Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Momentum Shows Sense About Limiting Influence of Parties who Stand in Elections Against Labour.

with 10 comments

This Blog was amongst the first to signal the possible problems that the participation of organised left groups. who had stood against the Labour Party in the General Election, might pose for Momentum.

We wrote, on October the 15th,  Socialist Workers Party to “build Momentum” group for Jeremy Corbyn.

On the 17th of October, after the above story made it into the national media, we asked,  After SWP Involvement Makes News, Momentum Publishes Ethical Code – is this enough?

The BBC has just reported,

Momentum ‘to curb power of non-Labour groups’

Under new rules, Momentum supporters who are not Labour Party members will not be allowed to vote or take part in meetings about the Labour Party.

The move is designed to restrict the influence of organisations like the Communist Party, Left Unity, the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

The new rules are due to be finalised shortly, BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said.

The rules will still allow members of the groups – generally to the left of the Labour Party – to attend Momentum meetings on non-Labour Party issues, such as campaigning on Syria.

A Momentum source said: “This is to stop the Socialist Party doing stupid things but we’re trying to be as open and pragmatic as possible.”

Momentum has strongly divided opinion within the Labour Party – shadow chancellor John McDonnell has spoken at a number of their meetings.

There is more on the Socialist Party, in the person of Nancy Taafe, below.

One of their main campaigns, which should be signaled, is to get support for Labour councillors to set ‘illegal’ budgets, and to denounce any council which does not defy the government’s financial rules, as traitors.

This is how they put it,

We demand no-cuts, needs budgets along the lines of the Liverpool councillors in the 1980s.

The Socialist.

Patrick Wintour writes in the Guardian today.

Momentum, the group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn inside the Labour party, is to draw up a code of conduct so that members of other parties will not be allowed to attend its decision-making meetings in future, Adam Klug, a national organiser for the group, has said.

A new code is to be sent to local Momentum groups in the next few days after its leadership recognised it was under threat of being discredited by the interference of hard-left groups such as the Socialist party and Socialist Workers party.

It would also mean members of other leftwing parties such as Left Unity and the Communist party would not be allowed to attend its decision-making meetings. Momentum has also decided that office holders in the group must all be Labour members.

This follows John Landsman’s comments here:

Lies, distortions and misconceptions about Momentum and the lobbying of MPs

There are many factors that appear to have contributed to distorted coverage, misrepresentation and downright lies including:

  • agents provocateurs on social media, hiding behind fake identities, who may be Tories or perhaps even Labour members engaged in ‘black ops’;
  • hostile or opportunistic members of other parties like Nancy Taafe of the Socialist Party who stood against Stella Creasy in May (winning 394 votes for TUSC, good for them but, at less than 1%, an utterly pathetic vote for anyone who lives in the real world) but goes on BBC Daily Politics to demand her deselection;
  • exaggerated claims by hard right Labour MPs determined to discredit Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn.

However, there undoubtedly are also some people, probably a small number, who think of themselves as being supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and against war in Syria who are guilty of inappropriate behaviour towards MPs – using inappropriate language or photos, abuse, intimidation and even bullying. Many will not be members of Momentum or the Labour Party, but some are which is why Momentum has issued the following statement.

Momentum is disappointed that Parliament voted for Syrian airstrikes. We do not believe that David Cameron made the case that bombs will defeat Daesh or improve the lives and security of Syrians, the UK or our allies, and we fear that they may have the opposite effect.

Nevertheless, we are pleased that the majority of Labour MPs and the shadow cabinet did oppose David Cameron’s proposal, reflecting the policy of the party conference and the wishes of its members, whilst also respecting the right of all MPs to vote as they have done.

Members of the Labour Party and the public have a right to be heard. Momentum is proud that we assisted over 30,000 people email their MP asking them not to vote for bombing. We believe these messages from the public helped convince some of the 153 Labour and 72 non-Labour MPs who voted against bombing to do so. It can never be a threat to express your views to your elected representative

Momentum strongly disapproves of anyone who engages in abusive behaviour towards MPs or anyone else, and threatening or bullying, whether they are outside the Labour Party (as most are) or inside it. We specifically asked our supporters to emulate Jeremy Corbyn, and to keep their messages about the issues and to refrain from any personal attacks.

Nor is Momentum a threat to MPs who voted for bombing. We have made clear that we will not campaign for or support the deselection of any MP and will not permit any local Momentum groups to do so. The selection of candidates is entirely a matter for local party members and rightly so.

This is well put and confirms our impression that those running Momentum have good sense and judgement.

The Guardian further adds

Klug first set out the decision to restrict access to meetings on Sky’s Murnaghan on Sunday and commented further on the BBC’s Daily Politics on Monday.

Klug told Dermot Murnaghan: “Everybody who has a position within Momentum is a Labour party member.” He added: “The governance structure is still being established to be completely clear with all the terminology, but absolutely no members of other political parties are welcome at Momentum meetings. If you are not a member of a political party … your voice is welcomed and heard but the Socialist party, for example, are not welcome to be at Momentum meetings.”

He said the same applied to the Communist party of Great Britain. He said only a tiny minority of people were calling for deselections.

It has also insisted that it is opposed to calls for the deselection of MPs who voted to back the extension of airstrikes to Syria, but such calls have been made at successive local Momentum events, sometimes by Socialist party members.

A Momentum spokesman said: “We have had to take this decision pragmatically. Anyone will be able to attend Momentum public meetings, but at decision-taking meetings it is likely only non-party and Labour members will be able to attend and take decisions. It is ridiculous that the Socialist party are calling for Labour MPs to be deselected.”

In practice, the detail of the new code, and how it will be policed, remains to be hammered out. It also faces difficulties with groups such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, a Trotskyist group that has disbanded to recommence work inside the Labour party.

It is likely to lead to calls for Momentum to restrict its activities to party members.

A Momentum meeting last week in Lambeth, south London, was leafleted and addressed by members of other leftwing groups calling for the local MP – Streatham’s Chuka Umunna – to be deselected for supporting airstrikes in Syria. Momentum said the Socialist party had not been invited to the meeting.

It is to be imagined that the Socialist Party, not to mention the Socialist Workers Party, will reply in these terms,

The strategy from the Momentum leaders to counter this is to subordinate everything to the election of a Corbyn-led government in 2020. This in turn means the left supporting right-wing figures, like Sadiq Khan for London mayor, even though he considers the best way to get elected is to systematically attack Jeremy Corbyn and the left.

This attempt to mollify the right will not succeed but it can help to demoralise and thereby disintegrate the forces that have begun to rally behind Corbyn and McDonnell. This would represent the loss of another favourable opportunity to change the labour movement in the battle against capitalism and its political representatives, the Tories and other forces that base themselves on outmoded capitalism. The political and organisational direction of the pro-Corbyn forces must be urgently discussed at all levels of the workers’ movement.

This is pretty hard to take from parties which were denouncing the Labour Party as pro-capitalists only six months ago and in the case of the Socialist Party had even erected this into the doctrine that Labour was a “bourgeois” party (and not, in classical ‘Leninist’ terms) a “bourgeois-workers’ party.

Not indeed that many care about the distinctions made by a group and their alliance (TUSC)  which only got   0.1% of the popular vote in the General Election for 135 candidates.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 8, 2015 at 1:55 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Mr Teadance – you suggested it was Workers Power not the AWL who have disbanded – not that Momentum has much to worry about either way.

    Boleyn Ali

    December 8, 2015 at 3:32 pm

  2. The AWL was involved in the campaign Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory in the General Election.

    The SP and the SWP had…..TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) which stood 135 candidates against Labour “36,327 votes, or 0.1% of the popular vote.”

    They are both vehemently anti-European Union, calling for the UK to leave the EU.

    There are plenty of other reasons to distrust them: the SP’s opposition to the free movement of labour, “The alleged benefits of the ‘free movement of labour’ are in reality a device for the bosses to exploit a vast pool of cheap labour, which can then be used to cut overall wage levels and living standards.”

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/20815

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_Unionist_and_Socialist_Coalition

    Andrew Coates

    December 8, 2015 at 5:12 pm

  3. November

    “A group of Jeremy Corbyn supporters is to call on a local authority to decline to set a budget complying with the Treasury’s spending cuts.”

    “McDonnell said in September: “The situation the councils are now in is if they don’t set a budget, a council officer will do it for them. There is no choice for them any more.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/12/corbyn-activists-call-for-no-cuts-council-budget

    Andrew Coates

    December 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm

  4. Who is Klug? What is Klug? What is a Klug? Klug Off.

    I’m a member of Momentum. Has anybody asked me (or any other) member what we think (e.g. of course we want to deselect MPs)?. No, Momentum leaders make pronouncements – who elected them??

    We need democracy in Momentum – elections, a conference. We need to decide policy positions – not have them handed down from on high by who knows.

    Corbyn/Momentum leaders appear to think they can placate the right (e.g. the national and no local Momentum groups will be allowed to campaign for deselections. So Walthamstow, be ready to suck up Stella).

    The right hold no such qualms – they will be coming for these fools with daggers drawn.

  5. McDonnell 2015 “The situation the councils are now in is if they don’t set a budget, a council officer will do it for them. There is no choice for them any more.”

    McDonnell 1985. Deputy Leader of the GLC. Denounced Livingstone for setting a rate and was no longer Deputy Leader. It was HARDER to do that then – cllrs were surcharged in Lambeth and LIverpool (no longer is the law)

    Corbyn/Momentum is all going to go Titspras Up.

  6. Galloway for mayor!
    Invite Galloway back into the Labour party!

    Dean

    December 9, 2015 at 1:25 am

  7. This shows good sense too,

    Morning Star Editorial today:

    “The Labour leader, John McDonnell and Momentum have stressed that 30,000 constituents sending emails to MPs represented positive participation in democracy.

    All, however, abhorred abusive messages or conduct towards MPs by anyone but especially by Labour members.

    They stressed that Momentum at any level would not campaign for or support any MP’s deselection, since choosing candidates is entirely a matter for local party members.

    Momentum was certainly not set up to provide an umbrella under which organisations hostile to Labour can send activists into meetings dealing with inner-party issues to demand that this or that MP be deselected.

    Left groups that claim to support the new Labour leadership should dispense with these outdated entryist tactics that can only undermine Corbyn.

    Momentum itself has made clear that it will curb the activities of groups seeking involvement for sectarian gain and, while this clear message will be obfuscated by those with an axe to grind, the labour movement should know the truth.”

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-da84-Blairite-spree-of-sabotage#.VmgXtVXhCVM

    Andrew Coates

    December 9, 2015 at 1:01 pm

  8. Agreed – a good editorial in the Star. The final four paragraphs in particular:

    “Lucas remains against bombing Syria and will doubtless share future platforms with Corbyn.
    “Pro-war fanatics such as Hunt will not. Their problem with StWC is that it rejects entirely their imperialist mindset and easy recourse to war.
    “ABC diehards who have not reconciled themselves to Corbyn’s election will continue to nitpick to weaken his position.
    “No-one on the left should make their self-chosen task any easier.”

    Francis

    December 9, 2015 at 3:49 pm

  9. Hunt has disgraced himself totally.

    I would personally have thought that the author of The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, a well-written and balanced book, would have reacted better.

    In that biography Hunt dwells on one reason why Marxism was not popular in Britain, the influence of Edward Aveling with whom Elanor Marx had a long relationship.

    Aveling was hated for many reasons, not least the way his caddish dishonest behaviour contributed to Elanor’s death.

    Engels vociferously defended Aveling – something complained about by numerous socialists at the time, including Henry Hyndman.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Marx

    Another trait of Engels that caused deep resentment, and which Hunt well described was his tendency to act as an arm-chair general.

    Hunt and his mates seem a whole cabal of arm-chair generals, far from the battle-field.

    Is it any wonder that they have made no headway?

    Andrew Coates

    December 9, 2015 at 5:43 pm

  10. Letter in the Weekly Worker – closely related to above.

    “Comrade Taaffe hardly helped dispel the common image and depiction of the far left in this country as a bunch of swivel-eyed loons. Her facial expressions switched constantly between one of apparent ferocious hostility and a version of the rictus grinning we perhaps last saw from Gordon Brown. Although her head remained aimed at the camera, her eyes and attention seemed to be constantly distracted by something happening very high to her left, which added to the unsettling effect.”

    “She ‘demanded’ that the Labour Party deselect the MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, and went on to ‘demand’ that Labour convene an immediate special conference to reintroduce mandatory reselection for MPs, and also that the Socialist Party be allowed to affiliate to the Labour Party in the same way as does the Cooperative Party.”

    “The breathtaking hypocrisy, impertinence and arrogance of the ultra-left never fails to astonish me. SPEW was formed after its leading members were out-performed by Neil Kinnock in the 1980s and expelled from Labour as a ‘party within a party’. They then declared that Labour was henceforth dead as a bourgeois workers’ party with any potential for being transformed into a workers’ party (because they were no longer in it!), and took no part whatsoever in the recent Corbyn leadership campaign, on the basis of that being a complete waste of time, it being impossible to “resurrect a corpse”.”

    Andrew Northall

    http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1086/letters/

    Andrew Coates

    December 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm


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