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Members can vote for what ever kind of Momentum they want

portrait2The “Corbyn surge” which first began in summer 2015 was made up of people, inside the Labour Party and outside it, who wanted a new kind of politics and recognised that Jeremy embodied it. Most of them were happy to join, or rejoin the Party, but they also wanted more – a social movement which would connect people up with each other and organise a variety of ways to get involved politically and campaign. This desire to do things a bit differently – and have fun doing it! – was the motivating force behind the immensely successful ‘The World Transformed’ activities run in parallel with this year’s Labour Party Annual Conference in Liverpool.It was also the motivating force behind the setting up of Momentum a year ago. Temporary structures were set up to help get new members and returners involved in building up the Labour Party, joining in with traditional canvassing activities, such as when coaches were organised to help out in the Oldham by-election, and also make links across Regions and nationally. They were also a great help when we found ourselves fighting yet another Leadership election barely a year after the first one.

However, what works as a temporary expedient when an organisation is first being set up and finding its feet is not necessarily what would work best in the long term. Like all new organisations, Momentum has had its teething troubles (as I run a day nursery, I know all about those!). The first people involved in trying to get it going were, by definition, more versed in the ways of the ‘old’ politics than the ‘new’. Working with enthusiastic young people with a different perspective on things has meant we’ve all been travelling along a learning curve. The temporary structures that were set up tended to be modelled on those of the Labour Party – decidedly not the new politics! Many local groups felt that a delegate structure tended to prevent grassroots participation by default.

Worse than that, Momentum doesn’t (yet!) have half a million members, so some of them, according to a recent mapping exercise, either have no local group to go to, or their ‘local’ group is a ninety minute drive away, so a delegate structure is worse than useless as a way of involving them in decision making. The (temporary) Steering Group has therefore decided that the best way of involving all the members is to, well, involve them. Proposals for how we organise will be put out to the whole membership, any one of whom could also put their own proposals or amendments. There would still be a place for local groups and delegate structures, but final decisions on Momentum’s core politics, our code of conduct, and our democratic structures could be voted on by our greatest resource – the membership. A Founding Conference in spring next year could be live streamed and proposals voted for online.

On the Steering Group we feel that this could well answer the call for a new, inclusive and democratic way of doing things. And if the members disagree, and really want to ape Labour Party structures and have rigid decision making delegate bodies – well, it’s up to them. They can vote for whatever kind of Momentum they want: not only is that the new way of doing politics, that’s democracy!


  1. C MacMackin says:

    Well, I guess my response to this can be summed up as “better late than never”. I’m glad to hear that an emphasis will be made on democratising Momentum (incidentally, does this mean it will be converted to a membership organisation rather than a private company owned by Jon Lansman?). However, the article comes across as rather blase about how undemocratic Momentum has been to date. It does not merely ape the structures of the Labour party–it is run by an unelected stearing committee, the membership of which is not even clear! I very much hope that there will be sufficiently informed debate to be able to properly address these sorts of problems.

  2. James Martin says:

    What an poor rationale for what has all the makings of a top down strategy to protect senior Momentum leaders from local groups (who will have no purpose other than to pass on whatever the top leadership decide to their local members) by atomising the membership and treating them not as a collectivist force but as isolated individuals sat at home. It also completely undermines the proposed national conference, both as the collective decision making body, and as a gathering of activists (who may as well all stay at home sat on their backsides staring at a screen). Quite how motions to this conference which the isolated and atomised members sat at home would be voting on could come about in the first place is anyone’s guess given the deliberately shackled nature of the local groups, perhaps they will all be written by Lansman and Shawcroft?

    It is the same rationale of course that gave us the current anti-TU laws that prevent workplace balloting and that force postal ballots onto unions where members isolated at home, without hearing up close the debate and arguments that come from a workplace meeting are far more likely to vote against strikes as it is a method designed for winding down and controlling militancy. That sections of the Momentum leadership like Lansman and Shawcroft think this a suitable way to conduct democracy in a labour movement organisation and to move away from generations of hard won experience on labour movement collective approaches to democratic accountability speaks volumes (as did of course the cowardly and disgusting betrayal of Jackie Walker to the right-wing JLM, something I believe Shawcroft supported).

    I’m not surprised that this barmy idea was forced through at a depleted steering committee called at unacceptably short-notice (why?), and it makes Matt Wrack’s telling description of it at the LRC conference at the weekend all the more explosive.

  3. Simon Hannah says:

    Christine, the SC unilaterally made this decision and by passed all the local groups which had been discussing it. A scandalous usurping of Momentum members and activists. Perhaps we would have discussed it democratically (as we were doing) and reached the same conclusion, but now it looks like the SC has taken this action as some kind of coup.

    That you supported this with no thought for the local groups and their deliberations is a damning indictment of the kind of bureaucratic and elitist mindset that sop many people on the left have.

  4. David Pavett says:

    It is good that Christine Shawcroft recognises that Momentum is in a fluid state, that mistakes have been made and that its members need to be empowered. I have some doubts, however, about the way she discusses each of these problems and also of what she regards as solutions to them.

    1. It is true that the “Corbyn surge” was made up of people who wanted a new kind of politics. It is less clear that for all of them “Jeremy embodied it”. I voted for him twice on the basis that his apparent commitment to making the Labour Party more democratic could be a game changer and not because of any strong support for his personal views many of which I disagree with. When I say that I find that many others who voted for him feel the same way. I think that the excessive focus on personality rather than policy has, so far, been a great opportunity missed.

    2. Did Momentum joiners want a “social movement”? That’s a moot point. Some of us argued from the beginning that Momentum should be clearly a Labour pressure group (a kind of left-wing counter-weight to Progress) which would contribute to the development of policy and organise to promote left values and people. The social movement idea was never clear and often implied getting Momentum to do what the Labour Party should be doing. If Momentum has the time and people to do that then it should be using its strength to do it through the Labour Party.

    3. It is not enough for Momentum leaders to acknowledge “teething problems”. And the essential problem has not been the aping of LP structures. Rather it has been the secretive way of working in which virtually no information is available about Momentum’s temporary structures and the people involved, very few contact points are given, the national website is about as uniformative as it could be, and virtually no effort has been devoted to policy development or political/economic analysis. Christine mentions none of this which makes me want to ask if the concept of openness is even understood.

    4. The problem with the LP is not essentially its structures but the unimaginative way in which they are used and the will of too many in positions to manipulate them. However good the structures they can always be subverted while the closed nature of the politics involved allows small numbers of people to manipulate those structures. The real problem with many older Labour activists is that after decades of working in tiny groups to get their people elected and their motions passed they don’t know any other way of working and this has been transferred to Momentum.

    5. A new politics does not essentially consist either in sitting in circles rather than rows or in inventing new structures. It involves a commitment to openness, good information available to everyone and a comradely atmosphere of debate. In that context there should have been a strong focus on debating policy and not just rallying support for individuals.

    6. I am afraid that Christine’s well meant proposals for referendum style politics within Momentum are not the solution. She refers to “rigid delegate structures” without telling us what that means. The point about delegate structures is that in a context in which members have vary varied situations, in terms of the time and commitment that they can give to debate issues, and this means that a structure in which people take on different levels of responsibility to do this is appropriate. Having all members vote without any commitment to read all the materials or listen to all the arguments is an invitation to a form of politics about which the left should be wary.

    I hope that there will be some serious discussions about Christine’s points and proposals which seem to me to be as much part of the problem as they are of any effective solution. If my local Momentum group is anything to go by there are increasing rumblings of dissatisfaction with Momentum’s closed style of operation. This analysis and criticism expressed by the Labour Representation Committee surely also deserve a full response (which could usefully take the form of a discussion rather than a complete rebuttal).

  5. Rod says:

    Digital democracy is the way to go.

    Marxist sects with their tiny memberships won’t like it because it works against the influence of entryists well-practiced in procedural manipulation.

  6. John P Reid says:

    Can the clarity of labour members expelled and still turning up to labour street campaigns, via Mimentum, and wearing labour rosettes be cleared up?

  7. Hmmmm… good point Christine … I think I’d like to ape the structures of the labour movement, the Chartists, the movement against apartheid , CND, Stop the War… What I particularly like about them is that in principle the leadership can be held accountable by branch members and decisions are made collectively.

  8. Bazza says:

    Yes better late than never and the left being used to the old ways of working is pertinent.
    Each Momemtum Group should send x delegates to the conference (50/50 male/female) and try to reflect all ages.
    I do like the idea of people contributing on-line although recognise 80% of communication is non-verbal (which is missed on-line) but you can’t beat face-to face discussions but at the same time some people physically can’t get to meetings or have childcare commitments or may work or have other commitments.
    Perhaps the delegates votes count but on-line voting/views could also be taken into consideration but not have the same weight?
    The challenge is to accommodate both.
    On line comments could be printed for the conference.
    At Labour meetings voting in person counts but non-attendees comments could be printed and made available at meetings but a concern could be then what is the point of meetings?
    I have argued that Momentum Groups should have
    discussed JCs policy statements to build on them (each one side of A4 and perhaps 10 bullet points or so each) and we could still do this and send them to the Momentum Conference.
    All it would take is having Any Other Business slots at Momentum meetings where anyone could raise any points and we ask for volunteers to write brief policy papers (as above that is if we can trust any non-Labour members and sectarians) on JCs statements and I would be happy to do one on Housing and I am sure others on here could do others but the Left must avoid another of its faults – writing War and Peace – we need to be brief and use straightforward language to communicate with millions.
    So that is our challenge blending our old ways with the new potential ones.

  9. Verity says:

    Despite the importance of the debate about ‘conference-style’ versus ‘distant and detached’ discussion, it is difficult for me to get too concerned about this one particular trial. Perhaps the real concern has laid with what has occurred over the last year or so and the impotence and irrelevance that reflects the organisation outside of those areas where there are formed groups.

    I must admit to not having quite grasped what a social movement is. My assumption is that it is less political but more involving and engaging; with its members adapting to their less political and more emotional, social, humanistic, spontaneous and individualistic preferences for their politics.

    I understand that Momentum has 20,,000 members and 190,000 Supporters. It must be pretty certain that most of that larger number are not really socialists, since many will not have studied, experienced or engaged in much discussion, but do identify with a (individualist perception) of what those socialists do represent – the products of their politics do chime, with, ‘the values we hold on many issues’. So for Momentum to have just a conference probably retaining the presumption of a socialist audience – who else except us would sit for hours enduring debates (often) in the abstract or semantic and (often) pedantic and tautologically reinforcing our existing prejudices and experiences often against the frustrations of years of absence of many successes. All conducted with little humour. An internet-based event will probably reaches a wider number with no stomach for the whole conference experience.

    I do not have a great attachment to any one form in particular because I suspect that trying to simultaneously do both will probably have the save outcome with the strength of arguments at the conference winning the day amongst the ‘passive’ and more detached ‘viewers’ as well. If it doesn’t then maybe we need to sharpen up our appeal. Personally I am not interested in winning arguments by a show of 221 hands in one direction and 197 in another – the result will often not be worth the time spent in the debate. We need to build stronger consensus than this, given the forces against us. The combined event would in my judgement more likely lead to this type of consensus, both amongst the committed and the partially engaged. The natural level of engagement may find its own level and contribution. A dual counting of votes would show if I am wrong.

    1. Verity says:

      So the title of the article,

      ‘Members can vote for what type of organisation they want’,

      is a sleight of hand because, yes, members presumably will always have this chance. The debate surely is about what form will the members get the vote. Will it be by democratic acclamation via a full, wide and transparent discussion, i.e. by a fully informed interactive debate at conference or through a more semi – detached, and more opt in style, via additional media exposure. As I have argued it ought to be possible to deliver both as with the leadership context with full open media communicated debate followed up with OMOV.

      The means by which the decision has arisen though cannot be set aside – a steering committee with ‘out of time-limiting authority’ deciding by means of a short notice meeting that it should set aside a national committee meeting that may have made an alternative decision. This unfortunately is where the right wing ‘insurgents’ could successfully argue, ‘so what makes you so different from the ways we found necessary to stabilise our power’.

      I suspect the extent to which many of the 190,000 Momentum Supporters have grasped this sleight of hand will be the extent to which it will have already lost half of its (perhaps more naive) Supporters and maybe has already led to its loss of moral authority and perhaps the start of its decline.

  10. John Penney says:

    All this manoeuvring by the various factions within Momentum bodes ill for the long term potential of this still really merely proto organisation of the radical left within the labour Party , to play a key organisational AND political role for Left advance in the festering civil war still underway within the Party.

    On the one hand we have the self appointed original Old Labour Left “leadership” of Momentum. They were actually essentially rescued by the latest Leadership Campaign (and all the very politically basic phone banking and rally organising that involved for a politically diverse band of supporters) , from what before then was quite evident – the leading “Corbynites” had, and have, no clear idea of any sort of serious political role for Momentum.

    The current “leadership” , around Jon , quite evidently fear the now mass Momentum membership , as potentially “embarrassing, and “ultraleft” – and disruptive to their “business as usual” , ie, endlessly plotting in smoke-filled rooms with other old Lefties, and compromising with the “soft Left” and the now quite clearly totally uncompromising Labour Right.

    Then on the other wing we have the absolutely numerically tiny, but hyper activist, “usual suspect” ultraleft, both inside ( mosty very recently) and outside of the Labour Party. Desperate to gain control of Momentum , via the usual hyper-organised manoeuvers to gain wildly out of proportion delegateships to any decision-making Momentum conferences going. And with what end ? To get Momentum to adopt the usual litany of frankly bonkers ultraleft “bee in the bonnet” policies that just go down soooo well with the wider Labour Membership, including most “Corbynites”, eg, everything from obsessing about the Israel/Palestine tragedy and their crude related soviet era-sourced understanding of “imperialism”, to demands for the formation of a “workers militia” , and a General Strike NOW , and on it endlessly goes – a set of priorities nurtured within the hermetically sealed political bubble that now is the UK Far Left.

    Tragically this lack of the current leadership to grasp the need for Momentum to grow to be a politically educated, democratic, activist, policy developing AND political combat arm of the Left within Labour, has apparently led them to fear the development of a genuine branch structure across Momentum. Instead they seem to want to retreat to a “plebiscitory” model of decision-making – abusing the huge democratic potential of E-voting to allow every Momentum Member to participate in votes on all issues , AFTER A PROCESS OF DEMOCRATIC DISCUSSION. As with all plebiscites – it is who sets the questions and the policy choices offered that is vitally important.

    As things are currently going – the , in their own distinctly different, ways, identically barren , approaches of both the current leadership and the many tiny , doctrinally obsessed, factions of the Far Left, will tie the potential of Momentum down in endless infighting, whilst the Labour Right get on with their systematic objective of breaking the enthusiasm of the “Corbyn surge” new membership. The Right , by focussed manoeuvre , and electoral sabotage, will thereby derail any real Left policy advance by Corbyn, and eventually regaining control of a , no doubt much smaller, but firmly neoliberal Labour Party – as demanded by their billionaire puppet masters.

    There must be at least 15,000 of Momentum’s current extraordinary 20,000 + membership who hoped for so much more, and would support any structural and policy proposals that freed Momentum from its sterile internal factionalism, to get on with the fight for coherent Left policies , nationwide campaigning against Austerity, and taking the fight to the Labour Right

  11. Stephen Bellamy says:

    looks like are stuck between a rock ( Lansman )
    and a hard place ( Mountford)

  12. Rip Bulkeley says:

    I note that the Steering Committee have become a Steering Group – presumably this faction of the SC – and far from fulfilling assignments from and reporting back to a guiding National Committee, as originally pledged to do, they now operate outwith the National Committee which may or may not be allowed to meet in December. I also note that this ‘celebrity’ does not even trouble to introduce herself.

  13. Giles Wynne says:

    So far not much momentum ? I didn’t join because although a Socialist, Momentum seemed to be exclusive when it needed to be much more inclusive.What an opportunity missed to bring non Party and the Purged into the Picture.
    Is there a Young Momentum, a Pensioners Momentum,and People’s Momentum ?

  14. John Walsh says:

    An interesting and important battle going on within Momentum over how to actually make use of the ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for the left. Excellent points made above by David P (especially 4 and 5) and J Penny (that, as things stand, the right will run rings round the left).

    The video of Matt Wrack at the LRC captures the dilemma – he wants a new kind of politics organised by the old way of doing things. But, as DP argues, the reality is that the old structures are too easily manipulated. It’s not all about structures though – sitting in rows or circles – it’s about openness. But, listen to the reaction to Wrack talking about an online conference (around 7 mins 30 into the video): “that’s ridiculous”. It would be ridiculous if it was on Facebook and only online. But what if new ways of involving members were explored online?

    From what I see where I live, though, there is very little chances of any kind of debate in the local group about openness. The ‘great comrade’ activists have taken over and that is that. And for Christine to not mention the background arguments about the Steering Committee usurping the power of the NC is in itself indicative of a lack of openness.

    For me, a big problem is the sole focus on campaigning – this is where ‘great comrade’ activism is on display, honoured and rewarded to the exclusion of others. It’s simply not possible to join in if you don’t go to all the meetings – “how can anyone take you seriously if you don’t come to meetings?” is what I hear. Yet, if the 20k plus members are to be active it’s going to involve doing things – not just turning up to top-table meetings about campaigning.

    That’s just my view but it’s almost pointless to state it as the delegates have been appointed, the meetings where decisions are made are closed and there is no forum for debate.

  15. Terry McCarthy says:

    less infighting and more policy proposals please, we have to get a socialist manifesto in place. Forget the egos put the class first

    1. John Lewis says:

      Terry, The most sensible comment (and the shortest)! Key issues still unresolved – Brexit (Yes/No), Immigration (Yes/No), co-operation with other parties (not Tories though).

  16. Another point of view says:

    Momentum has so much potential, without it Corbyn’s days are numbered. On 2 points there are potential solutions. I hope people are reading because we can and must do this!

    First; Momentum must go from being a private company to being that other kind of a socialist organization; a Co-operative. We all have an equal say and ownership by default.

    Second; Momentum needs an annual conference if not for voting for networking. With 20,000 very capable people they can be left to their devices to arrange a 3 day conference, if we’re not fussy about where we go. Let the steering committee come and do their thing. Momentum members are capable of getting around labour machinery, they’re no less capable of getting around Momentum machinery.

    Momentum must get talking and doing if we’re to win the party and elections.

    As for the Labour Representative Committee, they are on the same page! Set up for and by the same people, believing the same things. Just leadership issues. Must work together. Momentum should have been paired up with the LRC in the beginning. To win, to achieve anything we must work together along with Red Labour and other related organizations.

    1. Rob says:

      Pan left grouping? This will likely never happen. The hard left is just as self destructive as the far left when it comes navel gazing ‘more comradely than thou’ ‘the point is to lead the organisation not change the world out there’ NUS style insular politics. Far be it for me to defend JL but whilst retaining his core beliefs he does seem to have learned some lessons from the last 30 years in the wilderness: seems to want to make this moment actually count for something beyond the meetings and the marchers with like minded people. The ‘left that left’ Labour (both voluntarily or otherwise) really doesn’t seem to have- the tactics are the same, the rhetoric and terminology is the same, 5)3.lack of engagement with centrist and right wing people the same. Even the ‘leading voices of the current’ are the same. JL should stand firm against this traditional old fashioned leftist sectarian factionalism. If the leftist cliques complaining about his behaviour get any real influence in momentum then that’s the beginning of the end of it.

  17. Bazza says:

    I am a Labour member and go to Momentum Meetings and have joined Momentum. It has a Chair and Vice-Chair plus a few others who seem to be organisers but few of us had a say in electing these so perhaps Momentum local AGMs would be a start with all Momentum members (Labour Party members only) electing the local committee.
    I have felt the meetings have been a little controlled and I have heard Greens and little sectarian groups trying to tell Labour what to do so I would argue Momentum meetings should be for Labour members only and if some don’t like this then they can join or lump it!
    Interestingly 2 in my local group are former Alliance for Workers Liberty members but are now in Labour – AWL if you check their website are the Revolutionary Communist League with their own international network and policies and programme; in effect top bourgeois socialists and probably like the little sectarian groups (who have read only Trotsky) here to try to recruit and to try to ‘lead’ us.
    So I would restrict Momentum to Labour members and we discuss ideas and develop policy which we pass up to the National Momentum Committee and to this annual conference.
    And I accept that there does need to be some top-down stimulus to facilitate bottom up decision making via the conference etc.
    We could pilot the OMOV attendance voting and on-line but I would be much happier if it was by Labour members of Momentum only.
    The problem for the last two years is that we have been reactive instead of being proactive and setting the agenda – what do we want Labour to be like? what do we want conference to be like to give members power? What policies do we want?
    We perhaps need to be structured as a Left Wing equivalent to Progress but one which tries to harness new technology to involve left-leaning Labour members.
    I have always argued there are 2 battles to be won – one against the Right Wing MPs (100 of whom disgracefully abstained or absented themselves from a vote on Yemen last week which could have been won if they had voted) and the second is against the bourgeois socialists in and outside Labour (top down, with elite central committees, ready made programmes etc.).
    They treat the working class/working people with a banking concept of political education – all they need to do is to plant their ready made programmes into the heads of the working class/working people and they will then deliver their ‘socialism’ for us under their leadership and control.
    They want socialism FOR the working class and perhaps some of us want a left wing democratic bottom up socialism WITH the working class/working people.
    So let’s have the confidence to know what we want and to set the agenda to transform Momentum and Labour.
    When Labour has a set of progressive policies say on each of JC’s ten statements then CLPs could have public meetings on these in turn which could be quite exciting and starts our election campaign now.
    We can then get our message out to benefit communities in the UK and as an example for our brothers and sisters around the world.
    So transform Momentum and Labour from below.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree that Momentum should have been for Labour Party members only. It should have been clearly established as a LP pressure group and not tried to see itself as also a “social movement”. It it is an effective pressure group then its job should be to make the LP into a social movement. Momentum was misconceived from the start. Allowing non-LP people to join and then telling them that they cannot be elected to leading positions sets up a system of first and second class members – a practice which we deplore in many other circumstances. There is unfortunately no sign of any careful thinking from the top to re-conceive the organisation in a more appropriate way.

      Being a LP-only organisation would not mean excluding non-LP people from its activities. There could be open meetings and activities to which all are invited. It would however make clear that if you want to take part in the formal process of the organisation then you need to be a LP member. That would overcome all sorts of problems.

      I have not felt that my Momentum meetings have been “controlled” in the way that you report. On the other hand most in my group is not happy with the direction and organisation of the national leadership.

      I agree that “The problem for the last two years is that we have been reactive instead of being proactive and setting the agenda” about what we want Labour to be like. I agree too that we should “be structured as a Left Wing equivalent to Progress” and I have argued this from the very beginning. Progress has been very successful in pushing its agenda. We should learn from them.

      I lost the thread when you started to talk about “the bourgeois socialists in and outside Labour”. What does this term mean to you. It needs to be explained. It can’t just be people who favour top-down methods as you seem to suggest since there are many active LP members, working class on any definition, who favour such methods. Who are the “bourgeois socialists”? How do you classify yourself? And when you write of “working class” people can you explain to whom, for you, this refers?

      I agree, again, when you speak of the need to fill out Jeremy C’s ten “policy statements” with some detail and argument. Will you take on one of them. I am hoping to offer something on education. In my experience left activists seem generally prepared to talk a lot but are very reticent about putting anything down on paper. That needs to change if we are to achieve a real breakthrough in the LP (and let’s not kid ourselves, that breakthrough has not yet been achieved). The left leadership is hemmed in and already involved in opaque manoeuvres which have nothing to do with putting the members in charge of the party.

      1. Fibes says:

        I agree that Momentum members should also have to be LP members, but with one caveat – not until the LP itself has cleared up all issues surrounding suspensions and expulsions and implemented upgraded processes ensuring the ridiculous plotting of the Labour Right against innocent new members can never happen again.

        Or put another way, if that rule had been in place from the beginning, the LP could have very easily put a little finger on top of Momentum and stopped it running before it had even left the blocks. Net effect? No Corbyn, easy street for Progress & co.

        What the new Left has achieved in a very short space of time is frankly incredible, but we’re all kidding ourselves and each other if we can’t recognise that as a social movement worth very much at all outside of the LP, we’re at a very embryonic stage. Strategically, decisions which may appear strange to most have been completely necessary to ensure the whole thing doesn’t fall down at the first hurdle. Momentum and the Left in general have really benefited from the protection provided by Jon and the SC. We should be thankful for that and everything it has given us, but also understand that the means by which we got “here” are not also the means by which we get “there”.

  18. Bazza says:

    Bourgeois socialists are those who take the power for themselves when we should be the facilitators for power for the masses of working people.
    Housing is done and I could offer something on them all.
    Yes the Left is good at saying what we are against; now is the time to start saying and sharing what we are for.
    With best wishes.

  19. Ed Private0 says:

    Reading the article and the comments two things jump out. 1. If you have an organisation which represents views upwards through committees and local organisations it will in the end be taken over by the activists who do not necessarily represent the views of the membership. This is the equivalent of the wider national parliamentary democracy. 2. If you have OMOV you avoid the corruption of value representation which can occur through local unbalanced activism but there is a need to have high (representative) participation rate. There must be hurdles to be achieved to have a valid OMOV based decision. you probably can only do this through an e-democracy methodology.

    I think there needs to be a rethink of the purpose of Momentum. JC has been re-elected and will take Labour through to 2020. Why now should Momentum continue to exist.

  20. iain rendell says:

    I recently joined the labour party mainly to support the kind of policies and the kind of patient, polite but firm politics he radiates. I would like to meet my fellow labour members at a local meeting but the given contact doesn’t answer my emails so I have no idea where or when the clp meet. I discuss much politics and learn a lot of what is going on via Facebook. Some of my friends, especially a disabled friend, use facebook in the same way. Had labour its own facebook we could debate labour policy and action and I called take part in labour movement in a way that is currently being denied to me. Why could I not use such a forum to also influence decision making, even voting on issues about which I felt strongly. What;s wrong with giving us all a voice and a vote? There would still be face to face meetings and conferences for those able to attend but one person one vote should go hand in hand with the ability for every person to state their case, make their point, ask their questions and make their suggestions. I want to see a fairer world I don’t want to have to learn books of rules and committee procedures and know all the jargon just to have my say and cast my vote.

  21. Karl Stewart says:

    Over on Labour List, Conor Pope is reporting that the Momentum National Committee is apparently ignoring the Lansman/Shawcroft attempted coup and that the national committee has decided to go ahead with its meeting, this coming Saturday

  22. David Pavett says:


    Why has Christine Shawcroft not appeared in this discussion thread to answer some of the pressing points of concern made? Is this the much vaunted “new way of doing politics”? Seems rather traditional to me: when you have no good answers to good questions say nothing, never admit that you might be wrong.

    A compromise deal has been reached between the squabbling factions at the top of Momentum but this all done without reference to the members who are not being given even basic information about the differences.

  23. David Pavett says:


    If Christine S does not think it important to respond to the points made in this thread then I don’t see what reason there can be for supporting her in future NEC elections. The silent treatment when critical questions are raised is not consistent with a genuinely democratic approach to politics. It is, in my view, completely inappropriate for someone in a leading position, such as being a member of Labours National Executive Committee, to feel that they have no obligation to respond to criticisms.

  24. David Pavett says:


    It tells me that we need a rather more open process for selecting a left slate for the NEC than we had last time round.

  25. David Pavett says:

    As this article rolls off the front page I would like to emphasize that it was published on 31st Oct. I am writing this on 9th Nov. In the nine days since the article was published substantial criticism have been made. By now it seems clear that Christine S has no intention of replying.

    Christine S was on the left slate for the NEC. Like the others on the slate, she stood for “democracy, transparency and accountability”. I know that I am not alone in finding it hard to match that with her failure to respond to reasonable criticism. This is not a the new kind of honest and open politics that left campaigners say they stand for.

    1. Rob Bab says:

      @David P
      The title of this piece is;
      “members can vote for what ever kind of momentum they want”. As I read that and your response requests, a Fordism kept coming to mind, you’re familiar with it;
      “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is …” I was going to include the last word (black) but after Momentum’s shoddy support of Jackie Walker I thought that’d be stretching the analogy in to the realms of fantasy.
      It’s not just Christine Shawcroft who don’t answer reasonable questions, there are others who are rather aloof ie Lansman, O Jones etc
      The commenter and blogger Stephen Bellamy, for one, has frequently asked Lansman to account for his decisions/opinions and I have yet to see a reply.
      Just had a thought, they may have replied by email, have you checked your spam box?

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