In today’s article, Daniel McKee reviews the Momentum Youth and Student Conference. Daniel is a graduate from Liverpool who joined Labour back in March and has been working to try an become involved with the party and with Momentum. He is also working to become an accredited Union Representative in his workplace when not wasting too much of his time on video games.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived in Manchester on the 5th for the Momentum Youth and Students Conference. I’ve never attended a conference before and I don’t think I was prepared for the kind of frenetic excitement and activity that took place or how enjoyable it could be to engage with the big issues of the country with so many people.
As a means of networking and contacting those who have the same priorities and goals the Momentum Youth and Students conference was a great success. It was a valuable event in regard to unifying those involved in Regional and Liberation caucuses across the country who may have been working in isolation beforehand.
In terms however, of reaching some sort of consensus on policy on where Momentum will focus its activities the conference was a bust. Very little direction came from the eight hours in Manchester this weekend. Although there was general agreement on the broad aims of Momentum, whether this be on the NHS, the casualisation of labour or changes to education. Momentum’s stance on these issues however was already known.
I spoke to many of those attending the conference as the day was drawing to a close and one vein that seemed to run throughout a lot of their opinions was that the conference had failed to reach any sort of hard policy or aims on where we were going. If we do, for example oppose the current governments changes on the NHS in what manner are we choosing to do it. Are we throwing our support first behind campaigns to stop the scrapping of the Bursary or instead perhaps are we focusing on the position of the Junior Doctors?
If Momentum is to continue as a force for change, if it is to become a tangible instrument of politics then it will require more concrete plans of action. It will need a roadmap of how it intends to deal with the problems facing the country. This is not just to make sure that our efforts are co-ordinated as effectively as possible. If Momentum has policy and has direction, this can be given to the Labour Party and the public as a whole. These policies would be something to rally behind, something we could galvanise the electorate into following us on.
This wouldn’t be easy, simply agreeing on the problem isn’t the same as agreeing the solution. However I feel the Momentum Conference proved there is more that unites the left than divides it. This needs to become something. It needs to be synthesized into a driving force with which real progress can be made.
Without this direction Momentum faces the very real threat of petering out before it achieves its goals. The Left as a whole cannot allow this to happen, it cannot let itself become sidelined as it has so many times since the 1980s. Although discussion and debate is helpful and healthy we cannot allow it to become an endless argument with no tangible result as it sometimes did at the MSYC. If we cannot agree with, and convince, each other then what hope do we have convincing millions of voters?
In spite of this the MYSC was a step in the right direction. It brought many members and organisers together for the first time in tangible way, and it helped those involved in the Liberation and Regional caucuses to network. It now falls to these caucuses to focus their efforts over the coming months and to try and make progress. If this can be done then hopefully at the next MYSC there will be a more focused and effective effort for the change that so many of us feel the country needs.