Labour’s summer camp opens

NOTE TO READERS: This story was written before a massacre at the camp on July 22 killed 69 persons. See our coverage here.

Around 1,000 young supporters of Norway’s Labour Party were making their way over to Utøya this week, an island in the Tyrifjord that’s often viewed as an incubator for future Labour Party leaders. Detractors call it a breeding ground for a relatively small clique of would-be power mongers.

The summer camp for members of Labour’s youth group AUF (Arbeidernes ungdomsfylking) has launched the political careers of many a Labour Party leader. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was a fixture at the camp in his youth and remains keen to visit every summer. Both he, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland were due to make appearances at this year’s camp during its five-day run that began Wednesday.

Eskil Pedersen, current AUF leader, told newspaper Dagsavisen that this year’s camp will include speeches and debate over the upcoming municipal elections in Norway, the rival Conservative Party’s current policies, the even more conservative Progress Party’s asylum policies and the state of Norwegian schools. The latter is traditionally the issue of most interest to the young politically minded AUF members.

Pedersen, quite possibly a future Labour Party leader or government minister himself if Labour keeps winning elections, said the “best thing” about the camp is “meeting lots of folks who have the same values as you do.” Newspaper Vårt Land, however, recently put another slant on the Utøya camp, reporting that the Labour Party historically is run by a tight network of politicians linked by family relations, marriage and friendships who also have a tendency to take on key roles not only in government but in business and Norway’s powerful bureaucracy as well. Many tend to meet in their youth on the island midway between Oslo and Hønefoss.

Other media cited Utøya as “the glue in the Labour movement.” Events will run through Sunday, and the weather forecast called for pouring rain.

Views and News staff