Ballots will open in elections to the new National Labour Students committee tomorrow, after a new democratised Labour Students was approved at the party’s annual conference last year. The elections are a crucial turning point for our movement. While students are hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis, as prices go up and wages stand still, we’re ready to fight for a socialist future. While Labour tacks right and the Tories attack our education services, we’ll give students the socialist solutions they need to the problems they’re facing where the leadership won’t.
At the close of nominations for the National Labour Students committee, our Socialist Future slate won the most nominations for almost every position. Five members of our slate won their positions outright. Supported by Momentum and our trade unions, we’re in prime position to shape Labour Students into a socialist organisation ready to make change in the student movement. We’re asking Labour’s student members to vote for a socialist future. For free, accessible education. For trans liberation. For a truly democratic education system.
Today and tomorrow, we’re launching our ten pledges for Labour Students. As well as committing our slate to supporting policies our student members have been crying out for – like dual Constituency Labour Party (CLP) membership for active students, and autonomous Welsh and Scottish Labour Students affiliates – we’ve developed a platform and vision for a demarketised, democratised education sector.
If we win a majority on the committee, we will set begin a campaign to democratise further and higher education. From day one, we will fight for a nationwide policy to ensure students and staff have the power at universities, not managers and boards. Our demand is quite simple: university councils and vice chancellors should be democratically elected by students and staff. The people who teach and learn are the beating heart of universities, and they should be the ones calling the shots.
We will run a year-long consultation with Labour clubs, NUS and trade unions to develop a policy we can take to 2023 Labour conference, with the aim of committing Labour to decommodifying and democratising higher and further education in government. We cannot row back from the commitment we made in the last two Labour manifestos to abolish tuition fees, refocusing education on public good not private greed.
We’re going to take on universities and other higher education institutions that have neocolonial investments in arms, the fossil fuel industry and other sectors that further imperialism and war across the globe. Alongside this, we’re going to work with campaigns all over the UK fighting to decolonise their curriculums. Knowledge is power, and the marginalisation of histories of colonialism in colleges and universities is a problem that must be addressed.
One of the biggest problems facing students in the current moment is exorbitant rent. Our slate is committed to taking on dodgy landlords who are greedily increasing rents while the cost-of-living soars. We will work with organisations like ACORN, London Renters Union and rent strike groups to build solidarity in our communities against unpayable rents. We will partner with NUS to push for their National Student Tenants’ Union policy, building a network of student renters ready to take power back from bad landlords. We will also campaign for the RRC’s renters’ reform bill to even the national field between tenants and landlords. The fight of tenants is the fight of Labour, and we will be the student movement’s voice against parasite landlords.
Our campaign is unambiguous in its support for the trans community. From next week, student members will be able to elect the Labour Party’s very first official trans officer. One of our first priorities as a committee will be to begin the campaign for trans officers at all levels in the Labour Party, from branches and CLPs up. We’ll work with our Trans and LGBT+ officers to ensure that the Labour Party does not tolerate discrimination, victimisation or harassment on the basis of gender identity, gender expression or trans status. In recent years, the party has been too slow to act on instances of transphobia at senior levels – we will call out Labour’s failure to promote a safe and empowering environment for trans members, and do better for student members.
If Labour fails to get students to vote, we will not win a general election – it is that simple. Students have always been radical, but in the context of Covid and a cost-of-living crisis that disproportionately affects them, they’re looking for answers from political parties. Our platform will reenergise the student movement at a moment of crisis. While the Tories work to attack students and hollow out the education sector in the interests of capital, we will fight tooth and nail to protect our vision of decommodified, democratised universities and colleges. While Keir Starmer equivocates on scrapping tuition debt, we will promote the age-old social democratic idea of free, accessible education in the Labour Party. While trans students are under attack by desperate politicians and academics who want a minute in the spotlight, we will empower the trans community to make change.
If you’re a Labour student, vote for a Socialist Future when ballots drop tomorrow. Head to socialistfuture.com to sign-up to support the campaign and follow us on Twitter to follow our manifesto pledges.