Category Archives: Young people

‘Cancelled’ Young Labour rally is a huge success. Is this one part of the party we can still support?

Packed: the Young Labour rally that Keir Starmer’s Labour conference app falsely stated was cancelled. This is the way to beat liars like Starmer.

The antipathy shown by Keir Starmer, David Evans and their right-wing-dominated NEC toward Young Labour suggests that it is one of the few parts of the party that deserve to grow during their blighted reign.

According to the excellent Skwawkbox, Labour’s official conference app falsely announced that Young Labour’s “Rally for a Socialist Future” yesterday evening was “cancelled”; it wasn’t.

Instead, the event was packed with young socialists who heard speakers including Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Zarah Sultana, Nadia Whittome and representatives of the union Unite and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

And it was a huge success:

It seems to This Writer that Young Labour is one of the few parts of the Labour Party that is actually fulfilling its stated function as an organisation for democratic socialists.

As it represents a starting-point for people who will form the future heart of the Labour Party, CLPs should not only urge young people in their constituencies to join; they should actively find roles for Young Labour members as they mature – ultimately seeking to find Parliamentary candidates among them.

It’s a way of preventing Starmer and/or his successors from parachuting Tories in as candidates instead.

Also popular among the fringe events yesterday evening was a discussion between John McDonnell and former US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who said left-wing Labour should challenge Starmer over his rejection of socialist policies.

According to the BBC,

Mr Sanders said what “the progressive movement” on the left was calling for was not “radical demands”, but it was time to put those who said no “on the defensive”.

“There is no reason why in the UK or the United States all workers should not be able to earn decent wages and have decent benefits,” he said.

“There is no reason all over the world [why] we cannot provide quality healthcare to all human beings as a right of citizenship.”

The senator added: “Those people who tell you you can’t do it, you ask them why, why can’t you do it? Because you are afraid to stand up to big money interests? That is not an acceptable reason.”

Mr Sanders said the approach would lead to a good outcome.

He concluded: “When you speak truth to people, they often respond in a positive way.”

He makes a good point.

And when you are speaking the truth in the face of an obvious lie – like the Starmer-run Labour app’s claim that the Young Labour rally had been cancelled – you have an immediate advantage.

Starmer’s supporters have voted to make Labour’s internal struggle a long, slow war of attrition, focusing on internal party politics while Boris Johnson and his Tories do whatever they like in the real world (and I use the word “real” advisedly). That has been their choice.

It should be the choice of socialists to call out their lies, put them under the spotlight and explain in the simplest possible terms why policies for everyone – upheld by honest people – are better.

Source: Labour ‘cancels’ Young Labour conference event – but it was still a big success – SKWAWKBOX

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Will Starmer attack Young Labour (again) over conference motion on Palestine?

Keir Starmer is probably seething about this.

But he has already shot his bolt with attempts to shut down Young Labour’s conference (the group shifted its events to The World Transformed instead) and to intimidate YL chair Jess Barnard.

All because the group wanted to host speakers who support the cause of Palestinians who face continuing persecution from the Israeli government.

Now YL has announced it is bringing a pro-Palestine motion to the conference that will require Starmer and his cronies to support Palestinian liberation – or face questions on their reasons not to:

The motion states: “Conference condemns the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarised attack on Al Aqsa mosque, the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and the deadly bombardment of Gaza.

“Through the dispossession of Palestinian land, labour and property, the accelerating illegal settlements, and economic exploitation, Israel is working to undermine the viability of Palestinian statehood on anything other than a neo-colonial ‘bantustan’ basis.

“Conference notes the TUC 2020 Congress motion calling this ‘another significant step’ towards the UN Crime of Apartheid. The recent work of B’Tselem and the report by Human Rights Watch, ‘A Threshold Crossed’, details how Palestinians are ‘born unequal’. This is demonstrated by the recent exclusion of Palestinians from Israel’s vaccination programme.

“Conference recognises the settle-colonial character of the oppression of the Palestinian people, condemns any attempts to obfuscate this reality, and that with Israel being the world-leading exporter of weapons per capita, Palestinian liberation is the cause of all oppressed people.

“Conference resolves to be led by and support Palestinian civil society and the trade union movement in their campaign for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel, and defends the right of the Palestinian people to struggle for liberation from colonial domination under UN resolution 37/43.

“Conference resolves to support the right of the Palestinian people under international law to return to their homes in a free, equal and democratic state.

“Conference resolves that the Labour Party must stand on the right side of history and abide by these resolutions in its policy, communications and political strategy.”

It is a direct challenge to some of Starmer’s most repressive (yet perhaps unwritten) policies.

Being such a great pal of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which is itself an arm of the Israeli Embassy, he’ll be strongly against the BDS movement in particular.

His attitude appears to be that Israel does not harm Palestinians in any way and only ever responds in self-defence to violence initiated by Palestinians.

So factual evidence that Israelis are inflicting harm on Palestinians habitually is likely to drive him up the wall. Here’s some:

It seems Starmer wants us to think these things aren’t happening.

But you’ve just seen that they are.

This Writer is curious to see whether – and how – Starmer will try to sabotage this motion and ostracise the people responsible for it.

We already know that Jess Barnard has been subjected to terrible stress.

What next?

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Young Labour joins ‘Trots Jamboree’ after Starmer’s general secretary cancels their conference

Keir Starmer (left) and his right-wing ACTING general secretary David Evans: they’re doormats to any right-wing organisation that wants to attack Labour, but have no problem attacking left-wing young people.

A new event has been added to the programme of The World Transformed – the left-wing political festival running alongside the Labour Party Conference this year.

Youth Rising for Palestine will take place on September 28, between 3-4.30pm, sponsored by Young Labour and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in what can only be a bitter humiliation for Keir Starmer and his unelected general secretary David Evans, who – it seems clear – tried to prevent the event from taking place at all.

The event’s blurb states: “May 2021 saw thousands of Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes in the Gaza strip, in the wake of a wave of protests against violent evictions in Sheikh Jarrar and across occupied Palestine. In response to these attacks, millions mobilised across the world in solidarity with the people of Palestine, including the largest ever UK solidarity demonstration in London attended by overwhelmingly young people. But it is not enough to protest in the streets when thousands of Palestinian lives are lost. As the Israeli state ramps up its regime of apartheid and occupation, while the British political establishment seeks to suppress Palestinian voices and those acting in solidarity with them, how can we build on the explosion of youth-led organising we’ve seen this year to build a long-lasting and cross-generational UK solidarity movement?”

You can see how this would upset Starmer, who has aligned Labour firmly with apartheid Israel through his fawning subservience to the Board of Deputies of British Jews – which has itself just admitted its own strong ties to the Israeli Embassy; apparently it is not a UK organisation but an arm of the Israeli government that is being used to influence UK politics.*

I’m not the only person to see it this way. Consider:

How was Young Labour forced to take its event outside the Labour Conference? It’s quite complicated, but I’ll try to take you through it painlessly.

Events had been unfolding for many months but we only found out about them yesterday (August 31) after Young Labour co-chair Jess Barnard finally gave up trying to reason with Starmer (who never responded anyway) and Evans – who, it seems, was more interested in exercising powers he doesn’t actually have:

Right – so Young Labour were told they would not be allowed to hold their annual event this year, even though the Labour Party is required by its own rules to host it. Already, Evans was breaking party rules.

If he had provided a reason – even one as flimsy as Covid-19 (it wouldn’t work because then he wouldn’t be holding a full conference) – it wouldn’t have been as bad, but he simply didn’t bother.

Okay, so Evans at least promised to provide more resources for a Young Labour presence in the main event. Did he?

No:

You read that right. YL provided all its required information months ago and was ignored until yesterday – August 31 – when Ms Barnard was given the excuse that the party had “no capacity for due diligence checks” until September 20.

To me, it looks like Evans (and Starmer?) found a reason to want YL’s events cancelled – quietly and without any nasty publicity. Why would they want that? Read on…

Is the picture clearer now? YL wanted to host an event with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Evans (and Starmer?) wanted to put a stop to it. But they didn’t want to be seen to be stopping that particular event, so they created an excuse about “due diligence” checks.*

Ms Barnard, at least, is still willing to work with the Labour leadership…

… but I fear any hopes she has are forlorn.

One reason for this feeling is the arrival of a journalist named Oliver Kamm (I had never heard of him either). After Ms Barnard tweeted her thread, he responded with the comment below – claiming that Young Labour is anti-Semitic and wants to see a second Holocaust.

There is, to This Writer’s knowledge, absolutely no evidence to support such a wild claim, so Ms Barnard’s response is entirely understandable.

And take a look at Alex Tiffin’s comment.

Where are Starmer and Rayner (and, for that matter, Evans)? Nowhere to be seen. Now, why on Earth would they not want to defend their elected Labour Party representative? And isn’t it a dereliction of duty that they have said nothing about this?

Fortunately a few other people have chimed in to have their informed say. Personally, I have no knowledge of this Kamm person so must rely on their information:

Fortunately, given all of the above, it seems certain that the following tweet will prove inaccurate:

So that is the reason Young Labour will be co-sponsoring an event at so-called “Trots’ Jamboree” The World Transformed – alongside the PSC. I wonder if Jeremy Corbyn will attend.

This Writer has no doubt that it will be a much more worthwhile use of your time than whatever vapid puff of hot air will be put up by Starmer’s mob at that time. When’s his leader speech?

Meanwhile, I can only agree with the following two tweets…

… and endorse James Foster’s words of encouragement to Young Labour members who will be attending the conference:

*Or so it seems to This Writer.

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Labour is losing young voters to the Greens – because of Starmer

Not for the young: flag-shagging Keir Starmer has turned young voters away from the Labour Party.

How tragically revealing.

Admittedly this has to come with the caveat that the pollster is the Tory-run organisation YouGov.

However, the size of the numbers suggests there’s something in this.

They show that Labour’s share of the 18-24-year-old vote has plummetted by 21 points (from 56 per cent to 35 per cent). It seems all those voters have gone to the Green Party.

There’s a good reason for that…

Let’s be honest. We can name the reason in two words:

Keir Starmer.

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Labour civil war: now the suits are trying to undermine Young Labour

Even the most jaded and despairing old socialist must take some joy from Young Labour’s decision to support Jeremy Corbyn against Keir Starmer’s continuing abuse.

The organisation within the party has published a Twitter thread as follows:

Excellent points.

What a shame that people who should know better are desperately (very desperately, as you’ll see) trying to undermine these bright folk who represent the future of the party. Take a look:

Whataboutery – and evidenceless – from somebody who is clearly too old to be a member of Young Labour.

What would that reason be, then? That JLM is a primarily right-wing movement and its members were urged to support the right-wing candidate? And that this candidate then had to withdraw after she was found to have praised the “physical attractiveness of young Nazis”?

At least the next comment comes from someone who may at least claim an interest as a young Labour member…

… but what a shame that it ignores the conditions under which Young Labour representatives are elected. They are not required to seek the opinions of anyone else because they are elected to put forward the policies on which they campaigned for election.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of genuine support, published in good conscience:

Of course young Labour members have seen what’s been going on – and they weren’t happy about it:

The distinction is clear:

If you’re opposing Young Labour’s decision to stand by Corbyn, you have to fabricate claims to justify your position.

If you’re supporting Young Labour, you have the facts on your side.

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If Eton isn’t reopening until at least September, why the hurry to bring back state schools?

Closed: and apparently Eton won’t be open to pupils until at least September.

Don’t you think it’s a bit strange?

I mean, if it was safe to reopen schools at the beginning of June, you’d think the recipients of the most expensive education in the United Kingdom would be desperate to get their noses back to the grindstone. Wouldn’t you?

And their parents – many of whom are, I’m sure, inhabiting chairs in Boris Johnson’s cabinet – would be lining up to send them.

But it seems there’s no chance of Eton (for example) reopening its doors until September at the earliest.

We know that there’s no scientific support for schools opening so soon.

We know that teachers and teaching unions are absolutely opposed to it – along with the British Medical Association:

We know that the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland won’t be allowing it – along with some English cities whose leaders are thinking for themselves:

And protest against the Tory plan to force our children back into school, without having shown any interest in making them safe, is mounting:

So why are the Tories so hasty about getting your kids back to school where they’ll almost certainly catch Covid-19 and give it to you?

Here’s a thought:

Perhaps it’s because, as long as children are out of school, parents are divided between staying home to look after them and going to work. With the kids in school, the parents have no reason to stay away and the economy can get moving again, making money for the Tories’ billionaire donors.

It’s a stupid, stupid rationale, I know. If the kids catch Covid-19 in schools (because there won’t be any social distancing there – try telling four, five and six-year-olds they have to stay at least two metres away from anyone else), and transmit it to their parents, then the adults will be busy trying not to die, rather than working.

But then: what’s rational about the Tory response to coronavirus?

The Conservative conference has been a disaster – for Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: Don’t you think he looks tired?

Cards on the table: I couldn’t be bothered to cover the Tory conference this year.

I figured it would be days of the unbearable addressing the unspeakable – and the following clips suggest I was right.

Biggest loser is clearly Boris Johnson. Consider this:

If you think that’s bad, look at this:

Well, we already knew he’s a racist.

And he has lost the confidence, even of young Conservatives:

Okay, two of the above were by the Tories’ political opponents, but they’re not wrong!

Don’t pay attention to the opinion polls. If the Tories get near a general election with BoJob as leader, they’ll be buried.

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The false arguments against Greta Thunberg – and why you should ignore them

Emotion: Greta Thunberg was fighting back tears when she spoke at the UN Climate Change summit – because she knew many people would try to undermine her simple, common sense message?

Who would have thought a teenager who isn’t in showbusiness could have such an impact on the world?

This is a really strong speech:

Admittedly, Greta Thunberg has yet to persuade financiers and business leaders to stop the climate change-related harm they are doing to our environment, but this is probably because she has hit such resistance from the false-equivalence brigade.

For example:

Who are these people? I, for one, face no such contradiction in my thinking as I said Ms Begum did know what she was doing when she ran off to join IS at the age of 15. I argued that she should be treated as an adult now because she is an adult now.

That is an argument about Ms Begum, rather than Ms Thunberg. It also ties in with this:

There is a huge difference between these two subjects, of course: Epstein was alleged to be exploiting teenagers – Ms Thunberg is expressing her own opinions.

And haven’t we been encouraging our young people to develop opinions on such subjects?

This Writer can remember television programmes going back to the 80s, at least, in which young people were canvassed for their views on political matters – and young viewers were encouraged to think about them.

And what about William Hague?

He was the poster boy of the Conservative conference in 1979 when he made a speech… at the ripe old age of 16.

Had he been exploited? Or was he perfectly capable of forming his own opinion? If the latter, then serious questions will have to be asked about political parties that have any kind of youth wing at all.

And that should not happen, because they are perfectly capable of thinking and acting properly at the age from which they may become members of such organisations.

The matter of sex is different because younger people are not always equipped to deal with the consequences of it. Legally, they are not considered capable of consenting to sex. Practically, they may be unable to access contraception, meaning pregnancy is more possible – with financial and social consequences. There is the huge issue of sexual exploitation. And not everybody is the same; some are mature enough to behave responsibly about such matters, and some are not.

Consider this: If a young teenager were to become pregnant, would she (and her partner, of course) have the maturity to understand that they are bringing a person into the world, with needs just like their own?

Answer: Some would, and some wouldn’t. The law is there to minimise tragic consequences, as much as it is there to prevent unwanted demands on medical and social services.

Turning to Ms Thunberg’s arguments: It is incredible that people are trying to marginalise them by saying she isn’t mature enough, or that she is being groomed, when they are the same arguments being used by adults across the world.

Look at Harrison Ford:

He used the same “house on fire” metaphor as Ms Thunberg. Are her critics suggesting that he has been groomed?

The fact is that this young lady has come to a mature conclusion about the consequences of business decisions across the world and has struck a chord with young people around the world – as well as adults.

People attacking her are in fact revealing their own inadequacies.

And who are these people?

None of them ever seem to be named.

I want to know who’s messing up the future for us all – don’t you?

Who are the businesspeople whose decisions are clagging up our air with carbon dioxide?

Who are the financiers who are funding them?

Who are the government ministers – worldwide, not just in the UK – who are helping them to vandalise our environment?

If they are named, they can be watched, criticised… ultimately prosecuted.

If not, they will get away with murder – billions of times over. And Ms Thunberg’s critics are their cynical little helpers.

EXTRA – October 15: I’ve just received this tweet:

Do you think that’s true?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Idris Elba could do more to fight knife crime with one campaign than Theresa May could ever manage

Haul: There have been knife amnesties before. Thes weapons were handed in to Derbyshire police in 2016. But there are always more weapons reaching the streets.

While Theresa May has been mouthing platitudes and cutting support for police, one of our best-known actors has been helping a genuine initiative to cut knife crime.

Idris Elba took to the streets to support mobile project Faz Amnesty, that travels the length of the country collecting weapons.

The project offers youngsters High Street vouchers in exchange for knives. Once collected, the project hands them over to the police.

Here’s Mr Elba, explaining it:

Meanwhile, Theresa May has been trying to palm off responsibility for knife crime among young people – onto teachers.

She wants teachers to have a “public health duty” to identify warning signs that a young person could be in danger, such as worrying behaviour at school, issues at home, or “presenting at A&E with a suspicious injury”. For real?

There is an existing duty requiring teachers and police to work together to safeguard children. As a former Home Secretary, Theresa May should know that.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the teachers’ union the NASUWT, delivered the reality check to Mrs May when he said: “All professionals involved with children and young people are well aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding their health and welfare.

“Violent crime involving young people, of course, needs to be taken seriously and appropriate strategies considered. However, this is a complex issue which will not be resolved by putting additional pressures and responsibilities on teachers and head teachers or indeed others.”

Yet Mrs May is still trying to convince us that she is taking this issue seriously.

Ludicrous. As Peter Stefanovic pointed out: “This is a joke, right? Your “support for Police Officers” has consisted of cutting 21,000 of them, slashing Police budgets, stretching resources to breaking point, asking them to work harder with what they’ve got, sitting back whilst crime soars & accusing them of ‘crying wolf!'”

That’s right. Mrs May sat back, forcing Mr Elba to take up the slack.


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New play explores what makes us ‘Switch’ against those who exploit us

The cast of Switch. No, that is not Llandrindod Wells behind them.

Drama has huge power to prompt social change and it is astonishing that the outrages heaped on the people of the UK by the Conservatives since 2010 have not led to an enormous upsurge of social comment in the theatre.

Today I saw a new play that takes a step towards rectifying that omission.

Switch takes its title from a slang term referring to people who turn on others after suffering severe provocation. They “switch”, usually from passive tolerance to extreme violence.

The play examines how people were provoked into such violence in two historical cases: The Rebecca Riots in rural Mid Wales during the 1830s and 40s, and the Hackney riot of summer 2011.

I had to look up the Rebecca Riots. They were prompted because farmers who were suffering extreme poverty because of poor harvests were being subjected to high rents, rates, tithes and tolls, which were increased to an extorionate degree by the trusts running them – which had been created to maintain the roads but allowed them to go to ruin instead, diverting the money to other uses.

The 2011 riots are still fresh in my memory. The spark that triggered the violence was the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in London, but the city had become a tinderbox because of the grotesquely repressive decisions of the Coalition (Conservative and Liberal Democrat) government. Perhaps it is because this play is a collaboration between two youth theatre groups (Mid Powys Youth Theatre and Immediate Theatre, of Hackney) that the emphasis was placed on the closure of youth centres, cuts to EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) and rises in university tuition fees, along with the introduction of the Bedroom Tax that threatened to pitch poor families out of their homes, and unemployment following the international financial crisis of 2008 that meant people were finding it impossible to make ends meet.

One scene plays out the frustrations of young people whose youth centre had been closed without warning and who, left on the street with nowhere to go, were preyed on by police looking for easy arrests.

In both cases, the players argue, it was desperation – the sheer impossibility of a situation forced on them by an uncaring elite – that led the impoverished to violence.

And in both cases it was put down harshly. In the 1840s, the troops moved in and rioters were faced with the threat of transportation to Australia, among other harsh penalties. Seven years ago, more than 1,000 arrests were made and courts dealt out harsh punishments – one person was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing a single ice cream.

Did the riots lead to social change for the better? That is debatable. After Rebecca, some rent reductions were achieved and toll rates improved, but that was about it. Hackney had no discernible effect on the decisions of the government. EMA was never restored; tuition fees are still high; youth centres are still closed. The Tories would argue that employment has improved, but we all know that in-work poverty has skyrocketed because the new jobs pay starvation wages.

Rebecca is better-known as the inspiration for later Welsh protests, which raises an important question about Hackney. Are we all sitting on a time-bomb that is waiting to blow – an explosion that is only being delayed by the anaesthetic pronouncements of a complicit right-wing press that keeps telling us, in the face of the facts, that we’ve never had it so good?

Of course, the riots weren’t just about frustration with oppressive social conditions. Some people took advantage of them for their own gain and Switch does not skirt over this uncomfortable fact. The Rebecca riots petered out because groups had started masquerading as Rebecca to carry out criminal acts. And Hackney saw its fair share of looters. Switch stages a TV interview with rioters who boast about the items they lifted – even though, in real terms, the money they expect to make from them is negligible.

But the causes of a riot should not be downplayed because of opportunist criminals. They simply took their chance under cover of a genuine expression of anguish by a downtrodden peasantry who rose up – leaderless – against their oppressors.

The lack of a leader is the reason such expressions fail to yield results, in my opinion. If I had been involved in 2011, I would have wanted to cut off the ability of the police and the armed forces to react, and then I would have targeted the mechanisms of government and the headquarters of those who either supported the government in its activities or benefited from its decisions (let us not forget that the UK’s richest have seen their income multiply massively while the rest of us have suffered.

But I suppose that would mark the difference between a riot and a revolution.

Switch isn’t perfect. It doesn’t really address the difference between those with a genuine grievance and those who took advantage, and it doesn’t make a strong enough point of the fact that nothing got better after 2011.

But it is a muscular piece from a committed group of young performers, that raises serious questions and asks the audience to find their own answers.

As attempts to revive social and political commentary in drama go, it’s a good start.

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