The London Young Labour (LYL) Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Saturday 3 February, was a victory for left-wingers in the Labour Party. Momentum dominated the event, and wrested control of LYL away from the right-wing of the party. The election of Momentum-backed Artin Giles as Chair of LYL was greeted with a standing ovation, Artin having won the vote 198 votes to 152. Momentum-backed candidates also won all the caucus officer positions and, most likely, the block elections to the committee.
This signifies a remarkable turnaround in the last 12 months. Last year just four of Momentum’s candidates made it onto the committee, and its candidate for Chair, Beth Foster-Ogg, was beaten by Miriam Mirwitch by over 100 votes.
In that sense, the AGM was the latest in a string of victories for left-wingers in the Labour Party. At both a local and a national level, Corbyn’s supporters are taking back control of the party for those who want to fight for socialism.
Blairites refuse to discuss politics
The meeting itself had been organised by the outgoing right-wing LYL committee. Their refusal to engage young people in genuine political discussion and debate meant that the agenda for the meeting was fairly uninspiring. For example, only 20 minutes at the end of the day was given over to discussing motions. And a panel discussion on Winning in London (Local Elections 2018) focussed overwhelmingly on organisational matters instead of the inspiring political ideas that gave Labour its success at the last general election.
This meant that the AGM was a bit of a missed opportunity to engage hundreds of young Labour members in London in the fight for socialist ideas. Now that the Left is in control they must ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated next year.
A sour note
A sour note was the barring of the left-wing faction, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL), from all future LYL events. Ostensibly this was on the basis of an alleged incident from years ago. While some people will have voted for this motion out of a genuine concern over the serious issues raised, the truth of such an allegation obviously cannot be established by an LYL AGM in the few minutes allocated for this discussion.
In fact this motion should never have been brought to the AGM. Organising kangaroo courts in this way, with no real evidence, and barring people from Labour events as a result, is a dangerous path to go down. If these methods are accepted it can lead to bureaucratic maneuvering to remove political opponents, instead of proper political debate. Such methods have no place in a democratic, socialist organisation like the Labour Party.
Building a socialist LYL
Overall we can feel very positive about the direction of LYL. After their defeat at the hands of an organised and enthusiastic left-wing, the right-wing attendees looked demoralised and defeated. 14 out of 38 candidates running for block positions used the word “socialism/socialist” and the language used by the left-wing candidates was boldly socialist. After the election results were announced and Artin Giles was declared the new London Young Labour Chair, a large section of the meeting spontaneously burst into a rousing rendition of “The Red Flag”.
A motion to Restore Clause IV, although not discussed by the meeting, was well received by many at the AGM who expressed firm support for it. Hopefully the campaign to restore Clause IV will gather pace in the near future. Demands for nationalisation, not just of rail and utility companies, but of the land and the banks as well, will find a big echo in the Labour Party and the wider labour movement. This demand and others like it are what LYL needs to adopt to build a genuinely socialist Young Labour organisation in London.