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Friday, September 20, 2019

More Labour in-fighting on the eve of their conference

Students start to arrive at UK universities within days, offering political parties rich pickings in recruitment terms, a General Election is inevitable within the next few months, and the country is in turmoil, creating an opportunity for a savvy leader to capture the zeitgeist and storm to power, so Labour responds by setting up new internal arguments to divide members.

The Guardian reports that the party have voted to wind down their 40-year old student movement because it is too right wing. Jon Lansman, the Momentum chair who sits on the NEC and is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, was behind the move. He claims the group needs reforming and had not paid its affiliation fees. However, critics suggested the move is a cynical attempt to shut down a “moderate” wing of the party.

The student organisation, which was banned under a previous leader because it was too left-wing, has vowed to fight the decision and say that they still host about 800 young members at its annual student disco at the party conference in Brighton, which gets under way on Saturday:

NEC members voted five to 12 to pass Lansman’s motion, which asks Formby to devise a new organisation that would comply with the party’s rulebook.

Joel Jordan, current president of the Southampton Labour Society, wrote for the blog LabourList that the group’s leading figures had made a career by “climbing the ladder that is Labour Students” and it had been “knee-capping the hopes of Labour students”. He welcomed the move as a triumph for party democracy.

Several university Labour clubs, including at the University of Bristol and Oxford University, disaffiliated earlier this year from Labour Students in a bitter row over members not being able to vote in its elections in May.

The implementation of a one-member, one-vote system agreed in 2016 has been fraught with difficulties, with accusations it left many people unable to cast a vote.

Ramli said: “There were issues with it in terms of communication.”

A Momentum source said: “It’s a victory for democracy that the rotten borough of Labour Students is finally being reformed.

Of course these are matters for the Labour Party, but one has to wonder at the timing of the move. Surely no serious opposition party would embark on such a purge so close to a General Election. If Labour's priority is ideological purity rather than winning power, then it is little wonder that they have slipped into third place in the latest poll.
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