Shaping a Socialist Scotland

Liam Gleeson, a SLYS member, talks about the recent launch of SLYS

As someone relatively new to politics, I have been wandering aimlessly between campaigns, causes and groups in the Scottish Left for months. However, on Saturday I attended the launch of Scottish Labour Young Socialists and found something I have not seen previously.

Surrounded by both committed Labour Party members and socialists who hadn’t been involved in the party before, I knew I had found my place. The energy and excitement of the young activists in the room engendered discussion on what we wanted SLYS to be and what our visions of an ideal Scotland were. The sheer number and talent of those involved provokes great optimism regarding the strength of the new movement. Activists from across Scotland were present. I met with people from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and beyond all committed to the same ideals.

Over the course of the launch, Scottish Labour Young Socialists started to externalise as a substantial organisation for social and political change. Amongst the varying discussions, there emerged consensus on the role of SLYS – a campaigning body for socialist policies within Scottish Labour, a medium for promoting socialist thinking outside of the party and an organised natural home for those on the Scottish Left. Immediate ambitions were also discussed, including prompting more young people to get involved in the Labour Party, a restoration of a voice for youth bodies in the party and campaigning for the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election.

I have been aware of SLYS and its aims since its inception, however I was concerned that it would be more of the same when it came to inter-party groups. Since joining Labour in April, I have often felt alienated by the current youth and student bodies in Scotland. I maintain that I have little to no influence in their actions. In contrast to this, SLYS is bottom up. The group and the launch placed great value on democracy. Fortunately, many members of SLYS are dedicated to democratising groups in Scotland, involving as many people as possible in the decision making process, hopefully leading to less people such as myself feeling disaffected by groups that are supposedly meant to represent them.

Furthermore, a more concrete structure emerged as a result of the launch. During our first AGM, members of the organisation elected the first SLYS Executive Committee and thereafter endorsed a mission statement for the new executive body. Co-chaired by Lauren Gilmour and Martin Lennon, it was agreed the Executive Committee would act as the initial leading body of the organisation and oversee the drafting of a constitution.

On Saturday, Scottish Labour Young Socialists began to emerge as a substantive force on the Scottish Left. An organised, national, young Labour left has great potential to politically change the landscape of the country. This seems to me to be a great opportunity to shape a Scotland that values social justice, democracy and equality. I believe that we can help shape a socialist Scotland.