Information from the Momentum conference arrangements committee

We are sharing this information here, as ‘Team Momentum’ has not sent it out to all Momentum members and supporters.

The minutes from the CAC meeting are available online here and as a PDF file here.


Dear Friend,

The Conference Arrangements Committee would like to wish you a Merry Christmas. This is our first update to inform you of key information and deadlines that Local Groups and representatives need to be aware of. You
will receive further updates in the New Year.

The CAC met on Thursday 15th December, please see the Minutes attached. We decided that pending confirmation of venue, the 1st National Momentum Conference starts Saturday 18th February 2017. The CAC have suggested a 2 day Conference that can offer something for everyone in our movement.


All Local Groups are asked to meet before the 21st Jan 2017. This is because all Local Groups are permitted to submit 1 motion for Conference. Groups do not have to submit a motion if they choose not to. Conference delegate elections should be held in this meeting. Once delegates are elected, Group leads are to write us stating the name of your Group and the name and membership no. of your delegates. Delegate credentials will be provided at Conference. Trade Unions with less than 250,000 members are entitled to 5 delegates, over 250,000 members is entitled to 10 delegates.

Local Group delegate entitlement is 2 per every 100 members or part thereof. If Groups have 99 members they are entitled to 2 Gender Balanced Conference delegates. If Groups have 101 members they are entitled to 4 and so on. 1of 4 delegates must be a Youth (under 30) delegate. Thursday 3rd Jan at midnight is the deadline for members to have joined in order to allocate the number of delegates a Local Group is entitled to.

Monday 9th Jan is the deadline to resolve discrepancies in local group boundaries. The CAC recognise there are a some issues regarding this. Please contact the main office as soon as possible if these issues are affecting your Group.

Because finance has not yet been secured, we urge Local Groups to start fundraising to pay for costs for delegates to Conference.

In area’s that are not covered by a Group, a motion can be submitted from no less than 30 members. Please make clear the names and membership no.s of the 30 members the motion is on behalf of.

The National Committee is mandated to work with Liberation Groups to establish themselves.

Regions are asked to meet by week ending Sat 21st/Sun 22nd January 2017. Whilst Regions are entitled to submit either 1 motion or 1 constitutional amendment, the CAC ask for Regions to focus on 1 constitutional amendment. A draft constitution will be circulated by 10th January 2017.

Motions and consitutional amendments are to be received by 28th January 2017 at midnight. Please send to Once motions are received they will be composited and categorised. Each category will then be placed in online priorities ballots. Once all the motions are received we will categorise them appropriately. The online priorities ballots will form the order of which motions will be heard in
the time strict time allowed. This means that depending on the amount of motions received for each category, some motions could be guillotined. Local Groups are advised to liaise with other Groups before submitting a motion by using Loomio and other methods. All conference queries are to be sent to the email address provided. Please also see the Facebook page

Local Group Involvement

The 1st Momentum National Conference is likely to be in London or Birmingham due to cost and accessibility. Because of a lack of funds, Regions and Local Group members are asked to consider providing a room for those who can not afford to pay for a hotel etc. Please let us know via email if you can spare a room.

The public images of our Conference is down to you all. Please send pictures of Local Group activity to us at the email address above. We will collate the pictures in collages and rotate them as often as possible.

The CAC have agreed not to focus on Celebrity for our Conference, instead we will make Celebrities out of some of you. If you would like to, speak, sing, dance or play a musical instrument please write to us or send us a video clip. Even if you are not chosen for Conference due to strict time allowances, your video clips will be posted online if appropriate. Be as creative as you like.

Grassroots Volunteers

We are currently over 20,000 members strong. Momentum has relied on volunteers from the start and Conference is no different. If you can spare any time to help make this event a success please write to us and
let us know what skills or time you can volunteer or you can volunteer as a Steward. We will send out regular updates as the arrangements progress.

Lastly, unity is strength. Time is short but we can achieve great things in solidarity.


Delia Mattis
Conference Arrangements Committee

Our draft constitution for Momentum

There has been talk of a draft Momentum constitution being presented to the members before December 31. Obviously it is urgently needed if members are going to debate it and elect delegates to agree or change it. Allies of Jon Lansman have been coming out with proposals which lean heavily on the awful ‘A transparent structure that involves all Momentum members and groups’, which we discussed here.

Our approach is very different. We want thoroughgoing democracy, political clarity and an orientation that puts transforming Labour into a genuine socialist party at the heart of Momentum work. Membership should be open to all who accept this perspective. We see no need for Momentum to mimic the Labour Party or student unions with affiliations, liberation groups and special quotas. Comrades should have the right to establish factions, platforms, etc, but it is the national conference that should exercise sovereignty.

Labour Party Marxists proposes the following draft constitution as our contribution to what is a vital discussion. It is brief, simple, and democratically transparent on the rights and duties of members and their leadership. We believe that active, self-activating branches should constitute the foundation of Momentum.

1. Aims

1:1 Momentum exists to build on the energy and enthusiasm of the ‘Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader’ campaign, to increase participatory democracy, solidarity, and grassroots power. We want to transform the Labour Party into a real party of labour. The fundamental change we work for is the winning of a socialist society to replace the existing system of capitalism. Our end goal is a world based on the principle ‘From each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs’.

2. Organisation

2:1 Momentum organises on the basis of individual membership and the most thorough-going democracy. Decisions in Momentum meetings are taken by a simple majority of members voting (excluding abstentions). All officers and delegates on all levels can be recalled by a simple majority of the body that elected them (for example, a conference, the National Committee or a branch). Draft agendas must be published well in advance of any Momentum meeting; minutes must be published as soon as possible afterwards.

2:2 As a general principle, we organise on the basis of the part being subordinate to the whole. The conference is the highest decision-making body and elects the National Committee, which oversees the branches and any national groups and structures and elects a Steering Committee.

2:3 Members have the right to submit their views to higher committees up to the national Momentum leadership for discussion. In the spirit of the radical democracy that motivates our whole organisation, members may publicly oppose decisions of higher committees, as long this opposition does not disrupt specific concrete actions.

2:4 Momentum members have the right to form factions, platforms, tendencies, special interest groups/networks with a view to changing the organisation’s policy or its leadership.

3. Structure

3:1 Momentum membership is open to everybody who:
– supports the objectives and aims of Momentum, and
– is not currently a supporter of any organisation that stands candidates against the Labour Party.

3:2 The basic organisational elements of Momentum are the branches, which should meet at least monthly and, within their sphere of operation, exercise a wide degree of autonomy.

3:3 Conference is the highest decision-making body of Momentum. Conference should normally be held every year and the date and conference arrangements should be announced by the National Committee at least three months in advance. The NC is ultimately responsible for conference arrangements and how participants are elected.

Extraordinary conferences can be called by a majority decision of the National Committee, by a third of Momentum’s branches, or by a third of the national membership. If such a demand arises, the NC is obliged to convene an extraordinary conference. It should be held within three months.

3:4 Conference elects the National Committee and decides on its size. Between conferences the NC represents Momentum and is empowered to issue statements on behalf of the organisation, launch campaigns, etc. To facilitate its work and the effectiveness of the organisation, the NC is empowered to form other committees – organisational, political, editorial, regional, etc. The NC elects a Steering Committee and decides on its size. The SC is accountable to and recallable by the NC.

3:5 The National Committee controls and administers the national database and the income from membership dues. At least 30 percent of the income is distributed back to the branches, in proportion to the size of the local membership. In addition, branches are able to raise their own funds.

4. Discipline

4:1 All members of Momentum have to abide by the rules of Momentum and conduct themselves in a disciplined and comradely way. This does not imply that people cannot use harsh language or express themselves in angry tones when debating political differences. Our comrades are political people, who hold strong political opinions and may have sharp observations to make on the ideas of others. Examples of basic breaches of discipline in Momentum would be: the refusal to pay dues because of political differences; disrupting or sabotaging an action agreed by a majority of members; threatening or using violence; behaving in a way that brings discredit to Momentum.

4:2 A comrade’s level of political experience and familiarity with the culture of our organisation should always be taken into account when disciplinary measures are mooted.

4:3 Every member of Momentum who is subject to disciplinary procedures has the right to appeal to higher bodies of Momentum, up to and including the conference

Jackie Walker, Norman Finkelstein and the new definition of anti-Semitism

Jackie Walker wandered into a political minefield when she innocently asked at a training workshop on anti-Semitism at Labour Party conference 2016: “In terms of Holocaust Day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Day was open to all people who experienced Holocaust?” She was robustly corrected by some right wingers in the room that formally the supposed ethos of the 46 governments who came together to create the Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27 2000 was to “remember the victims of Nazi persecution and of all genocides” (our emphasis). However, she really got into trouble with additional, uncontroversial observation that “In practice, [HMD] is not actually circulated and advertised as such.”

Ken Livingstone, another comrade who is also in trouble for making clumsy comments with a kernel of truth, made the incontrovertible observation that “I suspect you’ll find the majority of people in Britain didn’t know the Holocaust Memorial Day had been widened to include others,” he said.

Norman Finkelstein’s 2000 polemic described how the Nazi holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry became the “The Holocaust”: an “ideological representation” of this real historical event, that has is now presented as “categorically unique historical event” which “cannot be rationally apprehended … Indeed, The Holocaust is unique because it is inexplicable, and it is inexplicable because it is unique” (pp41-45).

And which, it must be added, via the ruthless battle for the ‘memory’ of the holocaust becomes a form of the class struggle itself. That, not the bilge about ‘anti-Semitism’ is the political significance of the attacks on comrades Walker, Livingstone and many others in the Labour Party.

LPM recommends Norman G Finkelstein, The holocaust industry: reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering (Verso 2000)

Norman Finkelstein
The new Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust Industry

A video of Norman speaking at Communist University 2016 on the issue is available here.

When Norman Finklestein’s The Holocaust Industry first hit the shelves in 2000, he must have anticipated that his punchy little polemic would stir the pot a little. You wouldn’t imagine he anticipated the shit storm that was about to break over him:

  • This book “provides considerable comfort to every holocaust denier, neo-Nazi and anti-Semite on the face of the planet” (Tobias Abse New Interventions autumn 2000).
  • Finkelstein comes “dangerously close to giving comfort to those who dream of new holocausts” (Alex Callinicos Socialist Worker July 22, 2000).
  • “How different is [Finkelstein’s] assertion that ‘the field of Holocaust studies is replete with nonsense, if not plain fraud’, from the holocaust revisionist David Irving’s rantings …?” (Socialist Worker July 22).
  • Finkelstein was “a Jew who doesn’t like Jews” and who “does the anti-Semites’ work for them” (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian July 14, 2000),
  • “He’s poison, he’s a disgusting self-hating Jew, he’s something you find under a rock” (Leon Wieseltier, Zionist intellectual and literary editor of New Republic).

Holocaust industryOn the surface, Finkelstein has impeccable credentials to write on the horror of that broke over European Jewry in WWII. Both his mother and father were survivors of the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi concentration camps. Apart from his parents, every family member was exterminated by the Nazis. In the words of Finkelstein, “My earliest memory, so to speak, of the Nazi holocaust is my mother glued in front of the television watching the trial of Adolf Eichmann (1961) when I came home from school” (p5).

It is also very ironic that Finkelstein’s project is rather moderate in its scope and its intentions – essentially, all he wanted to do is make the holocaust a subject of rational inquiry. This entails rescuing real history from the clutches of “holocaust correctness” (p65) and so-called ‘holocaust awareness’, which, to use the words of the Israeli writer, Boas Evron, is actually “an official, propagandistic indoctrination, a churning out of slogans and a false view of the world, the real aim of which is not at all an understanding of the past, but a manipulation of the present” (p41).

Finkelstein’s project is to strip away all the self-serving myths and falsehoods which envelop the holocaust, which can only mean stepping on a lot of very sensitive toes – some powerful, some just desperate for a crumb of ideological absolutism in an uncertain and disturbingly relativistic world. As he clearly puts it in his mission statement, “In this text, Nazi holocaust signals the actual historical event, The Holocaust its ideological representation … Like most ideologies, it bears a connection, if tenuous, with reality. The Holocaust is not an arbitrary, but rather an internally coherent, construct. Its central dogmas sustain significant political and class interests. Indeed, The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensable ideological weapon” (original italics – p4). In other words, Finkelstein wants to understand how the Nazi holocaust became “the Holocaust” – a “categorically unique historical event” which “cannot be rationally apprehended … Indeed, The Holocaust is unique because it is inexplicable, and it is inexplicable because it is unique” (pp41-45).

As a graphic example of the “sacralisation of the holocaust”, as the liberal scholar Peter Novick dubs it, some have been infuriated by Finkelstein’s blunt statement that “much of the literature on Hitler’s ‘final solution’ is worthless as scholarship. Indeed, the field of Holocaust studies is replete with nonsense, if not sheer fraud” (p55).

Finkelstein’s remit is to explain the way in which the ruling class and reactionary forces in general have managed to expropriate the ‘memory’ and discourse of the holocaust – to the extent that the almost unimaginable suffering endured by the victims of Nazi rule has become the virtual political-moral property of the reinvented, post-World War II bourgeoisie, which never tires of parading its new-found anti-racism/fascism.

The semi-hysterical reaction to Finkelstein’s birth described above illustrates the alarming climate of censorship that has grown alongside this ideological appropriation. It says it all that the Socialist Workers Party, former Finkelstein fans, issued a call for the works of David Irving to be prohibited from public libraries. If Finkelstein’s views also come “dangerously close” to Irving’s, as Alex Callinicos wrote in Socialist Worker (July 22 2000), then why not demand that The holocaust industry also be removed from public libraries? A very slippery slope.

‘The Holocaust’ – as opposed to the Nazi holocaust – is largely a retrospective construction by those with various (and sometimes rival) ideological and ‘special interest’ axes to grind. Indeed, ‘The Holocaust’ would not have been recognisable to most people who went through World War II and Nazi rule. In some respects, an anachronism (‘The Holocaust’) is being introduced as an alternative to understanding contemporary responses to real events. Substituting for a rational examination of the specific historical dynamics that led to the Nazi holocaust, we have the mystifying fog of ‘holocaust awareness’.

This is easily observed by the way that Martin Niemöller’s famous mea culpa (“First they came for the communists …”) has been radically doctored for political reasons. Infamously, Time magazine’s ‘new’ version promoted the Jews to first place and dropped both the communists and the social democrats. Al Gore publicly did the same too – and for good measure he dumped the trade unionists as well. Gore, Time and others have all added Catholics to Niemöller’s list – even though he did not mention them. In the heavily catholic city of Boston, they were added to the ‘quotation’ inscribed on its holocaust memorial.

Naturally, the establishment-sanctified US Holocaust Museum airbrushes out the communists from its roll call of official victimhood (but, interestingly, the holocaust bureaucrats decided to retain the social democrats as authentic, bona fide victims). Others have decided to include gays – the fact that Niemöller did not was obviously a mere ‘oversight’ on his part.

This footloose and fancy-free attitude to what should be a basic, easily verified and hence non-contested truth clearly demonstrates that the ruthless battle for the ‘memory’ of the holocaust is a form of class struggle – and a handy indicator of the current balance of class forces. Once upon a time, at least in the US, to ‘harp on’ about the Nazi holocaust was a sign of dangerous pinko-commie leanings. Now it is a badge of moral and bourgeois uprightness. Niemöller himself symbolises this shift in bourgeois ideology.

In the 1940s and 1950s the protestant pastor, who spent eight years in Nazi concentration camps, was regarded with grave suspicion by American Jewry in the shape of organisations like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti Deformation League. Niemöller’s instinctive opposition to the McCarthyite witch hunts made him persona non grata for America Jewish leaders who were desperate to boost their anti-communist credentials – to the point of joining, and partly financing, far rightist organisations like the All-American Conference to Combat Communism and even turning a blind eye to veterans of the Nazi SS entering the country. Indeed, the AJC enthusiastically joined in the establishment hysteria whipped up against the Rosenbergs, and its monthly publication, Commentary (November 1953), actually editorialised about how the couple – executed as Soviet spies – were not really Jews at all. (This tradition of toadying before the US establishment continues – the Simon Wiesenthal Centre made Ronald Reagan the winner of its ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ award in 1988.)

Another significant aspect to the debate is the so-called uniqueness of the holocaust, an idea heavily pushed in schools, colleges/universities, books, TV documentaries, films, etc. Banally speaking of course, every single event that has ever happened, and ever will happen, is ‘unique’. The evangelists for ‘uniqueness’ have a different agenda though.

Take Deborah Lipstadt, occupant of the holocaust chair at Emory University, an appointee to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and author of the widely lauded, Denying the holocaust: the growing assault on memory and truth. Lipstadt became a liberal hero for successfully slugging it out with David Irving last year in the British courts, after the Hitler-admiring historian filed a doomed libel suit against Lipstadt for branding him “one of the most dangerous spokespersons for holocaust denial”.

What was not mentioned in the mainstream press coverage of the time, and which throws a different and less salutary light on Lipstadt’s motivations, is that she is on record declaring that if you do not accept the ‘uniqueness’ theory, you must be effectively classed alongside those who deny the very historical fact of the Nazi holocaust itself. We are all potential Irvings then. Thus, in Denying the holocaust, Lipstadt rages against the drawing of “immoral equivalences” with the Nazi holocaust – like the Armenian genocide. This has “intriguing implications”, according to Finkelstein, who observes: “Daniel Goldhagen argues that Serbian actions in Kosovo ‘are, in their essence, different from those of Nazi Germany only in scale’. That would make Goldhagen ‘in essence’ a holocaust denier. (The holocaust industry: reflections on the exploitation of Jewish sufferingLondon 2000, p71).

Inconsistencies, contradictions and paradoxes may abound in the ‘uniqueness’ school of Wiesel, Goldhagen, Lipstadt et al – but it is strongly recommended that you make loud, approving noises if you want to find yourself with your feet well under the table, and if you are non-Jewish it could also mean that you are actually feted (always nice). Reject the doctrine, however, and purdah beckons – doubly so if you are Jewish and thus an abominable ‘self-hater’.

A false narrative

The current Momentum crisis has nothing to do with age, Trotsky or even the voting method to be used at conference, says Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists. It is about who controls Momentum and for what political ends

You have got to hand it to Jon Lansman: he seems to have managed in record time to spread a totally fabricated ‘narrative’ about Momentum. Ever since comrade Lansman – the sole director of the company, Jeremy for Labour Ltd, which controls the database and the income of Momentum – lost the vote on the organisation’s national committee on December 3 he has been a busy getting the word out that, in fact, Tom Watson and the bourgeois media had it right all along: Momentum is riddled with Trotskyists and something needs to be done about it.

Of course, when Labour deputy leader Watson first published his ill-researched dossier on “proof of Trotskyist Labour infiltration” back in August, Lansman was quick to hit back: “That isn’t what Momentum meetings are like. The vast majority of people are entirely new to politics. In some areas, yes, you have some returners, but most of the returners aren’t Trots. This is not an entryist operation in any way.”1)

Well, either he was lying then or he is lying now.

How scary is the AWL?

In any case, in what is clearly a coordinated attack against the left in Momentum, Lansman has organised various ‘leftwing’ journalists and Labour apparatchiks to get out there into the mainstream media and warn the good people of Britain of the horrid “Trotskyist sectarians” and “saboteurs” who are organising a “takeover bid of Momentum”, as Owen Jones puts it in his particularly distasteful piece in The Guardian. The same Owen Jones, of course, who could not bring himself to support Jeremy Corbyn before and during this year’s attempt to remove him sparked by the Parliamentary Labour Party right wing.

In reality, there is only one side in Momentum that is organising any kind of coup or split. Jon Lansman and his allies are preparing the ground to overturn the decision of the national committee by undermining the NC’s legitimacy. In fact, they want to do away with this annoying body altogether.

“The sectarians” here are supposedly skilfully led by the few dozen members of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. As readers will know, we have little time for the AWL’s soft stance on imperialism or its attempt to paint any criticism of Zionism as anti-Semitic. In this respect its support for Lansman’s removal of Jackie Walker as vice-chair of Momentum has done much to help embolden his position.

But the AWL generally stands with the left majority in arguing for democracy in Momentum, while the pro-Lansman minority argues for a constitutional set-up that amounts to a one-man dictatorship. Despite its social imperialism, we defend the AWL against the witch-hunt in Momentum and the Labour Party.

And to claim that it is responsible for the fact that the NC majority voted on December 3 in favour of a delegate conference rather than online plebiscites (rather misleadingly summed up as ‘one member, one vote’ – Omov) is just absolute nonsense. The overestimation of the AWL’s influence stems largely from the fact that leading member Jill Mountford managed to get onto the steering committee, which was elected at the first meeting of the NC early last year (attendance at which was by invitation only). Its real influence can be gauged from the fact that the AWL’s November 26 ‘Stop the Purge’ conference attracted a mere 70 people.

But Owen Jones and his ilk would have us believe that the ‘old Trots’ are now a serious threat to Momentum. Apparently, there is an inter-generational war going on in Momentum, with most of the ‘old’ people firmly on the side of the evil Trotskyists. Jones, of course, takes the side of “their opponents”, who are “younger, idealistic, campaign-oriented and pluralistic, lacking Machiavellian strategic ability – all of which the sectarians exploit”.

Or, as the young(ish) Laura Murray – the oh-so-hip daughter of well-known Stalin admirer Andrew Murray – puts it, “When I arrived [at the NC] 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.”

A doughnut of desire … with a big brown filling of utter horseshit.

A number of ‘young’ NC delegates have, by the way, since criticised this attempt to spin real political divisions into a question of age (and have stated that they did, in fact, vote against systematic online plebiscites). Considering “the recent coverage”, one could be “forgiven for thinking the divide was between a Trotskyist old guard, who can’t countenance new ways of working, and hip youngsters who are filled with idealism and better at memes”, as Red Labour delegate Rida Vaquas puts it in her amusing article in the New Statesman.

Owen and Murray might look under 30 years of age – he, is, in fact, 32, and she is 27 – but they undoubtedly have far, far more political experience than most Momentum members, young or old. These members, let us remember, had mandated all their regional representatives at the NC to vote in favour of a delegate structure at the forthcoming Momentum conference – and against Omov. Those members active in Momentum branches have no interest in Momentum being controlled by one person. They want democracy and transparency. Unfortunately, however, many of them feel so sidelined and powerless that they mistakenly believe that Omov would give them at least some power. This is the alienated layer that Lansman is appealing to. But most of those actually running the branches, organising stalls and demonstrations, etc, know what is happening and have backed a delegate conference precisely for that reason.

It was mainly those delegates who had won the hastily called elections for supporters of “liberation groups”, together with those from Labour organisations personally invited by Lansman, who ensured that his view was not utterly trashed, but was supported by almost half the meeting.

But Jones, Murray and Lansman will not let this rather inconvenient fact get in the way of a good story. Or even their own experience – they should know better. Owen Jones likes to trace his family’s radical roots back to a “gunrunner for Garibaldi”, through to a “Russian Revolution-­inspired” train driver who took part in the 1926 General Strike, a grandfather who joined the Communist Party in the 1930s, and a great-­uncle in the Independent Labour Party. He himself was literally a child of the Militant Tendency in the Labour Party, where his parents met in the 1960s. Unfortunately, he is now busily in the process of betraying that heritage.

Keeping up with the Murrays

Murray, on the other hand, can look back at a very active, proud Stalinist family history. The story goes that, back in 1983, her parents wheeled their baby, Laura’s sister Jessica, into the 38th Congress of the ‘official’ CPGB and had her pram searched by Eurocommunist stewards – who found copies of Straight Left’s banned publication Congress Truth tucked away underneath her. Talk about a proper faction fight! Seamus Milne was business editor of Straight Left at the time and remains a close family friend of the Murrays.

But we are supposed to believe that the now almost grown-up Laura (did we mention that she’s really young?), who is an official advisor to shadow cabinet member Grahame Morris MP, had no idea that things might get a bit heated at the national committee. Come off it.

Her faux naive style has been further discredited by the fact that her dad, Unite’s chief of staff Andrew Murray, has just left the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain in order to join the Labour Party. Not that he is accused of being a communist ‘entryist’ by the right, of course – after all, there is talk of him being wheeled in to help sort out Momentum. In the run-up to Corbyn’s re-election last summer, Murray was among those who went along to a summit at a Unite training centre,2) which was also attended by Corbyn, John McDonnell, Len McCluskey, Diane Abbott, Seamus Milne and Jon Lansman. Apparently, it discussed, among other things, the possibility of Murray eventually replacing the hated Iain McNicol as Labour Party general secretary.3)

Murray does not even have to bend his politics very much. Yes, he will have to cut back on his well-known admiration for a certain 20th century Georgian, but in terms of its political outlook, the CPB is no more revolutionary than even the Labour Party under Ed Miliband was. In the run-up to the 2015 general election, The Daily Telegraph published extracts from both parties’ programmes and asked its readers: “Can you tell them apart?” Slightly exaggerated, you might think. But it does underline the CPB’s lack of coherent strategy in terms of actually trying to transform the Labour Party (rather than just supporting it).4) And, of course, Andrew Murray is among the large number of CPB members to have deserted it in favour of Labour since Corbyn’s election as leader.

Just like Paul Mason, Murray senior clearly feels that the current situation in Momentum is reason enough to jump on board. Not despite the struggles within the organisation, as Mason dishonestly claims, but precisely because of them – in order to come down heavily and with some authority on the side of Jon Lansman.

Paul Mason

Paul Mason, a member of the semi-orthodox Trotskyist organisation, Workers Power, for close to 20 years,5) is now acting as turncoat par excellence. He has reinvented himself as a critic of Corbyn from the right, arguing in favour of keeping Trident, investing in nuclear power and increasing the arms budget.

On the BBC’s Daily Politics show on December 8, he said that Laura Murray was “broadly right” to describe Trotskyist groups as being “destructive” in Momentum, though some might question his expertise after he admitted that he had, in fact, “never been to a Momentum meeting”. Still, he is absolutely certain that “we need to be a network – open, broad, diverse”; and that “having an app on your cellphone” is really useful in terms of members making decisions. Definitely young at heart, this one. He even uses the American term for, you know, a mobile phone.

This magical app “would avoid re-enactment groups from the 1970s taking over, because that’s their key skill. There are not just Trotskyists though: they are people who are obsessed with anti-Zionism.” And, would you believe, “Some of them are rampant supporters of Vladimir Putin.”

Mason then went on to land his (and Lansman’s) killer punch. He basically demands that all those expelled or even suspended from the Labour Party should also be given the boot by Momentum:

Momentum has to be ready to become an affiliated society of Labour. That means everybody in it has to be in the Labour Party and everybody has to conform to the rules. And if somebody breaks Labour rules, as Jackie Watson [he meant Walker] is deemed to have done and who has been suspended from the party, then she can’t be …

At this point, he was interrupted by presenter Andrew Neil, but I suspect he was going to say ‘in Momentum’. He did state, for example:

If Jill Mountford is not allowed into the Labour Party – and I can’t see her being allowed in the short order in the Labour Party – and she remains an expelled member of the party and remains in Momentum, I will not remain in Momentum and nor will thousands of us. This will be sorted in the direction of party loyalty, discipline and a moving on very quickly.

You could be forgiven for thinking from especially this last sentence that Mason knows more than the average Momentum member (even those who do attend meetings) what Lansman is planning next. As it happens, he was also at the gathering with Corbyn and Lansman I referred to earlier, along with Andrew Murray. Surely, an official job in the Labour machine is the next step in Mason’s career.

Aside from implying that Momentum should not even differentiate between those expelled and suspended from Labour, he is also wrong to state that all members of a Labour-affiliated society have to be individual members of the party. This is clearly not the case: members of such societies are entitled to become “affiliated members” of Labour, who enjoy fewer rights than full members.6)“Affiliation means that the socialist societies – like a number of British trade unions – pay an affiliation fee to the Labour Party, and the affiliates’ members become affiliated members of the Labour Party (a different status from full member), unless they specifically choose otherwise. In return the societies receive a formal role in Labour decision-making, and the affiliated members can take part in all-member ballots in certain circumstances. For example, they can participate in the election of Labour Party leaders and deputy leaders, have delegates and votes at Annual Conference”:

As an aside, Mason slipped up rather badly when trying to correct the other participant in the Daily politics discussion, Labour First honcho Luke Akehurst, who referred to “Workers Power, which Paul was a member of”. Mason replied, “No, no – that is now Red Labour.”

Mason’s ex-comrades in WP are now organising under the banner, Red Flag. Red Labour, on the other hand, is the soft-left online outfit of Momentum’s former social media manager, Ben Sellers.

Ben Sellers

Interestingly, Sellers is one of the few people close to Lansman who has now come out publicly against him. In a much-read and commented-on post on Facebook, he writes:

Could the real Jon Lansman please stand up? … Is it the Jon Lansman who only wants a “pluralistic”, democratic, grassroots organisation, facilitated by a new era of digital democracy? Or the Jon Lansman who told me to my face just a year ago that Momentum groups should be banned from having social media accounts and encouraged a completely unaccountable ‘helper’ to take over regional Facebook pages from local Momentum activists?

Lansman and Sellers fell out some time ago, it seems, and he continues;

I didn’t want to have to do this, and I think 12 months plus of silence on the issue is a sign of that, but Jon continues to use the press to push a version of events and an approach that I believe is harmful to the whole Corbyn movement and the Labour left, not just Momentum. What am I supposed to do? Sit on my hands while everything we’ve built gets taken apart?

The obvious reply to this is: ‘Why didn’t you comment in public 12 months ago, when the rot first set in and you still had a position of influence in Momentum that could have helped steer the ship in a different, more democratic, direction?’ Surely, openness is the most powerful weapon when confronted with a wannabe-dictator like Lansman. In any case, Sellers is making up for lost time now by spilling the beans on Lansman’s anti-democratic crusade in Momentum. Better late than never.

And it is certainly a more honest and fruitful method than the incredibly naive online petition being circulated by Chris Ford (ex-member of a many far-left organisations), which calls on everybody to just stop fighting and “work together”. Easy. It states: “We consider Momentum a dynamic plurality of ideas that demands respect for each other in the spirit of the New Politics.” The New Politics? What exactly is that? Something like New Labour, but better?

It then calls on those who were among the small leftwing majority at the December 3 NC meeting to recant the decisions taken – in order to push for an unworkable hybrid of Omov and delegate voting:

We believe the manner that digital and delegate democracy is being counterposed is unnecessary. We call upon the delegates to the national committee to put past disagreements behind them and secure a consensus which combines both methods of working to complement one another and thus strengthen opportunities for democratic engagement.

Not about voting method

This petition misses the point spectacularly. As if the current anti-left drive in Momentum is about the voting methods used at national conference. It is about who controls Momentum – and for what political ends. If a delegate conference ensured that Lansman and his allies continued to make up the majority on the new steering committee, there is no doubt he would go for it. They are pushing for Omov, because it is the only way to make sure the organisation stays in the hands of ‘Team Momentum’.

This team consists, of course, of the staff employed and controlled by Jon Lansman. He is, in effect, their direct boss. He decides how the database is used (basically, it is his personal property) and how the dues of the members are spent. Not a penny finds its way back to the branches; every email a branch sends has to be okayed by ‘Team Momentum’. There is no transparency at the top of Momentum at all.

Of course, we are not claiming that Jon Lansman has set out on this course in order to enrich himself or because he is suffering from a particular bad Bonapartist character flaw. Clearly, he is acting on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

The current crisis in Momentum underlines the fact that Corbyn’s election was a historical accident, rather than a result of the power and strength of the Labour left. Most districts, regions and councillors – in other words, the Labour machine – are all very firmly in the hands of the right. The Labour left (Corbyn and McDonnell included) is disorganised and has no coherent strategy of how to transform Labour into an organisation that could fight for a socialist society. They also have no idea what to do with Momentum.

They no doubt appreciate that there is a database of 160,000 Corbyn supporters, some of who can be called upon to operate phone banks or hand out leaflets for this or that Labour campaign. But what Corbyn and McDonnell do not want is a strong, coherent organisation that starts to challenge the current (and temporary) ‘peace settlement’ with the right.

Witness Momentum’s silence on the purges in the Labour Party. Or the way in which the basic democratic demand for mandatory selection of MPs – until recently the standard position of the left and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy – has been quietly dropped and is now seen as a major embarrassment.

Or the outrageous way in which the organisation not just went along with the entirely fabricated anti-Semitism ‘scandal’ in the Labour Party, but helped to facilitate it by throwing Jackie Walker to the wolves. Clearly, the longstanding Zionist, Jon Lansman, is seeking a rapprochement with the Jewish Labour Movement. Thanks to Corbyn’s and therefore Momentum’s stance on this matter, it is now ‘common knowledge’ that the Labour Party is ‘riddled with anti-Semites’: Theresa May has been handed the moral high ground on the question and no self-respecting member of the establishment objects, when she says the Labour Party is “disgusting” for “turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism”.7)

Of course, in reality there can be no permanent peace between the left and right in the Labour Party. After Corbyn’s thumping second victory, the open warfare conducted by the right has merely been suspended for the time being – we are in a ‘pre-election period’, after all. But Corbyn is on borrowed time and he should know it. The next attempted coup will come soon enough, for the right will never accept him. Either he gets rid of them or they will get rid of him. The latter seems more likely, unfortunately.

Rather than using this fluid political period to openly fight to transform the Labour Party into a real party of labour, Corbyn and his allies are peddling the utterly deluded line that we must all ‘unite’ in order to secure a Labour victory at the next general election. And in their view, the only way that could happen is by bowing to the right – on Trident, Brexit, immigration: you name it. Of course, that does not make the Labour Party an ounce more ‘electable’. It just makes Corbyn look like a weak and rather dishonest leader who does not believe in his own vision of socialism.

The left in Momentum must be careful not to step into the ‘unity’ trap. This is a crucial moment for the Labour left. We must oppose the red scare in Momentum – and develop a plan to ensure that policy-making and control of the database and income is firmly in the hands of a democratically elected national committee – before Jon Lansman goes for the nuclear option.



6 “Affiliation means that the socialist societies – like a number of British trade unions – pay an affiliation fee to the Labour Party, and the affiliates’ members become affiliated members of the Labour Party (a different status from full member), unless they specifically choose otherwise. In return the societies receive a formal role in Labour decision-making, and the affiliated members can take part in all-member ballots in certain circumstances. For example, they can participate in the election of Labour Party leaders and deputy leaders, have delegates and votes at Annual Conference”:

Fit for a dictator

Allies of Jon Lansman have produced a draft constitution for Momentum. William Sarsfield takes a look

We should start with Jackie Walker’s pungent assessment of the “proposal” published on Momentum’s MxV online forum. She writes: “So here we have the coup coming to fruition. This is appalling.”

Comrade Walker’s damning indictment of the three-page proposal is hard to quibble with. I would personally add that in my decades of political work on the left I have rarely, if ever, had the misfortune to come across a more wretched, cynical document than this farcically misnamed ‘A transparent structure that involves all Momentum members and groups’.

So it is appropriate we start with Momentum’s annual conference. Traditionally in the workers’ movement, the conference/congress represents the organisation as a whole. It is empowered to take decisions about every aspect of its programmatic, political and tactical orientations. In the Lansman draft, however, conferences are redubbed “national gatherings”, whose primary purpose is “like The World Transformed” to be “a space for members to share skills and experience, debate ideas and coordinate activity … an opportunity for political education, and to showcase the wealth of ideas being developed within our movement”.

Almost as an afterthought, it adds that “time will be set aside for the debating of the eight proposals which qualify for national referenda …” Yes, that’s right – only eight “proposals” (not ‘motions’ obviously) can actually be voted on every year.

Before we look at the laughable process of ‘qualification’ that these “proposals” must go through, it is it is important to note that this “national gathering” is not by definition Momentum’s sovereign body: its participants have not been elected by an official body of the national organisation. They are simply people who turn up for the event on the day and may or may not be interested in a chat on some motions other people have chosen for them to talk about. It is a pointless discussion as part of an arcane process. The level of interest and engagement that we (and the online audience) will see among the meat-space participants will probably reflect that disengagement.

So these eight motions then – where do they come from? We are told that they will be chosen by a “yearly referendum” and will consist of “the four most popular motions in local groups (ie, which have been endorsed by the most groups)” and “the four most popular motions from individual members, as shown via endorsements on MxV”.

These eight “most popular motions” can then be debated at the “national gathering”, but the vote is taken by “all members online”. But even that is not the last of the hurdles. A motion is only binding when “at least 40% of the membership have taken part in the vote”. Just to remind readers, based on Momentum’s current membership of 20,000, this is a requirement that some 8,000 members actively participate. Not very likely, given the level of commitment and engagement that these peripheral comrades have shown so far. So what happens to these “popular” motions that have failed to clear the 8k hurdle – as all of them surely will?

“If this threshold is not met but the motion has majority support of those who voted,” we are told, “it will serve as an advisory motion to the steering committee” (my emphasis).

The national committee has been disappeared in the Lansman draft. The SC is the only national committee name-checked, and it is proposed that this SC is made up of seven elected members, plus “one MP, one councillor and up to three representatives of affiliated trade unions”. And how exactly would the councillor, the MP and these three trade unionists be chosen and how would they be accountable to Momentum membership, we wonder?

Sprinkled throughout the document are proposals that indicate that Lansman and his supporters have, to a certain extent at least, been stung by the charges of bureaucratism and contempt for democracy that have rained down on their heads. For instance, the draft carries this absurd idea: “In addition to the above 12 members [of the SC], on a three-month rotational basis, three members of Momentum, drawn at random, will be invited to join the SC.”

This really is quite pathetic – a lame parody of genuine leadership accountability and transparency. (Each individual Momentum comrade – based on that 20k membership – has a 0.06% chance in any given year of ‘winning’.) Interestingly however, it does reveal a niggle in the mind of Lansman and co. This gimmick is meant to “discourage alienation of ‘expert’ leaders of the movement from ordinary members” and assumes that the lucky lottery winners will “at the conclusion of their term” go back as envoys for the SC “to share their experiences with others in the spirit of continuous self-improvement of the steering committee …”

The same type of flashy, flatulent empty noise is made about SC minutes, which have thus far been conspicuous by their absence. However, the Lansman draft now solemnly intones that

minutes of all … meetings will be published on line within 24 hours. Failure to publish these minutes within this time frame will void the membership of all members of the steering committee. New elections will be held that bar the current steering committee. This is to demonstrate the seriousness of the commitment to transparency.

This nuclear option has a failsafe, however: “Exceptional circumstances that [that the 24-hour deadline might be missed] must be signalled to a dedicated transparency officer who will launch an investigation as to why this has not occurred.”

This sort of crap is not worth the paper it is written on. The brutal truth is that at every stage the Lansman draft abounds with stipulations and proposed measures that blunt, negate and block democratic accountability and control from below within Momentum.

Supporters of the draft may protest that the proposals relating to the local Momentum branches contradicts this assessment. The document reads: “… local groups can organise as they see fit, so long as they don’t contravene Momentum’s democratically decided ethical statement and political statement.”

But it would be a big mistake to read this as an expression of a relaxed, democratic attitude to the basic structures of the organisation. In fact, it represents (1) a contemptuous attitude to these branches and the people who staff them; and (2) a conviction of Lansman’s that soon – if his proposals are accepted – he will not have to factor them at all into any considerations about how he runs ‘his’ Momentum.

Replace the Momentum steering committee!


Some good decisions were taken at the December 3 National Committee meeting of Momentum. However, while the Steering Committee survives intact and Jon Lansman maintains his ‘ownership’ of the organisation, Momentum is seriously flawed – as new leaks and attacks in the bourgeois media show, warns Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

Around 60 members of the National Committee of Momentum met in Birmingham to discuss, among other things, the first Momentum conference. It was a very fractious and ill-tempered meeting.

Crucially, a motion to recall the current Steering Committee (which has a majority in support of sole Momentum company director Jon Lansman) and replace it with an interim body elected at the NC was voted down by 30 to 29 votes. Even three recounts could not change the outcome. Ironically, Nick Wrack had successfully moved to change the agenda so that this item was discussed first, as he feared it would be excluded because of time constraints. But had this vote been taken later in the day, it is likely that a majority would have voted in favour of it, as a number of pro-democracy members arrived later in the day.

There were some good decisions taken. Most importantly, there will be no OMOV (one member, one vote) voting at or after conference, despite this being the expressed will of Lansman. Conference will decide on a new constitution, a code of ethics and various policy motions – and all of these decisions will be taken by delegates at conference.

Fearing exactly such an outcome, Jon Lansman and his allies on the Steering Committee had successfully prevented the National Committee from meeting since May 2016. On October 28, they even launched a deeply undemocratic coup by cancelling the meeting of the NC scheduled for November 5 and simply declared that the conference would in fact be a livestreamed national debate, with voting then taking place online afterwards. When the national media picked up on the coup and Lansman was asked by John McDonell to ‘sort it out’, he relented and called another NC meeting for December 3.[i]

In the meantime, he has done pretty much everything in his power to stuff the NC with members who support his plans to make Momentum into nothing more than a big phone bank that sporadically sparks into life for this or that campaign. The hastily called elections of additional NC delegates from the “liberation strands” have to be seen in this context.

Ditto the presence of a number of voting delegates from “Labour organisations” who seem to have been there merely on the invitation of, yes, Mr. Jon Lansman. So we had Labour CND, Labour Against Austerity, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Labour Briefing, Labour Representation Committee, Labour Futures (Jon Lansman’s personal blog) and, farcically, Open Labour and Compass. These last two are not exactly known for their pro-Corbyn-stance, to put it mildly. Needless to say, the list of invitees did not stretch to Labour Party Marxists.

AWL and Momentum Steering Committee member Jill Mountford writes that, “with the exception of LRC delegates (Jackie Walker and Michael Calderbank) the other Labour groups’ delegates voted en-bloc for Jon’s proposals, and were in fact, the only people getting up to support any of his proposals (which were often billed as the Steering Committee’s proposals).”[ii]

Jon Lansman claimed at the meeting that it was in fact the handful of MPs who set up Momentum last year who suggested that these organisations be represented. But there is no method to take groups like Compass or Open Labour off the list of invitees or for other organisations to get involved – chiefly, because there is no official method for affiliation. Only trade unions can affiliate, pay an affiliation fee and then send two delegates to the NC – the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) are the only two organisations officially affiliated to Momentum. Clearly, this situation is untenable.

In any case, Lansman failed this time. The NC saw a tiny pro-democracy majority and most motions were passed “with majorities of 1, 2 or 3 votes”, writes AWL fellow traveller Michael Chessum (who, like Marshajane Thompson, is now still on the SC, although they both haven’t been reelected to the NC, from among which the SC is supposed to be elected).

“Regional delegates, who make up a majority of the NC, almost all arrived mandated to vote for a purely delegate based conference”, he writes in a report that can otherwise be safely ignored: He wants to “build a coalition around a mixed system of decision making” (ie, OMOV plus delegates – a system that clearly is unworkable, otherwise somebody, anybody, would have come up with a concrete proposal by now) and he calls the current debates on the structure and democracy “Mickey Mouse politics” that “need to stop”, while predictably demanding that Momentum should “turn outwards”.[iii]

Opening Momentum

In this, Chessum actually echoes those supporting Lansman’s vision for Momentum. A new Facebook page has been set up “for Momentum members disappointed in that [NC] decision, and who believe all members should be able to vote on Momentum’s future. A delegate based model was originally hoisted onto Momentum without consultation with its wider membership. Letting a small group of delegates decide to maintain their own power, at the expense of all members, isn’t a good starting point for a new political movement. Beyond February, we believe Momentum should adopt a structure that is inclusive and unbureaucratic. We are in the process of transforming the Labour Party, building a parallel organisation with the same structures and procedures of Labour would be a mistake.”

The Facebook page, called Opening Momentum, also prominently features a pretty nasty, gushingly pro-Lansman report of the NC meeting by recently elected women’s NC representative Laura Murray. She claims that, “Naively, I was excited for the National Committee”, but was to be disappointed by all the “infighting” at the meeting. “How silly I was.”

Not as naive as she pretends
Laura Murray: Not as naive as she pretends

And how dishonest. In reality, she is far from the political newcomer she pretends to be in this report. She works as adviser to Grahame Morris MP, member of the shadow cabinet. Oh, and she happens to be the daughter of Andrew Murray, member of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain and out and out Stalinist. Seamus Milne is a close family friend.[iv]

And look how well he has taught her. Laura writes that she “is not anti-Trotskyist per se, but thinks that “the sectarian attitude taken by Trotskyist groups within Momentum is destructive to our movement”. She has a go at the Alliance for Worker’s Liberty and then turns on those purged from the Labour Party on the most spurious grounds:

“Given that Nick Wrack, Jill Mountford and Jackie Walker are, in turn, blocked, expelled and suspended from being members of the Labour Party, it is unsurprising that they care little for reforming and democratising the Labour Party and even less so about getting it elected into government.”[v] Do we see here the beginnings of an attempt to oust those members of Momentum who have been expelled and suspended from the Labour Party?

The Guardian, who quotes generously from her article, writes that, “The development has meant that Lansman is threatening to walk away from Momentum, Labour sources said.”[vi] If only.

Quite the opposite seems to be happening. Opening Momentum looks like Lansman’s call to arms, perhaps his organisational vehicle to reinforce his grip on the organisation. Needless to say, it is more than ironic that the man who launched an outrageously undemocratic coup in Momentum is now trying to claim the mantel of democracy.

Clearly, he is very unhappy with these decisions taken by the National Committee:

  • Conference will take place on February 25 (or one week either side of that)
  • Branches select delegates (2 per 100 members or any part thereof)
  • Each local branch can submit one motion. Ditto Momentum Youth and students, each “liberation group”, each affiliated union, the national committee and each regional committee.
  • Members in areas without local Momentum groups are “to be represented at the same rate as members in groups, elected by OMOV ballot in regions”. 30 of those members can also submit a motion
  • Motions to be submitted up to three weeks before conference on aims, structures, ethics, policy and campaigning.
  • An open e-forum for all members will be set up, where motions can be discussed, amendments can be mooted and compositing processes can be arranged.
  • A Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) has been elected, which has a small left-wing majority (4 to 3). We sincerely hope that this will prevent those crucial decisions being overturned again.

Why is Lansman so powerful?

Jon Lansman
Jon Lansman: controls Momentum database and income as sole company director

But, as we all know, Jon Lansman and his allies have overturned decisions before and he basically makes up Momentum policy as he goes along. Momentum is still very much the private property of Lansman, who is the sole director of various companies that “own” the Momentum database and its income. And he treats it very much like his private property.

For example, in mid-November he launched the MxV platform, which asks members to post “proposals” (ie, motions) for conference which are ranked by how many members have clicked the “support” button featured next to each headline. There is now a long list of no less than 300 proposals, which range from the supportable to the bizarre. Clearly, nobody can read them all – and that is of course the point of the OMOV system favoured by Lansman: it is not “empowering”, as people like Paul Mason[vii] claim, it is exactly the opposite. It alienates people, makes them less engaged with Momentum, sidelines the branches – and concentrates all power in the hands of King Jon.

It is of course noteworthy that Lansman launched this platform a couple of weeks before the December 3 meeting of the NC, which was tasked with deciding on how motions should actually be submitted. Clearly, he thought he had it in the bag and that his proposals for an OMOV conference would be supported at the newly stuffed NC. (I recommend the report by Josie Runswick, LGBT rep on the NC, on this matter, as she usefully publishes Jon Lansman’s full OMOV proposal, which can only be described as a bureaucrat’s wet dream [viii]).

Also, there are enough ambiguities in the motions voted through by the NC for us to remain on our guard:

  • The NC voted in favour of an “online priorities ballot”, which can only mean that some motions submitted will not be heard at conference. Such a ballot (presumably organised via the already existing MxV platform) is also designed to bring easily digestible and short motions to the top. Who wants to read a proposal for a constitution that could actually work (and therefore would have to be of a certain length). Boring!
  • Local branches are “encouraged to composite motions (motions composited by more groups will move higher up the agenda as incentive to composite). Amendments to be circulated before the conference.”[ix] However, it is not stated which Momentum bodies can actually submit amendments or how many. The tight timeframe will also make it rather difficult for Momentum branches to meet and discuss motions or amendments.
  • The National Committee and regional committees “may send 1 motion or constitutional amendment”. The problem is that there is no constitution yet, so how can it be amended? Or does Lansman have some kind of draft constitution in his back pocket that he will surprise the organisation with just before conference? Via his SC, perhaps? Why don’t branches have the right to submit “constitutional amendments”? It is all very unclear.

Ideally, all of these issues should be resolved by the CAC soon. But the Steering Committee could again overturn it all – it has done similar things before. Also, the next NC (scheduled for January) could easily see a small majority for the Lansman wing, if a couple of pro-democracy people are absent for some reason.

In any case, the Lansman wing has the clear advantage in the current struggle. Not numerically. Needless to say, most members want democratic control over the organisation that they pay regular dues to.

But it is important to understand why Jon Lansman can command such power. After all, he is just one man. We have been told not to “personalise” things so much by placing the blame for Momentum’s inertia onto his shoulders.

But Lansman has been tasked by ‘our Jeremy’ to set up and run the organisation. There are quite a few members of the SC and NC who work for Corbyn and/or the Labour Party. Clearly, they understand that any future career in the Labour Party and parliament depends on them ‘playing nice’.

They know that Corbyn has given his okay to the deeply undemocratic set up of the organisation, which is “owned” by a couple of companies that Lansman is the director of. Momentum was never designed to be democratic or to be run by its members.

Just like the Labour Party itself, Momentum is split, though of course the fault lines do not run between those that want to keep Corbyn and those busy plotting his overthrow. Momentum is split between those who want peace with the right (justified by the mantra that any Labour government is better than a Tory government) and those who think we should be fighting for some kind of socialism.

All those pesky lefties who come to Momentum meetings and talk about mandatory selection of MPs, the need to transform the Labour Party into a real party of Labour or the fight for socialism are viewed as nothing but a diversion. In fact, branches are seen as a diversion, especially those that function well.

Momentum is supposed to be an extension of the Labour electoral machine, designed to support Corbyn in the event of the next coup (which will come sooner rather than later). It is far from impossible that Lansman will be told to close down the organisation if the left becomes too powerful or branches become too autonomous and energetic. Anybody who then continues to use Lansman’s database will make themselves liable to be sued – and probably successfully, it should be noted.

To sum up. Of course, it’s great that the left, pro-democratic wing in Momentum has managed to pull off a couple of victories on the NC. Clearly, all is still to play for in Momentum. But as long as Lansman is in charge of the organisation, it cannot become anything more than a fanclub for Jeremy Corbyn.

And not a very dynamic or effective one at that.











Dec 3 Momentum national committee: Mixed results

The December 3 national committee decided by the smallest of margins that Momentum’s first conference will see delegates vote on everything – structure, constitution and policy motions. There will be no OMOV (one member, one vote), despite the best efforts of Momentum company director Jon Lansman to stuff the NC with delegates favourable to his conservative outlook for Momentum.

Also, the newly elected conference arrangement committee has a small left majority, which – hopefully – should prevent those crucial decisions being overturned.

On the negative side, an early vote to replace the current steering committee and have new elections was lost with 29 to 30 votes.

Clearly, all is still to play for in Momentum.

Here are a couple of reports:

  • By Josie Runswick, one of the two LGBT+ reps on the Momentum National Committee. This usefully lists all the motions submitted, including those voted down. It shows for example the convoluted and deeply undemocratic plans Jon Lansman presented and which would have committed the organisation to an OMOV vote after conference.
  • By Steering Committee member and AWL member Jill Mountford 
  • By Ed Whitby, Northern (North East and Cumbria) regional delegate and AWL member