On Saturday 24th August, London Young Labour (LYL) hosted its summer policy conference, with around 65 young Labour activists from across the capital in attendance.
Alongside several discussions on important topical issues, the conference also discussed and voted on a variety of motions. The aim was to submit motions passed to this year’s Labour Party conference in Brighton.
Prior to the debate on motions, the majority of the day was allocated to panel discussions on issues that primarily affect or interest young people. Topics included: the housing crisis; violent crime; regeneration; and climate change.
The overall aim of these sessions was to get young political activists informed about campaigns taking place in London and nationally, and to help forge links between LYL members and those campaigning on these important issues.
As well as providing valuable information and arguments on the issues in question, some of the speakers talked more broadly about the wider causes of the problems they were tackling. This included explaining the barriers to solving these problems within the limits of the capitalist economic system.
For instance, Simon Youel of the Labour for a Green New Deal campaign stated that, in order to work, a Green New Deal could not simply be a Keynesian experiment. Elsewhere, Emma Dent Coad, Labour MP for Kensington, voiced support for “proper socialism” whilst talking about regeneration and the fight against gentrification and social cleansing.
Socialist Appeal supporters, meanwhile, made the case for nationalising the big landlords, management companies, and land during a discussion on the housing crisis. This was well received amongst the rest of the room.
Restore Clause 4!
Unfortunately, due to delays throughout the day, the overall time available for debating and voting on motions was reduced. As a result, only a handful of the motions submitted could be discussed. Already, many of the motions on the agenda were ones that had been carried forward from the LYL AGM back in March.
A priority ballot earlier in the day was used to decide the nine most important motions for discussion. One of the motions that was chosen was a motion proposed by Socialist Appeal activists to restore the original Clause 4 - Labour’s commitment to common ownership and socialist policies.
There was clear support in the conference for this proposal. However, there was also a number of people who opposed restoring this socialist clause.
For example, one person argued that adopting the motion to bring back Clause IV would make London Young Labour’s stance too different from Labour Party. But this implies that the entire LYL policy conference should be nothing more than a rubber-stamping exercise, rather than a means by which young Labour members can help to direct and forge Labour’s policies.
Despite this opposition, the motion to restore Clause 4 was passed with an overwhelming majority. This demonstrates the appetite for a Labour government with true socialist values.
In the end, many important motions were not discussed at all. These included other motions submitted by Socialist Appeal supporters on building the climate strike movement, fighting council cuts, and opposing Trump’s coup in Venezuela.
In spite of the setbacks, this LYL policy conference demonstrated that there was a clear thirst for political debate and radical ideas amongst young Labour activists.
Young Labour groups across the country should take this lesson on board. With a general election on the cards, it is vital that every effort is made to get young people involved in the fight for a Corbyn Labour government. The best way to do this is by mobilising and organising young workers and students around bold socialist policies.