Under Refounding Labour many advances were made for young members in the party. Young Labour was granted some of the rights of an affiliate and an annual conference. However, the reforms of last year still fail to address many issues that young members have with Young Labour. The youth section does not have access to its own membership lists, lacks its own constitution and feels rather in the shadow of the “grown-up” party, which can be frustrating for young members.
The crux of Young Labour’s problems is the issue of autonomy. Currently young labour lacks its own constitution (its constitution consists of one chapter titled “Youth” in the Labour Party rulebook). This situation is wholly inadequate as it places Young Labour totally at the mercy of the Party as a whole. Any changes to how Young Labour is constituted are not decided by young members themselves but must be rather made by Party conference and any decisions over Youth conference are under the control of the Party’s National Executive rather than its own National Committee.
What young members need is the autonomy to make their own policy and to decide themselves how Young Labour is constituted. A real step forward in achieving this autonomy would be for Young Labour to become an affiliated socialist society (something towards which we have already made steps towards under Refounding Labour). This would grant Young Labour its own constitution, the right to determine its own autonomous policy and the ability to better organise at local level.
Labour Students is an affiliated Socialist Society and is very well organised nationally and has real policy independence (for instance it launched its own campaign over the living wage). The same rights should be given to Young Labour so that the Party can have the well organised and autonomous youth section that it needs to properly connect with the untapped pool of young voters.
We call on the Young Labour national committee to make the case to Ed Miliband and to the National Executive Committee for Young Labour to become an affiliated Socialist Society and pledge to take up the issue at the 2012 Party conference in Manchester.