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From: The Socialist issue 891, 2 March 2016: Socialism back on the agenda

Search site for keywords: Labour - Labour Party - Anti-austerity - Young people - Jeremy Corbyn - Youth

Young Labour conference: Left and right lock horns

Young Jeremy Corbyn supporters, photo Paul Mattsson

Young Jeremy Corbyn supporters, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

A conference delegate

Hundreds of young people attended Young Labour's national conference in Scarborough on 27-28 February.

A new leadership was elected and policy was debated and decided for the first time since Jeremy Corbyn's leadership victory. Drawn to the anti-austerity programme of his election campaign, the youth section of the Labour Party has tripled its membership. Conference was clearly important in the fight for an anti-austerity, socialist Labour Party at all levels of the party.

'Corbynistas' made gains, winning many elections including the position of chair, and passing a motion affirming Young Labour's support for free education. Only an hour and a half of conference time was dedicated to deciding the political direction of the organisation - it was a conference designed for the pre-Corbyn age.

What was clear was that those new and enthusiastic young people came up against a powerful organised right wing. The Blairites, who represent the past, remain well organised and have many resources at their disposal. They are well funded by those who want to keep a pro-big business grip on the Labour Party.

This was apparent in the vote for Young Labour's representative on the Labour Party National Executive Committee, which the right won by a margin of just 0.1%! Calls for a recount were dismissed, and allegations of smear campaigns have been reported, showing who holds the reigns in the Labour Party machine.

Young people should be pleased at the shift towards the left at the conference but what is clear is the need to stand firm on left policies. The idea of compromising with the right will win them over to Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity message, is mistaken. The right is completely opposed to genuine socialist ideas and are biding their time, waiting to move against him.

The left must get properly organised to fight for socialist, anti-austerity politics and remove the Blairite rump from the Labour Party.

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