Tag Archives: Jon Lansman

January 10: Email from Jon Lansman to all members, abolishing all democratic structures

Dear XY,
We hope you have had a good start to 2017 and feel refreshed and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. With the Tories’ chaotic Brexit unfolding, Trump soon to be inaugurated and the threat of UKIP’s racist, right-wing populism on the rise, we need the Corbyn project to succeed now more than ever. Momentum has a crucial role to play in electing a transformative, socialist Labour government.


Momentum Moving Forwards

Momentum had a big first year – not least, by forming the backbone of Jeremy’s re-election campaign last summer. Just before Christmas, Jeremy emailed members of Momentum setting out his vision for our movement and asking them to share theirs. The results of the survey show that there is a widespread consensus about the type of organisation members want – a grassroots, Labour-focused, campaigning political movement that can help Labour win power on a transformative platform.


Click here to view a video of the survey results. The full report is available here.

A huge 40.3% of members responded to the survey. The responses clearly set out members’ views on the way forward for our movement. Campaigning for Labour victories and helping members become more active in the Labour Party were the most popular options for Momentum’s priorities in 2017, chosen by 71.7% and 68.2% of respondents respectively.

80.6% of respondents said that key decisions should be taken by One Member One Vote, rather than by delegates at regional and national conferences and committees (12.5%). 79.3% of respondents said all members should have a say in electing their representatives, as opposed to national representatives being elected by delegates from local groups (16.2%).

Following this decisive response, the Steering Committee voted to introduce a constitution for Momentum to deliver the kind of action-focused, campaigning organisation that our members want.

Read a summary of the constitution and how it affects you here, and read the full constitution here.

The constitution requires all new Momentum members to be Labour Party members. Existing Momentum members have the opportunity to join Labour by 1 July if they are not a member already. Momentum members who have been suspended from Labour, but not expelled, will remain members of Momentum.

The constitution aims to clarify Momentum’s purpose, goals and organisation, so that our energy and resources can be channelled into supporting members and local groups. It is also intended to improve transparency and reduce the internal bureaucracy within Momentum.

Participatory, grassroots democracy in Momentum

The constitution empowers members to directly elect their representatives, and gives all members a say in key decisions.

Elections to the National Coordinating Group
Under Momentum’s constitution, all members can stand and vote in elections for positions on the National Coordinating Group (NCG). Elections to the NCG will take place online or by other accessible means, with each member having a vote. The election timetable is here.The NCG also includes places for Labour public office holders, representatives of affiliated trade unions and other organisations.

Members’ Council
A Members’ Council will be chosen randomly by lot every 6 months to ensure that ideas, inspiration and innovation from the grassroots drives Momentum’s activities. The Members’ Council will provide oversight on, and make recommendations to, the NCG, and develop Momentum’s activities, resources and campaigns.

Digital Democracy Platform
Momentum will provide a digital democracy platform to ensure that all members are empowered to initiate and vote on campaign priorities, constitutional amendments or overturning decisions by the NCG.

Momentum National Conference
Momentum’s Inaugural National Conference will take place on 18 February. This will be organised by the National Office and will be open to all members. To reflect the priorities of the membership, the Conference will focus on the theme ‘Momentum’s role in Labour’s General Election Strategy.’ It will be a day of grassroots activist training, political education workshops, discussion and special guest speakers. More details will be announced soon.

We’ve seen what division can do to our movement. The challenge ahead of us is too big and important to spend time and resources on internal disputes. It’s time for Momentum to focus on supporting the Labour Party to take on the Tories and fight the rise of the far-right, as an effective grassroots, action-focused and campaigning movement.

If you consent to Momentum’s constitution, you do not have to do anything. Simply continue paying your membership fees. However, if you wish to opt out, you can email membership@peoplesmomentum.com to cancel your membership.
In solidarity,
Team Momentum

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)www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/05/jon-lansman-interview-theres-no-leader-who-would-find-it-easier-win-jeremy

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)www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/news/79087/excl-tom-watson-tells-plotters-trying-oust-him 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)www.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/from-left-to-left-a-whos-who-of-corbyns-comrades

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)http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1056/no-strategy-towards-labour/ 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)http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/paul-masons-consensus-democracy-same-old-ephemeral-new 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”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_society_(Labour_Party)

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)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/12/jeremy-corbyn-turning-blind-eye-anti-semitism-party-theresa/

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.



1 www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/05/jon-lansman-interview-theres-no-leader-who-would-find-it-easier-win-jeremy
2 www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/news/79087/excl-tom-watson-tells-plotters-trying-oust-him
3 www.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/from-left-to-left-a-whos-who-of-corbyns-comrades
4 http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1056/no-strategy-towards-labour/
5 http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/paul-masons-consensus-democracy-same-old-ephemeral-new
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”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_society_(Labour_Party)
7 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/12/jeremy-corbyn-turning-blind-eye-anti-semitism-party-theresa/

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.


[i] http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/jon-lansmans-coup-in-momentum/

[ii] https://jillsmomentumblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/decisions-on-national-conference-positive-steps-forward-to-building-a-democratic-movement/

[iii] https://theclarionmag.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/michaelncforward/

[iv] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/04/thin-controller

[v] https://medium.com/@lauracatrionamurray/momentum-vs-inertia-e525c8f9e217#.e7djumgoq

[vi] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/05/trotskyist-factions-seeking-to-take-over-momentum-member-claims

[vii] https://medium.com/mosquito-ridge/why-i-joined-momentum-e2e8311ea05c#.pksd32xel

[viii] https://momentumjosie.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/nc03_12_16/

[ix] https://momentumjosie.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/nc03_12_16/

A party, within a party within…? Report of the November 5 meeting of “Momentum National Committee members”

Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists reports from the November 5 meeting of members of the Momentum national committee

Thirty-four people, including observers, attended the unofficial meeting for members of Momentum’s national committee, which was held in Birmingham on November 5 on the initiative of Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union.

This a was an important attempt to stand up to the decision by a small majority at a hastily called emergency meeting of the Momentum steering committee on October 28 to cancel an official meeting of the NC, which was supposed to take place on November 5 and make decisions on how Momentum’s first ever conference in February should be run. Instead, the SC – by a vote of six to three – decided that it should also make one of the most crucial decisions on the matter: namely, that conference should be organised not on the basis of local delegates, but ‘one member, one vote’ of the entire membership. A coup, in other words.

No wonder then that Momentum regions and branches up and down the country were livid. They had, after all, held meetings to discuss and make – mostly critical – amendments to the proposals put out by the Momentum office in early October on how to run conference. In the absence of a ‘horizontal’ line of communication between Momentum members or branches, it is difficult to know precisely what all the regions and branches decided, but, judging from posts on Facebook and the occasional report or set of minutes published, it looks like most regions favoured changes to the proposals (which, it should be stressed, did not come from the elected steering committee itself, but from Jon Lansman and a couple of his allies on the SC).

For example, many regions criticised the Omov plans and instead argued either for a delegate conference or a ‘hybrid’ and there were lots of proposals to lower the threshold needed to submit motions to conference. According to Lansman’s suggestion, a motion would need the support of 1,000 members before it could be heard at conference – an impossibility for any motion that is not supported and pushed by those having access to the database. The proposals criticising such nonsense seem to be the real reason why the NC was cancelled.

Immediately after the cancellation was announced, four Momentum regional conferences, a number of branches and dozens of individual members protested loudly against the move. Bourgeois newspapers quickly picked up on the “looming split” in Momentum, which in turn led John McDonnell to call an emergency meeting between comrades Lansman and Wrack to sort out the mess and limit the damage. Together they drafted a statement that was put to the SC on November 2 and initially attracted the unanimous support of its members. (Jill Mountford has since recanted, as “I woke up in a cold sweat and thought, I shouldn’t have signed this”, she said in Birmingham – though it is probably more likely that the cold sweat was down to a phone call from the leadership of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, of which she is a member).

The new statement, which “recognises and regrets the discontent and frustration felt by Momentum members in recent days”, gives some ground to the opposition by confirming that a new NC meeting will take place on December 3 and partially retreating on the voting arrangements for conference: “There will be both a physical delegates conference to thoroughly debate proposals submitted from the membership, and then Omov voting on the proposals in the period after the conference. The details of this procedure will be determined over the coming week.”

Yes, good luck with that. There was no such recommendation forthcoming at the Birmingham meeting – and it is doubtful whether there is any way the two methods can be combined, despite half of those present on November 5 arguing for a “hybrid”. More on that below.


Although the November 2 statement undoubtedly reduced the number of those travelling to Birmingham three days later, there was clearly still a strong desire to discuss what had happened and how similar undemocratic moves by a small leadership (whose democratic credentials are shaky, to say the least) can be avoided in the future.

Eighteen of the attendees at the November 5 meeting were members of the national committee. The AWL had four comrades present and there was a member each from the Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour, Socialist Appeal and Labour Party Marxists. A journalist from Socialist Worker was shown the door before the start of the meeting and, after a brief discussion, a member of the Socialist Party in England and Wales was also barred from attending.

Four members of the Momentum steering committee were present: Jackie Walker, Matt Wrack, Jill Mountford and her AWL fellow traveller, Michael Chessum. But because of the outrageous decision by the AWL to effectively support the right’s witch-hunting of comrade Walker by demoting her from the position of vice-chair of Momentum on the initiative of Jon Lansman, there is clearly a lot of bad blood between those four ‘left’ members on the SC.

Funnily enough, as the first speaker of the day, Jill Mountford started off by saying that “we shouldn’t turn on each other and witch-hunt each other”. Clearly, that was not meant as an apology to Jackie, but was perhaps intended as an attempt to stave off criticism of the actions of her own organisation.

But Jackie made her displeasure known, complaining, “The things that have happened to me have created a culture that has made the current move possible.” Too right. She was also self-critical: “Some of us have been coerced into supporting things that we wouldn’t have otherwise supported” – for example, the “lack of democracy within Momentum has been present for a long time”.

Comrade Wrack described an organisational “mess”, with “badly planned and badly run” meetings of the SC, where “outcomes are unclear and it is even less clear who will act to implement which decision”. There is a real discrepancy between the elected officers and the staff in Momentum office, “who don’t come from a labour movement background” and don’t know “that they are supposed to put into action the decisions that the elected officers have made”. He warned that this “tyranny of structurelessness” means that “people get away with all sorts”.

Speaker after speaker shared stories about the lack of democracy and, crucially, the inefficiency of the organisation. A comrade from Worcester told us how for months he pestered the office for contact details of other Momentum members locally, so he could set up a group: “Now I know there were six of us doing exactly the same thing at the same time. We all got the same reply from Momentum: silence.” Some of them actually bumped into each other when they were distributing Momentum leaflets at the same event.

Of course, Jon Lansman and his allies on the SC have used the fact that about a third of Momentum members are currently not organised in branches as a reason to push through Omov. In fact, like so many problems with the organisation, this is the fault of the leadership of Momentum, which is clearly not facilitating the organisation of local groups. If anything, the opposite is taking place: local groups are not allowed to send out their own emails (they all have to go through Momentum nationally), they do not receive a penny from the dues of 20,000 members and are often discouraged from organising activities.

Nevertheless, despite the obvious democratic deficit at all levels, there is clearly no desire to “split Momentum”, as had been reported. “I am here because I am convinced we still have everything to play for within the organisation”, said Matt Wrack. “We can’t throw this opportunity away and this assessment colours my whole tactical approach.”

A range of proposals were put forward in a useful if rather wide-ranging brainstorming session on how to democratise the organisation in the run-up to conference: they ranged from the need to publish the SC’s minutes and to clarify that the steering committee is subordinate to the national committee; that a new SC should be elected at the next NC meeting; that the Momentum office should help setting up local groups; to, crucially, the need to challenge the current company set-up, which gives Jon Lansman as the sole director total control over Momentum’s database – and money. Michael Chessum told the meeting that he happened to be in the office when he “overheard that Momentum had given a substantial donation to the Jeremy for Leader campaign and had seconded staff and equipment”. Chessum is the treasurer of Momentum, we should add. He should – at least – have been informed of such a decision.

It seemed to me obvious that the four members of the SC who were present should take a lead in cohering these proposals into a range of motions that regions and branches could move locally in order to give direction to those calling for more democracy. However, there is so much bad blood between the four that this is not going to happen. So the proposals are now being shared online in rough format by those who attended the meeting, with people naturally stressing those things that they found most important. An unsatisfactory outcome.


Very interesting – though with an even less concrete outcome – was the discussion on ‘Omov versus delegate structure’ for conference. Speakers correctly identified that there are “two distinct visions” for Momentum: One, personified by Jon Lansman, is the idea that getting Jeremy Corbyn elected was the main thing that Momentum should do. From now on, it should exist as a centrally controlled organisation with lots of money and lots of staff that can organise lovely Facebook campaigns. Members of such an organisation can occasionally be activated to organise phone banks when the next coup or general election comes – but otherwise are nothing but “silent foot soldiers”, as Jackie Walker put it. Omov probably does look attractive to all those members who have so far been denied a real voice in running the organisation as a direct result of the lack of democracy in Momentum, as one speaker put it.

The other vision was supported by pretty much everybody in the room. This understands that “we are not a Jeremy Corbyn fan club”, as Matt Wrack put it. According to this outlook, Labour lefts need to actively organise in every ward and every Constituency Labour Party in order to remake the whole party from top to bottom if we are serious about fighting for a socialist future. Jeremy Corbyn is not going to do it for us.

A top down conference, followed by an Omov vote some time later, is, of course, designed to support vision 1, whereas a delegate structure is based on the need for active branches, discussion and debate amongst members – vision 2. These two visions are now openly clashing, with Jill Mountford warning that “Jon Lansman could not be more dismissive of local groups. He utterly rubbishes them at every opportunity – that is no secret.”

Her fellow AWL traveller, Michael Chessum, unsuccessfully tried to calm the waters by insisting that “I don’t think a lot of it is an active conspiracy, but there are also a lot of genuine mistakes and cock-ups. I don’t want this to become too personalised around Jon Lansman, who is not just a control-freak. Let’s show some good will.” He was openly laughed at and stopped talking after noticing that “everybody is rolling their eyes at me!” “You are kidding yourself if you think that Jon Lansman has learned a lesson,” warned Jackie Walker.

She is right. Vision 1 and vision 2 are clearly incompatible. Which is why it is a shame that about half the attendees in Birmingham supported the idea that conference could be run on a “hybrid” between Omov and a delegate system. A few seem actual fans of Omov, though most seem to think that “the genie is now out of the bottle”, as the SC had already agreed on such a method. “Now we have to make it work, otherwise we will have an insurgency on our hands if we try to overturn this decision at the next national committee”, said comrade Chessum (to the disdain of some AWL members, who heckled him).

The devil, of course, is in the detail – how on earth would it work? Would those at the “physical delegates conference” vote on the proposals before them on the day? If so, what if the ‘clicktavists’ at home subsequently overturned the decision of those they had delegated, many of whom are actually running Momentum locally? Who is going to implement such decisions? Would that not make Momentum even more undemocratic and ineffective? Everybody at our meeting argued against such a use of Omov.

Overall, this was a useful gathering, but it painfully underlined the need for the left within Momentum to start organising. The recent ‘mass amnesty’ of those suspended by Labour and the real possibility of an early general election make it imperative that the left gets its own house in order. This is still somewhat hampered by the fear of some in the room that this could be seen as a “split” within Momentum (which nobody argued for) or the forming of ‘a party within a party within a party’ (which is, in fact, just what is needed).

Jon Lansman’s coup in Momentum

On the evening of October 27, Jon Lansman, the sole director of ‘Jeremy for Labour’ company (renamed from Momentum Campaign Ltd in the summer), called an emergency meeting of the Momentum Steering Committee for the evening of October 28 – ie, with 19 hours’ notice. With some members who would be more inclined to push for democracy in Momentum not able to attend at such short notice (for example, Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union and Jackie Walker), the meeting decided – by a vote of six to three – to cancel the November 5 meeting of the National Committee. This NC meeting was scheduled to take decisions on the organisation of our first national conference in February 2017.

In an email issued by Momentum this morning to “local groups’ key people” the decision is justified by the fact that “some Momentum members, groups and regional network meetings had raised concerns about the organisation of the 5 November National Committee meeting, the process leading up to it and democratic representation and participation for Momentum members more broadly”.

This is true, of course … and entirely the fault of the self-same committee that is now shutting down our democracy altogether! This body gave branches and regional committees almost no time to meet and discuss proposals for the conference or to choose delegates for the November 5 meeting. In fact, most members have not even seen the various proposals on the future of Momentum and how the conference might be run.

So, to summarise, the Steering Committee has conceded that it used crassly undemocratic procedures in the recent past – and now looks to make amends by denying Momentum branches and members the chance to meet, elect delegates and impose their democratic will on our founding conference!

In addition, the Momentum Steering Committee was elected by the National Committee, which means a lower body has just voted to disallow the higher body from meeting! Both were originally convened on very shaky democratic grounds in the first place. This was partially addressed when February’s National Committee meeting decided to elect the Steering Committee for the coming six months only – ie, up to August.

But there have been no elections for a new SC. The SC has not called a meeting of the National Committee – the body empowered to actually vote for a new Steering Committee, for six months.

It’s total shambles – an affront to democracy in our movement.

One member, one vote

Lansman (pictured) also managed to push a motion through the SC which stipulates that our conference must be organised via a system of “online voting for all members” – the full 20,000 of them, one assumes!? Of course, the merits or otherwise of the various was forms of representation for the conference was to be decided by the November 5 National Committee … which has now been spiked, of course.

An excited email was sent to all members this morning from Momentum centrally. In addition to informing us of the online voting farce above, it states that, “Over the coming months, members will propose their ideas on Momentum’s aims, ethics, and structure. We will use digital technology to ensure that all members can be involved and shape Momentum’s future.

This package of measure is the very opposite of democracy. It is designed to totally atomise individual members and undermine conference as the collective decision-making body of Momentum. It underlines (once again, unfortunately) the extent to which the left has internalised the defeats of the past decades.

To add to the confusion, it is still unclear precisely what Lansman and his allies are actually proposing. Jill Mountford takes a guess that “it seems what they mean is that delegates to Momentum conference will not take any decisions but votes will instead be taken by an online ballot of all members afterwards.”

This is worse than anything Tony Blair managed to foist on the Labour Party. How could we ever again gripe about the bowdlerising of Labour Party conference democracy if we acquiesce to the travesty that Jon Lansman and his cohorts at attempting to finagle us into?

Also, we are still in the dark as to how motions might be proposed to conference. The original Lansman plan required an initial 50 signatures for a motion to progress further. After several more hurdles had been vaulted, 1000 signatures would be required for a motion to be heard by conference. Many branches and regional committees have criticised this, calling for the threshold to be lowered. It is very likely that the National Committee meeting of November 5 would have overturned restrictive stipulations like these and challenged many more of the plans of Lansman and co.

Much better to just stop the NC from meeting at all!

Distrust of the members

At the heart of this outrageous manoeuvre lies a deep, morbid distrust of the members and democracy. As SC member Jill Mountford (a member of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty) puts it in her report: “Sam Wheeler and Jon Lansman spent far too much time arguing that local groups and the regional committees were undemocratic and unrepresentative.”

Again, this is a true observation from Lansman. And again, it is monumental hypocrisy. This democratic shortfall is precisely the fault of his exclusive team who currently run Momentum. The truth is this:

  • Momentum branches are forbidden to send emails to all Momentum members in their area. All communications must be routed through Momentum nationally, presumably so the content can be vetted.
  • Momentum branches have been told not to bring their members together in constituencies and wards to work to maximise their political impact in these geographical units of the party. This makes it very hard to effectively cohere the Labour left in these locales. The official reason for this restriction is that the Labour Party does not allow the affiliation of organisations with a ‘mirror’ structure, as the rule book dubs it. But then, Momentum is not affiliated to the Labour Party, it is not a party. Its members should be working together in cohesive units, sharing experiences and discussing in their democratic local forums the direction of their national organisation.
  • Apart from sending out insipid campaigning news, the Momentum leadership does not communicate with its members. There are no minutes, no reports, no agendas of the organisation’s committees. Some “key contacts”, as they are dubbed, in some branches sometimes receive a little information. A few of these comrades forward this intel to some other people some of the time. In effect this has helped to create local cliques that monopolise key information. The vast majority of Momentum membership have no idea of who runs their organisation, what decisions they take and how.

We reiterate, this is an anti-democratic coup. An affront to democracy. Momentum’s claims to represent some sort of clean “new kind of politics” is starting to look very grimy indeed. In truth, these methods borrow heavily from Stalinism and the repressive bureaucratism of rightwing Labourism.

Click here to see Labour Party Marxists’ alternative proposals for a democratically run conference. We are currently preparing a set of proposals on how Momentum as an organisation should be run and structured democratically.

Regional networks and branches against the coup in Momentum

The London Momentum regional committee on October 29 voted by 31 to 0 (with 2 abstentions):

This meeting of the London Momentum Regional Committee censures the National Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make these decisions. We call for these decisions of the National Steering Committee to be rescinded and for the NC to proceed as originally scheduled on 5 November.

Momentum Northern Regional Network, meeting on October 30, voted with 14 votes to none:

“Momentum Northern Regional Network censures the National Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.

“We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make those decisions. The Steering Committee was elected by the National Committee on an interim basis for a now expired term and it has no right to usurp the authority of Momentum’s sovereign decision-making body.

“The Steering Committee’s decision to impose online referenda on the organisation regardless of the feedback from local branches goes against all traditions of democratic good practice in the labour movement; it is disrespectful to the many members who have worked hard to develop local branches and regional networks; it undermines our efforts to promote meaningful participation in the Labour Party; and it will turn Momentum into a top-down, officer-led organisation.

“We call for the Steering Committee’s decision regarding the format of the conference to be rescinded. We support the National Committee proceeding as originally scheduled on 5 November with full authority to decide how a conference should be organised.

“We also call for the National Committee to recall the current Steering Committee and elect a new line-up to take Momentum’s work forward until the national conference.”

South East Regional Committee meeting voted (10 for, 2 against, 2 abstentions) on October 30:

This meeting of the South East Momentum Regional Committee censures the national Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.

We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make those decisions.

We call for these decisions of the national Steering Committee on the conference and the National Committee to be rescinded and for the NC to proceed as originally scheduled on 5 November and in the event that the steering committee does not rescind its decision we support Matt Wracks call for an unofficial NC to take place on 5th November.

Eastern Region Momentum Conference, October 29

Momentum NC member John Pickard

There were about 80 present, including delegates from 13 Momentum groups. The agenda and procedure was agreed by a short ‘pre-meeting’ so that delegates had ownership of the whole process. The meeting elected myself and Dr Sue Eason (Bedford) as NC members for the Momentum Eastern region until next year’s conference. This means that Marshajane Thompson is no longer on the NC and should not be on the Steering Committee either.

We passed a resolution, moved by Ian Ilett, on the following lines:

“This conference believes that the National Committee is at present the highest democratically-elected body of Momentum and should have control over the organisation of the forthcoming national conference”.

I can’t remember the wording exactly.

The conference also condemned the postponement of the NC on November 5th.

Feedback we’ve had from delegates and visitors who were there (via Loomio) has been extremely positive. They enjoyed the conference, the discussion, the comradely mood and the general atmosphere. We were trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot and we made a fairly good job of it. We’ll do a better job next year.

from Labour Party Socialist Network

The Labour Representation Committee voted at its October 29 conference:

LRC AGM condemns the decision of yesterday’s Momentum SC to cancel the scheduled NC for 5th November and its decision to abandon a delegate conference in February.