Momentum sweeps board at Labour party youth elections

Corbyn in Coventry

Candidates supported by Momentum, the group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn inside Labour, have swept the board in the party’s youth elections.

All 18 seats up for election were won by candidates backed by the grassroots group, in a sign that the party’s left is increasing its influence internally.

The results, published on Thursday, come one week before Young Labour’s annual conference in Scarborough, where party moderates and Momentum will battle it out for a crucial seat on Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Party leader Corbyn currently has the support of a slim majority of members of the NEC.

Thursday’s results, for seats on Young Labour’s national committee and for youth positions on the party’s regional boards, saw candidates that were supported by Momentum elected in every region.

There was a poor turnout with only 3.5% of those eligible to vote taking part in the online ballot. A total of 50,926 party members under the age of 27 were eligible to take part in the election.

Momentum activist Max Shanly, who was elected to regional board of Labour’s south-east region, said: “The left did well because we organised the unorganised. We intend to continue doing so as representatives of Young Labour so as to fulfil Labour’s historic role as a vehicle for the liberation of working people and their families.”

Some young members criticised the results. Luke Pagliaro, 21, from the north-west Cambridgeshire branch of the party said: “Obviously Momentum have been very successful in this election, but the reality is most members want a party which can win elections and challenge the Tories; I don’t think this takes us any closer to that.”

Others were disappointed that so few young members has taken part in the election. Sarah Freestone, who lost in the south-east, said: “The turnout in the election has been the most disappointing thing – to have so few vote in the region in such an important election is upsetting. I think this really shows we need to look at how Young Labour engages its members who live outside of London.”

The victory for Momentum will alarm the party’s centrists before two crucial votes at the youth wing’s annual conference next weekend, where a chair and NEC representative will be elected by delegates from Labour Students, Young Labour and trade union youth wings.

The delegates to next weekend’s conference were elected as part of a separate ballot held in December last year and are understood to be more closely balanced between the party’s left and right.

The election of the NEC representative is considered particularly important as Corbyn’s supporters attempt to increase the committee’s powers over party staffing and policy making. This has been seen as an attempt to undermine MPs and the shadow cabinet who are considered less loyal to Corbyn.

The elections at youth conference will be a key test for Momentum’s election machine before more NEC elections are held in the summer, where six members from constituency labour parties will be elected.

A Momentum spokesperson said: “Momentum supports democracy in the Labour party, which is why we are offering bursaries to young members so they can attend Young Labour conference later this month. We look forward to seeing how the new Young Labour Committee engages with young people in the party, advances their interests, and broadens the party to attract and support more young members.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Oliver Milne, for theguardian.com on Friday 19th February 2016 06.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010