Marxist students are looking forward to Sunday’s (20 Sept) meeting, called by the Labour Campaign for Free Education, to relaunch the Young Labour Left using the momentum of Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning election victory. We’re hoping that a vibrant, socialist movement is going to come out of this initiative and, naturally, we’re keen to get involved with and affiliate to the organisation in all the places where we have Marxist societies around the country.
The proposed agenda looks promising, and we have a few suggestions that might clarify things even further.
Firstly, swapping the agenda around so that we deal with the political principles of the organisation before its organisational structures might a better way of doing things. If we have clarity about what we’re fighting for and what we hope to achieve, that will help to shape the discussion about how we organise ourselves to achieve those aims. Otherwise having the organisational session before the political one is a bit like putting the cart before the horse.
Secondly, regarding the structure of the organisation, I think we have to make sure the emphasis is very much bottom-up, rather than top-down. Before having complex elections to steering committees and discussing the constitution we need to be setting up local branches of this organisation in every CLP around the country, using our political arguments as the basis on which to build them and use them for campaigning. This meeting will be a great opportunity to discuss how we do that. Once that’s been achieved I think we’ll be in a great position to have a genuinely democratic conference with delegates from all the branches of the organisation.
Finally, the Marxist Student Federation is really keen to be involved in this project as we feel we’ll be able to contribute quite a lot using the groups we have on campuses all over the country. In the past various Marxist societies have held joint events with the Labour Clubs on campus, we’ve joined our staff on strike and we’ve recently launched a campaign: Defend Corbyn, Fight for Socialism, on the subject of which we are holding dozens of meetings in the next two or three weeks. For that reason we’re keen to help out on the steering committee. However, we’re also a bit concerned at the proposal that certain elected positions be reserved for women, especially after recent events when we’ve seen the really reactionary role those who advocate positive discrimination can play (Kendall/Cooper in the election campaign and the entirety of the mainstream media on the question of the shadow cabinet). We’re strongly in favour of people being elected on the strength of their political ideas and nothing else.
Given the above points we’ve submitted the following amendments to be discussed at the meeting on Sunday:
1. AMENDMENT TO AGENDA
To take the proposal on aims and principles (proposal 3) before the proposals on name and structure (proposals 1 and 2)
2. AMENDMENT TO PROPOSAL 2
Delete all and replace with:
“This meeting resolves to move the draft resolution below in as many CLP and Ward meetings as possible around the country. By building support around this resolution we aim to set up local branches of this organisation in every constituency in Britain. Local branches will elect delegates to a national conference to be held in two months, at which policy and constitutional decisions will be taken.
Arrangements for the national conference are to be made by a steering committee of 8, made up of one representative from each of Labour Young Trade Unionists; Campaign for Labour Party Democracy Youth; Scottish Labour Young Socialists; Labour Campaign for Free Education; National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts; Red Labour Youth; Labour Representation Committee; Marxist Student Federation.
This Ward/CLP welcomes the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. We note that he was elected by an overwhelming majority of Party members and supporters. We therefore consider that it is the duty of all Party members – inside and outside the Houses of Parliament – to support him.
We condemn the campaign of vilification in the Tory media directed against Jeremy Corbyn, which is aimed at undermining and removing him. We furthermore deplore the actions of certain members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who, through their systematic attempts to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, are deliberately sabotaging the work of the Opposition, destabilising the Labour Party and playing into the hands of the Tories.
We call upon our representative in parliament to provide us with a clear and unambiguous commitment not to participate in any such activities and to support the elected leader of the Party.
In the event of a refusal to provide such an undertaking, we will have no alternative but to move a vote of no confidence and set in motion a process of selecting somebody who is prepared to respect the democratic views of the membership.”
3. AMENDMENT TO STEERING COMMITTEE PROPOSAL (to be discussed if amendment to proposal 2 falls)
a) One space on the steering committee to be reserved for the Marxist Student Federation
b) All positions on the steering committee to be elected on the basis of political ideas, rather than gender, race, sexuality or anything else.