Explaining our model motion: for a democratic conference!

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We urge all Momentum members to press their local organisers to organise branch meetings as soon as possible. They should be able to discuss those proposals on the table, as well as those put forward by supporters of the Alliance for Workers Liberty (which are not much more democratic, see here for Jim Grant’s analysis) and those of Labour Party Marxists.

Our proposals take into consideration that Momentum at the moment does not have any democratic decision-making structures in the true sense of the word. Therefore, a conference on the future of the organisation must be open to all members and must make it as easy as possible for members to submit motions and have their voices heard.

Here is our model motion – an action plan for comrades fighting to maximise the democratic input of all Momentum members into what will be, in effect, the founding conference of their organisation in early 2017.

Below, we include some explanatory notes in our original motion.

We call on the steering committee:

  • To immediately publish a timetable for conference business, submission of motions, etc. This should be distributed to all paid-up members asap;

We are still in a position where it is extremely hit-and-miss if material distributed via the “regional reps” actually makes it through to the membership locally. This unelected layer should be by-passed and the conference materials sent to all full members. In addition to widening the democratic debate, this could have the beneficial effect of drawing isolated members into a closer relationship with the organisation.

  • To take motions from not only from the current leading committee/s of Momentum, but also recognised Momentum branches and any 10 members;

The current proposal has an ascending set of hurdles for motions to jump in order to eventually make it to conference. (“The final hurdle” being 1000 individual members, 20 local groups, or 400 members and 10 locals.) This would be restrictive in the best of circumstances. But in a situation where local Momentum branches and their officials are not being supplied with full lists of local members and supporters, this is simply a recipe for the centre to maintain a tight control of the whole process.

  • To distribute all motions to all Momentum members at least 6 weeks before conference and actively encourage branches to organise meetings to thoroughly discuss these;
  • Also sets up an open e-forum for all full Momentum members, where these motions can be discussed, where amendments can be mooted and compositing processes can be arranged;

A platform like Loomio, which is used by various Labour and Momentum branches and regional bodies, is an excellent tool for these sorts of debates. It allows members to join discussion threads on the motions they are particularly interested in.

  • To accept amendments up to 2 weeks before conference. These can be moved by either the leading committees, recognised branches or 10 members.
  • To takes nominations for the steering committee. The elected committee then has the right to appoint officers from its own ranks to facilitate its work. These officers will be responsible to, and recallable by, the steering committee.

The spurious ‘democracy’ of electing national officials at conferences of the whole membership is potentially disastrous. The steering committee of Momentum is a working body that, day-to-day, is in the best position to hold officers to account, scrutinise their work and – if necessary – remove them. An officer elected from an annual conference can claim a mandate from a different, more ‘democratically representative’ electorate. This is potentially highly disruptive of the organisation’s work.
The national conference:

  • Is made up of delegates elected at local meetings (1 delegate for 10 members)
  • Will discuss and decide on a democratic constitution for the organisation;
  • Will elect the steering committee, which must publish minutes, reports of its work and all decisions;
  • Will discuss and decide the broad political and campaigning priorities for the organisation over the coming period.