By Sofie Buckland, National Union of Students executive (pc)
It is, unfortunately, a cliched way to begin an article about left-wing youth, but students and young people in and around the AWL will be very busy this term.
Our comrades will be intervening in freshers' fairs and organising meetings at universities and colleges around the country. We want to be a pole of attraction for students attracted to revolutionary socialism but put off by the classless “anti-imperialism” of the SWP, say, or the bland opportunism of the Socialist Party.
What marks out Workers' Liberty meetings, like our publications, is our commitment to serious discussion and debate. You may disagree with us, but you won't be bored. If you'd like to organise a meeting with a Workers' Liberty speaker or materials on your campus, get in touch.
In addition, we will be contributing to a number of initiatives which we'd urge students and young people interested in socialism to get involved with.
Firstly, we are supporting the second Feminist Fightback conference, which takes place at the University of East London on 20 October. Workers' Liberty women, mainly students, helped launch the first Feminist Fightback last October, and have been actively involved this time too. That reflects a year of frenzied socialist feminist activity, including participation in the Fightback abortion rights demonstration in March, a dayschool on women's liberation in April, the creation of a monthly discussion group in London and the launch of our publication Women's Fightback.
Every indication is that Feminist Fightback will be a brilliant event - come along.
We will also be continuing our work within Education Not for Sale, which since its launch in September 2005, has provided a principled and, for its size, effective opposition to the right-wing leadership of NUS.
Not content with refusing to organise a serious fight against top-up fees and slashing the national union's democratic structures, the NUS leadership are now preparing a new set of attacks on student democracy, probably including abolition of the "Block of 12" section of the national executive — the only body through which grassroots representatives and the left can exercise any day-to-day control over the top bureaucrats and committees. Just as Gordon Brown is seeking to destroy what remains of Labour Party democracy, his acolytes in the student movement are seeking to hack up the few avenues through which rank-and-file students can be actively involved in their union.
As well as seeking to be central to the fight back on NUS democracy, ENS will be continuing its campaigning over issues like fees, grants and the minimum wage. If NUS won't fight on these issues, then activists need to get organised to do so.
As part of this, following its successful activist gatherings in September 2005 and May 2006, ENS will be holding another conference at the UEL on 21 October (the day after Feminist Fightback). The focus will be on education for liberation, on ideas about what's wrong with our education system and how we can win an education, and society, that are truly democratic, participatory, egalitarian and sustainable.
At the next Workers' Liberty student and youth fraction meeting, on 25 November, we hope to further develop plans for our involvement in anti-sweatshop and workers' rights campaigning, including next year's Student Anti-Sweatshop Week of Action and the idea of a tour with an activist from the "Supersize My Pay" campaign in New Zealand.
So there's a lot to do. If you'd like to help us with it all, or find out more about ideas, get in touch!
• For more about AWL youth and students, email Sofie at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Education Not for Sale: www.free-education.org.uk
• ENS's briefing on NUS democracy: www.free-education.org.uk/?p=385
• Feminist Fightback: www.feministfightback.org.uk