Reports from the LYL Social

Whilst I have often attended Labour functions in the past as part of my work for the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich CLP, I had never recieved an invite to a social on this scale. It was to be the first directly Labour-affiliated London event I had been to, in fact. Since the beginning of the year I have made it a high priority to attend events such as the Fabian Conference and Progressive London, as well as many of the others that are upcoming in later months. However, this social was especially important as I wanted to at least make myself somewhat known in LYL.

Tonight was also important for a recently-converted friend of mine, as this would be the first Labour event he’d ever been to. The excitement for us was extensive as there would be two MPs that I highly regard speaking – Dawn Butler and Jon Cruddas. Cruddas in particular had written an excellent article only a few days ago about the recent strikes in the Guardian. Dawn Butler, who I had seen speak at the Fabian Conference was representing the Labour Youth Society. I was aware of Butler’s extensive work in re-energising the Labour youth base – most notably by bringing down the cost of membership for those under 27 to £1. She has also worked extensively with the youth in Brent South.

After arriving (slightly late) to the social, there was still enough time to grab a glass of House Of Commons wine (obviously, champagne was clearly avoided!).

20 minutes later we were stood for the speeches. Dawn Butler was the first to speak started with a fantastic joke: “A Tory and a Lib Dem stand on the edge of a cliff. Who do you push down first? The Tory. Business before pleasure”. Cue much laughter from the room! She addressed the issue of youth in the Labour Party and the wider political sphere, before introducing us to prospective councillors and prospective party candidates, highlighting the campaigning work that London Young Labour take on. After proudly declaring herself a socialist (to many cheers) she handed over to Jon Cruddas.

Cruddas spoke fairly briefly, but highlighted the issues of the financial crisis, neo-liberalism and the current stikes, elaborating on his recent article in the Guardian. It was a damn good speech too – but then, Cruddas is a man who has spoken for the centre-left of the party. He criticised the response of the government in labelling the strikes as protectionist and xenophobic, whilst failing to address the problem. One of the most important points of his speech however was the notion that we shouldn’t be celebrating the fall of neo-liberalism and not provide for those who will obviously suffer as a result of the recession.

I am in agreement – it as perfectly fine to celebrate the descrediting of the New Right Thatcherism that has so dominated political thinking since 1979. However, celebrating it’s fall in such a spiteful way (which has been the methods employed by people such as Polly Toynbee) is no help to those who will suffer in the long term. After his speech, I along with my friend spoke to Jon about this, stating that the democratic left is now re-energised and should focus on offering solutions rather than taking revenge on an unregulated free market. That is not to say that we should allow the situation to carry on whilst shifting a large fiscal stimulus! We need to see the situation as an oppertunity to change the core values of society, much like the post-war consensus did.

The speeches finished, Bruce and I had one last drink and left at 9pm. In all honesty, I did enjoy myself tonight. Another social? Oh yes please.

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