The Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) have voted to disaffiliate the student wing of the party, Labour Students, from the main party, in a pre-conference vote.
The reasons given for the disaffiliation motion, which approximately two-thirds of the NEC voted for, were technicalities regarding a lack of the NEC’s full approval of the affiliation and failure on the side of Labour Students to pay the necessary affiliation fee required by the Party.
The NEC is the central governing committee of the Labour Party. Its office holders are elected by members of the Party and include officers chosen to represent marginalised groups, such as women and members of the BAME community.
The motion calling for disaffiliation stated: “The NEC notes that the organisation which currently describes itself as ‘Labour Students’ claims to be an organisation affiliated to the Labour Party and appears to claim both the rights and the autonomy associated with that status in spite of the following:
“Labour Students’ appears not to have submitted its political rules to the NEC as required under Rule 1.II.4.
“Labour Students appears not to have paid affiliation fees required under Rule 1.II.6.b.i in recent years.
“The organisation calling itself ‘Labour Students’ therefore is neither an affiliate, nor meets the requirements of Rule 1.II.2.G which requires that (all) student members of the Labour Party (whether or not they are members of Labour Clubs, affiliated to ‘Labour Students’ or not) are organised nationally as Labour Students.
“The NEC therefore asks General Secretary to urgently devise a plan to establish a Labour Students organisation which does meet its obligations under rule 1.II.2.G.”
The motion was brought forward by Jon Lansman, co-founder of the pro-Corbyn Momentum group affiliated with the Party, who ran for NEC in 2018 alongside comedian Eddie Izzard.
Lansman said about the decision: “This is about the future not the past, about building a new organisation for Labour Students, fit for purpose, that will help put Jeremy Corbyn in No 10 and keep him there.”
However, the decision was not without criticism. The Labour Students Twitter account posted the following statement shortly after the decision:
“We are disappointed that Jon Lansman has put forward a motion to today’s Labour Party NEC meeting, proposing to disaffiliate Labour Students.
“This is based on false and inaccurate claims which we have not been given the opportunity to address.
“Labour Students paid our 2019 affiliation fee on 12 July.
“Our constitution as signed off by the General Secretary in 2015, is available to Labour HQ and published online.
“Labour Students is, therefore, under the Labour Party’s rules, a legitimately affiliated independent and autonomous socialist society.”
The University of Edinburgh’s branch of the Labour student movement, Edinburgh Labour Students, is part of Scottish Labour Students and is therefore not directly affected by the decision.
Speaking anonymously to The Student, one Edinburgh Labour Students member acknowledged that some members of the club were critical of the decision, but claimed it was necessary for a more united Labour Party and that the majority of members support the decision.
They said: “The explicit objective (of the dissolution) is to reconfigure the student wing of the Labour Party into a more democratic institution, which can invest more money and energy into internal operations, leading to a more effective campaigning force.”
Image: Sophie Brown via Wikipedia