Growing up and seeing the devastation that Tory austerity was causing my community, I knew that I wanted to get involved in politics. I also knew that Labour Party was the best and only vehicle to achieve real change to people’s lives, and I wanted to be part of that. I wanted the opportunity to get involved in a movement full of people who shared my socialist values and were working together to fight for a better and more equal society. But coming from a non-political family, with no political connections and away from the London bubble, it was not easy.
I never imagined that I would finish my first year of university as the chair-elect of my club at Keele, involved with Labour Students nationally and really excited for the year ahead. As a young member from an Asian background, it’s often particularly difficult to feel welcome and supported in political circles. From the institutional racism that meant I was not seen as capable of having an opinion on anything other than specific ‘BAME issues’ to the covert discrimination that eroded my confidence and made me question whether there was a place in politics for young people like me.
But that changed when I got involved with Labour Students and, for the first time ever, I met people who had had similar experiences to me. Strong liberation caucuses gave us a space to discuss the issues we were facing and work together to come up with solutions. And this is why I’m encouraging you to get involved.
Labour Students has given me, a young person with no experience, the chance to be politically active. It has shaped my first year of university and opened up many opportunities. Having a national organisation that brings people from all backgrounds together, mobilising us to fight for the socialist government we so desperately need, matters. It matters for young people like me but it also matters for the future of our country.
And that is why it’s so disappointing to see an unelected group of individuals set up ‘Labour Students Left’, unaccountable and focused only on discouraging members from getting involved in the official student wing of the party. Especially as we are just a month into the new Labour Students committee taking over.
The time to hold organisations to account is not just as a new leadership takes over and makes it clear they’re open to discussion, willing to listen and keen to make changes. The current Labour Students committee were not involved in any of the organisation or running of last year’s elections. They had no say in what happened and have made it clear they’re willing to look at changes for the year ahead. For me, none of us can be responsible for what we had no control or involvement in and that is what it seems is being asked of the new Labour Students committee.
I’m excited for the year ahead. From a priority campaign focused on fighting climate change, the biggest issue facing our planet, to some incredible work campaigning for a People’s Vote and against a disastrous Tory Brexit, the potential to grow and empower our movement is unprecedented. As a club chair, I’m especially looking forward to working with Labour Students to maximise our impact during freshers’ week, making the most of the free resources and support to recruit more students than ever before.
With the government falling apart and a possible early election on the horizon, this is a critical time to make sure our student movement is more energised than ever before. Factional manoeuvring by unelected members, desperate to undermine a leadership that has not yet had the chance to get started, will do nothing but harm our ability to do this.
My year in Labour Students was overwhelmingly positive but more importantly, we are a month into the new committee and there has been nothing but a willingness to listen and an openness to new ideas. I have no doubt that the only way to have a mass student movement which works for everyone is by coming together and making use of the incredible resources and opportunities that Labour Students has to offer.
That is why I’m encouraging you to get involved. So join the organisation, make sure your club is affiliated and contact the new committee with any thoughts, suggestions or ideas for the year ahead.