Jess Barnard, Chair of Young Labour, reports that Labour’s General Secretary, David Evans, told her they won’t be allowed to have a Young Labour Conference this year, even though this would be a Labour rulebook violation. Evans had initially agreed to providing additional resources to make up for not allowing them to have their own conference but despite having submitted her proposals, well in advance of the deadline, Evan’s is now refusing to talk to her or return her communications. The only communication she has had was to inform her that she was not permitted to invite any members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) group, or Jeremy Corbyn, to speak at any events.
Jess describes the experience as “a factional situation” and explains that she believes they are getting the silent treatment because they have a left wing committee and because she is, herself, a socialist. Jess further explains that she was in fact elected Chair of Young Labour by the Labour Youth membership largely ‘because’ she made it clear that she would be organising socialists within the Labour Party,
However, there seems to be some back tracking going on behind the scenes within the Labour Party now, after Jess decided to tweet about the problems she was having with the party management. Jess has managed to glean from PSC that they have now been allowed to keep their stall at conference and to have their fringe event and there is no longer a blanket ban on PSC speakers. Jess says she’s now also received an apology from the Labour Party but, as far as she’s aware, they haven’t apologised to PSC.
Jess reminds us that young people have a constitutional right to organise within the Labour Party and hold a conference if they want to and Palestine activists have a right to support Palestine if they want to. She also asks if the Labour Party can honestly afford to pursue an agenda of trying to disenfranchise Young Labour members.
Allies of the Labour right have also been eager to publicly smear Jess Barnard and Young Labour members. Times columnist Oliver Kamm was quick out of the blocks in responding to Jess’s twitter thread, with an outrageous smear in which he labelled Young Labour members as a “parasitic pressure group.. whose views are incompatible with Labour’s values and traditions” and then goes on to say that Young Labour wants to abolish Israel by inflicting “a second holocaust against the Jewish people.” Jess explains that Kamm has now also written an article making the same claims. Jess explains that young Labour members are mostly volunteers or working on a minimal wage, not rich MPs on their £80k salaries who have a voice and can respond to this kind of attack. Jess confirms that she is now seeking legal advice because it’s time to stand up to people who use their platforms to make “completely defamatory” statements, targeting vulnerable young Labour members with their “hate, lies and fear.”
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