What members need to know about Young Labour liberation officer elections

Sienna Rodgers

Young Labour elections for the liberation posts will take place via a one-member-one-vote (OMOV) ballot of party members under 27. The contests have not been held since 2016 due variously to legal reasons, a general election and coronavirus.

Until now, holding a Young Labour conference was a prerequisite to the liberation officer elections, as there were concerns over the party not having sufficient data on protected characteristics. But Labour has now found a way through.

The party has gathered more information on which members are women, disabled and/or Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), particularly after holding separate elections for the new disability and BAME rep posts on its national ruling body.

For the LGBT+ officer race, to ensure the widest participation possible, LabourList understands that all young members will be sent a ballot paper with the option of voting, but only LGBT members will be told to vote in that particular contest.

Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) decided not to hold a Young Labour conference this summer for reasons relating to costs, logistics and complications presented by the pandemic. But sources say the OMOV obstacles have gone.

The Young Labour candidates need nominations either from at least five local parties or YL branches or from one affiliated organisation, and they must identify as having the characteristic related to the post for which they are standing.

Labour has published 16 candidate statements from potential BAME officer candidates, 11 for disability, 18 for LGBT+ and seven for women’s. Nominations will close at noon on June 11th, by which time those wanting to stand will need to reach the threshold.

Labour to Win, the umbrella group bringing together Progress and Labour First, has now backed four candidates running in the Young Labour liberation officer elections and launched its own student wing for young Keir Starmer supporters.

The organisation supportive of the current Labour leadership has endorsed Kira Lewis for Young Labour LGBT+ officer, Sheldon Allen for BAME officer, Leon Alleyne-McLaughlin for disability officer and Roshi Woodroffe Northover for women’s officer.

Momentum has not released an official slate of candidates for the YL elections, but the group has endorsed Abdullah Okud for BAME officer, Aisha Malik-Smith for disability, Torr Robinson for LGBT+ and Grace Ashworth for women’s.

Open Labour, the soft left organisation within the party co-founded by frontbencher Alex Sobel, will be running an endorsement process for the positions. OL activist Amen Tesfay has already won a place on the ballot paper as a  candidate.

Ahead of May elections across the country, the pro-leadership Labour to Win group has also started its own youth and student movement for under-27s and students wanting to learn ‘how to do the Labour Party’, including campaigning skills.

The group is encouraging supporters to get involved in the formation of the new Labour student body that will replace the one that was scrapped in 2019 after the party’s ruling committee approved a motion by Momentum co-founder Jon Lansman.

An NEC working group has been set up to explore what the new student wing will look like. Sources say there was consensus over many issues at the first meeting, but some differences of opinion on the composition of the new national committee.

Labour to Win backs the idea of using a single transferable vote (STV) system for a block of seats on the student committee, which they say would ensure political pluralism. Labour left members have argued for regional reps in single-member seats instead.

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