Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Momentum Opposition Turns on Jeremy Corbyn.

with 12 comments

Labour Party Marxists: Corbyn’s disastrous intervention in Momentum.

“what increasingly looks like an existential crisis in Momentum drives us to get in touch again. Jeremy Corbyn has taken a stand on this controversy – but unfortunately, on the wrong side.”

Jeremy Corbyn‘s letter to all Momentum members:

Dear friend,

Momentum grew out of our first campaign for a new kind of politics, to channel its drive and optimism into a movement that can help Labour win power and transform our society. That enthusiasm is already changing our movement and the country’s political debate on crucial issues like austerity.

As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to share some thoughts about how that could be developed further and ask you to share yours.

‘The World Transformed’ at Labour Party Conference and new techniques to increase participation in Labour, such as the Grassroots Now phone-canvassing website, are exactly the participatory activities Momentum can organise to help secure a Labour government that will rebuild and transform Britain. Let’s do it together; Labour’s next big campaigning day is on 21 January. I hope you’ll join us for it.

This moment in our history is too important for us not to seize it. We must not let internal debate distract from our work that has to be done to help Labour win elections.

Momentum needs to be an organisation fit for purpose – not copying the failed models of the past but bringing fresh ideas to campaigning and organising in communities, helping members be active in the Labour Party and helping secure a Labour government to rebuild and transform Britain.

That’s why the Momentum team has drawn up a survey to give every member a direct say in its future.

We are all part of this historic movement. Let’s seize this moment together.

Thank you for all that you have done in 2016. I wish you a Merry Christmas, a peaceful holiday period and a happy new year.

In solidarity,

Jeremy Corbyn

Labour Party Marxists. Latest Bulletin.

In a December 20 email to every member of Momentum, Jeremy Corbyn warns that, “We must not let internal debate distract from our work that has to be done to help Labour win elections.” There are two clear implications from Corbyn’s intervention. One, that he believes the controversy about accountability and internal democracy is just diversionary chatter. Second, that the Labour leader is on board with Jon Lansman’s plan to do without a democratic conference, elected delegates, self-activating local branches, regional committees, etc. Instead, the wonders of “participatory activities” like “phone-canvassing” are recommended, along with events such as the September 2016 (non-voting) ‘The World Transformed’.

Corbyn’s communiqué was followed by similar emails fronted by Diane Abbott and Clive Lewis to all 160,000 contacts on Momentum’s database. Momentum members and supporters are asked to complete a ‘survey’ which – in addition to commonplace queries about their current activities and Momentum’s future campaigning work – asks them to opt for either a delegate-based-conference or decisions to be made by atomised individuals via online plebiscites, misleadingly summarised as “One Member, One Vote” (Omov).

It would be a shock if this survey does not deliver the result ‘Team Momentum’ wants (ie, Omov – no democratic conference). They have phrased the questions. They will count and interpret the results. They decide when, where and how these results are disseminated and used. It’s a done deal, we anticipate.

The current issue of the Weekly Worker features Mike Macnair on the anti-democratic nature of referendums, including the membership ‘survey’ just sent out by Lansman & Co. Take a look – it’s useful stuff.

It is quite clear that this ‘survey’ scam is intended to trump the decisions of the December 3 meeting of the National Committee and the subsequent deliberations of its Conference Arrangements Committee. Proposals from the CAC (which has a 4-3 leftwing majority) on how conference should be organised were supposed to be sent out on December 16. But, six days later, ‘Team Momentum’ is still sitting on the info and refusing to disseminate it to the membership – you can read them on our website. (Remember, ‘Team Momentum’ can get away with this crass behaviour because Jon Lansman owns the Momentum database and can do with it whatever he feels – a scandalous arrangement in any leftwing organisation.)

Faced with this, the CAC has quite correctly decided to act unilaterally, has set up its own Facebook page and started to publish details of their proposals. The comrades are not taking Lansman’s undemocratic manoeuvring lying down. Excellent. But of course, they can reach far fewer members given the Lansman database monopoly.

We can pretty much write the script for Lansman for when his ‘survey’ results are in. He will try to cancel the democratic conference planned for February ‘in light of the overwhelming mandate in favour of Omov…’ All very predictable. Nevertheless, we urge Momentum members to complete the survey … but to denounce the whole fraud and don’t trust the results!

“Fraud” “scandalous”,  “scam”: the Momentum crisis is  not cooling down over this Merry Christmas….

For a more profound contribution to Momentum discussions see: Policy and purpose are missing from the OMOV debate  by Edd Mustill.

I agree that the current debate is happening back-to-front. We are discussing Momentum’s structures without having openly discussed and decided upon the purpose of the organisation. When Momentum was founded in late 2015, it should either have been launched with a specific, well-defined purpose in mind, or come to an agreement on its purpose very quickly, but neither of these things happened. Meanwhile, the large numbers of people who were drawn into Labour politics by the Corbyn campaign’s victory started doing what came naturally: they turned up to their local Labour meetings, and they started meeting together as like-minded activists.

This quickly led to a situation where people developed a very strong affinity with Momentum as a name, an organisation, or (*shudder*) a “brand,” without having necessarily reached any agreement about what it was all for. Being a “Momentum person” could mean all sorts of things, politically, to different people. Ironically, this is similar to the situation in the Labour Party, where everyone professes to holding “Labour values” despite this being an ill-defined phrase which can mean twenty different things to ten different people.

It is this strong sense of ownership over the organisation on the part of its rank-and-file supporters, coupled with a lack of a clear definition of the organisation’s purpose, which has made a seemingly arcane debate about committees so bitter and fractious at times. The structures debate is a cipher for all sorts of other political disagreements. We should have first established our purpose and adopted a structure best suited to that purpose.

The rest of the article is readable through above link.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2016 at 1:10 pm

12 Responses

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  1. Loving the way you see Labour Party Marxists as representing “Momentum Opposition”.

    Pete Firmin

    December 23, 2016 at 2:08 pm

  2. So the Chamberlain Party of Great Britain turns disruptive? Unprecedented! It never ceases to amaze me that there are still people out there stupid enough to have dealings with them.


    December 23, 2016 at 2:12 pm

  3. Are they not part of the Momentum opposition?

    At least two of them play a more than back-seat driver role, more important than the best-known Labour Party Marxist

    If they are not part of the opposition, then who decides this?

    Andrew Coates

    December 23, 2016 at 2:23 pm

  4. The most disconcerting thing for me is the the AWL invited the “Labour Party Marxists” into the opposition caucus. I thought better of them. Generally I favour delegate democracy over internet plebiscites, but if the former is used to lever unrepresentative fringe elements like the CPGB into unwarranted influence then I am given pause. Momentum could still play a useful role in the LP. Let us hope that we do not muck up another opportunity in favour of recruiting a few members to one sect or the other.


    December 23, 2016 at 3:17 pm

  5. Andrew, your headline implies that Labour Party Marxists “are” the Momentum opposition, not that they are a (very small) part of it. And Badger why do you think the AWL are the gatekeepers for the opposition?

    Pete Firmin

    December 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

  6. Pete,
    Perhaps I got this wrong but I thought Sacha Ismail convened the caucus; and believed him to be somehow connected with the AWL.


    December 23, 2016 at 4:56 pm

  7. It is, in any case, well known that opponents of Lansmann are seething at Corbyn’s intervention.

    Incidentally I am interested in what kind of motions are being contemplated for the Momentum Conference.

    It would not be much to suggest that a highly divisive one on ‘Zionism’ is in the pipeline from some quarters.

    Andrew Coates

    December 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm

  8. If there are two more toxic and parasitic groups than the AWL and the Weekly Worker cabal they are yet to reveal themselves. Their strategy is to reconfigure Momentum into a policy-making body that can transition from an oppositional tendency to a new political formation. Already their rhetoric is aimed at Corbyn’s leadership. Nothing is more likely to strengthen Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP and the party apparatus. The unwitting and innocent who follow their lead in this matter need to understand that if allowed to grow unchecked this so-called opposition will make the transformation of the Labour Party more difficult.

    Nick Wright

    December 23, 2016 at 8:30 pm

  9. “If there are two more toxic and parasitic groups than the AWL and the Weekly Worker cabal…”: I’ll name two for you, Nick: the so-called “Communist” Party of Britain and the editorial board of the Morning Star.

    Jim Denham

    December 23, 2016 at 10:05 pm

  10. “If there are two more toxic and parasitic groups than the AWL and the Weekly Worker cabal…”: I’ll name two for you, Nick: the so-called “Communist” Party of Britain and the editorial board of the Morning Star. -Jim Denham

    they are parasitical, but not quite as much as the AWL and the CPGB (weakly wanker).


    December 24, 2016 at 2:33 am

  11. You forget this: U.S. Threatens Syria War Escalation Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action USA. A bit dated but a good, anti-imperialist piece also.

    Liaison Committee for the Fourth International.


    Andrew Coates

    December 24, 2016 at 11:47 am

  12. This discussion might proceed beyond name calling if the factionalists who have infested Momentum were able explain what results they think will flow from their anti-Corbyn strategy.
    As for the “editorial” board of the Morning Star it consists of dozens of people nominated by their trade unions who hold shares in the co-op plus people elected at AGMs around the country.
    It is so catholic in its editorial policy as to carry articles from every formation from the opposition front bench to the Greens and the SSP. It even carries the occasional letter from Jim Denham (although it has been noted that he casts his prose in its columns in more reasonable tones than is his conventional manner.)

    Nick Wright

    December 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

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