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Young members create new opportunities in Huddersfield
Only four years old, the Huddersfield branch of the Socialist Party is a relative newcomer, but the story of its development over the past six months is one that branches all over the country should listen to.
Ian Slattery, Huddersfield
The town of Huddersfield itself may be large, but has a reputation for being, as Stanley Bagshaw puts it, ‘boring and slow’. As such, the building of a Socialist Party branch has been relatively sluggish compared to other groups nearby, such as Sheffield and Leeds.
However, the recent influx of students from the University of Huddersfield has heralded a new era, as we’ve seen numbers double from eight active members to 16. Only three of these are from the university, but it is the influence of our new younger members that seems to have made the difference.
The new members have brought with them a great amount of enthusiasm, ideas, and with that, opportunities. The Socialist Students society set up at the university is the first political society of any sort there for a number of years. As such, it’s the only outlet for student anger, of which there is plenty in an area of the country plagued by the British National Party.
The students’ union has targeted our society for special measures, seemingly threatened by this uprising in what had been disciplined ranks. But this has encouraged the students more, as we feel for the first time in our lives the hand of bureaucracy around our necks.
Outside of the university changes have been plenty, with a very successful switch to double shifts on the Saturday campaign stalls in the town centre. This has meant twice as long on the streets, as well as a few new faces and voices. The call of "No more blood for oil" from the lungs of a healthy 18-year-old will attract a few different passers-by.
The proof of this new energy in the branch can be seen in the numbers who have joined over the last year. Many of them have showed an interest over a long period of time, but only now have decided that the Socialist Party is definitely where they want to be.
However, the plaudits certainly don’t go solely to the new members. The older, more experienced comrades have played just as important a part in moving this branch up.
Without them, the first students would never have signed up, would never have gone on their first lobby or made their first speech. It is these veteran leaders that have encouraged and pushed the new members to do all they can, and without their support and help nothing could have been achieved.
What I would suggest then is that all branches encourage and get behind the new, and particularly young, members.
Don’t be afraid to give them responsibilities - the feeling of being wanted and needed should, and in most cases does, persuade people to put that little bit more effort in, to shout a few decibels higher and leaflet a few extra homes.
The youth of today are the most politicised for over a decade, and the Socialist Party must do all they can to show them that socialism can make the generation after them live in a healthier, happier and more equal world.
In The Socialist 14 April 2005: