The Jeremy Corbyn-supporting network Momentum is to launch a special youth wing in a bid to improve “political engagement” and campaigning skills for children.
“Momentum Kids”, as it will be known, will use the left-wing movement’s network of 150 local groups to help youngsters who want to get involved in politics.
It is expected the new grouping will help children who want to become activists to attend marches, learn how to use offline and online campaign techniques and discuss key policy issues.
“Momentum Kids” will also provide creches and after-school clubs for children as young as three, to allow single parents to take part in meetings and events organised by the left-wing grassroots group.
The nationwide initiative is part of a bid to “increase the involvement of children, parents and carers in Momentum and the Labour Party”, the group said.
The brainchild of two mothers in Stroud, “the initiative will also aim to increase children’s involvement in Momentum and the labour movement by promoting political activity that is fun, engaging and child-friendly”.
Momentum added that it wants to ensure that “single parents and sole carers have access to co-operatively run breakfast clubs, after school sessions and child care they need to facilitate their political engagement”.
Corbyn this month criticised the after-works drinks culture of some companies, claiming that “early evening socialisation” helps men while discriminating against mothers.
The Labour leader said the practice “benefits men who don’t feel the need to be at home looking after their children and it discriminates against women who will want to, obviously, look after the children that they have got”.
Momentum this weekend faced claims that its members were trying to ‘take over’ the Labour party and to deselect MPs critical of the Labour leader. The group denies the claims.
The World Transformed, Momentum’s four day festival of arts, music, politics and culture which will take place in Liverpool during the Labour conference, will include a children’s programme on the opening day.
“Workshops featured range from storytelling to sharing campaigning skills among young people,” the group said.
It will also host a creche – for children from three to 11 years old - to make the festival accessible to parents and carers who would otherwise find it difficult to attend.
Sasha Josette, one of the founders of Momentum Kids said: “It sounds like such a cliche when you say it out loud but it remains true, our kids are the next generation of people who can change the world.
“We don’t underestimate the contribution they can make. Let’s create a space for questioning, curious children where we can listen to them and give them a voice.”
Jessie Hoskin, her co-founder said: “It is so important to create women-led spaces where families, parents, carers and teachers can be empowered in becoming part of our movement.
“Women face more than just the gendered pay gap - there is a democracy gap too. Women still do a disproportionate amount of caring work and this can leave them shut out of many political spaces. We hope that Momentum Kids can be part of changing this by providing a political environment where families are welcomed.”
Children’s author, Alan Gibbons, who will be part of the children’s programme at the party conference event, said: “Socialists are not just people who organise in the Labour Party, trade unions or campaigns.
“As young people grow, they need stories, poems, songs, drama and play to develop as complete human beings. An education system that treats them only as future productive drones develops only part of their personality.
“We believe that children are naturally inquisitive and creative and we seek to develop that potential in the hope that a new, freer society, more responsive to human need, will fulfil their hopes, dreams and aspiration to the full.”
Reaction to the new group was mixed on Twitter.
Suppporters welcomed the idea.
But critics saw it as a chance to attack Momentum’s tactics generally.
And before long, ‘Momentum Kids’ was trending on Twitter as supporters and opponents of the idea clashed online.