Tag Archives: Jon Lansman

The media mincer

Jim Grant looks back at the Labour leadership’s attempts to conciliate the media

One of the benefits of receiving dozens of emails from various layers of the Labour Party during this election campaign is a clear sense of the leadership’s overall pitch to its own members.

The impression you get is of a siege mentality, particularly in relation to the media. Thus a mass email with Jeremy Corbyn’s name all over it the morning after the leaders debate, noting that £100,000 had been raised after the performance. “If we’re going to take on the billionaire media and Boris Johnson’s billionaire backers, it’s going to take more than that,” the Dear Leader wisely noted. At the manifesto launch, Corbyn openly challenged the bourgeois media to do its worst.

This attitude is welcome and appropriate, of course, and, as I write, the possibility is not excluded that it will ‘work’ and cause a dramatic upset. There is a real danger, however, that it is too little, and far too late – at least to make much difference to the result of the December 12 election, or to the shape of the government that emerges from it.

For the Corbyn leadership’s attitude to the bourgeois media has been conciliatory and occasionally cringe-inducing. We have sat through far too many attempts to appear ‘responsible’, when it comes to the economy, promises to ‘balance the budget’, apologies for their more hair-raising bits of past leftism.

On the other hand we have had attempts to ingratiate, rather than detoxify, of which Corbyn’s appearance on The last leg in a full-length, snowy-white pimp coat is the most striking; but more generally the Corbyn movement has attempted to make use of ‘non-traditional’ outlets of various sorts, from social media in general to encouraging an ecosystem of Labour-supporting news sites of varying quality (Skwawkbox, The Canary and so on). Corbyn and McDonnell even showed up in the football magazine When Saturday Comes, to promote their football-related manifesto pledges and make awkward banter about their Arsenal and Liverpool commitments.

It must be said that this strategy has not, in the end, succeeded in seriously threatening the mainstream media narrative. The recent absurd non-scandal about whether Corbyn watches the queen’s Christmas message or not is a case in point: if he does not, he is hardly alone in the Britain of 2019, so why even respond to such frivolous questions? But, even if he had demanded the ITV presenters stick to serious matters, it would have been pitched as his being ‘evasive’. The Skwawkbox-type operations will denounce this absurd deviousness on the part of the mainstream media, but they are nonetheless dragged into treating such absurdities seriously by responding to them.

The clearest example, however, is the hysteria over the Labour Party’s supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ problem. Though the agenda issues ultimately from the US state department and – concurrently – an Israeli establishment facing a pile-up of bad PR from small matters like the collective punishment of Gazans and unending far-right governments, it is the media that retails the lies. And lies they are: despite years of dragnet-fishing, even Jesus could not feed so many hungry hacks with such a meagre catch of actual anti-Semites.

Throughout this sorry saga, Corbyn and co have capitulated again and again. These lies have never been denounced. Natural justice was left in smoking ruins, for the sake of looking sufficiently penitent before the degenerate persons in the press gallery. There might have been a rationale for justifying this if capitulating had actually worked, and the sting had been drawn from the issue of Zionism and by extension Corbyn’s state-loyalism. It might then have gone down in the history books like other dishonourable compromises, like the mouths Nye Bevan stuffed with gold to get the national health service set up. Instead, lies gave way to grovelling, and grovelling to new lies; and ally after ally was thrown under the bus. It did not work. It was worse than a crime – it was a mistake, as was once said of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.


This all goes back to the contradictions at the heart of the Corbyn moment, and thus to the beginning of his run at the leadership four and a half years ago. A complacent Labour right helped put him on the ballot to make the whole affair seem more democratic – they had already taken steps to turn leadership elections into something resembling American primaries. This turned out to be an epic tactical blunder, and years of pent-up frustration – fuelled by anger at the manifestly unjust aftermath of the financial crisis that saw the elite shake out fine, while the rest of us suffered – spilled into a spontaneous mass movement.

This presented the British labour movement with a historic opportunity, but it did so at a moment of profound weakness. The radical left was divided between the remnants of the various Marxist grouplets and the even-more-fissile identity politics that tended to replace them. Union membership was at a low ebb. The local Labour Party organisations, into which these new members were thrust, were in disarray after decades of bureaucratic obstruction. The leadership now belonged to the left, but the machine and the parliamentary party to the right, and so life at the grassroots was choked off by the desperate police actions of the old guard. In Labour Party Marxists, we called – indeed, starting before the Corbyn movement – for the democratic transformation of the Labour Party, but the priority for everyone else was a Labour government with Corbyn in No10, with the result that this institutional disrepair has never been addressed seriously.

One aspect of that disrepair – and a very long-standing one – is the weakness of our own media. The Labour Party itself has made apparently no efforts on this front at all – the exhortations of the campaigning office into our inbox will have to do. The papers and wider output of the far left are increasingly dominated by delusional cheerleading for ephemeral protest movements, often of very dubious politics (wide-eyed enthusiasm for the protests in Hong Kong and les gilets jaunes in France, despite the obvious participation of the far right, spring to mind). The closest thing to a bright spot is probably the Morning Star, which has improved in quality – admittedly from a very poor starting position – but it is hamstrung by its absolute unwillingness to criticise the Labour leadership at all, even when it contradicts other deeply held convictions of the Star and its Communist Party of Britain, such as over Brexit.

The shiny new Corbynista outlets are not a long-term solution to this problem, because they are over-fitted to this situation. The refusal to confront the question of the party and the labour movement’s domination by the bureaucracy means working around or outside of such structures, and in effect means the multiplication of fiefdoms. The most striking example of this is not a media outlet, but Momentum – or, to give it its proper name, Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd – proprietor: J Lansman. Yet it is equally true of The Canary, Skwawkbox and co, which are basically beholden to one or another member of King Jeremy’s court in completely opaque and unaccountable ways.

Social media is not the answer either, because Facebook and Twitter are no less in enemy hands than The Daily Telegraph; moreover, it is plain that the ‘wild west’ era of content on these platforms is coming to an end, and moral panics over the far right (and even genocide in Myanmar) are the thin end of a wedge that implies far more pervasive policing of content and subservience to the state.

In truth, the bourgeois news media is having a sticky moment. It is broadly untrusted. Quality of output is way down after decades of cost-cutting exercises; hastily rewritten wire copy and industrially extruded clickbait predominate. The most partisan outlets within it do better – the Daily Mail and Fox News, sure, but The Guardian reached profitability recently on the back of an unending drive for donations and, while it is hardly our idea of a leftwing paper, it is more so than any of its competitors – but only within its immediate target markets. Various attempts at cordons sanitaires around ‘unacceptable’ political outcomes – Corbyn, Brexit, Trump – have failed. The backlash against social media companies, meanwhile, is also in full swing.

In theory, this is a promising situation for the workers’ movement to build up its own organs of mass communication. Unlike the bourgeois media, workers’ media are dependent neither on advertisers nor state largesse; they thrive, if thrive they do, on the creative energy of our movement’s partisans in service of our goals and each other. In a vibrant, democratic movement, the possibilities are very great to supplant bourgeois sources as the media of first resort; and there is no reason why we should stop merely at the level of publications. After all, the structure of the new internet platforms – as this paper has argued repeatedly – is determined no less by capitalist political economy. We should take seriously, for example, this question: what would a search engine that did not ultimately make money by advertising brokerage look like?

Just as Corbyn and co took for granted the structure of the Labour Party, and left the right in charge of its little power bases for far too long, so it refused to denounce the structurally necessary lies of the media. Whatever the December 12 result turned out to be, that was an error in the long-term view, and it remains for us to correct it.

Rigged selection process: More power to members!

The furore over the parliamentary selection process and the restructuring of Jeremy Corbyn’s office show that Labour HQ is still focussing on the top, says Carla Roberts

Enfield North, Ealing North, Nottingham East, Bassetlaw, Rother Valley, Coventry South, Luton, Liverpool West Derby, Poplar and Limehouse, Durham City – these are just some of the Constituency Labour Parties where local members have spoken out against what they quite rightly perceive as a stitch-up over the selection of their parliamentary candidates.

Even in some CLPs where candidates had already been chosen by local selection panels, the whole process was scrapped in September. Then, at the beginning of October, the national executive committee decided to take it over and installed a so-called “fast-track process”.

For priority seats with retiring or defecting Labour MPs, the NEC drew up lists of potential parliamentary candidates. These long lists of about half a dozen candidates were then handed over to “mixed panels” to whittle down the candidates for a shortlist. Mixed panels are comprised of at least one NEC member, representatives from the regional board and a couple of hand-picked local party officers. Then, and only then, have party members been given the chance to get involved and choose between those few remaining candidates.

It doesn’t look much better in those seats not currently held by ex-Labour MPs or retiring Labour MPs: There, the long lists are being  prepared by  regional executive committees, “working in partnership with CLPs”.

This is particularly worrying, as the decision to take the selection out of the hands of local members was made not by the full NEC, but its officers group, which is – at least on paper – dominated by the ‘left’ (unlike the NEC as a whole). Of the nine members, six can be described as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn: NEC chair Andi Fox (from the TSSA union), treasurer Diana Holland (Unite union), Jim Kennedy (chair of the NEC organisation committee, Unite union), Claudia Webbe (chair of the NEC disputes panel and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy), Ann Henderson (chair of the NEC equalities committee), as well as Corbyn himself. The three rightwingers are Ian Murray MP (who believes that “Corbyn will cost Labour the election”), Tom Watson and Cath Speight (chair of the NEC joint policy committee and a rep of the rightwing GMB).

Outrageously, the NEC does not produce minutes or reports of its decisions or discussions, making it difficult to work out who argued for what or to hold our representatives to account.

It appears though that, while some of the NEC officers demanded that local party members should have no input at all into the selection of candidates and that the NEC should simply impose them, we had, on the other side, the unusual picture of Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson both arguing for the same thing: namely that the whole process should be run by local Labour Party members only. Clearly, this would have been the correct and democratic way to go.

So who voted against it? Claudia Webbe and Ann Henderson were elected onto the NEC as part of the ‘centre-left slate’ supported by Momentum and the CLPD. We presume – though we can be far from certain – that they probably supported Corbyn’s position. Which means that he must have been opposed by the two representatives from Unite.

The compromise, like most compromises, stinks to high heaven. We hear that in NEC backroom deals, Momentum, Unite and the GMB have been busy dividing up parliamentary seats to make sure they get ‘their’ people in. Momentum’s owner, Jon Lansman, for example, wants his chief minion, Laura Parker, elected in Enfield North; while Momentum company director and Lansman loyalist Sam Tarry has just been selected for the safe seat of Ilford South. Neither of them has actively supported their boss’s witch-hunting of the left – but they certainly have not spoken out against it either. Both strike us as the kind of careerists who could quickly turn against the left.

To make matters worse, the long lists that have been presented by the NEC to the mixed panels often exclude the candidates favoured by local members – no doubt, in order to take out the competition. Just like during the worst days of Blairism, we see yet again candidates being parachuted into constituencies, over the heads of local members. And, in areas where the long lists were relatively balanced, we hear of underhand shenanigans and stitch-ups by regional and local officers to make sure that the most outspoken leftwingers are excluded from the shortlists going forward to CLPs.

And even where socialists got through to the short list, we hear of at least three cases where they were then removed hours before the CLP hustings at which members were going to elect their candidate. One is Colin Monehen, who gave the rousing pro-Palestine speech at Labour Party conference 2018 and who was deleted off the shortlist for Epping Forest after complaints by the Jewish Chronicle, who falsely accused him of having “defended a notorious anti-Semitic image”. The ‘evidence’ in that rag shows Colin having a discussion with somebody about the image – but he certainly did not “defend” it. Still, in today’s shrill McCarthyist atmosphere, being charged by the JC seems to be enough for party HQ to buckle. In another CLP, a candidate was bounced off the shortlist one hour before the hustings – among the reasons she was given was her support for Chris Williamson (she had uploaded a picture of both of them on social media).

Even the tame Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) has just put out a statement and a draft emergency motion, calling on the NEC “as a minimum, to allow each CLP to add an extra person to the shortlist in order that a positive and democratic response is made to the justified criticisms, and to ensure that our party is united at all levels and thus can be totally focused on winning the general election.”

There are big problems with the CLPD. Leaving aside the notion that the current Labour Party, torn apart by a civil war, could be “united at all levels”, we would also like to remind readers that the organisation gave up on the fight for mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates as soon as Jeremy Corbyn made clear that he would not fight for this basic democratic demand himself. Instead, at Labour conference in 2018, he instructed his close ally, Len McCluskey, to use the block vote of Unite to defeat ‘open selection’.

A historic opportunity to dramatically reshape the Parliamentary Labour Party was squandered by Corbyn’s futile attempts to appease the Labour right. He mistakenly believed that this might be ‘the thing’ that would end their campaign of sabotage against him. Naturally, it only made them stronger – and robbed party members of the chance to get rid of the whole generation of Blairite careerists and pro-capitalists who are squatting on the Labour benches.

The ‘compromise’ pushed by Corbyn and his allies – the reform of the trigger ballot – has been a shambles: Not only did the NEC delay its implementation, meaning that in many areas they still have not even started. The timetable issued by the NEC is also needlessly slow and meandering: it takes nine weeks until a full selection process can even start. Should a snap election be called soon, most CLPs will not be able to finish the trigger process and, as a result, the sitting MP will automatically become Labour’s candidate once again.

Leader’s office

The “restructuring” of Jeremy Corbyn’s office has given the press some more material for salacious stories with which to attack him and the rest of the party leadership. But it also shines a rather interesting light on how members’ dues are being spent and where Labour HQ’s priorities lie.

First up, we should say that we do not quite believe that this restructuring is somehow proof of a soft coup against Corbyn orchestrated by shadow chancellor John McDonnell (in order to force Labour to adopt a stronger ‘remain’ position on the European Union). Apparently, Corbyn requested that McDonnell should head the office restructuring programme to make the party ‘fit’ for the general election – but was reportedly blindsided when McDonnell removed Karie Murphy from the office. Corbyn, we read in Steve Walker’s exacerbated blog The Skwawkbox, was so upset that at a shadow cabinet meeting, he “kept an empty seat next to him” in honour of Murphy.

Really? This story does not make a lot of sense to us. Jeremy Corbyn surely has some say over the removal of his chief of staff. Also, it is not like Karie Murphy has been sent to Siberia: she will actually oversee the party’s general election campaign – a pretty important job. We also read that she retains her title – and her massive salary of over £90,000 a year.

Do we really need to pay Labour Party full-timers that much money? Could this not be better spent? It is near impossible to find out how many people work for the party or the leader’s office or what they earn. We gather that there must be around 50 people working there alone: The Guardian recently wrote that “parliamentary records show that 46 people have been issued with parliamentary passes to work in Corbyn’s office”, while 37 of the staff have been “invited” for interviews as part of the restructuring programme.

In any case, this is, in our view, a surprisingly large number of full-time staff. As a comparison, while leading the October revolution, the secretariat of the Bolshevik Party consisted of eight people – including Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya, and his brother.

The resignation letter of Andrew Fisher, Corbyn’s chief of policy and long-standing member of the Labour Representation Committee, certainly shines an interesting light on the life in the leader’s office: It seems overstaffed, while also being underorganised – perhaps a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. He criticises the fact that the left hand does not seem to know what the right hand is doing, with different groups of advisors leaking different stories to different parts of the media; meanwhile different heads of this or that sub-team are pulling speeches and not telling others about it. “They are a snapshot of the lack of professionalism, competence and human decency which I am no longer willing to put up with daily.”

Then there are the hundreds employed in the media and communication departments at party HQ and, crucially, the regional offices, which are stuffed with people first hired by former rightwing general secretary Iain McNicol. As we now know, many of them were issued with contracts that make it almost impossible to fire them, so Labour HQ has employed many additional staff to ‘balance’ things out. But the right still seems well in charge in most areas. It did not come as much of a surprise, for example, when 124 Labour staff members of the GMB recently voted ‘yes’ to the union’s suggestion to “demand apologies from the party to former colleagues who took part in the BBC Panorama programme” that accused Labour of being riddled with anti-Semites and doing nothing about it. It seems about time that some of these contracts are brought to a swift end.


Last, but not least, there is the massive expansion of the ‘governance and legal unit’ (formerly known as the compliance unit), which is the party’s witch-finder department. Dozens of new ‘case workers’ have been employed to investigate the mostly false and malicious charges against party members made by rightwingers like Margaret Hodge MP, Tom Watson or the vicious ‘Campaign against Anti-Semitism’. The party spends huge resources on investigating and harassing its own members in this way.

We are aware that we are in the middle of yet another round of suspensions in the party, probably in the hope that, by throwing Labour Party members under the bus now, they cannot be targeted by the right, come a general election. Most of the charges are, as can be expected, ludicrous and we note that in a number of cases, articles from Labour Party Marxists supporters have been listed as incriminating ‘evidence’. For example, a report of the 2018 Labour conference, in which we criticised Emily Thornberry’s stomach-churning, witch-hunting speech that she despicably interspersed with cries of “No pasaran!” We quite rightly called her a “pro-Zionist”.

None of the charges are quite so ludicrous though as the ongoing campaign to kick Chris Williamson out of the party. Rather than accepting the NEC’s anti-Semitism panel’s decision to reinstate him to full membership, the party must have spent thousands of pounds of members’ dues fighting him in the courts – and, of course, scrolling through his Facebook and Twitter posts to find ‘evidence’ against him that would allow for a third suspension.

With the influx of hundreds of thousands of new members since Corbyn’s election, the Labour Party certainly has amassed a small fortune. But it seems to be spending the money entirely on the wrong things. Surely, the bulk of it should find its way back to the organisations on the ground. But CLPs still rarely get more than the “minimum cash allocation of £1.50 per paid-up member” – per year! In many areas, CLPs had to fight the 2017 general election without a single penny from Labour HQ, including in seats that were then won by Labour. We presume things will not be much different next time around.

Imagine what local branches and CLPs could do with the amount of energy and enthusiasm first released by Corbyn’s election. At the moment, this is usually spent on rather dire rounds of leafleting and canvassing those who are already Labour supporters … which causes the enthusiasm of many members to quickly dry up, unsurprisingly. Any initiatives that go slightly beyond this scope are usually shut down by some local or regional officer.

With a more energetic outlook and some decent financial support, local members could organise all sorts of local events, festivals, film showings – and perhaps even launch local working class newspapers, radio stations, even TV channels. This kind of critical engagement with the world around us is needed if we are serious about building a real working class party. The German Social Democrats in the early 20th century should serve as an example to aspire to. There were scores of local Social Democratic papers.

In other words, we need less ‘professionalism’ in the party, fewer regional officers, fewer full-time witch-hunters – and much more empowerment of those below – if we seriously want to transform the party into a vehicle for socialism.

Can Momentum be reformed?

There are now more reform groups in Momentum than owners. But, asks Carla Roberts, can they succeed?

We must admit that, from the outset, trying to reform Momentum in any meaningful way looks to us very much like the kind of punishment we can safely leave to King Sisyphus. It is a huge task, destined to fail.

Having said that, Jon Lansman, owner of Momentum, is clearly displaying signs of having come under some kind of pressure somewhere. His attempt to get rid of Tom Watson with a motion on Labour’s national executive committee (that he then withdrew), for example, was probably a sign that he is trying to pose left. We write ‘probably’, because the man has done so many weird things that we cannot always guess his motivation without going down to psychological levels. (Pride of place takes his embarrassing campaign last year to become general secretary of the Labour Party – against Jennie Formby, who was favoured by not just the mighty Unite union, but also Jeremy Corbyn himself. And when he withdrew, Lansman claimed that his only motivation in standing was “to increase the gender balance” – oddly enough, by standing against a woman!).

In any case, we have recently seen three attempts to make Momentum more democratic.

Starting with the least serious one, in June we spotted an article on the website Red Flag (which is where the dwindling remnants of Workers Power have gone to die). Jeremy Dewar wrote that “up and down the country Momentum groups are the backbone of the leftwing membership; organising campaigns, turning out for elections, taking control of local parties and turning them outwards”. The article argued that those super-active Momentum members should fight “for a sovereign conference”. This article is still doing the rounds on Facebook, somewhat bizarrely in our view.

Then, in July this year, a small group of people around Pat Byrne launched their ‘Call for membership control of Momentum’. They at least take note of a few recent qualitative changes within the organisation, like Jon Lansman’s witch-hunting campaigns against Chris Williamson MP and Pete Willsman. However, the comrades are more than naive in their assumption that “Momentum does not belong to Jon Lansman, but to all of its members!” This surely is the main thing that everybody does know about Momentum: it actually does belong to Lansman! Literally! He has tight control over the various companies that control the data and the income.

While Byrne and his comrades admit that Momentum’s constitution “is certainly very centralised”, they believe that its members should make use of the very limited democratic space within it: they should stand for the biennial elections to its national coordinating group (NCG), use the “many avenues in social media for reaching the membership” and get involved in the “the local Momentum groups”.

Their main focus though is on the “procedures for petitions” and “constitutional amendments” that members should make full use of. However, they fail to remind their readers that those petitions and amendments to the constitution require the support of at least “5% of members or 1,000 members”! And if there is no majority on the NCG in support of such a proposal, it then needs “a petition signed by 10% of the membership” in order to “trigger a vote among all members”. This is never going to happen.

In our view, both these proposals come well over two and half years too late. Back then, Jon Lansman stopped “a sovereign conference” from taking place, abolished all existing structures and imposed his undemocratic constitution on the organisation: the Lansman coup of January 10 2017. There are no structures, no avenues left to even fight for a “sovereign conference”. And there remain hardly any functioning Momentum branches. Many groups split in the aftermath of the imposed constitution, others dwindled and died a slow death and some of the few remaining branches have affiliated to the Labour Left Alliance or are in the process of doing so.

Momentum 4 Corbyn

At least the newly established ‘Momentum 4 Corbyn’ does not bother with such illusions – though that is the best thing we can say about it. We understand that the main people behind this campaign, which went public on October 3, are three Momentum NCG members, Barry Gray (who is also acting secretary of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and a member of the Socialist Action sect), Liz Smith and Christine “fuck the unions” Shawcroft. Shawcroft, remember, went along with the Lansman coup and, when she was still a member of Labour’s NEC, voted to refer Jackie Walker to Labour’s national constitutional committee for expulsion.

On its website, Momentum 4 Corbyn identifies Momentum’s main problem as follows:

Momentum was set up in 2015 in order to support the agenda of Jeremy Corbyn. It is the continuation of Jeremy’s leadership campaign, which resulted in him being elected Labour leader in September 2015 and re-elected in September 2016. Unfortunately Momentum is now diverging from its original purpose; on some issues it fails to support the Labour leadership and on others it even opposes the leadership.

The group’s mission statement praises Corbyn like the second coming of the messiah: “Jeremy is putting forward a truly radical transformative agenda for a Labour government that will make people better off”, etc, etc. Momentum must “return to its original role as a supportive defender of the political agenda that Jeremy Corbyn is advancing”. The comrades want to (re)build a Corbyn fan club, in other words. To that effect, they put forward a long list of ‘evidence’ to prove where “Momentum” (they never mention Lansman) has strayed from Corbyn’s holy script.

To their credit, they do mention the witch-hunt in the Labour Party, though only in the shape of the direct attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. “Momentum appears to give credence to the exaggerated claims made by Labour’s political opponents, conveying a distorted picture of the real situation.” But, you see, “Jeremy is a supporter of international social justice, including Palestinian human rights. There is nothing remotely anti-Semitic in his opposition to the violence inflicted on the Palestinians.”

But what about Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Chris Williamson or even the CLPD’s Pete Willsman, who remains suspended on bullshit charges? They do not even mention those comrades: it is all about the leader.

Momentum 4 Corbyn does not seem to grasp the simple fact that Corbyn has been complicit in this witch-hunt all along. Not only has he watched silently as comrades Walker, Wadsworth, Willsman and now Chris Williamson have been thrown to the wolves by the NEC. He has legitimised the whole witch-hunt by agreeing with the right in and outside the party that there is a huge problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. By asking Shami Chakrabarti to produce a report, he first opened the doors and showed how vulnerable he is to the witch-hunt – and he has since presided over one climbdown after another.

Corbyn fan club

This underlines that a Corbyn fan club is, at best useless. At worst, it perpetuates the witch-hunt and makes matters for the left (and Corbyn) considerably worse. We desperately need a Labour left that can openly and publicly challenge Corbyn and exert pressure on him from the left. This is, of course, not what Lansman is doing – he has joined those pressurising Corbyn from the right.

Some might say that it is lucky then that the way Gray, Smith and Shawcroft are going about their campaign means it is unlikely to succeed. Their only strategy consists of putting forward candidates to the November NCG elections who “consistently campaign for Jeremy and his politics, not for any alternative agenda”. No names have been published yet, but we believe the NCG three are about to present some very soon (though if a general election is called “by the end of October”, Momentum’s NCG elections will be postponed until next year).

This is exactly the discredited method of the so-called ‘Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance’ (which, if it has not already imploded, will surely do so now). Until recently, this is where soft-left Labour groups, including the CLPD and Momentum, got together to haggle over which centre-left candidates they should urge their members to vote for. The rightwing NEC member, Ann Black, was on the CLGA slate for decades.

It is therefore not surprising that this group has almost nothing to say, when it comes to “internal democracy”, apart from voting for its recommended NCG candidates. All power to the NCG, basically. However, only 20 of the 34 seats on this body are actually elected by members. The rest are made up of:

  • four Momentum members who are Labour public officer holders;
  • six members nominated by affiliated trade unions;
  • four members nominated by other affiliated organisations.

Jon Lansman has made sure that the NCG will never be able to decide on any democratic changes (unless he wants it to). Any changes have to be made by a unanimous vote on that body. A proposal brought by an NCG member that is rejected even by one other person on the NCG will also have to be supported by “10% of the membership”. Then there is the next hurdle: Lansman is in full control of that database and can (and obviously has done so) manipulate elections as he pleases.

In June 2019, Momentum members were asked to participate in a ‘democracy ballot’ to make “Momentum more members-led” and “improve accountability”. There were three concrete proposals “coming from the national coordinating group meeting in March”: one to decrease democracy by having elections to the NCG every two years instead of annually; the second to expand the number of people elected onto the NCG from 12 to 20; and the third to increase the number of regions from three to five. Thrilling stuff.

An embarrassingly measly 357 people bothered to vote 1)Email from Momentum, June 21, 9am – and, as Momentum never takes anybody off their database, we know this poll was literally sent to tens of thousands of people, including many who had long stopped making payments to the organisation.

As the proposal to move to biennial elections was not approved by the NCG unanimously (but opposed by Gray, Smith and Shawcroft and a couple of others), it had again to be sent to everybody on the database. This time, in September 2019, the number of participants magically rose to 4,150. It took a staggering four months to make a decision on a couple of nonsense proposals that could be summed up in five short words: an absolute waste of time.

Momentum 4 Corbyn complains – now! – that “the conduct of the ballot itself raises questions about democracy in Momentum, as only an argument in favour of this measure to reduce democracy was presented to members, and the proposal was falsely dressed up as a ‘democratising’ proposal. No alternative view was circulated to Momentum members by the NCG.”

Fair enough, but why did these NCG rebels not come out publicly at the time? Where are their reports of the NCG meetings they have been attending for years? Where is their public criticism? Where is the transparency in their campaign? How can Momentum members actually get involved? They cannot, obviously – apart from voting for the NCG members chosen by Barry Gray and co. A democracy campaign utterly devoid of any democracy, in other words.

And what is their solution to the lack of democracy in Momentum elections? Fasten your seatbelts. We can read in the July NCG minutes that Barry Gray wanted the Electoral Reform Service to run internal Momentum elections instead. The idea was rejected by the NCG by seven votes to five.


Momentum certainly filled a political vacuum when it was launched just after Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership elections in 2015. It attracted not just the young, relatively inexperienced crowd who became caught up in the Corbynmania, but also many of the seasoned Labour left activists who had been re-energised by the victory of a self-declared socialist. At its height, Momentum claimed to have 35,000 paying members (and a database of many more tens of thousands). This figure might or might not be based on fact, but we can be certain it is a lot lower now. Not that it is something Jon Lansman – founder, owner and all-round puppetmaster of Momentum – would openly publish.

We can glean from the accounts submitted for Momentum Campaign Ltd that the company claims to have had £145,659 in its various bank accounts at the end of December 2018, which is about £6,000 more than the year before. It also claims to have 21 employees, but, as it has paid a measly £19,205 in “taxation and social security” combined, we do not think many of them can be earning much (the figure stood at just over £42,000 the year before). You cannot actually work out how much in membership fees the organisation has received. But we do know that thousands, if not tens of thousands, have left Momentum.

Lansman has to be held personally responsible for this wasted opportunity. But in our view, that ship has now sailed. Sure, Momentum’s various bits of software and the huge database might still come in handy in a general election campaign. But the left should not waste any more time trying to rescue or reform this shell of a an organisation.

We believe that the nascent Labour Left Alliance is far more likely to have caused some of Jon Lansman’s recent, pseudo-left poses. Over 1,500 people have now signed up to the campaign, as have more than 20 Labour left groups and four Momentum branches. Clearly, building a viable, democratic and transparent Labour left is the best way to challenge and overcome anti-democratic left wannabe dictators like Jon Lansman.


1 Email from Momentum, June 21, 9am

Tom Watson speech:
 Delegates plan protests

There have been some interesting ramifications since the Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, briefly faced the prospect of his job disappearing from under him. The threat to Watson’s livelihood came in the form of a motion from Momentum’s number one, Jon Lansman, to abolish the post of deputy altogether (precisely the type of bold ‘revolutionary’ method that Corbyn should be deploying in the inner-party war).

Comrades who read us yesterday will be aware that we were profoundly sceptical about the real motivations of this rather strange move by Lansman. The specific issue of the disappearing deputy leader quickly vanished. However, we are left with some interesting developments in the aftermath of the original spat.

First, we have the response of Corbyn himself. In yesterday’s bulletin, we characterised his general approach to the concrete question of the post of deputy and the threat to Watson as “supine” and Ghandi-like. Sadly, but predictably, this dismally timid method was carried over into the ‘positive’ solutions that he proposed for the structure of the leadership henceforth: ie, two deputy leaders … with the stipulation that one must be a woman. ‘Underwhelming’ would be an overstatement.

In contrast, Tom Watson pin-pointed precisely the key issue that political life in our organisation revolves around – there is a “battle for the future of the Labour Party”, he stated, in which members must “resist the destructive, corrosive impulse of factionalism”. (For ‘factionalism’ read ‘fighting for principled working class politics’.)
Thus far in this crisis in Labour, the members have been passive observers. So it is very encouraging that word reaches us of provisional plans for some sort of protest against Watson when he rises to his feet on Tuesday to address conference. Even better, there are reports that this may include not simply individual delegates, but also CLP and union blocks. Much like the reaction to the original Lansman/deputy leader incident, these provisional plans have caused dissent and divisions on the left.

The essential lines of demarcation were delineated in an exchange between two comrades online. First a member expressed the worry that the walkers would “look like those Brexit MEPs turning their backs at the EU”. No, came back the answer – “there’s a civil war going on and one side is doing all the attacking!”

The world view of our readers will probably not shatter if we tell you that we support the fighting stance of the latter, rather than the timid approach of the former. However, we do understand that comrades are sensitive to the danger of providing the venal media with more ammunition with which to smear our party and thus are wary of scenes of division and conflict on conference floor.

Understandable, but wrong. In fact, we should think of the battle within Labour as being over a project of political hygiene rather than some self-indulgent “factionalism”, as the deputy leader puts it. We urge comrades to support any protest that may be organised against the treacherous Tom Watson – a man who has been intricately involved in the witch-hunt against members of the party and attempts to undermine the leader. He is a disgrace and should be shamed not simply out of the Labour Party, but the wider workers’ movement too. He should be given the heave-ho, pronto!

We urge comrades to support any protest that may be organised against the treacherous Tom Watson – a man who has been intricately involved in the witch-hunt against members of the party and attempts to undermine the leader. He is a disgrace and should be shamed not simply out of the Labour Party, but the wider workers’ movement too. He should be given the heave-ho, pronto!

Understandable, but wrong. In fact, we should think of the battle within Labour as being over a project of political hygiene rather than some self-indulgent “factionalism”, as the deputy leader puts it.

We urge comrades to support any protest that may be organised against the treacherous Tom Watson – a man who has been intricately involved in the witch-hunt against members of the party and attempts to undermine the leader. He is a disgrace and should be shamed not simply out of the Labour Party, but the wider workers’ movement too. He should be given the heave-ho, pronto!

Red Pages: Sunday, September 22 2019

SUNDAY 2019 PDFClick to download today’s issue in PDF version here.

How to get rid of Tom Watson
With his much-publicised motion to abolish the position of deputy leader, Momentum’s owner Jon Lansman was trying to pose left – but don’t be fooled

Abolish all private schools?
This demand is not as radical as it sounds – what about, say, those run by cooperatives? Those that are based on a working class, socialist vision of society?

Debate over Clause four: Fight for real socialism!
Despite the fact that the rule change fell far short of what is required, we urged for a vote for it, against the Blairisation of the Labour Party. Sadly, Labour’s NEC kicked the issue into the long grass.

Fast-track expulsions will make the anti-Semitism witchhunt worse
Although a majority of CLP representatives yesterday voted AGAINST a further tightening of Labour’s disciplinary system, the rule change from the NEC was accepted because the affiliates overwhelmingly voted in favour. This will make the witch-hunt much, much worse.

How to get rid of Tom Watson

With his much-publicised motion to abolish the position of deputy leader, Momentum’s owner Jon Lansman was trying to pose left – but don’t be fooled

The rather startling news broke late on Friday, September 20, that Momentum’s Jon Lansman had proposed a motion to Labour’s National Executive Committee that would effectively abolish the position of deputy leader of the party – and thus give the treacherous incumbent, Tom Watson, the bum’s rush. It came as a surprise to all of us, not least Watson himself who commented that he “got a text in a Chinese restaurant to say they were abolishing me.”

This unexpected development initially divided opinion amongst Labour lefties and a rather confused debate ensued on discussion lists. There was a general consensus that Lansman’s dramatic move was not sincere – the man has played a despicable role in the party since the election of Corbyn and snuffed out democracy in the organisation he lords over. Under his leadership Momentum nationally has politically degenerated to what looks like the point of no return. (Although, of course, there remain good comrades and principled branches in the organisation, doing useful socialist work.)

It is probably not necessary to remind readers of this bulletin of Jon Lansman’s entire shabby record, but particularly grotesque was the recent attack on Jewish Voice for Labour as “not being part of the Jewish community” and his demand that Chris Williamson MP should be summarily expelled from the Labour Party. Sadly, Momentum at a national level has become an organisation that has fully joined the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

However, while there were no illusions from any section of the Labour left that the Momentum supremo had experienced some sort of socialist epiphany, this odd initiative by Lansman revealed a worrying conservatism on the part on some comrades. For example, leading figures in the Labour Representation Committee were very critical of Labour Party Marxist comrades who celebrated the opportunity – no matter how it had landed in our lap and however unlikely it was to win – to show Watson the door. Strangely, this was castigated as evidence of being in thrall to the bureaucracy, an example of “top down socialism”. In supposed contrast, our critics upheld the need for “a mass socialist movement from below” as the only way to see Watson off.

It seemed to have escaped these (often very experienced) comrades that Corbyn himself initially began his journey to the leadership of the Labour Party not as a result of a mass movement from below – it was gifted to him by the stupidly misplaced largess of the “morons”, as one of their number self-defined in retrospect. A mass movement was the result of this top-table blunder, not its cause. Posturing left and counter-posing an imaginary mass movement to this concrete, totally unexpected political opportunity would have been idiotic.

Tom Watson denounced the challenge to his position as a “drive-by-shooting”. The murder weapon turned out to be was a pea-shooter, however. On September 20, the NEC ruled that the Lansman motion was out of order as it did not command a 2/3 majority. It was referred to the NEC’s meeting on September 21, where Lansman apparently then withdrew it – after a typically supine, Ghandi-style intervention from Jeremy Corbyn, we are told. (Huffington Post reports that the mere threat of Watson’s removal had prompted 35 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party to sign up to demand another leadership challenge if Lansman’s motion passed. Clearly, Corbyn’s serial capitulations to the right win nothing from them in turn apart from contempt.)
Some comrades have dubbed this rather odd moment as little more than “grandstanding” on Lansman’s part. There is a little more to it than that, however.

Lansman’s uncharacteristic lurch left can also be plausibly explained as a reaction to pressure from the internal dissent of Momentum members, the general loss of forward impetus the organisation has experienced and – crucially – the impressive growth of the Labour Left Alliance, a principled organisation of the democratic left that opposes the ‘Anti-Zionism equals Anti-Semitism’ smear campaign in the Labour Party.

While the LLA does not call for individuals or branches to split from Momentum, the mere fact of a new kid on the block – with a political template for members’ democracy, an accountable leadership, and a militant determination to stand against the foul smears and persecution against the Labour left – might well have spurred Lansman to butch up politically to energise and enthuse his rank-and-file. Of course, if this is true, it casts the leader of Momentum in an even more cynical, unprincipled light.

Sign up now: www.labourleft.org

All-members-meetings or General Committees?

Labour First, the LRC and the CLPD all vigorously oppose all-members meetings, while Momentum is in favour. But it really is a question of tactics, argues Carla Roberts 

A rule change snuck through at last year’s Labour conference has led to some rather heated debates. It allows Constituency Labour Parties to switch easily from a delegate-based general committee (GC) to an all-members meeting format (AMM) – and vice versa. A number of CLPs have recently used the rule to abandon their GC and establish meetings where every single member can show up and vote. Many more CLPs are in line to follow soon, as it is immensely popular, seen by many as a measure to support the Corbyn leadership.

Critics warn, however, that the AMM structure “undermines the rules of trade unions, abandons the spirit of collectivism and breaks the principle of representative democracy that Labour has held dear for a century”. This could have been written by the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) or the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), which both oppose the rule. But it is actually part of an article by Matt Pound, organiser of Labour’s most rightwing faction, Labour First. Something that unites the extreme right of the Labour Party with traditional Labour left organisations certainly deserves a closer examination.

At the 2018 conference, few people paid much attention to this rule change. That was mainly down to the fact that delegates and visitors had little time to study in full detail the proposals contained within the Democracy Review: the party’s national executive committee, meeting a week before conference, had gutted the document of most of the constitutional changes originally proposed by Katy Clark (ie, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies). The first that delegates saw of the proposed rule change was on the morning of the first full day of conference: it was one of the 57 such proposals presented over 35 pages in the report of the conference arrangements committee (CAC). A travesty of the kind of democracy we need in the workers’ movement.

The focus at conference was very much on the proposals to reduce the nominations needed to stand in any leadership election and, crucially, the question of how parliamentary candidates are selected. While the vast majority of delegates were clearly in favour of the reintroduction of a system of mandatory reselection of all candidates (aka open selection), the NEC pushed for a far less democratic reform of the trigger ballot instead.

Now even this reform seems too radical for the NEC to actually implement. In January, Jennie Formby was commissioned to produce guidelines and a timetable, without which no such ballots can take place. But then Chuka Umunna and co split from the party and the leadership got cold feet. Despite the fact that the departure of Umunna et al can hardly be described as unfortunate, the mere possibility of further splits, perhaps led by Tom Watson, is regarded as a threat by Corbyn. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he still seems to believe that he can win over the right.

In our view, the sooner those saboteurs in the Parliamentary Labour Party are gone, the better. As long as they dominate the PLP, Corbyn has very little chance of doing anything. More importantly, we need to get rid of the right if we actually want to be able to make some of the radical and democratic changes that are so desperately needed to transform the party into a powerful weapon of the working class.

However, it seems that this is not the only one of its own rule changes that the NEC has had second thoughts about.

For decades, CLPs were organised exclusively on the basis of the general committee, which is still how about half of them operate today (we are guessing here, as there are no official figures on this): local Labour branches elect delegates according to their membership figures, while trade unions and socialist societies can send one delegate for each of the branches that is affiliated locally. Trade unions have made full use of this rule, affiliating several of their branches, even if they do not actually meet or do anything – it seems that sometimes such branches have been set up explicitly for this sole purpose.

For example, since Corbyn’s election, the GMB has made huge efforts to affiliate at least one of its branches to every single Labour branch in the country, while the Jewish Labour Movement is trying to affiliate to every CLP. The purpose is clear: to oppose the left at every opportunity and support those MPs and local politicians who support the affiliate’s particular political agenda. The GC structure gives affiliates a good deal of power.

This started to change under Tony Blair in the late 1990s. Proposals to introduce all-members meetings were presented as a way to “empower the members”, when in reality they were part of the efforts to curtail the power of the unions throughout the party. Understandably, the unions strongly opposed the proposals – in this they were supported by Tony Benn and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD).

In 2012, Ed Miliband introduced reforms that allowed a CLP to switch between CG and AMM at its annual general meeting, where the change to the local constitution was subject to a two-thirds majority vote. This was mainly down to the fact that under Tony Blair the Labour Party not only lost tens of thousands of members; but many of those who had retained their membership did not bother showing up at meetings any more. Most CLP meetings were poorly attended, boring and utterly uninviting (yes, they were even worse than today’s).

The survey carried out by Katy Clark at the beginning of the Democracy Review in 2018 showed that, out of the 208 CLPs who participated, 141 already had an all-members structure, while 67 were based on a general committee. She reported that, “In general, in most cities” CLPs tend to have a GC structure, while “in some areas where there are AMM structures” no local branches exist.1)http://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Democracy-Review_.pdf, p33


According to the rule change passed at the 2018 conference then, any party unit (ie, either a branch or an affiliated organisation) can move a motion proposing to change the method of organisation – ie, to switch either to AMM or GC (the Labour Party rulebook actually allows for alternative methods beyond that, but that is very uncommon). A special CLP meeting then has to be called, in which all local members and delegates of affiliated organisations can participate. The decision to switch now requires only a simple majority of all those present. 2)Labour Party rule book 2019, clause IV, point 1.C (p40)

The vast majority of union delegates at conference 2018 – as always, under strict orders from their leaderships – voted in favour of this rule change, as part of the NEC’s tame reform package. However, it seems that it then started to slowly dawn on the unions that this was, in fact, potentially a rule change that could reform them out of any meaningful existence, when it comes to CLPs.

And it is true: in all-members meetings, the role and power of a delegate from a local union is dramatically reduced, compared to their role in a delegate-based GC. In fact, a union delegate has the same rights and voting power as any local party member, when previously a single union delegate could hold as much power as a whole Labour branch.

In November 2018, two months after conference, Unions Together (previously the Trade Union and Labour Partly Liaison Organisation – TULO), which represents the 12 affiliated unions, came out against the rule change in a short statement:

Trade unions support delegate-based structures for CLPs, because they allow TU branches that have affiliated to a CLP to be formally represented and take part in the CLP’s decision-making processes. All-member meetings do not allow affiliated TUs to be represented in CLP decision-making, and this weakens the relationship between the party and the unions at the local level.

We also believe that the unions are playing a part in delaying the implementation of the reformed trigger ballot, as this would further reduce their power in the party. For the first time, the trigger ballot has been split into two – one for all organisations affiliated to the CLP and one for all branches. That means Labour members can choose to challenge the sitting MP (if one third of all local branches vote in favour of doing so) and cannot be blocked by delegates from local affiliates. However, affiliated organisations are unlikely to initiate a trigger ballot. Their role in this process has tended to be mainly a negative one – ie, often it has been local union bureaucrats who have voted against challenging a sitting MP.

This does rather beg the question as to how, firstly, those two rule changes made it into Katy Clark’s Democracy Review and then, secondly, got past the NEC, which gutted it of many other suggestions. After all, 13 of the 39 members of the NEC are representatives from the affiliated unions, with a couple of other members (like treasurer Diana Holland) having been ‘seconded’ by them. They represent a hugely important bloc and usually vote together (just as they do at conference). Did they simply take their eye off the ball?

And who had been pushing for these changes in the first place? Katy Clark was working closely with Jeremy Corbyn – did they really set out to take on the unions? Yes, the union bloc has often acted as a barrier to progressive change in the party. But the biggest affiliate is still Unite and Len McCluskey remains a loyal supporter of Corbyn. Corbyn and Clark surely would not have pushed for these two changes without McCluskey’s say-so.

Perhaps this move indicates a split within the unions between those who support Corbyn and those who are currently led by rightwingers, such as the GMB, Unison and Community. That would be very welcome indeed. But we are guessing here. As is unfortunately often the case in the labour movement, these arguments are not fought out in the open, in front of the membership, but treated like a dirty secret and kept away from the working class.

We do know, however, that a certain Jon Lansman has certainly set out to curb the power of the unions in the party – no doubt in order to increase his own. The less power the unions have, the larger Momentum looms. This became most obvious when his then ally, Christine Shawcroft (whom he made director of Momentum on January 10 2017: ie, the day of his coup within the organisation), publicly supported his short-lived campaign to run against Unite’s Jennie Formby for the position of general secretary:

I was supporting Jon Lansman for general secretary before today’s NEC subcommittee meetings, but after today I am even more determined. Only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank-and-file members in the CLPs. It is time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour Party.

The reason she gave for that last comment was because they “always stick it to the rank-and-file members, time after time after time.”

Shawcroft clearly thought she was doing Lansman a favour by repeating what he had no doubt been going on about behind the scenes. Our Jon, however, was not best pleased and – despite dumping her like a hot potato straightaway (like he has done with so many former political friends and allies) – he was forced to withdraw his candidacy.

Momentum is, as far as we can see, the only Labour organisation that is supporting the move towards AMMs. True, among the pro-Corbyn membership this is considered ‘common sense’ – after all, the members should be in charge, right? Many local members who are pushing for AMMs are undoubtedly on the left and are doing so out of a real desire to support Corbyn’s leadership and break the ongoing hold of the right over many CLPs. In many areas, the same old bureaucracy has been running things for years and seems to have an unbreakable hold over the branches.

Local branch meetings, which select the CLP delegates, are often so boring and bureaucratic, without any debates or real life to them, that many of those inspired by Corbyn turn up once – and cannot bring themselves to go again. It is very difficult to turn around a rightwing branch that has been run by the same local clique for decades; it takes patient work and a huge amount of effort to organise the local left.

Pros and cons

The AMM structure does seem the easier way to turn things around. After all, CLP meetings are larger, you only have to attend a meeting once a month and they are more likely to feature a political discussion of some sort. It is much easier to persuade disconnected, atomised Corbyn supporters to come to a monthly AMM. This is, of course, exactly the reason why Labour First opposes the move (although Matt Pound tries to pretend that it has to do with its concern for the “gender balance” of CLP delegates, which would not be guaranteed in AMMs). In other words, in some areas it can be a good idea to push for AMMs – especially in smaller CLPs.

But there are very good reasons to be critical of them too:

  •  AMMs can further atomise the membership. The average size of a CLP is 850 members, but the actual local membership figures vary massively. In a small CLP, an AMM structure can allow you to meet and organise with other lefties when there might not be many or any in your branch (if there even is a branch). But in CLPs with many hundreds of members, AMMs can easily become too big to allow for any real democratic debate or decision-making. If the chair is on the right, they may not be willing to call in somebody from the left to speak, for example, making discussions very one-sided. The AGM is likely to turn into a huge jamboree, where members are supposed to vote for candidates that many might not have even heard of. This structure has the potential to make the CLP executive incredibly powerful and almost untouchable for the rest of the year. Not surprisingly, in some areas it is the local right that argues in favour of AMMs. Any AMM that involves more than, say, 70 members is clearly too big.
  • AMMs undermine representative democracy. Jon Lansman is a big fan of ‘digital democracy’ and online decision-making using ‘One member, one vote’. That should tell you why real democrats must oppose it. These methods might look democratic on paper, but dig a little deeper and you will find that they are designed to keep members atomised and the leadership all-powerful. CLP delegates, like conference delegates, are – at least in theory – accountable to the people who elected them. They are supposed to represent and argue for a particular political point of view. Good delegates report back on how they voted and are then faced with criticism or support, which allows for good political debate and the education of the whole membership.
  • AMM structures can demobilise the membership. They may make it more difficult for members to get involved in the day-to-day decision-making within the party. If you go to an AMM, you do not need to get involved in the local branch structures, you do not need to stand for delegate elections, you do not need to defend your voting records or your point of view. But we need our comrades to learn how to run things, to take charge, to organise and to be accountable and hold others to account. This is a crucial part of training our side up to run society in the not-so-distant future.
  • AMM structures weaken the trade union link. This is where the LRC focuses its criticism: It “seriously dilutes the input of union delegates into CLPs, a dangerous step … With some on the left even questioning the union-party link at any level, it is incumbent on socialists to argue for retaining that link, while taking up the cudgels for democratisation of that union input.”

While LRC comrades are wrong to elevate support for GC structures into a principle, they are quite right to raise the need to campaign for the “democratisation of the union input”, as they put it. In fact, the whole union movement – just like the Labour Party itself – is in need of a radical, democratic transformation. Many delegates from affiliated unions and socialist societies are playing such a negative role – for example, by supporting the local rightwing MP or stopping the CLP from supporting progressive campaigns – that many Corbyn supporters are understandably tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

This issue really underlines how weak the left is in its campaign to democratise the unions. This is visibly demonstrated by the fact that both the CLPD and LRC have managed merely to come out against AMMs: they are not in a position to campaign against it.