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Amidst “misogynist attacks on Jennie Formby” Jon Lansman withdraws from race for Labour General Secretary.

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Background:

Contest for job of general secretary widens rift between Unite and Momentum.  . Observer.

“Senior backers of Jennie Formby, the Unite union’s former political director and the frontrunner to become Labour’s new general secretary, are trying to reassure party staff that there are no planned overhauls should she secure the job.

It comes as senior party and union figures try to find a last-minute “compromise candidate” to take on Formby, with several sources warning she has had run-ins with some of the other major Labour-affiliated unions that have left them seriously concerned about her appointment.”

“The split between Lansman and Formby supporters has also spilled into an online battle, with tensions among a group of leftwing blogs and news sites that emerged to support Corbyn’s leadership. The Skwawkbox, which is seen as having strong links with the leader’s office, has been pushing for Formby’s appointment and has questioned Lansman’s decision to run, while Novara Media, another Corbyn-supporting outlet, has backed both the opening of the contest and a member-elected general secretary. The internal tension has also seen the arrival of the Red Roar, a more centrist blog that details the fights raging within the ranks.

Some moderate Labour MPs now believe the forces that brought Corbyn to power are dividing. The split has even been criticised by the Labour Party Marxists group, which said it was “at best, ludicrous and, at worst, irresponsible”.

Now since these, if obviously mischief making, are clearly not misogynistic attacks what could Lansman be referring t?

Look no further in the Observer:

Don’t look to Len McCluskey and his sorry ilk to defend workers’ interests. 

Apart from the ill-thought and condescending content, the tone of the last sentence sounds like a crib from Hancock’s Half Hour…. the Brave Hungarian Girl Magna Carta….

Cohen’s article also contains some words for this pair,

The Scottish aristocrat Andrew Murray (he’s descended from the earls of Perth and the kings of Navarre on his father’s side and the dukes of Norfolk on his mother’s) not only offers apologies for Lenin but Stalin too. He’s moved from Unite and the Communist Party of Britain to join Seumas Milne, another apologist for Uncle Joe, in Jeremy Corbyn’s office.

I did not notice Murray, the son of the  Slains Pursuivant  educated at a Benedictine independent boarding school in Sussex complaining about his coverage in the New Statesman recently  which cut out this aspect of his biography, and referred only to him leaving school at 16 with 4 ‘O’ Levels. Nor this – accurate – description ” Mr Corbyn’s most senior aide, Seumas Milne, was a Soviet Union sympathiser. Andrew Murray, the chief of staff of Unite and a consultant to the Labour leader, was a member of the Stalinist Communist Party of Britain until 2016 and expressed solidarity with North Korea in 2003. They hail from an authoritarian leftist tradition.”

This Blog is more concerned with Cohen’s attacks on UNITE. Apparently they and UNISON are “stale bureaucracies” with little interest in their membership’s day-to-day needs.

Against these  “old far-left-dominated unions.” Cohen advocates USDAW (whose new General Secretary Amy Murphy is a supporter of the ‘far-left’ Socialist Party), the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU), a section from the far-from-unbureaucratic Prospect union, and a small Independent Workers Union, whose origins lie in the (respected) far-left anarcho-syndicalist tradition of the  Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or the “Wobblies” which they left to form their own union, the  IWGB.

It is questionable if the “consensus” method of reaching decisions admired in the article, and made a rule in the Occupy movement,  and prevalent amongst those influenced by certain strains of “alter-globalisation” activism and anarchists, is an answer to authoritarianism. Critics point to the imposition of a consensus by the loudest voices and the unsuitability of this model for union activity which, however we wish to put it, involves controversy and strong differences of opinion – normally resolved by voting contests between opposed stands.

Cohen completely neglects the role of UNITE in organising the unorganised, and, above all, its ‘Community branches’ which campaign for the rights of those receiving benefits, for the disabled, and in coordination with those acting  against the injustice inflicted on women through changes in the state pension scheme (WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality) The union is at the forefront of protests for such ‘far-left’ issues as defending the NHS.

/campaigning/stop--fix-universal-credit/

UNITE also works for the day-to-day interests of workers across a range of sectors, areas perhaps not striking enough to attract the journalist’s attention.

The Lansman announcement was greeted with joy by Skwakbox, “We applaud Mr Lansman’s decision. ”

That alone, given Skwakbox’s involvement in fake news (from Greenfell ‘D’ notices, to the claim that all the disabled would receive a ‘sanction’ if they did not get a job within 2 years) is cause for concern.

But there is more, the ‘anti-Zionists’ of Labour Against the Witchhunt states,

LAW welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to withdraw

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians people we think her election would send a powerful political signal. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt.

Steering Committee

But,

Labour General Secretary election to play for as many NEC members hold out for third candidate. Red Roar.

Analysis by The Red Roar shows that while Unite’s Jennie Formby has over three times as much support as her rival Jon Lansman in the race to become Labour’s general secretary, an equal number of NEC members remain undecided.

No one can claim to know how NEC members will vote, of course. This is not an exercise in mind-reading but an honest attempt to give as clear a picture as possible as to how the two main candidates for the job are likely to fare.

Backing Formby: 17
Backing Lansman: 5
Undecided: 17
Total: 39

More to follow……

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Behind the Shawcroft Row: The Labour Party as Social Movement and Political Trade Unionism.

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Image result for labour momentum a social movement

 

The Labour Party as Social Movement and Political Trade Unionism.

In one of his lesser-known works, L’Éternité par les astres (1872) the 19th century socialist insurrectionist Louis-Auguste Blanqui announced that there were millions of stars and worlds like our own. In each of them lived our personal doppelgänger. Those who have reflected on this discovery would deduce that our alter egos would each have minor differences, slightly different points of our view, that would end in distinct narratives about our existence.

Recent events in the Labour Party have brought similar differences about what has happened during a number of events, from goings-on at the National Policy Forum, to the National Executive Committee (NEC). The same meeting the same people, but very different takes on what took place.

The most recent, and, politically, the most important, is the latest NEC meeting. Christine Shawcroft’s dissatisfaction with a decision to submit allegations of anti-semitism to further disciplinary procedure has tumbled over into disagreement about the role of trade union representatives on Labour’s ruling body. She is reported to have expressed the view, amongst other things, that union delegates are unreliable allies of the left. Shawcroft suggested on social media that the Labour-union link should be re-examined. Those hostile to her intervention, and no doubt Momentum, in which the long-standing NEC member is a leading figure, have claimed that she called for a break with the organised working class. Since then everybody has united on keeping the union link (Labour unites behind trade union affiliation).

The row in the wake of these comments takes place against the backdrop of a contest for Labour’s General Secretary. This, a post, unlike, in other European parties (such as the French Parti Socialiste’s similar sounding position) has organisational and not directly political responsibility. The Secretary is appointed by the Party’s upper structure and is therefore, in principle, not an issue that involves the wider membership. But the different candidates, above all Jon Lansman, on the NEC but best known as a founder of Momentum, and Jennie Formby  from the union UNITE, have increasingly been seen in a political light. It is known that Lansman was not happy with a union ‘shoe in’ into the position. What is clear now is that UNITE’s leadership is unhappy with any questioning of their political weight in the party. These, and other issues about the candidacies, have been echoed amongst those Labour activists interested in the future direction of the party.

Momentum: Labour as social movement.

It should be clear that while there are no real differences about the primary need to campaign to get a Labour government elected, and to work out policies to achieve this, the dispute could be seen in the light of some important differences. For some Momentum is not just a pressure group to build support for Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn. It is, grandly, a project designed for Labour to gain a “collective transformative” capacity. It may be seen, as Hilary Wainwright put it “having a creative capacity and transformative power” “distinct from (not opposed to) electoral politics”. As such as, “a party as a means of experimenting and prefiguring in the represent” “the relations we envisage in the future”. Less inclined to an extra-terrestrial discovery to rival Blanqui’s, Momentum is seen “grassroots politics” with activists, many of them youthful, pouring energy and enthusiasm into Labour’s campaigns. In this capacity – that is a means to help bolder the party’s capacity to root change in the wider society, – the group is highly welcome. (1)

Momentum’s own difficulties include an ‘on-line’ democracy that critics allege does not function, conferences and decision-making process which resemble the centralised aspect of the equally ‘social media’ and Web hub based La France insoumise (LFI) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In its defence it could be said that Momentum is not LFI, out to ‘federate the people’ by means of a virtual political party, but has become an auxiliary of one with the goal of helping Labour get elected. It has avoided becoming embroiled in the worst aspects of left in fighting and sectarian recruitment politics. Momentum, unless one reads Shawcroft’s NEC intervention in the most hostile possible way, has shown no inclination to indulge the – ultra-minority – strain of Judophobia that has become an issue in left politics.

These positive achievements do not prevent another set of concerns at the place of such a body in drawing up lists in local Labour Parties with the sole aim of getting approved candidates elected to internal positions and councillor selections. In some case, Haringey stands out, this is part of a justified and broader effort to change very wong council policies. But in others this polarising practice, right up to clashes over the most minor positions, many complain, overrides debate of policy issues.

Political Trade Unionism.

What has also come to light is that the trade unions have a distinct idea about their role in the Labour Party. The TUC and affiliated unions have always seen the party as a means to get legislation passed in their favour, most recently by some who give priority to restoring collective bargaining in negotiations. Apart from these classical demands some, above all UNITE, have their own ideas about “political unions”.

Andrew Murray, a key figure in Len McClusky’s circle, and a consultant to Jeremy Corbyn, argued in 2014, for rebuilding the left around the People’s Assembly. This national campaign against austerity, Murray noted, drew the unions, ant-cuts activists and left-wingers from Labour and a variety of small left parties, with the objective of creating “rooted movements for change” “re-establishing the basis for mass socialist politics”. Behind this, based on the working class movement, was a strategy to “reclaim Labour” for the left – a prospect Murray saw – in 2014 – that could be thwarted by the “Blairite undead”. (2)

Murray may have his own eccentric ideas about ‘anti-imperialism’, and the positive side of the Soviet past. But, Labour has been largely (not entirely) been wrenched from the Blair/Brown legacy. In this the importance of initiatives such as the People’s Assembly stands out. It was one of the factors that prepared the ground for Corbyn’s election. The alternative strategy, which his article thoroughly took to pieces, of various left electoral challenges, from Left Unity, to the (continuing) Trades Union and Socialist Alliance (TUSC) faded into oblivion.

The problem now is whether the trade union movement, dedicated to achieving goals through electoral power, can sustain a relation with those who see ‘Labour as a social movement’. This is not a just a matter of ‘control’, which unions do not have over Momentum. A central policy issue equally divides the left. Some still see the future in terms of a “People’s Brexit’. Some decades later, on another planet, Tony Benn’s call for “genuine national sovereignty” – is proposed by the Morning Star, and, in a souped up form, by the ‘revolutionary’ remnants of the People’s Assembly reduced to the mouthpiece of the groupuscule Counterfire (The why and what of a People’s Brexit). But it is unlikely that inside the party, in Momentum or anywhere else, apart from the far from dynamic minority of ‘patriotic Labour’ is attracted to this prospect. Many remain strongly opposed to Leave. A few respond to the demand for a new referendum. The compromise over the Customs Union is a stop-gap a more detailed set of policies on Europe remains to be settled.

The differences between Labour-as-a-social-movement and Political Trade Unionism are far from irresolvable. Those, like this writer, who rejoined Labour, are intensely conscious that for Labour to be elected compromises and a great deal of respect is due for those activists, councillors and MPs who have kept membership over the years. Their concerns focus on issues such as the funding for local government, housing, welfare reform and …Europe. It would be better if disputes took place over policy, in a collaborative fashion, and not over jostling for internal positions in the party.

*******

(1) Radicalising the party-movement relationship: from Ralph Miliband to Jeremy Corbyn and beyond. Hilary Wainwright. Socialist Register. 2017. Merlin Press. Beyond the Boundary, Momentum’s role in the #GE2017 Campaign, Puru Miah. Chartist. 277. July/August 2017.

(2) Left Unity or Class Unity? Working class politics in Britain. Andrew Murray. Socialist Register 2014. Merlin Press.

(3) On this aspect of Tony Benn’s politics see: Chapter 6 A Party with Socialists in it. A History of the Labour Left. Simon Hannah. Pluto Press. 2018

Critical Support for Jon Lansman as Labour General Secretary.

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Lansman’s Announcement.

Progress columnist Adrian McMenamin writes,

Only one candidate for Labour’s top job seems to have the full backing of the leader. It should be them that gets the job, argues Adrian McMenamin

I want Jennie Formby to be the next general secretary of the Labour party.

I want her to be selected because she is the least suited of the two known candidates, but the one most firmly backed by Jeremy Corbyn. You see – and I have never hidden this before and I am not starting now – I do not want Corbyn to be leader of the Labour party. I also know that, in holding that view I am in the minority, at least amongst Labour party members. I need things to happen that will persuade more members to agree with me, and appointing Formby, who has never demonstrated to me any of the characteristics needed to run our party’s machinery, should, I believe, help in that task.

I know that is not likely to be a welcome sentiment to many of the good people who work for the Labour party. As someone who spent three periods in party headquarters between 1987 and 2005, I know they are some of the very best and most dedicated of people, yet I also know we live in the middle of a political emergency and the necessity of saving the Labour party from itself overrides so many other things. Sorry, comrades, but I am not sorry.

If Formby gets the job she will be Corbyn’s appointment pure and simple. Others are backing her of course – and tarring them with her likely failure is important too – but the buck stops at the top.

I  want her to get the job too because to get her there her supporters have engaged in the most appalling behaviour that makes a mockery of every claim they have ever made about wanting a democratic party where the wishes of members come first and where parachute landings were ended. Their manipulation of the process needs to succeed so they can have no excuses.

The pixels on the press statement announcing Iain McNicol’s resignation had barely switched state before we were being told that Formby was to be the next general secretary. It took less than a working day for the National Executive Committee officers group to announce a timetable for the new appointment that was shorter than any in living memory. Since then we have heard reports that Corbyn’s office have been leaning on everyone they can to endorse Formby and – of course – there has been rubbishing of the only other, now declared, candidate.

Whatever else this will be, it will not be an equal opportunities appointment, but one of the worst stitch-ups ever.

Another reason I want her to get the job is because I want the reality of the way in which Len McCluskey and his followers seek to centralise power to dole out favours to one another to be fully exposed. If Corbyn will be the father of this appointment, McCluskey will be its midwife.

Under McCluskey’s leadership a wicked political culture in Unite has festered. Failing to be honest about the union’s falling membership while going so far as to threaten to sue Gerard Coyne’s campaign for libel and then sacking him are just a few of the examples of the way in which Unite is turning into the Potemkin Village of industrial militancy. That culture, corrosively eating away at our biggest union, needs to be destroyed, and sunlight is essential for that to happen.

Finally, I want Formby to succeed because I want the Momentum train to be derailed. The political world Momentum are busy creating is, if anything, even worse than that found amongst McCluskey’s camp followers. While none of the national or local leaders of Momentum may be sexists or antisemites, it seems many are unwilling to take a firm stand against either if it gets them what they want. They deserve to be beaten and their supporters need to learn that if you run with the tigers you get eaten.

–––––

Adrian McMenamin is a Progress columnist and is the former chief press and broadcasting officer for the Labour party. He tweets at @adrianmcmenamin.

Labour List publishes this, Unite hits back at antisemitism “smear” against Jennie Formby

Unite has hit back at a claim that Labour general secretary candidate Jennie Formby “acted with antisemitic intent”, calling the allegation a “malicious smear”.

Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS) released a statement this afternoon alleging that Formby was ousted from Unite as political director due to “antisemitic comments” over Baroness Royall’s suitability to conduct an NEC inquiry.

In 2016, Baroness Royall investigated members of the Oxford University Labour Club and found that they engaged in antisemitic activity.

LAAS claims that Formby said Baroness Royall’s membership of Labour Friends of Israel made her unsuitable for the role and that the Unite regional secretary tried to stop the Labour peer heading the investigation.

LAAS alleges that Formby “acted with antisemitic intent” by “reportedly seeking to prevent an investigation by Baroness Royall”.

Unite has hit back at the statement calling it a “malicious smear”. The union says Formby was not “never under any pressure” to step down as Unite political director.

“At that NEC discussion, Jennie Formby voted for Ms Jan Royall’s appointment, and argued for her inquiry to be properly resourced by the Party,” says Unite.

This is the background (It’s Jon versus Jen to be Labour’s next general secretary. Jewish Chronicle today)

 “Two years ago she caused outrage at a Labour NEC meeting by questioning Baroness Royall’s suitability to lead an investigation into claims of antisemitism among Labour-supporting students. Her claim was on the grounds, apparently, that the peer had previously visited Israel. 

When it was pointed out that her remarks were inappropriate, Ms Formby said she had wanted to ensure Baroness Royall had adequate support for the investigation because a search for her previous experience had only indicated involvement in a LFI delegation.

She was also said to be behind attempts to get Labour to boycott G4S, the security firm, over its contracts in Israel and the West Bank. She has denied the allegation.”

These posts put well, well, aside, one of the strongest arguments for Lansman is that fake-news site Skwawkbox is backing Formby in its habitual style.

I note in passing that one of the complaints about Lansman is that he does not run Momentum democratically.

As a paid up supporter of the Labour Representation Committee I observe that they did not ask members’ views before plumping for Formby and calling for Lansman to pull out of the race.

LRC ENDORSES FORMBY FOR LABOUR #JENSEC. URGES LANSMAN TO WITHDRAW

Here is the group taking decisions off their own back:

But the decisive reason to back Jon Lansman comes from here:

Why Labour Against the Witchhunt cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid

We do not believe Jon Lansman would do that, for a number of reasons, not least the ones cited below:

–       When Jackie Walker was suspended from the Labour Party on trumped-up charges of anti-semitism, Jon Lansman did not defend her. Quite the opposite: he quickly removed her as vice-chair of Momentum and hand-picked her replacement.

–       After Ken Livingstone’s suspension, he wrote on Twitter: “A period of silence from Ken Livingstone is overdue, especially on anti-Semitism racism & Zionism. It’s time he left politics altogether.” That does not bode well for any new NEC enquiry on Livingstone that is now being mooted.

–       Momentum’s constitution now bars from membership all those expelled by the Labour Party’s compliance unit for their alleged “support for other organisations” under rule 2.1.4.B. This rule that has been used exclusively against left-wingers. Lansman has since come out in support of keeping the rule in Labour’s constitution (in a letter to Tony Greenstein in response to LAW’s submission to the Corbyn Review).

–       In the same letter, he has opposed our demands for the abolition of the compliance unit. We are firmly of the belief that all disciplinary matters should be dealt with by elected representatives, which means their action can be held up to scrutiny.

Labour’s next general secretary should ensure the NEC immediately implements the recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedure made by the Shami Chakrabarti report of 2016.

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a vocal supporter of, for instance, the rights of Palestinian people and genuine bottom up Labour Party democracy, we think her election would send a powerful political signal that Labour is ready for government. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt, which has caused such disunity in the party. Labour unity is the top priority and is essential in order that the party wins the next general election.

Steering Committee,
Labour Against the Witchhunt

Those taking this view include the Mad Bob Pitt who has argued in a public forum,

The problem for Lansman is that if Jennie Formby gets to be general secretary she’s not going to be implementing the hysterical witch-hunt over antisemitism with the same unbridled enthusiasm that McNicol did. Lansman essentially supports the witch-hunt, because he thinks the Israel lobby can be bought off by throwing people like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth to the wolves. So he wants to block Jennie. The rabid Zionists of Labour Against Antisemitism have already launched a campaign against her, smearing her as an antisemite, which has been angrily condemned by Unite. Lansman wouldn’t go that far, but basically he’s with the Zionists against Jennie.

Not that Labour members actually get a vote in this…..

Written by Andrew Coates

March 2, 2018 at 11:49 am

Fun and Games with George Galloway as Row with Momentum founder Jon Lansman Heats up.

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And in the Left Corner, Jon Lansman…

The ‘I’ has just reported,

George Galloway to sue Momentum’s Jon Lansman over David Baddiel anti-semitism row

George Galloway has announced that he will sue Jon Lansman after the Momentum founder accused him of anti-semitism. Lansman intervened in a Twitter row between Galloway and David Baddiel after Galloway declared the broadcaster and writer a “vile Israel fanatic”. In apparent reference to a planned protest march against a Donald Trump tweet, Galloway tweeted on Sunday: “There will be no supporter of the Palestinian people marching behind vile Israel-fanatic ‘comedian’ David Baddiel. There will be no opponent of Imperialist wars marching behind [Labour MP] Stella Creasy. #JustSaying.”

..

Galloway walked back his Israel accusation, but maintained his criticism of Baddiel, saying: “I was wrong to tweet that David Baddiel was an ‘Israel fanatic’, he is not and I have deleted it. I should have said that David Baddiel routinely slanders Israel critics like me as ‘antisemites’.”

He went on to declare the charge of anti-semitism as a “defamatory smear” deployed “against supporters of the Palestinian people”. He said he had instructed solicitors to bring a case for defamation against Jon Lansman – and even said he would be calling Jeremy Corbyn as a witness.

Galloway has a long history of libel claims, having won money from the Daily Telegraph and others over stories about his links to Iraq. In 2005, he threatened to sue election opponent Oona King over an anti-semitism allegation, while he warned Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman of his intention to file suit over similar claims in 2015.

George Galloway thinks that half-apologising for his remarks about David Beddiel and deleting the tweet it “never existed”.

Perhaps this legal eagle, the best Brief this side of Damascus,  will enlighten him.

Galloway compares Lansman to Tony Blair,

 

Galloway backs Tony Greenstein (“the son of a Rabbi”).

 

Galloway gets angry.

Galloway drives off into the snow-laden wilderness.

Some say we should ignore Galloway’s desperate attention seeking.

“The Respect Party “voluntarily deregistered” from the Electoral Commission‘s Register of Political Parties on 18 August 2016, twelve years after it initially registered.”

Well, we are not going to pass over the fun of this circus!

There is another, by no means incompatible, theory that Lansman has put himself in a “win win” situation in this fight.

The general left-leaning public would be on his side.

Many on the activist left, including those often critical of the Momentum Founder, would stand by him.

That he should keep up the row, which is bound to show him in a good light when set against Galloway.

Just a theory…..

Written by Andrew Coates

January 31, 2018 at 1:03 pm

George Galloway to sue Jon Lansman (Momentum) over anti-Semitism charge

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Image may contain: text

This is the background: (Shiraz Socialist)

David Baddiel calls out Galloway for what he is: an anti-Semite.

Jim writes,

Trump-supporting shyster George Galloway has attacked David Baddiel, on Twitter, for backing the planned anti-Trump march, on the grounds that Baddiel is (supposedly) an “Israel-fanatic”.

Baddiel, who is not noted for being particularly pro-Israel, but is Jewish, has replied by calling out Galloway for what he is: an anti-Semite.

I trust this will be the end, once and for all of any suggestion that this piece of anti-Semitic scum should ever be readmitted to the Labour Party (Seamas take note):

Our old friend Galloway has been a busy chap.

On Sunday he spoke at this event, organised by the pro-Iranian Islamists of 5Pillars, the Islamic ‘Human Rights, and something called Aim Islam.

 

Now he is going to sue Lansman, retracting his former views, when all was going swimmingly between him and the Momentum chief.

George Galloway: Even Jon Lansman is better than the vile Trotskyist saboteurs trying to steal Momentum.

 Tuesday, December 13, 2016
George Galloway spoke about the Momentum row on his talkRADIO show, urging listeners not to be lured by the “discredited ultra-leftism” of those reportedly seeking to take over the group.

Our presenter also said Jeremy Corbyn is doing well as Labour leader, but the media aren’t reporting it.

Last week Momentum’s women’s officer Laura Murray wrote a blog complaining that a group of rebels led by the Trotskyite Alliance for Workers’ Liberty is trying to wrest control of the movement from Jon Lansman, who set up Momentum as a vehicle of support for Corbyn.

Galloway said he and Lansman have long-standing differences going back to their time as “foot soldiers” for Tony Benn, and he has little time for Lansman as a person or a political figure.

However, Galloway said “if you asked me to choose between Jon Lansman and the rag-bag of Trotskyite fragments who are trying to take over Momentum… then I’m with Lansman.”

Turning to what he described as the “Alliance for so-called-workers’-so-called-Liberty”, Galloway said they are “the vilest, the weirdest, the cultest, secretive gang of saboteurs, wreckers and provacteurs that I have ever known.”

Our presenter also said Corbyn is besting Theresa May in the Commons every single week, his latest star showing coming today (December 14) when he grilled the Prime Minister on social care.

However, Galloway said, Corbyn’s communications team have not yet been able to demonstrate this, and “saboteurs” within the party are distracting from his progress.

 Update: the story has got in the media.

George Galloway threatens Jon Lansman with legal action over ‘anti-Semitism smears’ (Jewish News)

Veteran left-wing politician accuses the Momentum founder of a ‘defamatory smear’, during online spat involving Jewish comedian David Baddiel.

Former MP Galloway said he had instructed his solicitors to take action after he was accused of “anti-Semitism” by Lansman who, like Galloway, is identified with the politics of the far-left.

The two men fell out when Lansman jumped to the defence of Baddiel, who was attacked by Galloway on Twitter as a “vile Israel fanatic,” despite a history of critical comments from Baddiel about the Israeli government.

In a message posted on Sunday, Galloway tweeted: “There will be no supporter of the Palestinian people marching behind vile Israel-fanatic ‘comedian’ David Baddiel.”

Baddiel hit back, writing: “Since I’ve always made it clear that my attitude to that country is entirely meh, I think we can conclude that by ‘Israel fanatic’ George just means Jew. Vile Jew. And that therefore he is an anti-Semite.”

And,

Written by Andrew Coates

January 30, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Momentum, UNITE and Labour: an Activist Comments.

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Image result for momentum labour

A ‘New Kind of Politics’? 

Unite statement on Tom Watson MP’s claims on Momentum and Unite

20 March 2017

Responding to the claims made today (Monday 20 March) in the national media by Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour party, Unite’s acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Tom Watson has made claims about Unite and its general secretary Len McCluskey which are entirely inaccurate.

“As Unite has made it clear it is exclusively for our executive council to determine which organisations we affiliate to. There are no plans for Unite to affiliate to Momentum. For the record, Len McCluskey has never met Jon Lansman to discuss this or any other matter.

“It is extraordinary that the deputy leader of the Labour party should  interfere in Unite’s democracy in this way, and it is very disappointing that he was allowed to make his unsupported claims without being challenged, and that the BBC ignored the Unite statement with which it had been provided well in advance.

“Mr Watson’s latest, and misguided, campaign is part of an unprecedented pattern of interference in the current Unite general secretary election by elected Labour politicians who should, frankly, be concentrating on their own responsibilities.

“Mr Watson is a Unite member with a right to a vote and a view. But he should remember that, first, he is deputy leader of the Labour party with the obligations that this senior post imposes, and second that Unite is not a subsidiary of any political organisation.”

Unite has complained to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the statement the union provided in good faith last night was only used in part and following representations from the union this morning. The union has also complained that Mr Watson was allowed to make his extraordinary claims about Unite and its general secretary without being subject to any demand for evidence.

This is in response to reports, such as this one, in the media. (Guardian).

Momentum’s Jon Lansman has hit back after fierce criticism by Labour MPs of his intention to affiliate trade union Unite to his grassroots group as a way to consolidate its power in the party.

The plans for Momentum to affiliate the UK’s biggest union and take full control of Labour’s structures by electing new representatives were described as “entryism” by the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, and were revealed after Lansman was secretly recorded speaking at a Momentum branch meeting in Richmond, south-west London.

In the recording, the chair of Momentum said the affiliation would require Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, to win his re-election battle against rival Gerard Coyne

….

A new constitution drawn up by Lansman last year made it clear that activists must be members of the Labour party in order to participate in Momentum, but in the recording, he suggested the restriction would not be enforced.

“It was important to require Labour party membership in the rules but it is down to enforcement. No one from the centre is going to tell you to kick people out,” he tells the meeting.

Watson tweeted Lansman on Sunday night, saying the recording was “very clear” in what it meant. “You’ve revealed your plan. If you succeed, you will destroy the Labour party as an electoral force. So you have to be stopped.”

Lansman replied: “We won’t allow non Lab members to hold office or vote (unlike Coop party or Fabians) but we won’t exclude them from activities/meetings. For 20 years the left was denied a voice. We will deny a voice to no one. We face big challenges, & we need our mass membership to win again.”

Poor old Suzanne Moore, no doubt wishing she were back in happier days ‘punting’ in the river Orwell,  has wadded in, waving her pole in all directions.

A secret recording reveals that even Momentum has given up on Corbyn. Does anyone inside Labour have any idea how ludicrous this all looks?

The insanity of a leader unsupported by his MPs, falling desperately in the polls, inert over Brexit, has the party simply waiting to lose for the reckoning to begin.

The issues raised have now come to the ears of Ken Livingstone (Guardian)

Ken Livingstone tells Labour: don’t lose Momentum party plans

Ex-London mayor says he finds it ‘bizarre’ MPs have issue over changes that would allow leftwing candidate to stand as leader

Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, has said the grassroots group Momentum should be free to push for changes to Labour party structures that would secure Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy as a leftwing Labour leader.

The party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, had accused the radical left group of “entryism” after its chair, Jon Lansman, was secretly recorded at a local meeting describing plans to elect a raft of leftwing candidates to key positions and his hope to seal an affiliation from trade union Unite.

A day of public accusation and backroom briefing by Watson and Corbyn allies ended in a fiery private meeting of MPs and peers on Monday night in parliament, where MPs clashed with Corbyn over Momentum’s influence on the party.

The tension hinges on a clause that Corbyn allies hope to secure at the next Labour party conference, to reduce the threshold of MP nominations needed for the next Labour leadership elections from 15% of MPs to 5%, which would make it easier for a leftwing successor to Corbyn to make it on to the ballot paper sent to members.

Comment.

Ken Livingstone’s comments are well aimed: the rule change under fire is a reasonable one.

UNITE is right complain about Tom Watson’s comments.

It is both hard to believe that he is unaware of the way they would be used in the union’s internal elections, and that he does not know that UNITE’s Executive is the body to which such a decision – which the union itself says is not on the cards – has to be referred.

But the “aspirational” claims by Jon Lansman, that UNITE should affiliate to Momentum, remain contentious.

It can hardly escape anybody interested – perhaps a declining number – in Momentum that the organisation has serious internal disputes, which led to the holding of the recent  ‘Grassroots Momentum’ Conference.

It would be too simple to describe this as a clash between leftist ‘factions’ and those around Jon Lansman. One day somebody may provide a diagram of the disagreements, in 7 dimensions.

This, apparently, escapes the attention of an enthusiast, Comrade Ladin who writes of its success within Labour, “Momentum’s strategy of mobilising members within these structures is undoubtedly the winning one” (Guardian. 20.3.16.7)

Others may point to internal critics’ comments which blow away the idea that this is a head-on battle between the Labour Right (Watson at the head) and Momentum.

As Stephen Wood in The Clarion remarks of the presentation of Momentum as a

….broadly consensual organisation where we “focus on what we agree about.”

The fundamental flaw is that while he is right that most of what was passed at the Grassroots Momentum conference and in fact even argued by his opponents on the Momentum Steering Committee he may actually have agreed to, he was absolutely against and stopped action being taken. Half-hearted support for the Picturehouse Workers Strike, a statement about suspensions and expulsions which has still never materialised were all agreed at what he described as “deeply unpleasant” SC meetings.

It would be easy to continue in this vein, and discuss the internal divisions of Momentum.

One thing is certain (at the risk of sounding the voice of ‘reasonableness’, but this is very much the case)  that  this is not a matter of  virtue , the leadership, and faults, “trots and the hard-left”.

Problems are not confined to one ‘camp’ or the other.

It is also the case that UNITE members who are active in the Labour Party, including those with positions of responsibility, are far from agreed on the merits of Momentum, whether on its general strategy, or the details of its demands.

UNITE is a “political union” that sees the best way of pursuing the interests of its membership lie in the Labour Party, above all a Labour Party in office.

Now would seem not a good time to divert attention away to other power struggles.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm