Left-wing motions to London Young Labour conference 2019

These are some of the many motions submitted to the 31 March London Young Labour conference. These ones have been sent to us – by publishing them we are not suggesting none of the others submitted are worthwhile. The motions below are all pretty much in line with The Clarion‘s established policy and approach, except for the one on antisemitism. All our editors would agree with some of it, but other elements – eg advocacy of a two-state settlement in Israel-Palestine – are matters of disagreement on which we do not have a collective position.

For the report we published of last year’s LYL AGM, see here.

For all motions and amendments submitted by everyone, download these documents. Left-wing motions we were sent to publish, below.

Urgent and radical action on climate change

Proposer: Andrew Warren

We note the 2018 UN report warning that we have 12 years to make major cuts to carbon emissions or face uncontrollable global warming.

Capitalism’s fossil fuel reliance is at the root of the disaster. 71% of recent carbon emissions are caused by just 100 big companies. Burning fossil fuels promises profits that dwarf any “incentives” that we can offer. These companies are too big to compete or divest out of existence.

Market solutions and “incentives” do not have the answers: the labour movement must coerce these big companies and put them under democratic control.

Some local authorities are drawing up decarbonisation plans. We applaud this and call for a national decarbonisation plan. Workers in affected industries should have the central role in these plans. Trade unions must monitor them to make sure they are effective, just, and correctly implemented.

We commit to:
• Promote workers’ oversight of decarbonisation plans
• A national climate service/strategy, manufacturing, installing and
training in renewable technologies, facilitating a rapid shift away from fossil fuels.
• Nationalising energy supply/generation and the Big Six energy firms, to create an integrated and democratic national energy system.
• Nationalising public transport, with bus, rail and tram part of and expanded and democratic system.
• A public program of insulation and building zero-carbon council housing.
• Ending fracking, fossil fuel extraction and airport expansion.
• No job losses, no loss of pay, no worse terms: retrain and redeploy
affected workers.

We will encourage Young Labour groups and CLPs to collaborate with climate change and environmental campaigners; work with unions to build links and campaigns with workers in relevant industries.

We will energetically support the Climate Strikes, help school students organise, and promote our socialist vision of a green future.

We will organise regular education and direct action events in London.

For open and honest debate

Proposer: Maisie Sanders

Conference believes:
1. Red London is a Facebook page run by anonymous Stalinists which specialises in evidence-free, disgusting slander and abuse of political opponents.
2. We are in favour of comradely debate and discussion on the left.
3. Red London has had influence in Momentum and Young Labour.

Conference agrees that:
1. Open and honest debate is essential to a free, healthy socialist movement;
2. We must warn the left and labour movement against Red London.

For democratic public ownership of banking and finance

Proposer: Christina Neary

As Owen Jones put it: “privately run banks have proved a disaster for everyone except their shareholders… a catastrophic failure – for our economy, our social cohesion and our politics… proposals for [a  public investment bank] are not in themselves sufficient… There is surely no alternative to public ownership [of banking and finance]…  run by workers, consumers and local authorities, with an obligation to defend the best interests of our communities…”

We note that TUC Congress voted overwhelming for public ownership and democratic control of banking and high finance, and that last year a similar policy was adopted by the national Young Labour conference.

In the words of the TUC’s policy, proposed by the FBU, a “publicly  owned banking service, democratically and accountably managed… [can] play a central role in building a sustainable economy, investing in transport, green industries, housing, creating jobs and assisting recovery in the interests of working people”.

Labour should pledge and campaign to convert the whole of the UK’s banking and financial system into a single democratic public banking, pensions, mortgage and investment system. We will campaign around this and call for Young Labour nationally to do likewise.

Scrap nuclear weapons – create useful jobs, defend communities

Proposer: Josh Chown

1. That maintaining weapons whose purpose is to threaten or cause massive numbers of civilian deaths is not a policy an internationalist socialists can support.
2. That we should campaign for the dismantling of Britain’s nuclear weapons programs and work for the whole party to do the same.

Further believes
1. That the tens of billions the government wants to spend on replacing Trident should instead be spent on conversion programs to create larger numbers of high-skilled, socially useful jobs with improved terms and conditions, defending communities while allowing workers’ skills to be used to benefit society and the planet.
2. That there are many precedents for such conversion plans: from rapid conversion to civilian production in the 1940s to workers’ plans in the 1970s such as at Lucas Aerospace.

1. To campaign for unilateral nuclear disarmament and for the whole party to do likewise, on the basis set out here.
2. To support struggles for disarmament in all other nuclear weapons states.

Build local Young Labour groups

Proposer: Andrew Warren

1. That active and accessible local Young Labour groups are absolutely crucial to building a living, vibrant Young Labour movement which draws in a much wider range of young people.
2. That history suggests that an active campaign by the party to build such groups would have a great effect: in the early 1960s the party went from having virtually no local Young Labour groups to more than one youth group per constituency in about a year.
3. That there is a vast amount of youth support for Labour, but it is at the moment largely unorganised.

1. To campaign actively for the building of local Young Labour groups as active accessible centres of organising, campaigning and political discussion and education which are welcoming and accessible for large numbers of young people.
2. To set ourselves a goal of having an active Young Labour group in every London constituency.
3. To convene a special London-wide event to discuss and promote the building of local groups.
4. To lobby Young Labour and the party to begin a national push to build such groups, and Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders to use their voice and platform to explicitly promote this.

Repeal all the anti-trade union laws

Proposer: Alex Fernandes

London Young Labour notes that young workers, along with migrant workers, have continued to be at the forefront of the most important trade union struggles currently taking place.

There are many things the labour movement needs to do to support and generalise such struggles so it can begin to emerge from its defeats. One important one is fighting to win repeal of the numerous anti-trade union laws which make most forms of workers’ organising and industrial action illegal and continually act to hem in and drag down workers’ struggles.

For unions to be effective workers need an effective right to strike. Repealing the 2016 Trade Union Act, guaranteeing full rights from day one of a job and promoting collective bargaining are good. But they are no substitute for repealing the many restrictions on strikes and workers’ action introduced by the Tories starting in 1980.

We call on the party to actively campaign for the policy passed at conference 2017 which commits to repeal not just the TU Act but also the “anti-union laws introduced in the 1980s and 90s” and replace them with a “strong legal charter of workers’ rights”; and for the 2015 conference decision that the next Labour government should “legislate for strong rights to unionise, win recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action”.

London Young Labour will add its name to the “Free Our Unions” statement (bit.ly/2IgQELv) supported by a wide range of union branches and work with the campaign around it.

The kind of Labour Party we need

Proposer: Omar Raii

There is great and growing pressure, outside and inside the party, for our leadership to be less radical. In fact it needs to be more radical. We need to build a stronger movement around, but also deepen and develop, the policies contained in the 2017 manifesto so that, at a minimum, we can win and sustain – in the words of conference 2018 – “a radical government: taxing the rich to fund public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment”.

Our longer range goal should be to replace capitalism with a socialist system based on collective ownership, workers’ control and democratic planning. Our policies and struggles should point in that direction.

To win even more immediate radical policies, we need a democratic, independent-minded party and movement supporting the leadership but also exerting pressure on it. That is the necessary counterweight to the huge pressure it will continue to receive to weaken its policies and commitments, pressure which will only grow when the party gets into government.

Fight to stop Brexit – fight to transform Britain and Europe

Proposer: Alex Fernandes

A million people marched against Brexit on 23 March, with thousands at the high-profile Left Bloc feeder rally whose sponsors included the new ‘Love Socialism Hate Brexit’ group of left MPs. Over five million have signed the petition to revoke Article 50.

Brexit will mean a victory for the nationalist right, a license for further austerity and attacks on migrants. But it can be stopped – if Labour throws itself into the fight.

The party should publicly campaign for a new referendum and to remain. It should fight to revoke Article 50, to guarantee time to sort out this mess.

We call for an urgent special conference so members’ and affiliates’ representatives can clearly decide our policy and plans and orient the party, collectively and democratically.

Opposition to Brexit should not mean supporting the status quo, in Britain or Europe. We must ‘Remain and Transform’.

Free movement and migrants’ rights should be extended, not curtailed: we oppose ‘Fortress Britain’ and ‘Fortress Europe’. We restate conference 2018’s call for “a radical government: taxing the rich to fund public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment”. We want an international alliance of labour movements and left parties seeking, at a minimum, to push back the nationalist right, defend migrants, reverse austerity, level up rights and living standards, and democratise European institutions.

We call for the European elections to go ahead and a ‘Remain and Transform’ Labour campaign on this basis.

Defend and extend free movement and migrants’ rights

Proposer: Raquel Palmeira

The controversy around the party’s position on the Immigration Bill demonstrates the need for a much stronger stand on migrants’ rights.

Fighting for migrants’ rights and supporting migrants’ struggles is essential to the health of the labour movement and socialist politics.

Freedom of movement is a good thing for workers and for society. Attacks on it mean attacks on migrants and, ironically given how they are often justified, make all workers less secure and less able to organise. Free movement should be extended, not curtailed.

We are opposed to ‘Fortress Britain’ and to ‘Fortress Europe’. We want to lower borders, not raise them.

Where the party has positive policies, such as scrapping the net migration target and guaranteeing the right to family reunion, we need further development and the launching of serious campaigns. Beyond that, we call for clear, strong pro-migrant policies to break up the ‘hostile environment’, including commitments to

• Defend and extend freedom of movement
• Close all immigration detention centres
• End deportation ‘charter flights’
• Scrap ‘No recourse to public funds’ policies
• Scrap Home Office visa and citizenship fees, and the migrant NHS surcharge
• Reverse attacks on migrants’ access to the NHS and other services
• Scrap measures that turn landlords, health workers and teachers into border guards
• Strengthen refugee rights, including the right for all asylum-seekers to work and access services
• Repeal anti-immigration legislation.

We will organise a London-wide campaign day, seeking to hold actions and events in every borough.

Fight left antisemitism

Proposer: Maisie Sanders

London Young Labour believes antisemitism is an ideological poison which, by seeking to explain the world in conspiratorial terms and pose as a politics of resistance to the powers-that-be, is particularly and specifically toxic for the left.

That antisemitism has sometimes been factionally ‘weaponised’ in our party does not mean it is not a real issue. It is. We welcome the leadership’s statements that this is a real issue that must be dealt with – but call for this to happen much more vigorously.

Socialism is not socialism if it does not militantly challenge all forms of oppression and discrimination. In addition, distrust of Labour has become widespread in the Jewish community, and relations need to be repaired.

Unrepentant antisemites should, naturally, be expelled. Where disciplinary action is necessary there should be proper and expeditious due process. But political education and struggle are fundamental. We need vastly more political education and discussion about antisemitism.

Antisemitism has existed on the left historically in the form of conspiracy theories attacking “Jewish bankers”, which conflate Jews with finance and capital. This was rightly denounced in the 1890s as “the socialism of fools”. In more recent years, antisemitism has also manifested on the left through a conspiracist conception of Jewish nationalism, Zionism, which inflates its real power and ascribes a uniquely reactionary character to Israel and any expression of Israeli-Jewish national self-determination. In antisemitic ‘left’ discourse, the two are often linked.

To conspiracy theories and the ‘socialism of fools’, we counterpose rational, class-based struggle against capitalism, seeking to unite the workers of all nations and communities and challenge all oppression. To antisemitic demonisation of Israel, we counterpose rational solidarity with the Palestinians and with workers’ movements, socialists, internationalist and anti-racist forces, etc, in both countries.

We demand an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, with the same rights as Israel, as the central part of a just settlement which can begin to drain the poison of the conflict.

LYL will campaign along these lines, and organise educational events and discussions.

Let us know what you think? Write a reply? theclarionmag@gmail.com

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