Momentum: a Mass Movement for real Progressive Change – we hope.
Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader has transformed into Momentum – a network of people and organisations that will continue the energy and enthusiasm of Jeremy’s campaign.
What does Momentum want to do?
Organise in every town, city and village to create a mass movement for real progressive change.
Make Labour a more democratic party, with the policies and collective will to implement them in government.
Bring together individuals and groups in our communities and workplaces to campaign and organise on the issues that matter to us.
How will Momentum do this?
Organise events, rallies, meet ups and policy consultations to encourage mass mobilisation for a more democratic, equal and decent society.
Encourage those inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to get involved with the Labour Party. Assist members in making their voice heard in Labour Party debates.
Facilitate and coordinate people to build new and support existing organisations that can make concrete improvements to people’s lives. Through these actions, we aim to demonstrate on a micro level how collective action and Labour values can transform our society for the better.
Who runs it?
Formed as a successor to the Corbyn campaign, Momentum is in the process of setting up governance arrangements to represent its supporters amongst the Labour Party membership as well as the wider social movement which is springing up. As it grows, Momentum will develop democratic governance structures at every level of the network.
What is the relationship to Labour and Jeremy Corbyn?
Momentum is the successor entity to the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign but it is independent of the Labour Party’s leadership. It will work with everyone who supports Jeremy’s aim of creating a more fair, equal and democratic society.
The Guardian reports,
Activists to harness Corbyn campaign energy with Momentum
Volunteer activists in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign are to try to harness the campaign’s energy by setting up a movement called Momentum to back his ideas and politics.
But the idea was denounced by Labour critics of the leader as part of an attempt to mobilise factionally, leading to the deselection of moderate MPs and councillors “who are not judged politically correct by the veteran Bennite organisers behind Momentum”.
Momentum, which launched yesterday, has the approval of the Labour leader as well as John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor and campaign manager for Corbyn.
The group is designed as a grassroots network to create “a mass movement for change, for real progressive change in every town and city”.
Momentum describes itself as the successor to the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign, but it is independent of the party’s leadership. It will work both inside the Labour party and organise in broader civil society.
This is a key point:
While all of the individuals setting up Momentum are members or supporters of the Labour party, the group anticipates that many thousands of people who are not will be involved in the wider social movement through their communities and workplaces.
Does this mean members of other political parties? Greens, those involved in TUSC and other left groups?
MPS seem more concerned about another topic.
Jeremy Corbyn-backed Momentum group is ‘a threat to sitting MPs’
The group has the backing of Mr Corbyn’s Labour party and will act as a campaigning arm, but there are fears it will seek to purge moderate MPs.
The group will also seek to “transform the Labour party into a more democratic party with the policies and collective will to make that change. The individuals and groups will also campaign on issues that matter to Momentum, including by holding rallies and the encouragement of mass mobilisation”.
Labour has seen tens of thousands of people join the party and there is a concern that the energy generated by Corbyn’s victory could be dissipated by the more bureaucratic structures of local constituency parties.
But Corbyn critics in the Labour First group said Momentum was unnecessary, and designed to trawl through the contact details raised by the Corbyn campaign and then effectively become a party within the party.
In a letter to Jon Lansman, one of the Momentum organisers, Luke Akehurst, the secretary of Labour First, wrote: “We find it strange that the winning candidate in a Labour leadership election would sustain the life of their campaign after winning, rather than seeing their role now as having responsibility to unite the whole party.”
It is understood that Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, was not informed of the Momentum plan.
But a spokesman for Momentum said: “The idea is to develop the promise of new politics made by Jeremy in his campaign by linking up to people outside the Labour party as well as inside. We are associated with the Labour party, and incredibly supportive of it, but not under its control.”
The new campaign is a formal successor company to the Corbyn leadership campaign. Many new MPs associated with the leadership drive, such as Clive Lewis, Richard Burgon and Kate Osamor, will act as directors before a proper democratic structure is established.
Momentum says its campaign is designed to “assist members in making their voice heard in Labour party debates”, as well as support existing organisations that can make real improvements to people’s lives rather than wait for four years for a Corbyn-led government.
One idea under consideration is private sector tenancy advice, and also building networks interested in specific issues such as mental health or education.
Corbyn, welcoming the launch of Momentum, said: “Now, more than ever, we need to unite and continue to build our movement to change our politics and to win together in 2020. We need us to put our values, the people’s values, back into politics. To do this, we need to keep up the momentum we have built over the last four months.”
McDonnell said: “We need the campaign’s momentum to continue to transform our democracy and our way of doing politics. We are part of this wider social movement, running an economy in the interests of society.”
Senior Labour MPs have warned a new campaign group, set up by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, is a “threat to sitting MPs” and will “undermine” the party.
Momentum, a collective set up with the backing of the Labour leader and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, aims to influence party policy but MPs are worried it is the beginning of a purge of moderate members who don’t support the leader.
One Shadow Cabinet Minister said: “They are setting up a party within a party and I fear that they will use it to take control of conference, policy-making and mount a purge.”
Another MP asked not to be named but described the new group as “a worrying sign” while respected Labour MP Stephen Pound told The Telegraph: “This is basically a parallel organisation as far as I’m concerned, it’s against the principles of the Labour party and I think less of Jeremy Corbyn for endorsing it.
“It will inevitably be seen as a threat to sitting MPs and the Labour party in parliament – it is a retrograde step.”
Welcoming the group, which is also backed by a group of Labour MPs including Katy Clark, Clive Lewis, Richard Burgon, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Kate Osamor, Mr Corbyn said: “Now, more than ever, we need to unite and continue to build our movement to change our politics and to win together in 2020.
This is a welcome move.
Socialism has to built democratically, from grass-roots campaigning. The Labour Party is not going to face up to the challenges presented by the present hard-right government without a movement in the country at large, with strong trade union and civil society involvement. This means people, with a variety of backgrounds and opinions, working together beyond the institutional confines of the Party – but still focused on the need to get councillors and MPs elected who can carry out left politics.
It is perhaps unnecessary to point out that problems may arise with this initiative.
Momentum will not only attract from new supporters from independent civil society campaigns, individuals, and those who are labour movement activists in the broader left. It is more than probable that left groups who have very different ways of organising to the Labour party and mainstream labour movement, and distinct views on a variety of issues, will be eager to be part of the movement.
The potential for difficulties is obvious, and already being discussed on the left.
Divisions on the left on perhaps one of the most important democratic issues of the coming year, the Referendum on the European Union (EU), are serious and are not going to disappear.
One section of the left is viscerally opposed to the EU and stood candidates against Labour under the banner of No2EU in last year’s European election. This stand was continued by the majority (with important exceptions, from Left Unity) of the groups who presented candidates under the banner of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, as an alternative to Labour in the General Election.
Another part of the left supports the TUC and others in campaigning for a reformed EU and for staying inside in. This corresponds to official Labour Party, and has been endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
It does not take a political wizard to see that this subject has the potential for division inside Momentum – adding to those already existing inside the Labour Party, with sections of the right and ‘sovereigntist’ left prepared already to ally with the Tories, UKIP and millionaire donors in the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign.
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