Young Labour day at conference may be “impossible to pull off”, warns chair

Sienna Rodgers

The day of events normally allocated to Young Labour at Labour Party conference may be “impossible to pull off” in Brighton this year, the chair of the youth wing organisation has warned ahead of the mass gathering.

According to Jess Barnard, the left-wing chair of Young Labour, the youth group has been told by the party that “there is no capacity for due diligence checks until 20th September” – just days before conference starts on the 25th.

LabourList understands that Young Labour will have a day at this year’s party conference and speakers will be announced in due course, yet Barnard has expressed concern over both the logistical difficulties and checks on speakers.

Unlike affiliate groups, Young Labour relies on the party for funding and for room bookings. All Labour members under 27 are automatically members of YL but their fees go to the party rather than the organisation.

Speaking to LabourList earlier today, Barnard said: “We aren’t really sure where we move ahead now, because obviously we still really don’t have any confirmation from the party that they’re going to put the effort into getting this done, even though they’ve been selling tickets to young people.”

But she added: “We will be making sure that, one way or another, younger members get events that they can go to.” LabourList has since been told that the Young Labour day will go ahead at the official party conference.

Barnard has also raised concern over blocks on speakers – specifically former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, currently a party member but with the Labour whip suspended, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists.

“The most concrete information I have been given is that anyone from Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be refused as a speaker, as will Jeremy Corbyn,” the YL chair tweeted. It is understood that this information came from a party source.

Young Labour has sent proposals to the party for conference sessions on “housing for the many”, “the fight for trans liberation”, “Black lives and racial capitalism” and “solidarity not charity”.

The group was not able to hold its own conference this year. Barnard and Labour’s ruling body youth representative Lara McNeill wanted to hold one, but they were told there was no capacity for the online event.

Describing a meeting with Labour’s general secretary David Evans, Barnard told LabourList: “He just said that they couldn’t deliver it this year, he was sorry about that, but they weren’t prepared to try.

“I explicitly said, well, given that, we really need to be giving young members the engagement and support they deserve – can we have some extra resources for conference? He said, yes, absolutely, they can do that.

“We’ve had no communication from him since. And we’ve been pushing for even the most basic of updates on Young Labour Day, which have not been forthcoming at all.”

Asked what Young Labour would like the party to do now, the chair replied: “Get the checks done, not impose random blocks on people that they might have factional issues with and just work with us to deliver this.”

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