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16th December 2015

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

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.

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