finally, it is clear that our cause for a socialist youth movement cannot be limited by national borders. From striking workers in Belarus, Black Lives Matter protesters in the US, democracy activists in Hong Kong and LGBT campaigners in Poland, we have so much to gain from being connected internationally. We want to learn from these struggles and draw links between our battles here and how they are already being won elsewhere. And where UK organisations ‘offshore’ their dirty practices, we will be vocal and active here to hold them to account. For open borders and practical solidarity, we have far more in common with our international brothers and sisters than we do with the bosses in this country!
Starting during this election campaign, we will be holding a series of public meetings on Friday evenings, beginning this Friday 11th September at 6.30pm when we will be joining up with our friends at Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform to host a meeting on democracy, electoral reform, and republicanism. Future meetings look to cover democratising education, capitalism and climate change, as well as taking a look at global struggles taking place in Belarus and beyond.
If you want to get stuck in to revamp Young Labour as a vibrant, class struggle movement, join us! We will endorse candidates who sign up to our program, and there is plenty more to get involved with – write for our blog, speak at meetings, bring in more young comrades. Let’s make a real impact in these elections and beyond.