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Momentum builds foundations for a Labour victory, but you can’t please everyone

After months of working without a proper governance structure, it was a relief when on Saturday the first meeting of Momentum’s newly inaugurated National Committee, drawing delegates from across the country and trade unions, the Labour-supporting campaigning movement agreed on a governance structure. It also affirmed its determination to see Jeremy Corbyn elected Prime Minister in 2020, and set out its campaign objectives for the next three months.

Inevitably, in an organisation that represents a broad coalition, delegates had a wide range of views and ambitions for Momentum. Some like Jeremy Gilbert representing the perspective of Compass thought the most important aspect of advancing the new politics trumpeted by his namesake was linking with developing social movements and providing a bridge between them and the Labour Party. This required local groups to be more open than the approach favoured by the delegates from the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy who preferred to limit participation to those prepared to join the Labour Party.

In a full and friendly debate, the Committee strongly affirmed Momentum’s identity as a Labour-supporting organisation. As such, the 52-strong Committee voted to exclude supporters of other political parties from the Momentum membership or participation in local groups, and to require people representing them at regional and national level to be individual party members. It also agreed to set up a membership structure for the organisation, which:

seeks to strengthen the Labour Party by increasing participation and engagement at local, regional and national levels. Furthermore, Momentum is committed to supporting the Labour Party winning elections and entering government. It seeks to use its base in the Labour Party and Labour movement to reach out to the 99% of people who are not currently in any political party, spread Labour values and increase Labour Party membership.”

That wasn’t going to please everyone. One disgruntled observer of Momentum‘s decisions is John McTernan, former adviser to Tony Blair, who has hit back in the Telegraph at the plans to allow non-Labour members (who support the aims and values of the Labour Party) to sign up, saying that it “will be the undoing of Momentum – it is the thread at which moderates can pull” adding that you should “never underestimate the stupidity of your opponents“.

How odd that he should take this view about Momentum when the Fabian Society admits as “associate members” members of other political parties – a decision taken specifically to allow defectors to the SDP to retain their membership (with 47% in the vote preferring to give them full membership).

McTernan, in another exhibition of the pre-Corbyn old politics entitled “The idiots in Momentum will destroy themselves before they destroy Labour“, he also takes us to task for describing Labour First as “the Right“. I do plead guilty to that occasional slip, but point out that Labour First (who describe themselves as “moderate” or “mainstream“) refer to us as “the organised hard left“.

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, goes even further and compares Momentum with the Militant tendency (whose successors it excludes) saying that Momentum

increasingly looks, acts and sounds like the new Militant tendency in the Labour Party and that is not what we need. The priority for every Labour member in the next few months should be to ensure we win elections across London, England, Scotland and Wales and not more internecine factional warfare.”

He appears not to have read that Momentum’s campaign objectives for the next three months are that it will organise for Labour victories in May’s elections across England, Wales, and Scotland, and mobilise its supporters for the Ogmore and Sheffield Brightside by-elections to replicate the group’s successful efforts in support of Labour at the Oldham West and Royton by-election.

Momentum will also organise events across the country and build new or join existing local campaigns to support the the People’s Assembly March for Health, Homes, Jobs, and Education on 16 April. Momentum’s network of over one hundred local groups will demonstrate how we can translate a national campaign into local actions and knit together local campaigns into a political message.

Is it not curious that those who now show loyalty to our elected leader are denounced as factional by those who have abandoned their loyalty to the party’s elected leadership?

32 Comments

  1. Verity says:

    Healthy to see some organisational initiatives from this group which has been so negligent in communicating with its ‘supporters’ over this last period.

    Local groups may be well functioning (if the author says so) but it is the tens of thousands without this affiliation who have been left with of the pre – Corbyn Politics, which if they have made access at all has already successfully alienated some. The best response to ‘top-down’, ‘entitled ones’ would be mass mobilisations around some of the agreed priorities. A site for debate amongst the detached is again well overdue.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Seriously?

      To my mind Momentum Ltd, (patterned after Madleson’s Progress Limited and actually a, for profit limited company intended to cash in or pimp out or otherwise profit from JC popularity outside the narrow enclave of the,”professional,” Labor party) owes more to the frustrated ambition of Tom Watson that any political initiative.

      What good is forming a company to promote and rotten, unrepresentative and utterly out to lunch, 9and that’s being too kind,) labor party under a flag of electing Jeremy Corby as PM, (unlikely and I voted for him,) whilst the PLP and the CLP continue to completely disregard his vies, opinions and principle and continue do exactly as they please regardless of the wishes and the date he was given when he was elected.

      Our own newly elected MP; Jim McMahon, (elected by less than 23% of the people eligible to vote,) is currently paying his constituents £20 to attend his surgeries, (and if that isn’t an admission how widely disliked and mistrusted he is I don’t know what is.)

      So what will Momentum be offering offer us; a roast pig and a barrel of beer?

      I’ve said it before and it’s a good metaphor; Momentum is the corpse, bloated and rotting and covered in flies, of the British Labor party floating face down in the Westminster sewer and no matter how often or how hard you poke it, (by electing a socialist, sort of, as leader for example,) it’s as dead as a parrot.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        “whilst the PLP and the CLP continue to completely disregard his views, opinions and principles and continue do exactly as they please regardless of the wishes and the mandate he was given when he was elected by us.”

      2. John Penney says:

        What are you on about. J.P.Craig Weston ? Momentum has nothing to do with Tom Watson at all . Watson has expressed repeatedly his hostility to Momentum. Momentum is an organisation to promote and develop the Left Corbynite agenda in the Labour Party.

        Why on earth do you post on this site ? Pure Trollery.

        1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

          http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/dec/04/labour-split-exposed-tom-watson-momentum-rabble-livingstone

          I’ve just checked out what you said and you seem be entirely correct; notwithstanding that the thrust of my comments about Momentum remains largely on the mark, but what a complete and utter shambles.

      3. Dave Roberts says:

        How is he paying people to come to his surgeries? This is one of the most bizarre things that has appeared here.

  2. David Ellis says:

    A good initiative but we have to beware the left concilliators. Momentum’s first task must be to organise as far as they can the deselection of every New Labour MP and candidate and replace them with a socialist one. Next, where it cannot effect a de-selection it must support candidates that can stand against them that is against the official Labour candidate because there is no doubt that though these `moderates’ will ride back into power on the coat tails of Corbyn’s anti-austerity they will immediately seek to bloc with Lib Dems, willing Tories and others to prevent a Corbyn Labour government and form a government of national unity or emergency of their own that can continue the process of the destruction of the remnants of the welfare state and the imposition of austerity on the working class.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Hows that going to happen, Momentum is basically all about abolishing socialism, not promoting it.

      1. David Ellis says:

        You are correct that conciliationism threatens to de-rail the Corbyn project in its early infantsy. Conventional missile that could be carried on the back of a truck for nuclear subs for instance is one example but the really big one is voting with the Labour right and Cameron in the EU Referendum. His reputation as anti-neo liberal, anti-austerity and even anti-Cameron will be shot if he does not lead a socialist Europe OUT campaign and worse the Tories will win in 2020 and Labour’s disintegration will recommence.

    2. Dan Judelson says:

      Troll!

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        There’s a lot of that going on here today.

        Although I freely admit that I was mistaken about Tom Watson’s whom I roundly dislike, involvement with Progress II, sorry I mean Momentum Ltd.

        But what a complete and utter shambles.

  3. Marie Lynam says:

    Hello

    The recent organisation of Momentum structures is an advance, I think, particularly in its efforts to represent the whole country, and the trade unions. Now, I think also, it must allow itself the flexibility to keep changing as situations require. Mistakes will be made, but they will be overcome more easily if the base of the organisation keeps widening to all the sectors fighting against austerity, the TTIP, for a Republic, for nationalisations, for workers control, for the public to debate more and more freely and have a say at the level of what Labour actually does.

    To see to J Corbyn’s election as PM in 5 years time must not be given too much precedence. The situation is going to change rapidly from now till then, and there is need to show the public that those in Momentum defend the public interest. The best way to get elected, for the comrades who wish to win elections, is to do what is right.

    Sometimes you don’t get elected for doing the right thing, but in that case, you can have the satisfaction of having helped to build the structures that will allow others to get elected thanks to your previous hared work. The important is to allow people to advance their own power. When the ordinary members of society have more say, they will elect those they want on the basis of what they want. What else do we need, eh?

    There is a passion for change sweeping the country. Momentum can be the tool that directs that passion into – or towards – the Labour Party. This can only be done at political level, with a programme, or programmes adopted by Labour, to change the structures of the country.

    There will be cohesion in the Momentum’s ranks if the organisation allows itself to discuss a programme of social transformation, allowing itself to be in solid agreement within itself.

    I suggest the following points of programme:

    . Withdrawal of all British troops involved in imperialist wars in the world,
    . nationalisation of the means of transport and communication,
    . the most vigorous progressive system of taxation
    . expropriation of the companies (as in steel) that sack workers
    . compulsory expropriation without compensation of all private land needed for public housing
    . creation of popular assemblies with the fullest participation of trade unions and workers
    . declaration of the aim for a Democratic Republic.

    The present electoral system allows a degree of popular consultation, certainly. But it is organised to allow the fruits of labour to be appropriated (and accumulated) by a few.

    As PM, J Corbyn will not be able to legislate against capital being appropriated and accumulated by a few. The position of PM, and parliament itself, hence the electoral system itself as it stands, are simple managers of the present system of capital accumulation.

    Labour needs to reorganise itself if the present economic, social and cultural problems are to be solved.

    I would like to be invited as a speaker at a Momentum meeting to discuss these questions.

    posadiststoday, Marie Lynam, 9.2.16

    1. John Penney says:

      Ah, yes, takes me back to student days – Marie Lynam is a follower of the eccentric Latin American Trotskyist, J. Posadas. Who can forget his statement in his 1968 pamphlet Les Soucoupes Volantes, le processus de la matiere et de l’energie, la science et le socialisme (Flying Saucers, the process of matter and energy, science and socialism), in which Posadas pleaded that ““We must call upon beings from other planets when they come to intervene, to collaborate with the inhabitants of the Earth to overcome misery. We must launch a call on them to use their resources to help us.”

      Just the sort of political intervention Momentum needs to reach out to the mass radical Left working class mainstream !

      1. Dave Roberts says:

        Interesting comments about Ms Lynam. How did you know this and which group was she in?

      2. Rosie Brocklehurst says:

        Thanks for the heads up on this one John. Maybe Marie could dematerialise and rematerialize at a Momentum meeting in the manner of Star Trek. It also reminds me of the first time I ever debated anything at school aged 14 and a bit, where I proposed the motion that a united world could only come if we were invaded by aliens. Ho Hum.

  4. John Penney says:

    The first National Committee Meeting seems to have made real progress, with sensible organisational/membership and key priorities decisions.

    I welcome the decision of the Committee that members of other parties will be excluded from Momentum membership. The tiny, but frenetically active, “revolutionary” sects have been drooling with excitement at the prospect of the huge new Momentum pool of Left-oriented people as a new mass forum to do their usual offputting ultraleft sloganising and disruptive factionalising. Nothing good ever comes of this. It just pisses off everybody who really doesn’t want to debate “forming a workers militia” quite yet, or thinks an immediate “General strike Now” isn’t quite the priority of the moment.

    As a Momentum supporter myself I have to say though that so far the Momentum website has had exactly zilch mobilising effect on the tens of thousands of new entrants (or returning Old Lefties like me) attracted to Labour around the Corbyn Surge and victory. The sooner that Momentum gets its act together to used its vast Leadership Election-based supporter database to help build local groups the better. As a local area Momentum Facebook Page hoster, prior to trying to get a branch going in rural North Shropshire, I couldn’t even get Momentum Central to tell me how many Supporters , if any, there are in my area – as a guide to whether it is yet worthwhile to call a meeting. having a mass Supporter database is good, but without quickly mobilizing these Supporters , they will soon become demotivated ex-Supporters .

    Hopefully the establishment of the National Committee will put some real momentum into building Momentum – soon.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree with John Penney’s comments. I too think that the decision on membership was the right one and I would also like to see better use of the Momentum website and generally more being done to counter the right-wing campaign against Corbyn.

      The membership decision was important but the confusion behind it still lingers in that Momentum is still trying to see itself as both an independent political campaigning organisation and as a pressure group within the Labour Party to support the Corbyn leadership. I think that there is a dissonance between these two objectives. If Momentum is able to get a political campaign going on some given issue then why would its members be doing that rather than getting their Labour Branches and CLPs to do that.

      My major concern is that while the left is rightly keen to answer the latest Corbyn-undermining statements from right-wing MPs it doesn’t even seem to have considered how the left can counter the large amount of policy work being done by Policy Network, Progress and others. At the end of the day ideology abhors a vacuum and where the right have done the work and the left hasn’t they will be more likely to succeed.

      1. Rosie Brocklehurst says:

        Could someone please ask the Momentum website editor to put a full explanation up about the National Ctte elections and results please. Momentum groups locally (mine being Hastings) are desperate for info, particularly following the Torygraph article today by Andrew Gilligan.

      2. Rosie Brocklehurst says:

        Also to comment on your thoughts Dave-as far as I am aware Momentum has shown itself to be fantastically active already at the recent by election and the registration campaign whereas a lot of branches and CLPs became cliquey and moribund under Blair and Brown , have little political debate, and have the usual suspects (grateful for them nonetheless) stuffing envelopes and putting up a stall in the town centre occasionally. That way no dynamism comes and ‘momentum’ leeches out. No, I am OK at the moment with the apparent dual objective – it is unsettled at the moment because there has been no leadership as such. By the way, the large amount of policy work being done by those groups you mention is not known to anyone but those groups. If you want an education policy my husband can give you it. He is smart, can write and is a teacher on the front line. If you want a policy on media I can give you one If you want a policy on the NHS, my nephew a registrar anaesthetist and a leader of the junior doctors can give you one. An example of the counter policy to the EBACC changes introduced by the DoE is the united unions campaign lead by the Society of Musicians. So we are countering and can counter policy and develop read to wear policies. It ain’t that hard.

        1. John P Reid says:

          Active in what way, fundraising canvassing, a clear message,helping the council?, and you realize that Ed miliband was leader for 5 years and Harriet for 4 months between Browns departure, what happened in those years, for labour to do so well in a Council, Assembly elections,?

          1. Rosie Brocklehurst says:

            I understand they Momentum, many of whom are Labour members of course, were active in the south east and recruited students for the voter registration campaign. They and others have turned out for Corbyn meetings and they canvassed during the by-election.

  5. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    Essentially what has happened is that Labor threw open the election of a leader to popular mandate and Corbyn won by an overwhelming majority, a result that was both unwanted and unwelcome because as far the PLP and CLP are concerned entirely the wrong kind of people, (socialists for example,) voted for him, people who would never otherwise; not in a million years, have voted for any of them.

    Momentum Ltd is basically a crude and brutal attempt to correct that, “mistake,” and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again in future.

    1. John Penney says:

      More completely bonkers Trolling from you, J.P. Craig Weston. Momentum is not a device to derail the Corbyn Surge Leftward shift – it is precisely the opposite – the political vehicle to deepen and develop the Leftward shift in the Party, by mobilising the hugely increased Left-leaning majority membership in the Party. Got that clear now ?

      1. Dave Roberts says:

        Yes John, that’s what I thought as well. One of the directors, as in company, is Jon Lansman who runs this blog and it seems pretty left wing to me.

      2. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        If you say so; as for tedious trite accusation of trolling which I dispute, “it takes one to know one ?”

        1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

          Although I have to admit that regarding Tom Watson I did get completely the wrong of the stick, but at least i can laugh about it.

  6. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    I also mislike, (and even profoundly distrust,) the manner in which Momentum Ltd, which is a just a marketing company is trying, (again after the pattern of Mandleson’s Progress Ltd,) misrepresent itself as somehow being a political, (and not a commercial,) intuitive or even as being synonymous with the labor party.

    Otherwise why should it even matter who joins it ?

    1. John Penney says:

      You need to see someone about your rampant paranoia, J.P. Craig-Weston.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        “Don’t feed the trolls.”

        At least you’re entertaining.

    2. Dave Roberts says:

      I’m sure you have a point there, I’m just not sure what it is. Could you enlighten us?

  7. Bazza says:

    I support Momentum and from my understanding I think there is now a national committee I think of 50 with 26 being female and from all regions and including trade unionists.
    It is absolutely right that it should be Labour’s Momentum as the Bourgoiis Socialist Sects (with ready made top down programmes) hover round to try to recruit.
    But of course we can work with social movements, trade unions, and other community organisations.
    By the way just read today in The Guardian that Cameron is making £300m available (to mainly Tory Councils) in places like Oxfordshire (funny doesn’t Cameron represent Witney?) to help them adjust to cuts – so it’s Austerity for Councils in the North, London, Wales, Scotland etc but not for Tory Constituencies!
    Oh and the latest Tory Grand Ball in London yesterday apparently earned them just under £2m and don’t forget Hedge Funds gave the Tories £50m before the Election and the Tories (and Lib Dumbs) gave Hedge Funds £150m in tax cuts!
    So it’s good Momentum are there to help in organisation as the crumbs for the working class/working people ‘Labour First’ and yesterday’s technocrats ‘Progress’ (interesting careers for them and crumbs for the working class/working people) are organised, but hopefully our strength will also be ideas.
    New members (particularly those who have not come back) could subscribe to the excellent New Left Review, and read books by Paulo Freire plus Paul Frolich’s biography of Rosa Luxemburg – these could help you as independent left wing democratic socialist thinkers and the best thing we all bring to the table is critical thinking. Solidarity!

  8. Bazza says:

    Ooops! Just checked emails and there were 52 delegates at the meeting which was gender balanced. Have elected a steering committee.

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