Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Momentum: Latest Internal Disputes.

with 5 comments

….rigorous and effective political discussion is not some self-indulgent distraction from the ‘real work’ – be that getting a Labour government or nudging up attendance figures at some demonstration. The great promise of Momentum is that it provides an opportunity to fight for political clarity among greater numbers of people….

Labour Party Marxists: Momentum: Fight for political clarity

Before beginning this post on Saturday’s Momentum Steering Committee meeting,  we note that there is no mention on the Momentum aligned  The World Transformed plan to hold events on the theme of “our Brexit” and “a Great Britain that takes power back from the economic elites Trump and Farage belong to.”

This has lost Momentum a lot of good will.

In the light of the Richmond Park by-election result, we await clarification of this idea, “Targeting marginal constituencies and areas with high Ukip support with a string of local events discussing Brexit to “Take Back Control”. How this will tie in with the decision to ” to fight for migrants’ rights and to defend and extend free movement, and fight for Labour to do the same.” when the events are intended to involve not just opponents but  “supporters of Brexit” (“bring together leave and remain voters“) remains to be seen.

But Momentum had other business to discuss than the details of most important issue in British politics today.

Left wins on democracy, but right keeps hold of Steering Committee – report of 3 December Momentum NC

Ed Whitby, Northern (North East and Cumbria) regional delegate

Today’s Momentum National Committee (3 December, Birmingham) was long overdue – no meeting for seven months, due to repeated cancellations of the NC by the Steering Committee – so the agenda was absurdly full with proposals about how to run the forthcoming conference, how delegates should be elected, how motions will be decided, etc, as well as motions on other issues.

The left, more radical, pro-democracy wing of the NC won on some democracy issues including the structure and powers of the upcoming national conference, passing policy for a conference of delegates from local groups that can meaningful decide Momentum’s policy and plans; as well as on some other issues (eg defending freedom of movement and migrants’ rights, and fighting expulsions and suspensions). But the more conservative wing managed, by one vote, to block holding a new election for the Steering Committee, even though it was elected seven months ago, before many events, debates and controversies.


The key votes:

•  The NC voted for a sovereign national policy-making conference, representing members via local groups with most of the time committed to motions and debate, as well as political education.
• That this conference should make policy and establish a constitution.
• We voted down the proposal from the SC majority that we could only discuss three key areas.
• We voted that the conference would be on 18 February, 25 February or 4 March (25 February clashes with Scottish Labour conference).
• We voted for a composite from the Northern, London and Midlands regions advocating motions can be submitted one each from local groups, liberation groups, students and youth, affiliated unions, the NC and regional networks; three weeks before conference; with compositing, an e-forum to discuss motions and an online priorities ballot.
• Two delegates for every 100 members or part thereof (at least gender balanced and groups sending more than four must send at least one young person).
• Those not covered by a group can send at same rate elected by ballot.
• If not covered by a group 30 people can submit a motion.
• Liberation groups and students and youth can send delegates, to be agreed by NC in consultation with these groups subject to verification of structures and elections.
• We elected a Conference Arrangements Committee of seven people: Alec Price, Huda Elmi, Josie Runswick, Delia Mattis, Lotte Boumelha, Jackie Walker, James Elliott.
• We voted against complicated formulas for voting and instead for simple delegate voting at conference.
• We voted that group delegates should be elected at face-to-face local Momentum group meetings.

This seems like major victories for democracy. The risk is that the incumbent Steering Committee will try to void or get round these decisions. We must urge them not to do so.


….many good proposals were won, but the failure to re-elect the Steering Committee, and the fact that the NC was stuffed with delegates elected on a dubious basis or not really elected, leaves many issues of democracy unresolved. On the other hand, given that, the victories the left won were even more impressive. However, there is a real risk the democratic gains achieved today will be overturned. The membership must fight to stop this happening.

Decisions taken

• For Momentum Youth and Students’ proposal to fight for migrants’ rights and to defend and extend free movement, and fight for Labour to do the same. This could be very significant indeed.
• A national housebuilding programme.
• The North West region motion for action against suspensions and expulsions from Labour and in defence of Wallasey, Liverpool Riverside and Brighton and Hove Labour Parties.


No votes were taken on censuring the SC, on basic accountability, on the Momentum company structures.

This shows the, very low, turn out, for the on-line elections inside Momentum.

So, we know one thing clearly: there are some people who consider that there is a continuing battle between left and….right in Momentum.

There are also individuals, apparently on the Conference Arrangement’s Committee, publicly making the traditional virulently  sectarian remarks about opposing factions present at this meeting.

We look forward to seeing how they run this Conference. 

Whether it will be a force to win a Labour Party that fights for and wins an alternative to neoliberalism” remains to be seen.

But, as Red Flag, the group formerly known as Workers Power (League for the Fifth International) comment,

Written by Andrew Coates

December 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. If Momentum can provide a space for the 57 varieties of Trot and sundry other sectarians to ice-axe each other out of sight of the general public, it will be performing a useful role.


    December 5, 2016 at 10:10 am

  2. The comments on the Clarion (link for the article cited above) certainly indicate this is already happening.


    But this is a must-read:Momentum vs. Inertia.

    Laura Catriona Murray

    Waking up the morning after the Momentum National Committee, I had that feeling you have after a horrible break-up from someone you love. When you momentarily forget what happened, then you remember and the feeling of loss comes crushing down on you like a ton of bricks all over again.

    “When I arrived what I witnessed was horrible. The generational divide was starkly visible for all to see. In the seats in the horseshoe-shape around the room were the pro-OMOV delegates — more likely to be younger, in the Labour Party and close to Momentum staff and Jon Lansman. In the seats in the centre of the room were the anti-OMOV delegates — more likely to be older, Trotskyist, seasoned in far-left factions, not in the Labour Party. It was like a doughnut of desire for change, with a sticky centre of angry socialist stalwarts.”

    “Online and in local groups, Jon Lansman is demonised, vilified and dehumanised by people who have comparatively not committed an iota of time or energy to the cause of the left in their lives. For all his flaws, Jon Lansman has dedicated his life to reforming the Labour Party, improving the prospects of the left and advancing socialist ideas in the Labour Party. Now people who have only recently flocked into the Labour Party from other left-wing parties seek to agitate against Jon Lansman, in the hope that they can take ownership of Momentum for themselves.”

    “In January, I also argued that Momentum should be open to people who are not Labour Party members, as I thought we would provide a bridge for those people not typically interested in party politics to become involved through community organising. Now I realise it’s only become a bridge for those left-wing figures of the past hell-bent on their own self-promotion to get their moment in the limelight once more. Far too many people brought their previous political baggage into the organisation with them and chose to promote their specific political ideology, over concentrating on the shared cause that unites us all.”

    View at Medium.com

    Andrew Coates

    December 5, 2016 at 12:47 pm

  3. Laura Catriona Murray writes of the AWL that they believe in –

    “Subtle support for imperialist wars, uncritical support for Israel and fanatical support for the European Union are amongst their policies.”

    These statements alone call into question the veracity of the rest of the article. Anyone with any knowledge of the AWL can see that they are just nonsense.

    I guess now that Jeremy Corbyn is seen as “safe” for the moment from a leadership challenge, then the battle for control of Momentum will lead to Stalinist-style lies and distortions.

    Meanwhile, the Tories prepare for Brexit and, unfortunately, the Left and Right of Labour are going along with it. Anyone who thinks that the UK might get a “Soft Brexit” should look at what EU leaders (Merkel, Hollande, Tusk) have to say on that.

    John Rogan

    December 6, 2016 at 11:46 am

  4. There is now a real possibility that Momentum might implode. That, if it were to happen, would be a real set back showing that the left prefers a sectarian fight to working together. Nobody in Momentum neither AWL nor Lansman , nor Wrack will come out of this well if Momentum degenerates into a bear pit.
    Nor should the issue of Walker be turned into a battleground. I thought her comments were inept and insensitive rather that anti Semitic. To make them in the context of a JLM meeting was politically stupid since leading figures in the JLM have a dubious record as witnessed by their ludicrous attack on the UCU.


    December 6, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    • See latest post.

      I agree John…

      Andrew Coates

      December 6, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: