England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

“We can’t just wait until the next election to get active”: Why young people are joining SA

Vinushan Vickneswaran, Leicester

I joined Socialist Alternative after attending a few virtual meetings at the beginning of the pandemic. As a big Corbyn supporter, I was very disappointed in the recent election result. But I knew that I had to keep fighting for the socialist values he represented. I felt that this is the right place for me to be in.

I have been making contributions in meetings right from the start as I felt comfortable with my fellow members. I have attended many online rallies in support of ISA. It has been a huge comfort to be able to fight for the values I believe in and channelling my disappointment from the UK elections into something positive. I hope that after the pandemic, I will be able to get out and speak to people through campaigning with our street stalls, as this is the perfect time for socialism to thrive.

David Thomas, Merseyside

I joined SA shortly after the start of the lockdown in early April 2020. Before then, I was involved with the Democratic Socialist of America and the Industrial Workers of the World in America, as well as the International Socialists in Canada. A thing I have learned from my time in the socialist left is that there is a real need for working class political institutions that are not directly tied to established electoral political parties. Even if Jeremy Corbyn had won the last election by a landslide and brought in major reforms, the same principle would have applied. No matter who controls Westminster, and no matter how well intentioned they might be, independent institutions need to exist to act as an organising space to not only push the overturn window leftward but to also fight all forms of capitalist politics.

Marxist organisations like SA play an important role in this regard. We can’t just wait until the next election, or whenever Labour gets its act together, to be politically active. We must take steps to organise the working class together under a single coordinated banner that can both fight for immediate reforms and also build a long-term strategy for a transition to socialism.

This can be done by taking an active role in broader social movements such as Black Lives Matter, XR and the climate strikes, working within established institutions such as the trade unions, and by advocating for policies and ideas that are not talked about in the media or established political institutions. It is in many ways a dual mission of both building class consciousness while also building our power.

As an educator and trade union member I look forward to working with SALT in building a future of workers’ control, eco-socialism, and racial justice.

Glenn, Isle Of Wight

A question that folks may ask themselves when considering joining a political activist organisation is why? What benefit could I make as an individual? I am not a great speaker nor a great writer, I am not massively confident and I am not charismatic. This was the first obstacle keeping me from getting involved.

The truth is that you don’t have to be any of those things to join and Socialist Alternative members will be more than willing to guide you and help develop those skills. All that matters is that you recognise the need for real change and you can build on that as you progress.

So why did I join? A lot of reasons formed a catalyst for my wanting to get involved more politically. First, there was the lack of a safety net when my job went under a few years back and was made redundant. Secondly was the complete farce and disorganisation of the universal credit system and having to experience that.

Thirdly was the rise of Corbyn which brought a new era for labour and captured the minds of a lot of the younger working class with major elements of the campaign being ‘For the many, not the few’. Under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, Labour seems to be regressing to the era of centrism we saw under Tony Blair’s reign.

That last point was the final straw, coming to the realisation that serious political change for the working class will not come from any current political party in parliament, and that a party for revolutionary change is the only way forward to providing everyone with equal opportunities, safe working conditions and an overall greater quality of life.


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