Saturday, 21 September 2019

Students, Goldilocks and the Labour Party

The news that Labour is closing down its student movement for being too right wing was like a blast from the past, albeit with a twist.  I can remember when they were only disowned for being too left wing.
In 1970 or 1971, whilst I was in university, I was ‘associated with’ the university’s Socialist Society (I use the phrase ‘associated with’ because they didn’t have ‘membership’ as such – it was open to anyone to turn up and participate).  After protests from the Socialist Society at the invite to the university’s chancellor, Lord Robens (then also Chair of the NCB), to speak one evening, the Students’ Union had another guest speaker along a week or so later in the shape of the late Eric Heffer, then a Liverpool Labour MP.  He was often, shall we say, ‘out of favour’ with the hierarchy of his party (much like Jeremy Corbyn before he became leader, and for similar reasons).  During a robust exchange at one point, he told the audience that we should join the (Labour Party) Young Socialists to promote our views within the party.  One comrade quickly responded with the memorable riposte “But when people like us join the Young Socialists, the Labour Party disbands them”.
It seems that the Labour Party’s approach to its younger membership is a bit like that of Goldilocks – they should be at just the right degree of leftness.

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