In The Spotlight: Leeds Labour Students

This Week, The Gryphon interviews Leeds Labour Student’s External Canvassing Coordinator,

Liron Velleman, to find out more about what the society has to offer.

Leeds Labour Students has a long history of bringing together Labour-supporting students and fighting for Labour values. Campaigning for Labour candidates on and off campus, the society have recently hosted guest speakers such as Andy Burnham, Jeremy Corbyn and Yvette Cooper. The Society also hold a range of socials and nights out, as well as opportunities to get involved on the frontline of campaigning for the Labour Party.

What does Labour need to do next to take power in the next election?

What we need to do is win more votes than the  Conservatives. To do that, we need to convince people who voted Tory last May that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn can lead a better, more competent government than David Cameron has given us since 2010.

We need to defend the Blair/Brown record from Tory smears and stop them reversing Blair/Brown policies, as they’re trying to do at the moment with tax credits. We also need to take on the lie that we caused a global economic crisis. The crisis was started on Wall Street by the bankers gambling with other people’s money, not because Labour hired too many doctors, nurses, police officers and teachers, sent too many working class kids to university and built too many schools and hospitals.

Are there different interpretations of what Labour means to members within the society?

Some members join the society because they’ve seen the changes Labour’s brought to the country and want to help be part of that: the NHS, worker’s rights, LGBT rights, the minimum wage, comprehensive education and 50% of young people going to university. We have members joining because they really care about a
particular issue.

Others join because they want to learn more about the party. Last year during the General Election and this term, since we elected Jeremy Corbyn as leader, we’ve had loads of new members wanting to know more about Labour and how they can help play their part in bringing about change in society. It can be quite intimidating joining a political party, but on campus it’s quite easy to get involved because everyone’s got similar interests, going through a similar time in their life and there’s plenty of chances for socials and events.

What’s the biggest misconception about your society and why?

I think the main misconception is that we all study Politics. We’ve got members from right across
campus: Maths, History, Medicine, Chemistry, English, and French. We’re open to everyone.

What kind of events do you do?

We do loads. Our speaker events are the most popular. We’ve had the likes of Hilary Benn, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper come speak to us, not to mention none other than Jeremy Corbyn himself a few weeks ago.

We also do Question Time events with other political societies; we’re currently planning one for next term.

We also have socials every so often, normally a night out in Hifi, as well as our weekly Pint & Policy/Labour Lattes in Old Bar and Hidden Cafe where we just chat about a topic like the NHS or Tuition Fees – this often descends to snog/marry/avoid, Burnham/Cooper/Kendall though.

We also go campaigning in the local area, usually every Wednesday, to try and win votes for Corbyn’s Labour. This is a good chance to see politics in action, hear what real voters think and challenge our own views. We’ll be heading over to Oldham where there’s a by-election for Parliament in December and it looks like UKIP could come close to winning it from Labour. Please get in touch if you’d like to help out!

Finally, If Jeremy Corbyn was an animal what would he be and why?

A badger: the Tories are determined to cull him, but plenty of people in Labour seem to like him and are campaigning to save him.

Siân Halas

Leave a Reply