Labour Students

Labour Students
ChairpersonBen McGowan
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
IdeologySocial democracy
International affiliationInternational Union of Socialist Youth
European affiliationYoung European Socialists
National affiliationLabour Party
Labour Students protesting against government cuts in March 2011

Labour Students is a student organisation within the Labour Party of the United Kingdom. It is a network of affiliated college and university clubs, known as Labour Clubs, who campaign in their campuses and communities for Labour's values of equality and social justice.

Labour Students’ main activities include providing political education and training to its members, sending activists to by-elections and marginal constituencies across the country and organising politically within the National Union of Students and Student Unions.

Labour Students was disaffiliated from the Labour Party by the Party's National Executive Committee in September 2019, with the intent of replacing it with a new student organisation. Although campaigning activity continued to be organised under the Labour Students branding during the 2019 general election, the organisation subsequently ceased to exist.

A new, refounded Labour Students was passed at the 2021 Labour Party Conference. National Committee elections were held in August 2022 and Ben McGowan was elected as chair of the organisation on 2 September 2022.


The Labour Party's first organisation for students was the National Association of Labour Student Organisations (NALSO), which was founded in 1946 but had its recognition by the party withdrawn in 1967 after it was taken over by supporters of the Trotskyist Socialist Labour League. While the Scottish organisation continued, the Labour Party was left without a national student body.

In 1970, some Labour supporters created Students for a Labour Victory, a group intended to coordinate campaigning in the general election that year. That group then became the National Organisation of Labour Students (NOLS), which held its founding conference in 1971. Despite changing its name in the early 1990s, the current body, Labour Students, is still sometimes referred to by the acronym NOLS.

In its early years, NOLS was divided between two factions — members of the entryist Militant group and a mainstream left group, associated with the Tribune group of Labour MPs, which formed in January 1974 called Clause Four, after the central political statement of the Labour Party constitution. Militant controlled NOLS from January 1974 to December 1975. Members of NOLS in the 1970s included future parliamentarians Charles Clarke, Bill Speirs, Peter Mandelson, Sally Morgan, Mike Gapes, Mike Jackson, Nigel Stanley, Margaret Curran and Johann Lamont.

During Tony Blair's premiership, Labour Students opposed the Government's planned introduction of university "top-up" fees. Labour Students were broadly supportive of Gordon Brown's government.

In 2016, the national conference adopted a one-member-one-vote (OMOV) system for internal elections, through an amendment of its constitution. However many member clubs perceived this as being implemented incompletely and slowly, with accusations of vote-rigging in 2019. In the early 2019 Labour Students leadership election there were 507 eligible voters, out of a claimed approximately 30,000 Labour Party student members. As a consequence, about half of member clubs, including Oxford University Labour Club and Cambridge University Labour Club, disaffiliated from Labour Students.

Further to the disaffiliations by Labour university Clubs, a motion was tabled by Jon Lansman at the Labour Party NEC meeting in September 2019 to dissolve the current organisation on the grounds that it did not pay its affiliation fees nor submitted its political rules to the party. At the NEC meeting this motion passed and Labour Students is no longer affiliated to the Labour Party. This action was challenged by the incumbent Labour Students leadership, but they were unsuccessful.

As of 2021, the organisation's Twitter account is inactive, and its website is no longer operational.

Internal organisation

Labour Students is a 'socialist society', affiliated to the Labour Party. This means that, whilst its aims are broadly in line with the wider party, Labour Students is an independent organisation and is entitled to democratically determine its own policy and governance. Labour Students members are entitled to vote in the affiliates section of Labour leadership elections.

National Events

Generally, before the organisation's relaunch, Labour Students held four main national events each year, attended by club members from institutions across the country.

Summer Training
Summer Training is primarily intended for members entering their second and third years of study. There is often a focus on preparing Labour Clubs for recruitment drives at the beginning of the new academic year. The event is usually structured with a variety breakout sessions and workshops, led by industry experts, trade unions and other campaigning organisations. In recent years[when?] Summer Training has included sessions led by Matthew Doyle (former deputy director of Communications, 10 Downing Street), Kirsty McNeill (former adviser to Gordon Brown) and community organising group Movement for Change. There is also usually a heavy emphasis on training from the four liberation campaigns.
Political Weekend
Political Weekend is usually the event where Labour Students welcomes its new members each year. Labour Students usually hosts a number of high-profile speakers, including government ministers during periods of Labour government and members of the Shadow Cabinet in times of opposition.
Liberation Conference

Liberation Conference sees the election of Labour Students’ four Liberation Officers (see ‘Liberation Campaigns’). It also includes panels and sessions around issues of particular importance to Liberation groups, for example mental health services or tackling antisemitism on campuses.

National Conference
National Conference sees the election of the Labour Students National Committee for the following year, as well further policy debate. Though nominally described as an "election", only a small number of delegates vote, along lines pre-determined by their nominating clubs. National Conference is often held in conjunction with Young Labour Conference, to help reduce members' travel costs.

National Committee

The Labour Students National Committee convenes regularly and works together to ensure the organisation runs smoothly and works effectively to represent members.

Current Committee

Role Name
Chair Ben McGowan
Secretary Jonathan Heywood
Vice Chair Fabiha Askari
BAME Officer Elilee Arulkumar
Disabled Students Officer Moya O'Rourke
LGBT+ Officer Kieron Warren
Women's Officer Lola Fayokun
Trans Officer Alex Charilaou
East Midlands Rep vacant
Eastern Rep Molly Bloomfield
London Rep Nimah Ogas-Hersi
North West Rep Chloe Brooks
Northern Rep Joshua Freestone
Scotland Rep Solomon Cuthbertson
South East Rep Zahra Lahrie
South West Rep Daniel Chappel
Wales Rep Dylan Lewis-Rowlands
West Midlands Rep Lily Soaper
Yorkshire and Humber Rep Eleanor Falshaw
Ordinary Rep Emma Bean
Ordinary Rep Hareem Ghani
Ordinary Rep Lizzy Olley
Ordinary Rep Kieron Kavanagh
Ordinary Rep Cai Parry
Ordinary Rep Zachary Bates Fisher

Liberation Campaigns

Within Labour Students there are four autonomous liberation campaigns. These were the Women's, Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Trans, Disabled Students and Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Students campaigns, all of which are entitled to elect an officer to the National Committee. Labour Students holds caucuses for each of the liberation groups at every national event, has an equal opportunities policy and ensures all events are fully accessible.

Scotland and Wales

There are separate organisations for Labour Clubs in the devolved nations, known as Welsh Labour Students and Scottish Labour Students respectively. The Chairs of these two organisations also sit on the committee of Labour Students as full members.


Priority Campaign

Labour Students took on a major campaign each year, voted for in an all-member ballot. Recent campaigns have included:

  • "Make Child Poverty History" campaign (2006–2007)
  • "Sex, Lives and Politics" (2005–2006) – This was followed by a government reduction of VAT on condoms to the EU minimum of 5%.
  • The Living Wage Campaign (2011–2013) – Labour Students worked in collaboration with the trade union UNISON to equip members with the skills to fight for a living wage to be paid to staff on their university campuses. The campaign was extremely successful, with clubs including Manchester and Kent securing the living wage at their institutions.
  • The Voter Registration Campaign (2012–2013) – Labour Students intended to increase the number of students registered to vote.
  • A Million More Voices (2016–2017) - Campaign aimed at introducing automatic voter registration.
  • Somewhere To Call Home (2017–2018) – Campaign aimed at tackling "poor living conditions and extortionate rents for students."
  • Time For Rights (2018– 2019) – Campaign to protect the rights of workers in Students’ Unions and Universities from Brexit.

Labour Students and the National Union of Students

Every year, Labour Students actively organised and campaigned within the National Union of Students (NUS). As a result of this, Labour Students was viewed as an influential faction within the NUS and its members were frequently elected to the NUS National Executive Council (NEC) and to full-time officer positions, although 2015 saw a majority of their candidates losing to those to the Left.

History within the National Union of Students

In the late 1970s, Labour Students (then NOLS) worked within the NUS as part of the Broad Left, a student coalition which also included the student wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain and independent left wing students. The Broad Left stood slates of candidates in NUS elections. (The Broad Left is not to be confused with the post-1997 grouping Student Broad Left.) In the early 1980s NOLS broke with the Broad Left and presented its own slate of candidates in NUS elections. In 1982, NOLS won the presidency of NUS on its own for the first time. A succession of NOLS candidates were elected to the NUS Presidency until 2000 with the strongest challenges generally coming from those to the left of the Labour Party. Several former NOLS NUS Presidents, including Charles Clarke and Jim Murphy, went on to serve as Cabinet ministers, serving as members of a Labour government. Throughout this period, NOLS members of the NUS National Executive Committee were a minority, but exercised effective control.

Labour Students' flagship policy in NUS was[when?] the rejection of campaigning for universal grants, in favour of targeting student support funds towards poorer students through means testing. National Conference 2006 narrowly supported this policy, but it was renewed with a much increased majority in 2007. However, the position was reversed again when National Conference 2016 voted to campaign for universal living grants, funded through progressive taxation, in both further and higher education, in a policy change that had been pushed forward by the left-wing group, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.


Recent graduates of Labour Students have often gone on to work in Labour Party Headquarters, as ministerial special advisers, Trade Union officials and as members of left-leaning think tanks. Many also go on to enjoy successful careers outside of the politics.

Notable former Labour Students officers

This page was last updated at 2023-03-20 15:47 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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