Elections for the leadership of Young Labour are in full swing. On the left, the ‘For a Socialist Future’ slate is looking to become a rallying point for radical youth. Candidate Lewis Griffiths reports on the campaign for a socialist YL.

Elections for the leadership of Young Labour are in full swing. On the left, the ‘For a Socialist Future’ slate is looking to become a rallying point for radical youth. Candidate Lewis Griffiths reports on the campaign for a socialist YL.

On Sunday evening, the day before ballots dropped, a rally was hosted by Momentum’s For a Socialist Future slate for the upcoming Young Labour (YL) elections.

Over a thousand young people tuned in to hear the fiery interventions on display, in order to find out what the left has to offer a new generation that is looking for a break with the status quo.

Viewers wouldn’t have been disappointed. Labour MP Zarah Sultana was amongst the speakers backing the slate. She correctly laid the blame for the exacerbation of the pandemic, climate change, and the rise in poverty directly at the feet of the capitalist system – along with its chief champions, the Tory Party.

Jess Barnard, left candidate for YL chair, also set the tone for the Momentum campaign by outlining the immediate future facing young people.

Youth unemployment is on course to hit one million by the end of the year. And workers under 25 are three times more likely to be laid off as a result of the slump. It is therefore clear Young Labour must become a rallying point for those seeking radical change.

Climate and class

One of the main topics of the rally was the existential crisis of climate change. On this, Lauren Townsend, a trade union organiser and spokesperson of Labour for a Green New Deal, pressed the need to present a genuinely class-based approach to tackle the climate crisis.

Activists cannot become absorbed in trivial fights over plastic straws. Nor should blame be placed on workers in polluting sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry. Rather, Lauren outlines, we must look to create a million green jobs in the pursuit of a low carbon economy.

A bold socialist solution is exactly what’s needed if we’re to solve the climate emergency. This is why I am proud to support policies such as the nationalisation of the big energy companies and fossil fuel monopolies – under democratic workers’ control and management – in order to introduce a sustainable plan of production, in the interests of ordinary people and the planet.

Demands such as these saw a great deal of support when championed by the #MarxistVoice4YL slate during Momentum’s Young Labour primaries.

Socialist opposition

Guardian journalist and author Owen Jones was one of the final speakers. He laid welcome stress on the fact that the existing system “can’t be trimmed around the edges or slightly humanised”, but must be fundamentally replaced.

Jones also argued that it was the duty and responsibility of Labour members to hold Keir Starmer’s leadership to account over the pledges that he was elected on. However, it is clear from ‘Sir’ Starmer’s first six months as party leader that he has no intention of honouring these hollow promises.

Rather, Starmer’s posturing in Parliament, with a lack of militant opposition to the Tories, shows that he is more concerned about presenting himself to the capitalist class as a ‘safe pair of hands’ for big business; as a ‘reliable’ and ‘respectable’ alternative to Johnson’s Tory government.

Instead of sowing any illusions in Starmer, grassroots activists in Young Labour and throughout the labour movement must organise to build a genuinely socialist opposition to the Labour right wing and the Tories at all levels. This means confronting the capitalist class and mobilising workers and youth around a clear socialist programme.

Scoring a victory for socialist candidates in the YL and NEC elections is an important first step in this struggle. That is why I am proud to be standing as a candidate for Wales representative, as part of the For a Socialist Future slate.

Vote for the left slate! Fight for a socialist future!