Labour’s ruling body has passed a motion put forward by Jon Lansman that seeks to replace the Corbynsceptic-dominated Labour Students with another organisation.
It was approved with no amendments, and with the support of approximately two-thirds of NEC members, LabourList understands.
Commenting on the victory, the Momentum co-founder told LabourList: “This about the future not the past, about building a new organisation for Labour Students, fit for purpose, that will help put Jeremy Corbyn in No10 and keep him there.”
Lansman’s proposal alleges that the current student wing of the party is not affiliated to the party because it “appears not to have paid affiliation fees” and the NEC “appears never to have made its final and binding decision to approve that affiliation”.
The motion resolves to request that the general secretary Jennie Formby “urgently devise a plan” to set up a new ‘Labour Students’ that would comply with the party rulebook.
Update, September 18th: Commenting on the decision, shadow cabinet member Jon Ashworth told LabourList: “The decision to disaffiliate Labour Students without wider consultation across the labour movement and with CLPs in university towns and cities like Leicester is bizarre as term time begins and we are on the cusp of a general election where the student vote will be vital.
“Labour Students in Leicester will be absolutely key to the election campaign in target marginal seats like Loughborough. We won’t be able to end privatisation in the NHS unless we win these marginals with activists on the ground.
“I’ve no idea about the current internal processes of the organisation but I do know that since the ’70s Labour Students has been at the forefront of campaigning on equalities in the party. And to be frank lots of kids from working-class backgrounds like Vicky Foxcroft, Gloria de Piero and me probably wouldn’t have been give the opportunities we’ve had if it wasn’t for Labour Students.”
Labour Students tweeted a statement in response to the news of Lansman’s motion. The organisation claimed that it was “based on false and inaccurate claims” and noted that “we are on the eve of a general election”.
Our statement on the motion being proposed my Jon Lansman to today’s NEC meeting 👇 pic.twitter.com/taYjRHebAn
— Labour Students (@LabourStudents) September 17, 2019
Labour MPs including Wes Streeting, who was particularly active in student politics and elected as NUS president in 2008, tweeted their disappointment about the motion being tabled.
But around half of university Labour clubs have disaffiliated, as young Labour activists have complained about the organisation not fulfilling its promise to implement one-member-one-vote.
The national conference voted to adopt OMOV for internal elections in 2016, yet the version of the system used in 2019 “forced both university Labour clubs and members to jump through an incredible number of hoops in order to gain eligibility” according to a LabourList comment piece by Rob Vernon.
Deputy leader and NEC member Tom Watson, who was chair of Labour Students in 1992, did not attend the meeting today.
Below is the full text of the motion.
The NEC notes that the organisation which currently describes itself as “Labour Students” claims to be an organisation affiliated to the Labour Party and appears to claim both the rights and the autonomy associated with that status in spite of the following:
1) The NEC appears never to have made its final and binding decision to approve that affiliation in respect of “Labour Students” as presently constituted as required under the rule Chapter 1.II.3.
2) “Labour Students” appears not to have submitted its political rules to the NEC as required under Rule 1.II.4.
3) “Labour Students” appears not to have paid affiliation fees required under Rule 1.II.6.b.i in recent years.
4) The organisation calling itself “Labour Students” therefore is neither an affiliate, nor meets the requirements of Rule 1.II.2.G which requires that (all) student members of the Labour Party (whether or not they are members of Labour Clubs, affiliated to “Labour Students” or not) are organised nationally as “Labour Students”.
The NEC therefore asks General Secretary to urgently devise a plan to establish a Labour Students organisation which does meet its obligations under rule 1.II.2.G.