Young Labour Leadership Nomination Meeting
For the sake of accountability here’s a summary of what I did at this evening’s Young Labour National Committee meeting and why. (Some of this is in specific reference to West Midlands Young Labour Facebook group, but as it’s a group which the vast majority of West Mids YL members are not in, am putting this out here in public too)
Young Labour National Committee Meeting
This evening (August 4th 2016), Young Labour National Committee had a meeting about the leadership election. As your West Midlands Representative, here is how I voted and why.
There were two votes that took place in this meeting: one to decide whether to use Young Labour’s right to nominate a candidate, and one to decide which candidate that would be.
Here is how I voted: I voted FOR nominating a candidate (Final result 17 votes FOR and 9 votes AGAINST)
I voted to nominate Jeremy Corbyn. (Final result: 15 votes: Corbyn, 8 votes: Smith, and 3 abstentions).
Why I voted to nominate a candidate:
Young Labour is a political organisation first and foremost, it does not only exist as a space for young members in the Party but as a means to fight for our interests. What this practically means is that in an important debate about our party’s future, Young Labour should have a political voice. A nomination from Young Labour is treated as similar to a CLP or trade union nomination, it does not influence the result, it does not count as a voting bloc — it is simply an indicator of support. CLPs and trade unions are as much broad churches as Young Labour in which there are conflicting opinions, however, it has always been my view that political differences in an organisation do not negate its right to fight for a political programme that has been decided democratically.
Moreover it has always been up to Young Labour National Committee to decide whether to nominate a candidate. There has never been an instance of an all-member ballot as has been proposed, for example. Last year it was decided to not nominate a candidate because all of us who were sitting on that committee had been on that committee for well over the time we should have been (approaching 3 years), in fact some committee members no longer even qualified to be Young Labour.
It has been raised that this is a divisive issue. All political issues are divisive, some people will agree with you and some people won’t. Some people will have disagreed with not using our nomination right. The solution is not to cease taking political stances, but to empower and encourage young members to organise to fight for their political stances in the organisation, as well as in the country. Following on from this, the biggest obstacle to Young Labour members being able to engage with the organisation is not Young Labour National Committee adopting one stance or the other but this: the ban on all meetings except leadership nomination meetings until early October. How can members engage with an organisation that’s not allowed to meet?
Why I voted for Jeremy Corbyn:
I have never made a secret of my politics. I was elected as West Midlands Representative as a socialist — my candidate picture had me standing by an ‘I heart Corbyn’ placard, I don’t really see how I could have been more transparent than that.
I do not have and did not have the means to communicate with members in the West Midlands. Had I carried out a consultation, it would have been the very unrepresentative group of people who happen to be friends with me and the relatively small select group of people who are in this group. There would have actually been no way for me to even ensure that the people responding to a consultation were Young Labour members. In preference to an unrepresentative, and insecure, consultation that would have no binding weight, I chose to refer to the only all member vote I did have, and that was the vote of West Midlands Young Labour members in electing a socialist teenager who has repeatedly stated her support for Jeremy Corbyn. Yes the turnout for that election was low, but the number of votes cast was nevertheless higher than a quick tally in my head of responses to a consultation if we assume the rather high response rate of 60% of people in this group (and that’s not even discounting the people in this group who aren’t actually based in the West Midlands).
And I voted for Corbyn because polling has consistently shown that he is largely more popular with young members, as he is with indeed all members, than Owen Smith. I think that Corbyn offers the best deal for young people: his pledges for housing and a charter of renters’ rights particularly offer to young people in precarious housing situations hope for a better Britain.
For the record, I think it’s terrible that there is no way for a Young Labour region to make democratic decisions and put a binding mandate on its representative at committee to do certain things. But that needs an overhaul of our democratic infrastructure, which I hope the party review will provide.