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Ronnie Sookhdeo

PNP Youth Conference

(June 1978)

From Militant, No. 412, 30 June 1978, p. 4.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The National Conference of the People’s National Party Youth [UK] which was held over two days in Birmingham at the weekend, attracted over 100 black youths.

It is a testimony to the success of the movement that in just one year it could galvanise so many black youths from many parts of the country.

It was more remarkable since the majority were unemployed.

The PNP Youth policy statement – A Fighting Programme for Black Youth – was presented and unanimously accepted.


The conference noted the continued harassment of young blacks by sections of the police especially under the infamous ‘sus’ charges. This has been responsible for the arrests of over 3,000 people – more than half of them black – since 1973.

It also deplored the structure of the present education system which has been consistently placing black children in educationally subnormal schools from which they emerge almost illiterate.

The conference called for an end to racial discrimination in schools and colleges, abolition of racist text books, the introduction of a fully comprehensive education system and maximum class sizes of 20 so that the 20,000 teachers on the dole can be given work.

But it was the question of unemployment that really brought the conference to life. It deplored the present high level of unemployment in Britain in general and among blacks in particular.

The conference was told by Bob Lee, the National Secretary, that while unemployment in the last four years rose by a staggering 120% for the 15–25 age group, it increased by the phenomenal 410% for black youth.

“Almost half of those unemployed in the London Borough of Lambeth are young blacks. In some inner city areas like Handsworth, as many as six out of ten young blacks are jobless.”

The conference recognised that the capitalist system was incapable of solving the many problems confronting the working class and the only solution was the implementation of full socialist policies. It resolved to fight for the following demands in the labour and trade union movement:

Workers’ unity

The conference unanimously agreed that with rising unemployment, police harassment, and increased fascist attacks, the black community must organise to safeguard their rights. We stand for the unity of all workers, black and white, to fight ruthlessly against any attempt to divide the working class or to divert from the struggle for socialism.

Conference linked arms with the Labour Party Young Socialists who are already waging the fight. Nick Bradley, the LPYS representative on the Labour Party National Executive, in his fraternal address, promised every help and called for the establishment of a Labour Party/trade union defence force to defend the black community against racist attacks.

Chelsea Morrison, a representative from the Black Women Association, observed that the conference and the policy document had omitted the issues of black women, which were of crucial importance to the black community. A lively discussion ensued and it was agreed a section on black women will be included in the policy document.

Earlier in the conference a representative from the South African Congress of Trade Unions gave a very grim account of the terrible conditions of the Africans under apartheid.


The conference noted in a most emphatic manner that they were inspired by the victories of the liberation forces in Southern Africa and in South East Asia and by the workers and peasants of Jamaica and the whole Caribbean in their struggle against imperialism.

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Last updated: 10 September 2016