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Keir Starmer axes Young Labour’s conference and cuts funding after it attacked backing for Nato

Access to youth wing’s Twitter account curbed for breaches of acceptable ‘standards of behaviour’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 25 February 2022 15:34 GMT
David Lammy rebukes Young Labour for anti-Nato stance over Ukraine

Keir Starmer has stepped up his fight with Young Labour activists who attacked his backing for Nato in the Ukraine crisis, by scrapping their annual conference.

The party’s youth wing is also having its funding slashed – and access to its Twitter account has been restricted for breaches of acceptable “standards of behaviour”.

The move comes after David Lammy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, condemned the “lazy knee-jerk” anti-Americanism of young people he described as “just out of university”.

A statement on the Twitter feed reads: “The account has recently become actively detrimental to the Party’s core objectives: to promote Labour candidates and policies, and to win elections.”

“Young Labour is supposed to be a place for younger members to get away from factional rubbish,” a Labour source told the Daily Mirror.

The stance was criticised as bullying by Jess Barnard, the group’s chair, who also warned it will drive young people away from Labour.

“It is important that young members are not bullied into silence and we will continue to push for a democratic and autonomous Young Labour,” she said.

“We fear this move will have the effect of encouraging young members to leave the party ahead of the Young Labour and Labour Students elections this summer.”

Momentum, the group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, also attacked a “shameful and anti-democratic attack on young members within Labour”

“This is a blatantly factional move designed to silence critics of Labour’s direction under Starmer, exploiting a moment of global crisis,” the group said.

“It’s also a recipe for disaster, as Starmer is set to further alienate the younger voters who are a key pillar of Labour’s core support.”

The Independent has been told that the conference will not go ahead and that funding for Young Labour has been reduced.

In tweets earlier this month, the Labour leader was condemned for “celebrating” closer cooperation by Nato while “attacking Stop The War and other pro-peace activists”.

“Nato’s acts of aggression both historical and present are a threat to all of our safety,” Young Labour claimed.

“Stoking up tension, macho posturing & trying to ‘out do’ the Tories on hawkish foreign policy will only lead to further devastation, loss of life and displacement of people across the world.”

Young Labour – which all members under 26 join automatically – went on to “offer solidarity with those organising against this, including members of Stop the War”.

On Thursday, 11 left-wing Labour MPs who signed a Stop The War Coalition statement criticising Nato withdrew their names, after being threatened with removal of the party whip.

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