Labour Youth member and Labour Youth nominee for the International Affairs Unit, Jack Merriman, discusses his main takeaways from last month’s Progressive Youth Forum in Frankfurt.
This month I led the Labour Youth delegation to Frankfurt for the Young European Socialists’ Progressive Youth Forum. This fantastic evening was jam-packed with fascinating events, intersecting with the Jusos Europakongress, where we could attend enthralling workshops on the problems facing the European left. The main event of the weekend for us was the forum itself, where we discussed with other European delegations how we deal with the problems confronting progressive alliances on national and European levels. Insights from our comrades around the continent allowed us all to develop a deep understanding around these obstacles and the ways we can go about resolving these problems. These are my key takeaways from the event.
- It’s tough to define who is in a progressive alliance
One of the major difficulties we had was even describing what a progressive alliance would look like, and whom it would contain. The first comment made during the activity was a question about how we were defining a progressive alliance. There was much talk about who would be included, some attendees wished to ally with social liberals for such an alliance, and others would rather we looked towards the far left for these alliances. We faced problems around the foreign policy stances of some far left activists, and the domestic stances of liberal parties. The one force we all seemed to agree on cooperation with were Green parties.
- We must be proud of our roots
Inter-party mergers and excessively close cooperation was almost unanimously agreed to be off the table. In reconciling these differences with liberal and far-left parties, we all agreed that our democratic socialist parties have proud roots and that we are not to abandon them for political strategy, and to maintain the bold idealism of the bold figures of our parties, such as James Connolly and Clement Attlee, to name but a few.
- It’s time to start working
It was agreed that Europe has been ruined by austerity politics, and the days of cozy cooperation with the right should be over for the European left. In the face of rising populism, we must present with the rest of the left a strong and clear vision for a social Europe. We must cease our squabbling within the left and unite in the face of these adversities, even if we maintain separate identities, we can fight side by side for a fair, equal, diverse and ecological Europe. All of us must do our part to foster this cooperation. Reach out to those further left, and those who share our vision. Even if other forces reject our advances we must keep working. With perseverance, together we can create a Europe for all.
(The views expressed in Left Tribune articles are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Labour Youth).