The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Labour students plan to split into two societies

After months of divisiveness plans have been placed into motion to create another Labour students society in Manchester, explicitiy for pro-Corbyn Labour Party members

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Labour Left Students for Corbyn (LLS) have announced in an email to their supporters that they plan to set up a new society within the University of Manchester Students’ Union, to help Corbyn supporters campaign.

They plan to try and have a stall at next semester’s Give It A Go (refreshers’) fair to recruit more members, to encourage more left wing members to be active in the Labour Party and in Manchester Labour Students society.

Since the beginning of term and the election of Jeremy Corbyn student support for Labour has been divided into two very distinct groups.

A series of events entitled ‘Manchester Left Labour Students for Corbyn’ were held, external from the Manchester Labour Students (MLS) society. The events led to much controversy and were criticised by senior members of MLS for causing divisiveness.

Throughout the term the events have caused debate to arise on the MLS Facebook page with both sides criticising the actions of the other. This has all occurred after MLS experienced a surge in membership at the beginning of the term.

The division has recently turned bitter with fake Facebook pages being created, senior MLS members being named ‘Blairite scum’ and bids to get explicitly socialist members elected.

Last week’s committee elections saw the divisions in action, with LLS endorsing their own candidates—writing in an e-mail that it was “vital that we get socialists elected to the committee to start making MLS more active and democratic.”

In their e-mail sent to supporters they outline that they plan to be “explicitly pro-Corbyn and advocate membership of and involvement in the Labour Party and Labour Students.”

Plans are also in motion for them to become a Momentum group, the network of people and organisations that continue to try and fuel the energy and enthusiasm of Corbyn’s leadership campaign. The group have sent out a poll asking their supporters to decide whether to become a Momentum group.

A Manchester Momentum Youth and Students Facebook page already exists, but LLS outline in their e-mail that they wish to be affiliated with them as “it is recognisable as the left grouping in Labour” and they believe that “it is likely to affiliate to the Labour Party at some point.”

An anonymous Labour member at the university on the left of the party, told The Mancunion that the decision to split into two societies “is a mistake because it helps create unnecessary divisions that weaken the party.”

Ally Routledge, Chair of the University of Manchester Labour Students when asked for a statement on the running of their society this term said: “We’ve had a really busy semester at Manchester Labour Students, and tonnes of new members have got involved since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. With the help of campaigners new and old we were out on the doorstep in Oldham every day—and Labour won by a huge 10,000 majority!

“We’ve held meetings against the proposed scrapping of maintenance grants and had a shadow cabinet minister speak at our Women in Politics event. We’ve had a really packed first semester, but it’s been a lot of and fun and we hope as many people want to get involved with MLS after exams.

“The Oldham by-election proved that the Labour Party is stronger when it’s united as one and fighting against the Tories. Anyone who wants to help MLS do this is more than welcome to sign up and should find us on Facebook to keep up to date with all the events that our newly elected committee are organising!”

Callum Vibert, student representative for the North West Young Labour Committee, who has also previously been a chair at a LLS meeting, has called the situation “unfortunate” and had wished that reconciliation between the different groups within MLS could have been possible, “especially in the light of the excellent work, by all those involved, in the recent Oldham by-election”.

Vibert added that he understands “the frustrations of some new activists with MLS’s decision making processes and communications”, but said that it was “entirely unacceptable for a handful of people to willfully appropriate the branding of Momentum, which has an existing youth structure in the North West, as a vehicle for their personal squabbles.

“The role of both Momentum and Labour Students is to support the Labour Party. It is deeply disappointing that there are those in both groups that fail to recognise this. I would strongly encourage them to resolve their differences amicably, so the club can be a positive force for young people in politics.”

LLS have been approached for their statements on the plans.

  • spad

    I can understand why you did this, but it was very shortsighted of you. It must have been hard to resist leaking an email to write such an unflattering article for a cheap career boost, but such behaviour at the start of your career is going to damage your reputation more than anyone else’s.

    Those of us who work in PR maintain a blacklist in which we name journos to avoid working with. Jenny Sterne has been added to that list. Don’t expect to get any more stories from any image conscious organisation, let alone the Labour Party.

    • afterthefact

      This displays a total lack of political knowledge for someone who claims to work in public relations; no organisation ‘blacklists’ journalists at any level, and threatening a student journalist with the end of her career for writing a piece you disagree with is incredibly childish.

    • MLS Alumni

      Junior PR Exec thinks they are Malcolm Tucker

    • Adam

      I see Corbyn’s kinder politics is alive and kicking…

      • spad

        Nope, I started working for Labour before Corbyn. You could say I’m a product of Blair.

  • afterthefact

    Hang on, isn’t Labour Students at Manchester split between two co-chairs? Did this Ally introduce herself as ‘chair’ and claim to speak for the whole group, or was this an assumption of the author?

    • MLS Alumni

      I believe the article is correct is naming Ally as “Chair of the University of Manchester Labour Students” as the other Chair represents MMU students.

      • Owen Michael

        Yes. While it could have been phrased better, Ally is UoM co-chair and Mo Ahmed is MMU co-chair.

        • Texas Sunday Morning

          No they aren’t. They’re both Co-chairs, representing the whole organisation. There is nothing in the club rules that would prohibit a single chair, it’s just convention.

          • Owen Michael

            I think there is actually, it’s to do with our registration with both SUs (secretary and treasurer are also split on the same basis). Ally was elected by UoM students, Mo by MMU. Similarly I was elected treasurer by UoM students and Sarah by MMU students.
            The article’s description isn’t right, but it’s not exactly wrong per se.

            • Texas Sunday Morning

              Again, that’s the convention of the club, largely done to ensure MMU isn’t swamped by an historically larger UoM delegation.

              There are not two clubs working together. There is a single club. There is no such organisation as “University of Manchester Labour Students”, there is a single club which Ally is a co-chair of, which, given the paucity of Mo’s signature on anything, she has an unfortunate tendency to forget.

            • MLS Alumni

              Some of use joined the Labour movement for social justice, others to argue about semantics and whose “in charge” but whatevs…

              Putting aside the apparent contradiction that the UoM/MMU election is both “for convenience” and “to ensure MMU isn’t swamped”, if you really want to be pedantic, unless MLS has chosen not to register with UMSU this year (which would be crazy as they would not get access to UMSU resources or funding) there is an official University of Manchester Labour Students society registered at UMSU. As part of the registration process each year every society has to register officers including (at minimum) a President/Chair/GenSec and a Treasurer. So nyaaaahhh.

            • Texas Sunday Morning

              You made a brand new profile just to comment kiddo? I’m flattered. X

              Ah, so Ally isn’t speaking on behalf of MLS here then? Because your position is she’s speaking on behalf of a separate society.

              If you think there’s a contradiction you need to learn what the word convenience means.

              Again, under the rules of Labour Students there is one club. If you have a problem with there structures then feel free to take it up with them.

            • MLS Alumni

              Nope, just using the same guest account I was using before. I like consistency in my messages unlike some others around here…

              How’s about this for a theory? Mancunion student journalist needs a quote for an article reading MLS, they contact person they know involved in MLS for comment, they receive comment and then attribute it using the person’s offical UMSU title without knowing the internal politics of the society and the potential problems that could cause. That seems a bit more likely than “there is a grand conspiracy to marginalise MMU students and part of that is making sure all MLS quotes are misattributed in student media”.

              Well, I was assuming from context that you were using “convenience” to mean “anything that saves time or simplifies a task” which does contradict with your follow-up that the primary reason for this split is political/structural.

              Finally, I don’t give a shit about the number of chairpeople at MLS or whether it is the right amount or not enough or how they are elected. The way many university societies are run barely reflects their structure on paper. I just wanted to clarify the issue for OP and now I have ending up having to quote out of the fucking dictionary (which almost a parable about all student politics really).

      • Texas Sunday Morning

        No it isn’t. There is no “University of Manchester Labour Students”. There is a single club, “Manchester Labour Students” with members of both universities being eligible to be members. Caucusing the elections is a matter of convenience.

  • Gressy1971

    Not a good decision. The point about the left and right of the Labour Party is that they win when they work together. That means getting used to working together and compromising, but also getting to know each other on a personal level. All this does is what the Tories want, it splits the left. But then again, Labour has always had a tendency to shoot itself in the foot.

  • Texas Sunday Morning

    And as if to prove the point, tonight MLS elected its delegates to national conference by calling a meeting with a whole 5 minutes notice. Strangely, all the committee’s mates knew well in advance.

    Bastion of democracy.

    • Anon

      Question: how was it only held at only 5 minutes notice? Pretty sure it was well advertised in advance?

    • MLS Alumni

      You’re not even trying now.

      This event has been posted on the MLS Facebook group and Facebook page since the 10th Dec: https://www.facebook.com/events/915233878560990/

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