Marxist Student Federation Planting the Red Flag on Campuses Across Britain

As the new academic term gets underway, the has been at 29 universities, signing up hundreds of students who are interested in building an organisation capable of fighting for socialist policies within the student movement. Furthermore thousands of people signed up to hear more about our activities. Below are reports from some of our interventions.


We had an official freshers’ stall on one day of the freshers’ fair, which was in a marquee in the main building of the University. In addition to this we also had a separate stall set up in another part of the main building. Throughout the day the stalls were manned by comrades from the Marxist society and Socialist Appeal.

glasgow marxists 2014Due to limited space at the fair because of the large number of official societies we only had the stall in the marquee on Tuesday but on Wednesday we still set another separate stall in the main building. Across both days we were able to sell large amounts of Marxist material to interested students, including pamphlets written by society members, as well as some copies of the Socialist Appeal newspaper and a couple of In Defence of Marxism theoretical journals. We also received several small donations to the society (in return for homemade cookies and shortbread – which helped draw people in!) In total we raised £45 for the society. The main achievement of the fair was us signing up a total of 148 people for the society, which is even more people than last year’s freshers’ fair.

Overall across both days there was a good mood amongst the students and many people who signed up for the society seemed very enthusiastic about coming to our planned events over the coming weeks.

Following this very successful freshers’ fair we followed this up by having its first event of the semester on the Thursday of the same week. The title of the event was “What is Marxism and Why Does it Matter?”, which was a lead-off given by Daniel Morley from Socialist Appeal in which he gave a brief but thorough introduction into the ideas of Marxism followed by an hour long discussion. This was followed by a pub crawl entitled the “Red Clydeside Pub Crawl”, which involved getting off at a few stops on the Glasgow subway which were near locations of historical socialist interest and past working class mobilisation and briefly discussing the events which took place at the relevant stations, which considering Glasgow’s history was quite a lot!

These events were very well attended, with around 40 people attending the discussion and from this attendance around 15 came along on the pub crawl. The discussion following the lead-off was lively and included people bringing up a wide range of topics from spiritualism to democracy under socialism. The pub crawl proved to be very well received, as it was last year.

To sum up, our first event of the semester was an overwhelming success, and it suggests that the Glasgow Marxists are going to have another excellent year.


Edin-1st-MWe had two stalls at Edinburgh University Freshers’ Fair: one in the societies fair inside the University venue, and a stall outside on the street with books and papers for the passers-by. The stalls were manned by members of the Marxist Society and supporters of Socialist Appeal. The first day was quite busy, and we got over 60 people signed up to the society mailing list. The second day was much quieter but we still managed to sign up a handful more people to the society.

We had an introductory meeting at which Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal introduced the discussion. This was attended by around 15 people, 10 of whom were new students.

The discussion was lively and interesting with most of the people who attended our meeting joining us for drinks afterwards to continue the discussion. We are looking forward to this new period as one in which we will be able to engage with the youth who have become politically involved during the last few months, and are looking for a way forward after the referendum.


Manc-FFThe Manchester freshers fair took place on the 16th and 17th September. Members of the Marxist Society and supporters of Socialist Appeal were on the stall in the fair over the two days. This is our first year as an official society and we attracted a lot of interest and managed to gain exactly 100 people signed up to the society over the two days.

On the Wednesday evening we had a meeting on ‘What is Marxism?’ which attracted around 15 people. Daniel Morley from Socialist Appeal gave a very good lead-off which provoked a multitude of questions and a lively discussion. Afterwards, we went to the pub with around five people all of whom seemed very interested in getting involved with building the Marxist society on campus.

We are planning to have a stall on campus each week to get more people involved in the society and to start a reading group for those who want to read the classic texts of Marxism. This term in Manchester has got off to an excellent start!


Portsmouth-FFMarxist students and supporters of Socialist Appeal from Southampton, Brighton and Portsmouth helped out at the Portsmouth Freshers Fayre on September 17th and 18th.

Despite some problems with the student union staff we remained in excellent spirits and set our stall up outside the entrance to the campus. We gave out leaflets for the meeting on ‘What is Marxism?’ to be held in the SU building and over the course of the two days we managed to sign up around 30 people to the society.

21 people turned up to our first meeting at which Ben Peck from Socialist Appeal gave the introduction. There was an interesting discussion and a good mood throughout. Several people joined us in the pub afterwards to continue the discussion.

This is the first time the Marxist Student Federation has had a presence at Portsmouth University and we are looking forward to more success in the future.


Sussex-1st-MIn total, eight members of the Society were present throughout the day. With good division of labour we were able to have a large presence at the university, with two or three members leafleting around the fayre and guiding interested people straight to our stall.

Approximately £20 worth of Marxist books and magazines were sold, which, although was a small sum, was still quite good considering that most Freshers fully expect to be given free material at the fayre so tend not to bring money with them.

Throughout the day we made it very clear that we are committed to learning Marxist theory to provide us with a guide to action. Rather than being put-off by the discipline and commitment involved, most people were further drawn to us by our seriousness, particularly those who were from countries where the class struggle is intensifying. In this way, I think our seriousness served to draw a noticeably more international character to the people we met, with a number of Pakistani and Indian contacts becoming very interested when we explained our links with the International Marxist Tendency, and the Pakistani Trade Union Defence Campaign.

Armed with translated pamphlets, our boldness in approaching more Chinese students also proved fruitful. While we are always initially met with caution by students who’s understanding of communism might be only the legacy of the Chinese Communist Party, once we had explaining that the Chinese Communist Party does not represent Marxism, we were able to sell a newly-translated Chinese pamphlet on ‘China’s Long march to Capitalism’.

The turbulence of the economic crisis in Europe is beginning to rock the more stable northern European countries and Scandinavia, thus we were also approached by several Germans, and two very good Swiss students  who enthusiastically proposed that we pursue our ideas of a reading group. Likewise, three Icelanders also signed up to the society.

Beginning at 6pm with an introductory discussion on ‘What is Capitalism? What is Socialism?’, the meeting attracted approximately 20 people, some of whom arrived late or had to leave early. The discussion itself went extremely well, with debate around the Scottish referendum, the concept of ‘State Capitalism’ and our perspectives on the degenerated worker’s state in the USSR, and brief discussion about communally-run factories in other such states.

A number of people accompanied us to the pub after the meeting, all of whom engaged enthusiastically in discussion and were excited to attend the Marxist society next week. This is an extremely promising start to this year’s Society in Sussex university!


We started off at 11.30am when the fair started and we set up close to the entrance of the fair itself.

Sadly Worcester student union is not very accommodating to the revolutionary activity of its students and did everything in their power to thwart our attempts to sign people up to the Marxist society.

But even despite this we were able to sign up a handful of students to the society and sell some copies of the Socialist Appeal newspaper. There’s no stopping the forces of the Marxist Student Federation!

Queen Mary, University of London

QMUL-FFWednesday and Thursday was the Queen Mary (London) freshers fair. Members of the Marxist society and supporters of Socialist Appeal signed up 110 people to the society’s mailing list across the two days. We had two stalls – one inside the fair and one at the entrance to the campus.

Even more students than last year seemed genuinely interested and enthusiastic about discussing the ideas of Marxism and building the society on campus.

We also used these two days to distribute the latest edition of The Red Letter – the newsletter of the QM Marxists – and put up posters around the university.

We are confident that we will build a thriving Marxist society this year at Queen Mary – our first meeting next Thursday should be a big success.

Kings College London

Kings-FFThe KCL Fresher’s Fair has now concluded and we are very pleased to announce that over 240 new students signed up to the society’s mailing list. All were invited to drinks after the fair had finished and we have already met a number of students keen to help us continue to build the KCL Marxist society this year.

2013/14 was undoubtedly a steep learning curve for our young society as we struggled to make significant inroads into university and campus life.  The results are already a significant improvement upon last year which goes to show how good forward planning can reap great rewards.

We were also able to sell £62 of literature including 5 Socialist Appeal newspapers and 4 copies of ‘The Classics of Marxism’. Encouragingly, many students expressed an interest in starting a reading group tackling the four texts included in the volume.

All in all, we are excited about what should be a proactive and important year for the KCL Marxist Society. Success at this year’s Fresher’s Fair has given us the impetus we needed to build our society in earnest. Something all of us here at KCL Marxists look forward to.


newcastleOver the course of two days, with the help of members of Newcastle Marxist society and supporters of the Socialist Appeal newspaper in the North-East, we signed up 82 new people to the Marxist Society and sold £14.70 worth of Marxist literature and material.

On the whole the reaction we got from people was incredibly positive. Students were happy to see the Marxists present and many of them had chosen to seek us out to discuss with us and find out what we were about having heard of our society. When we explained how important we view theory and how we see this as a guide to action which we can use to get involved within the students’ union an the NUS to campaign for revolutionary socialist ideas and in providing concrete solidarity to the workers’ struggle, the students tended to respect this serious approach and many decided to get involved with the MSF.

We handed out 780 leaflets and put posters up around Newcastle and Northumbia universities which led to a successful first meeting of around 20 people the day after the fair finished. The introduction to the discussion was given by Ben Gliniecki from Socialist Appeal and the questions and comments that followed touched on Venezuela, Isis and the Middle East, and the fight against fascism in Ukraine.

The meeting was followed by a short business session during which comrades spoke about the strike action being taken by workers in mid-October, and the plans for the TUC demo on the 18th. The society will be getting involved with both these things.

Sheffield Hallam

sheffSheffield Hallam Freshers fair took place on 23rdSeptember. There isn’t yet a Marxist society at Hallam but the Marxist Student Federation is looking to starting one in the future, so we began our work by setting up a stall outside the Students Union building for the activities fair on Tuesday.

Across the day we managed to get a handful of students signed up, sold two Marxist Student magazines and one In Defence of Marxism magazine. Obviously, it wasn’t a revolution on campus; but there were plenty of positives to be taken from the day.

One of the students who did sign up was very keen and expressed an interest in attending our meetings. Another student who is very interested in the ideas of Marxism stopped by the stall to chat with us for a while and has since been in contact and shown great interest in coming to our meetings. This means we now have students keen to build a Marxist Society Hallam which is a significant gain for the MSF.


leedsThe Leeds Marxist Society ran a stall over the opening three days of Freshers week, with six members of the Marxist Society and Socialist Appeal supporters in Leeds helping out.

Monday was the busiest day with the majority of people signing up to the society, despite being moved from our position outside of the union in order to ensure ‘fairness’. The stall, however, was also successful on the Tuesday and Wednesday. Overall we had at least 100 people sign up to join the society. 11 copies of the Socialist Appeal newspaper were also sold, along with three copies of  the Marxist Student magazine and five copies of the Communist Manifesto.

Our first meeting was a success.  Adam Booth from Socialist Appeal led off excellently on ‘What is Socialism?’. There were 31 people in attendance, around 20 new faces, and the discussion gave a good balance between questions and comment. The discussion was continued in the pub afterwards.

The main priority of the society now is to build on the success of Freshers week and to stay in contact with people who may be interested in getting involved further – we’re looking forward to an excellent year ahead.

Anglia Ruskin University

On the day of the freshers fair we managed to have a well-manned stall, with five members of the Cambridge Marxists helping out at various times through the day.

Arriving at 9.30, half an hour before the fair opened, we set up outside the building in which the fair was being held. We were in a fairly good position, with virtually every student passing us as they entered the fair, and our banner with ‘Cambridge Marxists’ clearly visible.

Happily, we ran out of our 300 term-cards and signed up around 20 people to the society. Many of these people expressed definite enthusiastic interest and others even stayed longer and had in depth conversations with us. We are hosting a reading group to discuss the Communist Manifesto with those who signed up.


Sheffield2The UoS freshers’ fair is a one day event which took place on Thursday 25th September.  We had six members of the Sheffield Marxist Society in attendance with supporters of Socialist Appeal also giving us a helping hand.

Through pushing paid membership of the Marxist Student Federation we didn’t managed to gather as many contact details  as other Marxist societies. But we did managed to achieve 22 paid members to the MSF, with an additional 27 people registering their interest. We are confident that we will manage to achieve at least 30 paid members when those who showed interest attend an upcoming Marxist Society meeting. We also sold an In Defence of Marxism magazine during the fair and handed out roughly 450 flyers advertising our term card of meetings.

We held a meeting in the evening of the freshers’ fair with around 15 people in attendance to hear Adam Booth from Socialist Appeal speaking on ‘What will Socialism look like?’ We managed to raise £25 for Adam’s travel expenses and everyone who came to the pub seemed keen to get involved with the life of the Marxist society in Sheffield.


kentuniff2014At this year’s freshers fair, with the help of Kent Marxists and supporters of Socialist Appeal, we managed to collect 94 names of students (and a number of lecturers) interested in finding out more about the Marxist Society.

In addition we now have 4 members of the Marxist Student Federation on campus who paid the £3 membership for the year. We had a brief meeting to introduce the MSF, at which between 20 and 25 attended to discuss founding the new MSF society at Kent. Provisionally we have planned a meeting for either next Wednesday or Thursday evening on campus on the subject “What is Marxism?”


liverpoolAcross two days of the freshers fair, Liverpool Marxists signed up around 130 people to the society and sold £10 of Marxist literature.

We held a meeting in the evening of the first day of the fair at which 12 people were present. The discussion was on ‘What is Marxism?’ and was introduced by Ben Gliniecki from Socialist Appeal. The quality of the discussion was very high with genuine interest and enthusiasm in the ideas from all those present. Another meeting is planned for two weeks time.

This is the first time the MSF has had a presence at Liverpool university and we are looking forward to it going from strength to strength.


soasOn Saturday 27th September, eight members of the Marxist society and London supporters of Socialist Appeal, manned the stall at the SOAS Freshers’ Fair in central London. Our stall was very successful, with approximately 150 people signing up to our mailing list over the course of the day. This is significant given the relatively small size of the university. We noticed a high quality with regards to many of the students signing up, with a good number describing themselves as Marxists and being very enthusiastic to see us. As well as our official stall we also had a second stall just outside of the entrance.

During the day we sold three copies of the four Marxist Classics and many more expressed an interest in joining a reading group. We also sold 12 copies of the Socialist Appeal newspaper, one “What is Marxism?” book, and four Marxist Student magazines.

We are very positive about the prospects for the term ahead and we are sure that the SOAS society will have its best year yet.

University of East Anglia (Norwich)

The UEA Marxist Society is being re-established this year and the work started with having a stall at the fresher’s fair. Two of us were present for the fair and, despite some initial difficulties, the day was very successful. We managed to hand out about 150 flyers and about 30 email addresses were collected from people interested in coming along to our meetings.

The first meeting was held a week later and was introduced by Ben Gliniecki from Socialist Appeal on the topic of ‘What is Marxism?’. Eight people were able to come along to the meeting which was excellent and as well as a great discussion there was enthusiasm among some of the attendees to start up a reading group, and to help out with flyering for the next meeting.


southamptonThis year was full of good expectations for the Soton Marxists, as we have grown consistently since last year and today we are a well known society within the University ofSouthampton. Even though the freshers fair was only one day, we started to advertise the first event of the society from the Saturday before freshers week started by inviting everyone to attend the talk introduced by Fred Weston from the International Marxist Tendency on “What is Socialism? What is Marxism?”.

Moreover we were determined to have a presence on campus throughout the week and not only during the day of the fair. So on Sunday we went to university armed with a stall,  and an array of Marxist literature. We were soon asked to move because we did not book the space that we were occupying on University soil. But in the face of adversity we found out that it is actually possible to book a space outside or within the student union where we can set up a stall and advertise the society as much as we like. We immediately booked a space for the whole week, so we were able to be there everyday for at least for three hours on campus with the stall. This was useful in terms of organising leafleting and postering, printing material for the Soldarity with the Anti-fascist Resistance in Ukraine campaign which we are starting this term, printing material for the 18th of October TUC demo in London, sending e-mails, etc.

The fair itself was really good. We were placed outside the main area but the positive thing was that we had definitely more space than the other societies. The space being less crowded we were more visible. We had a good number of sign ups -158 in total – but more importantly a significant number of people came to us really enthusiastically stating that they were looking for us. We even had one guy that came to sign up his friend which could not come to the fair himself!

That evening we had the first meeting with 35 people participating. We booked a larger room than the one we use during the semester, and our expectations were fulfilled with the room being almost packed. The discussion was very lively, with many contributions from the floor. The meeting at the pub afterwards was also well attended.

On Thursday we had the stall in the main square of the university, and we leafleted for the film screening that we had planned for the evening. The film screening had an attendance of about 15 people, most of which were people that we had met the previous evening. The movie we showed was Ken Loach “The Spirit of ‘45”. In fact the movie lasted till 8.30 and the discussion continued until after 10 p.m. with very good points being made by everyone.

In general we have been very well organized and the level of commitment from members of the society to continue building it this year demonstrates what a powerful motivating force the ideas of Marxism can be!

London School of Economics (LSE)

Thursday and Friday marked the MSF’s first official intervention in the LSE fresher’s fair, and it was a resounding success. We had two stalls (one inside and one outside) which signed up ~150 people over two days.

We managed to sign up more than twice as many as the Lib Dems (who had a stall next to us), despite their representing the dominant ideas of bourgeois society, handing out piles of useless branded merchandise, and even having their candidate for Mayor of London come visit!

We invited people to a nearby pub on Friday, where we had some good discussions on tactics in student activism, current events, and Marxist theory in general. Looking forward to a great term ahead.


Without an official Marxist society at Chester it is difficult for the Marxist Student Federation to make its presence felt on campus. However, we were present at the university freshers fair where, although unable to book a stall inside the fair, we were able to meet enthusiastic students queuing outside the building who were keen to sign up to the society. With around 30 people signed up there is clearly room for the MSF to grow in Chester.


For the first time this year the MSF was present at Goldsmiths freshers fair where we signed up 30 people to the society – a good number given the small size of the university. Across the course of the fair we even received offers of help on the stall from new people eager to build the society right away.

Our first reading group attracted a handful of people all of whom seem interested in learning more about the ideas of Marxism. We expect this to be the beginning of a successful development of the MSF at Goldsmiths.


After having handed out leaflets at both the Leicester and De Montfort university campuses, our first meeting was attended by around 12 people, including students from both campuses. Ben Gliniecki from Socialist Appeal introduced the discussion on ‘What is Marxism?’ which led to a very interesting meeting that touched on questions of global current events as well as core Marxist theory.

We hope to be able to establish official Marxist societies both in Leicester and De Montfort universities this
year. Watch this space!


The UCL freshers fair occurred on the 27th and 28th of September. One day before the fair on Friday we set up a stall for approximately an hour on campus and leafletted at student halls. We set up two stalls on either side outside the main gates, we did have a stall inside the fair but due to large number of societies active in UCL our space was limited. In addition to those a third stall was set up near Euston square station due to the long queue outside.Over the entire event we had 323 people sign up to our mailing list, 113 of those signed up for the WSA (Worker and Student Alliance – an initiative we have set up through the Marxist society to identify those who are willing to be active on campus and offer the campus workers a show of solidarity).On the 27th we held our first  meeting on ‘What is Capitalism? What is Socialism?’ with the lead-off given by Fred Weston from the International Marxist Tendency. 40 people were in attendance which is very good and we were joined in the pub by several people afterwards.


The University of Bristol’s Freshers Fair ran on Friday 26th September, and this was the first year that there has been an official Marxist Society presence. Overall it was a huge success, with widespread interest and enthusiasm capped off with nearly 250 signatures.

We began the day by setting up the stall at our position next to the Conservative Society and the International Banking and Finance Society, however any worries we had about competition were soon forgotten after the overwhelmingly positive response we received. Many first year students signed up, however we were also happy to see plenty of second and third year students join as well, showing the depth of interest throughout the university.

Our first meeting was on Thursday 2nd October and it was our biggest meeting yet with 65 in attendance and standing room only. Adam Booth from Socialist Appeal introduced the topic and it was an excellent meeting. Even though this is only our first official year, we have already had the highest meeting attendances out of any political society at Bristol, and we are confident that we can build on this.


Over a five and a half hour period we signed up 125 people to the new Durham Marxist society.

Our first meeting was attended by 30 people and it was standing room only. Ben Gliniecki from Socialist Appeal gave the introduction to the discussion and several people joined us to continue discussing in the pub afterwards.


The Cambridge Societies Fair took place on the 7th and 8th of October. We were very successful, getting over 200 sign-ups to our mailing list and handing out around 800 leaflets.

We managed a well-staffed stall, with seven members around for most of Tuesday and at least four members (usually five, with people coming and going) for all of Wednesday.

Overall quite a few students expressed enthusiastic interest in our events, and we anticipate a good turnout at our first Marxist Discussion Group on Tuesday. We also managed to meet with members of other societies interested in joint events, including the European society, who intend to host debates on issues affecting the EU, and the African and Caribbean society, who expressed interest in our talk on Marxism and the Black Struggle later this term.


Over the course of three days the Oxford Marxist society handed out 800 leaflets and signed up around 120 people to the society, all of whom seemed very enthusiastic about the prospect of a Marxist society with which they could get involved.

As well as the great interest from students a number of workers at the freshers fair expressed an interest in the society, and we also received a good reception from members of the general public. Lots of potential for building the MSF here in Oxford!

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