Sunday, September 28, 2008

Labour Party Youth Section - Brief History


The Labour Party finally agreed to allow the formation of local Labour party Youth Sections in 1924.

(The Independent Labour Party (ILP) had a separate Guild of Youth).

The Labour Parties decision to form youth sections was only taken out of the Parties concern at the rapid growth of the Communist Parties, Young Communist League (YCL) which had been established in October 1921 (The first YCL branches being in Manchester, Liverpool, Barrow, Sheffield, Leith, Porth and a number of other industrial centres).

In 1926 The Labour Party had over 150 Labour League of Youth sections, catering for socialist youth 14-21.

In 1933 the Labour League of Youth had 15,000 members.

The "Advance" Group established in 1935 led by Ted Willis of Tottenham South under the slogan "Self government for the Labour Youth Movement" soon won huge support within the Labour Parties youth section.

At the Easter 1936 Labour League of Youth Conference the "Advance Group" won control of the National Advisory Committee (NAC). The "Advance" journal with an initial duplicated run of 500, when it was printed in June 1936 was now to become the organ for all Labour League work.

Advance not only promoted a national programme based on "Working Class Unity" but also merger with the Young Communist League.

Most London branches of the Labour League of Youth were controlled by the "Advance" group.

In 1938 Ted Willis became National Organiser of the Labour League of Youth and Advance the national paper of the Labour League of Youth.

The Young Communist Leagues paper had been initially called the Young Communist but in March 1935 the YCL printed the first copy of it's famous "Challenge"

In June 1939 large numbers of Labour League of Youth branches and whole branches followed Ted Willis out of the Labour Party into the Young Communist League.

It should be noted that by 1938 over 250 Young Communist League members were heroically fighting and dying in the ranks of the International Brigade in Spain against fascism that would soon engulf Europe.


The Labour League of Youth was finally wound up in 1955. In 1960 the Young Socialists was established and this organisation was renamed the Labour Party Young Socialists in 1965, finally becoming Young Labour in 1993.

Hayes Labour youth section can trace its roots back to the Hayes Young Labour League who organised a concert in January 1925 at the Brotherhood Hall, Hayes Young Labour League also organised a Cycling Club and its first cycling run in May 1925 was from Regents Cinema, Hayes to Ruislip.

Southall Labour League of Youth was particularly active and had Syd Bidwell as a prominent member.

Paul Harmsworth leading light of the Labour Party Young Socialists

Guildford LPYS in the 1970's.

Bob Allen was Full time organiser for the Young Communist League in the 1970's and lived in Uxbridge.

William Hannan MP for Maryhill,
Glasgow, born 30th August 1906. Joined the Labour Party in 1922 and claimed to be the first Chairman of a Scottish Young Labour League of Youth branch in Scotland