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Momentum’s birthday marks a successful year. But what happens next?

Momentum iconThis weekend, Momentum celebrated its first birthday, bringing to an end a year in which the organisation has left a mark on British politics despite being continually undermined and smeared by the press, the government and frequently some in the Labour Party too.

Momentum organiser Adam Klug marked the occasion with a fantastic announcement: That Momentum now has over 20,000 fee-paying members, and a supporter base of over 200,000 people, committed to fighting for an alternative way of doing politics in Britain, rejecting both Theresa May’s post-Thatcherite mixture of populism and nationalism, and also the triangulations and capitulations of New Labour’s ‘Third Way’.

Just a couple of months before the General Election in 2015, I attended a meeting of the ‘Left Platform’, convened by John McDonnell. A few dozen activists sat and debated for a day in a meeting hall in central London about what we do to prevent the (at the time, expected) Labour government from implementing austerity. That meeting now seems a world away. It would have been as unthinkable at the time to say that soon there would be an organisation of the Labour Left with over 200,000 supporters, as it was to suggest Jeremy Corbyn would be our party leader.

Yet while Momentum has made great progress this year, and survived the intense scrutiny of a six-month long undercover media string which found no evidence of the smears levelled at the group, there are still serious challenges and strategic questions ahead.

Changing the Narrative

Momentum have been successful this year in getting onto the airwaves, both on TV and radio, and pushing an alternative line from that trotted out by MPs who dearly wish Jeremy Corbyn had been beaten last time round. It is often forgotten that the Tory U-turns Labour has forced on tax credits, PIP, and possibly Amber Rudd’s ‘foreign worker lists’ have come because we have a leader who is flatly opposed to compromising on our most basic purpose: to protect those in need.

Momentum has to be a part of continuing to push Labour in this direction, and not allowing u-turns of our own on migrants’ rights or scrapping Trident. The weight of opinion in the party is with us so firmly that Owen Smith fell about this summer to demonstrate his radical credentials on public spending. We must keep it up.

Changing the Party

Another element of Momentum’s activities that has also been incredibly successful has been in internal party matters, with the left winning for the first time in decades all six CLP representatives to the NEC. Members now have much better representation at the top of the party and Momentum’s role in that victory should not be downplayed.

But the election for the party’s National Constitutional Committee was lost at conference this year, and due to large numbers of left-wing CLP delegates being ‘purged’, the left was not at its full strength on the conference floor. National Policy Forum elections are taking place in 2017, along with elections to the Conference Arrangements Committee, and we should be looking to them to ensure members’ views are represented at every level of the party.

Local Momentum groups should ensure that rather than replicating Labour structures outside of the party, that they are active and present in changing those structures. Democratising the Labour party must start from the ground up.

Changing the Country

While a united and well-run party behind Corbyn will be vital to our chances in a General Election, of equal importance is translating the wave of support into action that will broaden our appeal.

Momentum’s activities have been positive in this regard, such as the Democracy SOS campaign which boosted voter registration during the Tories’ gerrymandering of boundaries, or local groups such as Brighton registering voters outside football matches.

The key to success will be a mixture of local innovation with central direction. Groups should be free to create and pursue initiatives to broaden the electorate and win them round to Labour, but also have a link to Momentum HQ which ensures a spread of ideas and practice.

There is a critical need to encourage newer members to participate in Labour’s canvassing sessions and get out on the doorstep, but equally local Labour Parties should be present in community campaigns against local cuts, showing the broader public that we are on their side, and the Tories are not. If CLPs are still hesitant to branch out into community organising, then Momentum should not hesitate to run these campaigns themselves.

Developing policy

One area that the Jeremy for Leader campaign has excelled in, in both 2015 and 2016, is the generation of policy proposals that if implemented would radically transform Britain, addressing to many of the injustices and inequalities our party seeks to end, whether in housing, pensioner poverty, NHS provision or mental health.

Yet outside of the leadership elections, Corbyn is constrained by the PLP and Shadow Cabinet, and has to, for the time being, adopt a more consensual approach to policy-making. This means that many of Corbyn’s best ideas and proposals might not make it into the party’s manifesto, and is also why control of bodies like Party Conference and the National Policy Forum are critical to delivering a genuinely Corbynite programme.

We need a space to formulate, debate and propose a radical agenda. Momentum can help facilitate some of that. Working with organisations such as the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) or the New Economics Foundation the left should be proposing and debating policies independently of our leadership.

Every Prime Minister who successfully changed the country in recent history has had a range of people and independent organisations producing policy that can be selected or rejected by the party. Thatcher had the Centre for Policy Studies, Blair had Progress. Momentum needs to become a thinking, as well as a campaigning, organisation.

Developing new activists for the new politics  

One of the most inspiring events at party conference this year was Momentum’s fringe The World Transformed, which saw hundreds if not thousands of visitors pour through to discuss a new kind of politics. When I arrived to attend a session on radical media, I found 300 people sat in the spillover room, watching the session that was taking place next door, with another 200 people sat inside.

Momentum needs to continue events like this, and along with the broader Labour Left get very serious about political education. We have seen a huge influx of new activists, many (like me) are young, and many do not necessarily know the party’s history and its importance. If we aren’t to repeat mistakes of the past, we need to understand them. A political school, journals of left-wing thought, and blogs such as Left Futures all have their place, but Momentum are currently best placed to help facilitate and deliver, as they did with The World Transformed.

To win a General Election from the left is a difficult task – no one but fools have argued otherwise. On communication, party democracy, campaigning, policy offers and activism there are difficult questions, and we may need to get them all right at once. In success or failure, Momentum will be vital to our answer to each one.


  1. James Martin says:

    As an ex-Momentum supporter I’m not going to rehash the issues around Jackie Walker (whose disgraceful treatment by the Momentum leadership led me to leave), but it does highlight the real achilles heel of the group which is the lack of internal democracy and accountability within it which has led it to become guilty of do as we say not as we do in relation to the wider Party. Jon Lansman has every right to argue the need to cosy up to the right-wing JLM zionists, but equally unless there are democratic mechanisms within Momentum for deciding on whether that and other matters that have in my opinion dangerously disarmed the movement (like not calling for mandatory reselection, not wanting rid of back-stabber Tom Watson and supporting purge-meister Iain McNichol in keeping his job) is the way forward then Momentum has no future beyond a personality cult.

    1. Stephen Bellamy says:

      Reading between Jon Lansman’s lines it would seem that the real reason Jackie Walker was removed is because, as Jon told The Independent, she ” upset ” the notorious perjurer Jeremy Newmark that Jon ” works closely with”.

      1. Stephen Bellamy says:

        And since Newmark was on McNicol’s back day and night, cheer leading the purge and pointing him in the direction of names, and since JLM , from the LP conference platform, called for the purge to continue, we can only hope and assume, that Jon wasn’t ” working closely ” with him on that stuff.

      2. Imran Khan says:

        Some of what is written here is a bit “in”. Can you explain this perjury by Jeremy Newmark as well as who he is?

        1. James Martin says:

          Jeremy Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, is a liar. Not my words (although I’m happy to repeat them), but those of Employment Tribunal judges who made special reference to his ‘preposterous’ evidence given in support of a member of UCU who had taken the union to court over its support for Palestine and BDS (as democratically agreed at UCU conference). You will note that the lies told by Newmark are little different from the lies repeated during the coup against Corbyn for many other alleged incidents that on examination were shown to be false (such as the lies told by non-Jewish JLM members in Brighton about the CLP’s AGM that got it suspended and its elected officers removed by McNichol, something that remains the case even now although we know they are lies because there is video evidence disproving what was said by those JLM supporters).

          Now you may wonder, as do a lot of people, why Jon Lansman became so ‘upset’ when he heard that Jeremy Newmark was ‘upset’ by something that Jackie Walker said, given that most socialists would take the view that if a comrade upsets a ‘preposterous liar’ like Newmak then they must be doing something right.

          Here is the relevant passage of the 2013 Tribunal judgement. I’ve also left in the rubbishing of the evidence from right-wing non-Jewish zionist Labour MP’s McShane (before he was jailed for some of his other lies) and Mann to complete the rotten picture of these people:

          “Unfortunately, others appeared to misunderstand the nature of the proceedings and seemed more disposed to score points or play to the gallery rather than providing straightforward answers to the clear questions put to them. We regret to say that we have rejected as untrue the evidence of Ms Ashworth and Mr Newmark concerning the incident at the 2008 Congress (see our findings under complaint (8) above). Evidence given to us about booing, jeering and harassing of Jewish speakers at Congress debates was also false, as truthful witnesses on the Claimant’s side accepted. One painfully ill-judged example of playing to the gallerynwas Mr Newmark’s preposterous claim, in answer to the suggestion in cross examination that he had attempted to push his way into the 2008 meeting, that a ‘pushy Jew’ stereotype was being applied to him. The opinions of witnesses were not, of course, our concern and in most instances they were in any event unremarkable and certainly not unreasonable. One exception was a remark of Mr Newmark in the context of the academic boycott controversy in 2007 that the union was “no longer a fit arena for free speech”, a comment which we found not only extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing. We did not derive assistance from the two Members of Parliament who appeared before us. Both gave glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions.

          “For Dr MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even thatnassistance. He told us that the leaders of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever tonhave witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to antiSemitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is …” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.”

        2. Stephen Bellamy says:

          I could write a book but out of consideration of your time I won’t do that.

          Newmark is Chair of The Jewish Labour Movement. This is a hard right organisation 95% of whose members voted to endorse Owen Smith. Some of its members are Jewish, many are not. Some are members of the Labour Party, many are not.

          It is a single issue organisation and that issue is constraining talk about Israel in the Labour Party, as tightly as it possibly can.

          Its main tactic is endless phony accusations of antisemitism and and its main strategy is to disenfranchise the 1.5 billion speakers of the English language, by the promotion of what they call the EUMC definition of antisemitism. There is of course, no such thing as a EUMC definition and there never has been. It is a myth invented by the American Jewish Committee and The Community Security Trust.

          see here

          The JLM Director is Ella Rose, freshly seconded from the Israeli Embassy.

          The org was dormant for many years and was resuscitated to play a part in the nuclear option invoked against the LP. We are approaching the first anniversary of this invocation.

          The nuclear option was first explicitly named and outlined by AIPAC in connection with the campaign to prevent Obama doing a deal with the Iranians. It simply involves throwing everything at someone or some org, the kitchen sink and all. Either because they have identified a particularly serious miscreant or an unusually good opportunity has presented itself. ( In the case of the LP, the latter.)

          Newmark has worked closely with McNicol in the orchestrating of the purge. Jon Lansman cheerfully tells us that he works closely with Newmark. He also explained to The Independent that Jackie Walker had ” upset” Jeremy Newmark.

          On the last day of the LP conference JVL in the personage of Mike Katz, demanded a continuation of the purge as a pay back for not making too much of a fuss over their new rule governing talk about Israel being held over until next year.

          In his previous infestation Newmark was CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council. This is a bunch of some extremely rich grandees getting together and declaring themselves the leaders of ” the community”.

          For some time the JLC, BoD, The Jewish Chronicle etc, etc, etc had been poking at the University and Colleges Union over what was regarded as an unsatisfactory attitude to The State of Israel. The Union was held by Newmark to be ” institutionally antisemitic”.

          In 2013 it was declared that a tipping point had been reached. This tipping point was the Union conference declining the opportunity to adopt the EUMC definition of antisemitism ( Yes the very same).

          A hapless front man by the name of Ronnie Fraser was found, and an action was brought at an Employment Tribunal, claiming that the Union’s attitude to Israel discriminated against him as per the Equality Act. This was the Fraser v UCU case, forever to be affectionately known as FUCU.

          The whole thing was an unmitigated disaster. The court found against Fraser on all ten of his charges and described the enterprise as ” an ” impermissable attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means “.

          The court had plenty to say about Fraser’s witnesses who included John Mann, Denis McShane, and David Hirsh.

          In particular it had much to say about the evidence of Newmark.

          The court rejected a major piece of his evidence as ” untrue as other more truthful witnesses have testified. ” It went on to describe him as ” preposterous” and ” an arrogant liar with a worrying disregard for diversity and plurality”.

          That is,this man, this ” socialist” lied his butt off to get a TRADE UNION labelled antisemitic.

          The Zionist human rights lawyer Adam Wagner lamented…..

          “We should, as a community, be embarrassed by this ruling. It involved not just the looney fringe but central figures in the community, who have been branded exaggerators, manipulators and arrogant liars. More importantly, the ‘anti-Zionism equals racism’ argument is plainly bankrupt and has no purchase in wider society.”

          So this is the man that would run the LP and train us on ” antisemitism”.

          1. Stephen Bellamy says:

            A couple of interesting postscripts.

            The Tribunal also held that an attachment to a foreign power was not a protected characteristic. The uber Zionist QC ,Jonathan Goldberg, who described the whole thing as an “epic folly”, concurred. “You may as well say supporting Tottenham Hotspur is a protected characteristic because a lot of Jews do”.

            The Union had run up legal costs of around £600.000. Ordinarily costs in ET cases are not recoverable unless it can be shown that the action was mendacious or frivolous. The Union were advised that this case was so mendacious that their costs were recoverable and so an application was filed.

            David Hirsh, who had effectively been labelled a meandering waffler, described this as ” to punish Ronnie Fraser for exposing their antisemitism “. Hirsh clearly has no interest in the Union’s responsibilities as trustees of their members money.

            Under pressure from the Zionist orgs the trial judge recused himself. Unfortunately it soon became clear that the perspective of the replacement judge was much the same as the original one. Consequently the Zionists caved in.

            We can be sure that Ronnie Fraser didn’t cough up this 600k. It is not known just who did.

            However, it is clear from all this and his behaviour over the last year, that Newmark is a highly toxic individual and it is astonishing that Jon Lansman encourages his growing influence over the LP, and his persecution of comrades.

      3. Dave says:

        Quick question.

        Is it perjury to lie in front of an Employment Tribunal, given that you do not have to swear on oath?

        1. Stephen Bellamy says:

          Dunno not a lawyer. But does it really matter ? If it turns out the answer is ” no” I will quit using the word.

          Newmark is still a shameless liar without any semblance of moral compass that lied his butt off to have a TRADE UNION wrongly labelled antisemitic.

  2. David Pavett says:

    We need a space to formulate, debate and propose a radical agenda. Momentum can help facilitate some of that. … Every Prime Minister who successfully changed the country in recent history has had a range of people and independent organisations producing policy that can be selected or rejected by the party. Thatcher had the Centre for Policy Studies, Blair had Progress. Momentum needs to become a thinking, as well as a campaigning, organisation.

    This is belated (and somewhat unself-critical) recognition of the need for Momentum to involve itself in promoting policy development. Nevertheless it is welcome. Some of us have been arguing for this for the past year (including in the columns of Left Futures) with no response from the organisation. We argued from the outset that Momentum should take a leaf out of Progress’s book in this respect. The response that Momentum doesn’t have a rich backer (unlike Progress) was never a convincing excuse for not doing this.

    We need to take stock of what has and has not been achieved on the policy front. In this respect I think the claim that

    One area that the Jeremy for Leader campaign has excelled in, in both 2015 and 2016, is the generation of policy proposals that if implemented would radically transform Britain, addressing to many of the injustices and inequalities our party seeks to end, whether in housing, pensioner poverty, NHS provision or mental health.

    is, frankly, nonsense.

    There was a complete failure to feed any such proposals into the National Policy Forum process and I can see no reasonable excuse for that. Even in the one area where a good opening statement for a debate was produced with Emily Thornbury’s paper on defence, there was no follow up. The party members would almost certainly have supported arguments that would have put Trident in question. Nothing was done and we ended up with Clive Lewis’ “defence of the realm” speech calling for Trident renewal at Annual Conference. In education we have lived through a continuing revolution in the structure of our school system. Labour opposed forced academisation of primaries which means the government will pursue the same end but a little more carefully. Labour also opposed new grammar schools but has not called for the ending of all selection at eleven. All we have as a positive policy is the idea of a National Education System. It’s a nice title but unfortunately that is all that it is. There is no substance. I could continue through the various policy areas but that’s enough to indicate that this is no time to crow of big advances.

    Then there is the issue of ‘doing politics in a new way’. I attended my local Momentum meeting last week at which great concern was expressed by everyone there about Momentum’s lack of transparency and top-down nature.

    The Momentum website About page tells us nothing about the structure of the organisation about the regional and national meetings. There is no information about its Steering Committee. There are no minutes of meetings or records of decisions taken. There is no detail about its finances either. Not only is this a very old way of doing politics it is well below the standards or organisations such as Progress. A big hoo ha was raised by the press over Jackie Walker as Momentum Vice Chair (or is it Steering Committee Vice Chair) but that was the first most of us had heard about the Steering Committee or the fact that she was Vice Chair. This is opaque politics and it is difficult to be confident in the future of Momentum while such bad practice continues to dominate. I have pointed out again and again that there is a complete absence of material for policy development on the Momentum website.

    I also take issue with the self-congratulation over the success in getting the CLP left slate elected for the NEC. That was a success but the left was outflanked by the right in restructuring of the that body thereby neutering the advance made with the CLP delegates.

    It may well be that “The key to success will be a mixture of local innovation with central direction” but without transparency and democratic functioning that won’t be effective.

    My impression has been from the start that in getting rid of some of the right-wing control freakery in the Party the main effot has been on replacing it with left-wing control freakery rather than by an assault on the culture of control freakery itself. We have a long way to go to really practice politics in a new way.

    1. John Penney says:

      I agree with every word David Pavett has written here.

      Without an internal democratic life Momentum, which had become pretty moribund before the recent Leadership election gave it a new lease of life , and a tripling of membership, as a minimally political , pro Corbyn organising, and phonebanking, resource for the tiny Leadership to use, will simply calcify and die away.

    2. peter willsman says:

      DP,we were not ”outflanked by the Right”.Rather,Labour First’s rep.on the NEC,T Watson(who DP foolishly voted for)pulled the trick of handing round a blockbuster paper,which set out a massive no.of proposals for rule changes in 5 days time.I and several others strongly objected to this abuse of process.T

  3. peter willsman says:

    To continue.The Chair took these points on board and all but one of the contentious proposals were deferred.It was difficult to defer the Wales/Scot seats because,very unusually,Kezia D was sat at the meeting.When it came to the vote,several NEC members,who usually vote with us, were seemingly swept away by the sheer force of K’s oratory.Almost reminiscent of William Wallace at Sterling Bridge,K insisted there be no delay whatsoever and that the whole Scots LP is united behind this demand and,in effect,any delay would be a slap in the face to our Scots comrades.I myself was even wondering whether I should go out and buy a kilt as an act of solidarity.So we were not outflanked,we just did not have the votes.It was a straight forward victory for DP’s man,T Watson from Lab.First.Lab.First goes all the way back to Frank Chapple and is,and has always been,up to every trick in the book.They are also very good at leading people up the garden.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Rather than showing that there was no outflanking Peter has described how the outflanking took place.

      For some reason Peter tries to snipe at me for voting for Tom Watson as Deputy Leader. I have a rather low opinion of TW but I voted for him as the least awful of a truly awful bunch. And who did Peter ask us to vote for? Angela Eagle.

      1. peter willsman says:

        Angela Eagle is not part of the Labour First machine and will do us little damage,unlike T Watson.The first lesson to learn in the LP is that those on Left do not vote for our implacable opponents,who are determined to destroy us.TW was the opposite of the ”least awful”,you have a lot to learn.It is nonsense to describe people not voting with you(unlike their usual pattern)as ”outflanking”.It was simply a Lab.First trick and people were taken in,like you were voting for Watson,the arch trick puller.

        1. David Pavett says:

          Peter, you are still happy with your support for Angela E for Deputy Leader in 2015. You said then “I have known TW and AE for at least 20 years and there is little to choose politically, but TW is an Operator and AE isn’t”. I think it is best to leave it at that.

          You think it is a satisfactory explanation to see the new composition as the result of a “trick”. I don’t but again it is probably best just to register disagreement.

    2. Karl Stewart says:

      What an odd report. The notion that Kezia Dugdale, who can’t even persuade Scottish Labour voters to vote Labour, who has taken Labour from second place to third place in Scotland, is able to, through sheer force of personality, win over left-wingers to her right-wing views is absurd.

      Why didn’t anyone just have the guts to stand up to her and say ‘no you’re not having a seat on our executive – you’re always telling us we can’t have a say in Scotland, so you don’t have a say here.’

      What a bunch of wimps!

      1. David Pavett says:

        Yes, the idea of Kezia D as an impassioned and persuasive speaker is a new one for me too.

        1. peter willsman says:

          DP,you need to go below the surface when you analyse the situation in the LP.LabFirst go back to Chapple and they are,and always have been,relentless in their determination to destroy the Left in the LP and in the TUs.There has always been a battle between us and them.Now they have support and money from Progress,Reg Race etc.We saw at Confce that they had the support of the majority of CLP delegates on the key vote for the NCC.It is the height of stupidity for anyone on the Left to give support to our sworn enemies.There is little views tween AE and TW,but one is out to destroy us and the other is pretty harmless.It’s like facing two opponents,one unarmed and the other with a machine gun.Of course in your ivory tower you only need to look at the small detail of candidates’pol.views and ignore the battle that
          is waging outside between the Right’s forces led by Lab.First and us.In response to KS and DP,you seem not to notice that I always write with sarcasm tinged with humour.If anyone had said at the NEC what KS is recommending they would have been expelled from the room, and would thus have missed other crucial votes and so aided the Right.Please don’t put your name forward for the NEC Karl,we need comrades that will undermine the Right, not give them a helping hand.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            You’re right there PeteW, I’m not NEC material.

            But I still don’t get why you’re so scared of Kezia Dugdale.

          2. jeelani says:

            was it anne black’s vote that swung it about the issue of welsh and scottish rep. By my calculation, the left had a caucus of 16. JC abstained. 15-15. So who voted for the amendment?

          3. David Pavett says:

            For you my views are “the height of stupidity”, fail “to go below the surface” and all this comes from my “ivory tower”. There is no answer to such incisive criticism.

            P.S. After all that we don’t have your views on the substance of James Elliott’s article.

          4. PETER WILLSMAN says:

            DP,you haven’t answered my basic point,which is that you see AE and TW as just 2 individual candidates in a LP election,whereas in reality one is a Leader of the Left’s arch opponents,Lab.First.That is the major factor in the decision between the 2.Do you even understand/know about their nefarious goings- on for the last 50 years?I apologise that I don’t write in your senior common room manner but,even though you are clearly a very sensitive soul,it shouldn’t stop you answering the basic points.Unless,of course,you have no answer.

          5. PETER WILLSMAN says:

            KS,are you even a member of the LP?If you are then don’t give up.We can send you on a CLPD training course for possible NEC candidates.Clearly at the moment you are not in the same league as Claudia and Rhea,but we can do wonders with the most unpromising material.Where did you get this weird notion about me vis a vis KD?I think you should ask KD about my respose to her speech,K seemed to find it a little unsettling.

          6. Stephen Bellamy says:

            Will Jeremy Newmark be running this training course ?

          7. Karl Stewart says:

            (Response to PeteW at 6.24pm Oct 12)

            Thanks for the offer of training, but I think in my case it would take too long mate.

            The serious point I’m trying to make here is the contradiction between Kezia Dugdale’s oft-repeated argument that non-Scottish LP people, including the national leadership of the UK party has no business getting involved with Scottish LP politics, and her determination to claim a seat, by right of being the elected Scottish LP leader, on Labour’s national executive.

            I’m surprised that wasn’t pointed out during the discussion – albeit I fully accept the criticism that my suggested words would not have been the best way to phrase this argument.

            And the wider political point is that, unless Labour is to endorse the aspiration of Scottish (or indeed Welsh) independence, then having separate NEC seats specifically representing the party’s Scottish and Welsh membership makes no more sense than having reserved seats for London nominees, or North East, North West, or indeed Northern Ireland.

            But if one accepts the principle of specific NEC representation for Scotland, and Wales, then the notion that the representative should be nominated by the elected leader is difficult to disagree with.

          8. David Pavett says:

            Peter, you just can’t help it can you: “Do you even understand …”, “… your senior common room manner …”.

            TW is a representative of the so-called Blue Labour approach with which I strongly disagree. I wrote three pieces for Left Futures last year to analyse a collection of Blue Labour essays including one by TW. In my view the right will only be decisively defeated by defeating their ideas and offering a convincing left alternative. If we try to do it without that by winning elected positions we will be engaged in an endless cycle of advances and setbacks. That’s the difference between your approach and mine. It is unlikely that we will reach agreement.

            TW represents a major strain of opinion in the LP. While that remains the case it is legitimate that he should hold a position. Angela Eagle, on the other hand, is a politician of little substance. Even more than TW she owes her existence to the party machine than to anything she stands for. Her leadership of the NPF has been an exercise in non-leadership. She showed her colours, or perhaps the lack of them, by launching the election to remove Corbyn. Labour has to many non-entities holding down positions. We don’t need more of them. Yours is the politics of small groups planning to win control of the Labour machine. Mine is the politics of being clear what we want to win those positions for. Again, there is not much prospect of us agreeing.

            P.S. I have never been in a Senior Common Room in my life although I suspect that were I to visit one I would come across plenty of the personal invective to which you are so partial.

            P.S.2. You haven’t told us your view of some of the questions raised here about the substance of James’ article i.e. the political ideas.

          9. peter willsman says:

            Karl,you didn’t reply re being in the LP.I suspect you are one of Sid French’s old mates.My personal view,which I’ve put to KD at NEC, is that the Scottish LP should be a separate and sister party,within the National Council of Labour.David,there has always been, and always will be,a battle ‘tween Left and Right in the LP and TUs.Indeed, in your beloved CP there were vicious fights tween those who saw themselves as socialists and those who became Blairites/SDP.Did you fail to notice? Unlike AE,TW is up to his ears in it.You take a lofty perch and ignore reality.Hence my correct view,that you operate in an ivory tower.If you think my attempt at humour/taking the p,is ”invective”then you have lived a very sheltered life.

          10. C MacMackin says:

            Pete Willsman, I don’t have much interest at getting sucked into this debate, but I will respond to your last sentence stating that ‘if you think my attempt at humour/taking the p, is ”invective” then you have lived a very sheltered life.’ You may intend your rhetorical flourishes as humour, but without the benefit of tone and facial expressions that is very difficult to judge. Something that should be remembered (and this applies to many if not most of the regular commenters here) is that when you communicate in a text-only medium this sort of intention becomes lost. As such, I think most reasonably people would have thought your words were intended as insults. Without knowing your personally and thus knowing your communicative style, it is very easy to take your remarks differently than you claim to mean them.

          11. David Pavett says:

            @C MacMackin (October 13, 2016 at 9:06 pm). Thank you. Civil behaviour, including conversational style, is a political question. It is about inclusion.

          12. peter willsman says:

            C Mac,I certainly don’t mean to insult anyone.Certainly not dear old DP who,anyway, is safe and sound in his ivory tower.Perhaps I should try and adopt DP,s senior common room style of writing(DP,you don’t actually need to have been in a SCR to adopt that style).C Mac,I see that below,where you fully support DP, you denounce others for ”abject failure”.I take it that in you and DP’s world, ”abject failure” is perfectly OK/civil behaviour,but ”ivory tower”and ”SCR” are unacceptable invective.

          13. peter willsman says:

            C Mac,I certainly don’t mean to insult anyone.Certainly not dear old DP who,anyway, is safe and sound in his ivory tower.Perhaps I should try and adopt DP,s senior common room style of writing(DP,you don’t actually need to have been in a SCR to adopt that style).C Mac,I see that below,where you fully support DP, you denounce others for ”abject failure”.I take it that in you and DP’s world, ”abject failure” is perfectly OK/civil behaviour,but ”ivory tower”and ”SCR” are unacceptable invective.

          14. peter willsman says:

            Apols.for pressing the button twice.

          15. C MacMackin says:

            Peter Willsman: I suppose that was poor wording on my part. I do not claim to be immune from these problems. That said, that was a comment directed not at an individual but at a group, which includes myself. More importantly, I was criticising actions and arguments, not making an ad hominom attack.

          16. David Pavett says:

            certainly don’t mean to insult anyone.Certainly not dear old DP who,anyway, is safe and sound in his ivory tower.


            Reminds me of a cartoon in the New Yorker many years ago in which a electioneering politician says to his audience “And furthermore I refuse to stoop to the mud-slinging tactics of my opponent and his commie pals”.

          17. peter willsman says:

            DP,as I have said before,and no doubt will have to say many more times,I do not regard ”ivory tower”as mud slinging.I regard it as a correct description of the way you make pronouncements from a lofty perch,seemingly ignoring the (messy)reality,which can sometimes be a little your support for the Trigger Ballot,which is a Blairite fix and the fact that you insist on judging AE and TW on finer points of policy,whereas one is harmless and the other is a Leader of Labour First, which is hell-bent on destroying the Left and JC.You seem to think that the answer is producing policy mags.While that is helpful it will do nothing to stop the relentless and ruthless attacks of Labour First.You talk as if the left-right battle is rather demeaning and not something you would lower yourself to.That sort of talk is music to the ears of Lab.First.We are not in a debating society,we are in a political party that will only make real gains for the working class if the left has some traction.

    3. Bazza says:

      Yes Momentum needs to be bottom up – I have already mentioned Saturday Conferences where we in small groups each look at one of JCs 10 policy statements to add to- they are reported in a plenary where further additions can be made.
      We then send the results up to Momentum.
      After this pilot we get CLPS etc. to do the same opening them up to the community every 3/6 months or so up to an election on one topic at a time such as housing etc.
      Why not at Momemtum meetings ask for volunteers to write a short paper (10 bullet points or so) to be discussed at the meeting on topics like ‘Buiding a Grassroots-Led NEC’ or ‘Buiding a Grassroots-Led Democratic Annual Conference’ etc. as long as we can trust the bourgeois socialists not to try to impose their top down ready made programmes!
      I could do one on the NEC – the Leader would get a vote as would the Male Deputy and Female Deputy (both non-MPs) all other MP reps, Councillors etc. would have non-voting rights, there would be 12-15 CLP reps OMOV, 10-8 trade union reps OMOV, 2 Socialist Society Reps OMOV.
      Must be better than having 500,000 members 6 NEC reps OMOV, but one Kezia Dugdale 1 NEC rep (1 One Kezia Dugdale one vote) bet the N Korean & Chinese CP are looking on in envy.
      Up to Momentum grassroots to assert themselves.
      Just some food for thought.

      1. Bazza says:

        Yes and I can’t stand appointmentism and in this case they appointed themselves!
        They may have been elected as Leaders but there is a democratic deficit here with the Scottish & Welsh Leaders; they were elected as leaders but not on the grounds that that they would also be on the NEC and trailing down to London what 12 times a year or so when perhaps they should be focusing on fighting for Labour in Wales and Scotland.
        But papers are to be questioned and amended and as long as the grassroots on the NEC had the majority (like many trade unions) and the members in Wales and Scotland had a say on this development then they could phaps have a vote on the NEC.

  4. C MacMackin says:

    There is little in the discussion of what Momentum should do going forward that I can disagree with here. However, as David Pavett and John Penny have pointed out, this article seems to completely ignore the abject failure in pursuing any of these goals for the past year. It does not fill one with hope for the future.

  5. Barry Rodin says:

    For my part I was happy in the way Momentum organised the support to JC in the leadership campaign.

    Like many other LP members (both long standing and recently joined) I participated in the phone banks and was very impressed in the organisation, energy and dedication of the organisers and Momentum workers, including their work in the rallies across the country.

    This greatly helped in the re-election of JC and also gave a focal point to many new LP members and supporters.

    Going forward a major objective should be to harness and focus this energy on influencing policy developments, future internal election campaigns (including the NEC), collaboration with other progressive campaigns, such as the CLPD, and energising political work in the CLPs.

    This should be a key objective for all activists.

  6. David Pavett says:


    The striking feature of most of the articles on this website is that when questions and criticisms are aimed directly at what author has written there is no authorial response. This would be regarded as totally unacceptable in a public meeting. Why is it considered acceptable here? Is this a way in which the progress we need to make can be achieved?

  7. peter willsman says:

    Apols,I must have pressed the button twice!!I was deep in thought as to whether I was ‘debating’or ‘sounding off’-that point is worth at least a two hour discussion in the SCR.

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