On Saturday February 3rd, London Young Labour (LYL) will be holding their Annual General Meeting (AGM) to elect the next chair and committee that will serve the 15,000 strong membership of under-27 Labour Party members across Greater London’s 73 constituencies.
The increasing success and influence of the Labour Left in the Party’s internal structures—particularly in Young Labour nationally—has not been translated into London terms, which is a stronghold of the Blairite right. Only 4 candidates from the Momentum-backed slate made it onto the committee at the 2017 AGM, out of a possible 20 positions to be taken.
This is a question of effective organising, since the last two years of a right-wing LYL have not been without controversy. Several hundred pounds of members’ personal money—in the form of deposits for a Brussels trip that never materialised—are still outstanding over a year later. A statement of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn from the 2015-16 committee appeared on the homepage of the LYL website until October 2017, several months after Corbyn’s Labour Party secured the largest swing in a general election of any party since 1945 (and well over a year after his second leadership election landslide). Further trouble flared when a member of the LYL committee was accused of intimidating staff outside the Unite offices as part of a protest against Len McCluskey from Gerard Coyne’s leadership campaign.
Despite the organisation’s recent history, there is cause for hope. The recent Young Labour Policy Forum delegate election results returned a majority of the London-based candidates from the Momentum slate. Furthermore, Momentum Youth and Students London—Momentum’s London Young Labour analogue—has become a growing hub of socialist discussion and networking for new members since the 2017 general election, hosting guest speakers from the likes of Novara Media and Jacobin, and organising social events that have brought many new members into the movement.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but more energy could be harnessed. With 15,000 Young Labour members across London, a LYL has the potential to be a formidable political and social force—but only if it is able to channel this energy. That will require a committee, and especially a chair, that will advocate for socialist principles while engaging young members.
The Momentum Candidate for Chair
Of the candidates running for chair, only one combines the experience with the socialist principles needed to steer London Young Labour in the right direction.
New Socialist encourages London Young Labour members to vote for the Momentum-backed candidate, Artin Giles, a secondary school teacher from North London who is currently on the London Young Labour committee. Key initiatives in Artin's platform include:
- Democratising the organisation, including implementing online 'One Member, One Vote' (OMOV) elections
- Setting up a bi-annual political education program
- Launching a radical housing campaign in favour of rent caps and against the selling-off of social housing in London
In his statement for New Socialist, he writes:
I’m proud to launch my campaign to become the next chair of London Young Labour, an organisation with a great track record of campaigning – and, having been on the committee this year, one with such unfulfilled future potential.
Realistically, we should be the first port of call for socialist activism in London, becoming an immersive body of debate, activity and engagement for our 15,000 young members across this city. However, this is currently not the case, and inertia dominates the organisation.
For the good of our Party, this needs to be rectified. I pledge, if elected, to engage at least 1% of the membership in a program of political education and activist workshop training. By doing this, we can begin to unlock the creative potential of our newer members, and revitalise enthusiasm amongst our older members—just as Jeremy Corbyn has done, as I have seen firsthand having volunteered for his campaign in 2015 and again in 2016.
In the coming months, we will have tough local elections coming up—elections that will be fought on issues with real consequences for our communities. In London, this is most clearly related to social housing: a lack of genuinely affordable housing, as well as the selling-off of social and council housing by some councils, is a national priority for the Labour Party. It should also be a priority for London Young Labour, given that young people so disproportionately feel the sharp end of the housing crisis.
Under my leadership, London Young Labour will follow in the example of Young Labour nationally—as well as in various regional groups—by implementing One Member, One Vote as a way to elect the committee. Politics in the 21st century shouldn’t be about packing a room, on a Saturday morning, with a group of people broadly unrepresentative of our movement or of society at large. We have the technology to lower the barriers to democratic participation by making it a streamlined and accessible process, and there is no reason why we shouldn't.
LYL needs a bolder, more radical vision and I believe I am the right person to take the organisation forward.
Register for the AGM
London Young Labour’s AGM will be held on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018. Anyone under 27 and in a London-based CLP is eligible to cast their vote at the AGM if they register by January 19, via this Google form.
Additionally, the London Young Labour Momentum slate will be voted on at the beginning of the new year. If you are interested in standing as a candidate, you can apply with a short statement via this Google form.
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