Momentum S B’ham praises Lansman – but supports Formby for GenSec

Momentum South Birmingham logo

Momentum South Birmingham is on good terms with Momentum founder Jon Lansman and his NEC supporter Christine Shawcroft – last Sunday, she was speaking at an event it organised for Birmingham Labour members and supporters.

However, after a vote at the same meeting it has issued a statement supporting Unite’s Jennie Formby for the position of Labour General Secretary – yet again showing the falsehood of the media’s depiction of recent events as a ‘union/Momentum split’ – and describing, amid high praise for his contribution and capabilities, Jon Lansman’s decision to apply for the position as ‘a mistake’:

It is a testament to how far we have come since September 2015 that there is even a debate about two left-wing candidates for the post of General Secretary and that both are outstanding.

Momentum South Birmingham owes it’s existence to Jon Lansman and there is little doubt that his role over the years, of firstly keeping the flame burning of socialism in the Labour Party despite defeat after defeat, and then being so central to the astonishing progress that the left has made since the election of Jeremy Corbyn, has been a key one and will continue to be key. Without Momentum, and Jon Lansman, it is very clear that the Corbyn project would have been strangled at birth and we should never, ever forget that.

Jon would make an exceptional general secretary and his motivations for standing are we are sure unquestionably good and democratic ones; but MSB members, after a decisive vote at our 4th March branch meeting, are of the view that Jenny Formby should be the next general secretary of the Labour Party.

Jenny has shown over the years an exceptional aptitude for this kind of role and it is high time we had a woman in a senior party position. Her politics are clearly and consistently of the radical left and it is right that Unite, the biggest affiliated union, plays a major role in the future direction of the party of the organised working class.

The stakes right now could not be higher. We have an historic opportunity to make permanent changes to the party and build a mass movement rooted in workplaces and communities, and takes office with a plan to transform society on socialist principles. But we mustn’t think that the left’s current ascendancy is permanent or anything more than fragile. As we know in the West Midlands, the task of changing the party at every level is enormous. Just modest improvements have taken protracted and draining struggle and we have not been able to relax for even a moment.

We will only succeed in our mission of party and socialist transformation if the Labour left is united and right now there is no room for complacency – and sadly having two left candidates competing for the role is not an indulgence we can afford. If the right were thoroughly routed and we had an enormous majority on the NEC then we could consider a selection of candidates. We are not in that position yet. And while the rules may allow for an exhaustive NEC ballot the signal a that a single left candidate would send is a strong and positive one.

The media stories about a Momentum/Unite split fill MSB members with horror, particularly as many of us are proud members of both organisations. The future of the project hinges on ensuring that any split is firmly nipped in the bud and we have seen over and over again locally the importance of Momentum’s relationship with the union. To take one prosaic example, we took the decision to endorse Jenny in the Unite offices in Birmingham.

MSB seeks to retain it’s comradely relationship with the Momentum national office and Jon Lansman, and we would be diminished without that. But the power of friendship is the ability to tell a friend when they are making a mistake, and we believe Jon’s candidacy at this moment is a mistake. The left needs to unite behind one candidate and that candidate should be Jenny Formby.

We offer her our full support and urge Jon Lansman to re-consider his decision to stand.

In solidarity


The strength of the Labour movement is in unity – and the resurgence of that strength can be seen in the ability of members who disagree to deal in good faith with each other and still disagree.

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  1. If Jon Lansman’s highest priority is to return a Corbyn led Labour government then he will abide by the leader of the party’s wishes and withdraw from the contest.

    If it isn’t, he won’t.

    It really is that simple.

    His showboating is causing nothing but division and is handing the right wing media an opportunity to attack and traduce the Labour Party.

    In that sense he is aping the tactics of the Blairites.

    1. Blimey I.A , Jon L , acting Blairite ,,,,, mate take a deep breath and think , , it is way too much of a stretch to make . Nope I profoundly disagree with you on this one re JL and aping Blairites .
      Heenan 73 comment is very incisive , re quit bullying the guy and SB needs to stop this behaviour to. It’s not a good signal to be sending out as I have said several times before on this issue.
      Let the democratic process run with the NEC and they will Vote on it . Iam still of the firm opinion we as the membership should have a direct OMOV on this but as that is not the case then at least let others stand without the continuous agro .
      I hope Jenny wins and JL remains in his post on the NEC BUT let the guy run it’s his democratic right .To do otherwise ,,, well now that would be a Blairite style stitch up

      1. I haven’t accused Lansman of being a Blairite, I am claiming that the consequence of his behaviour is the same as the consequences of the behaviour of the Blairite saboteurs of the Labour Party.

        My claim is sound and is supported by ample evidence, and so I stand by every word.

        Whilst I also do not accuse him of intending those same outcomes, his intention is materially irrelevant as the same damage is being caused to the party.

      2. Ok I.A I didn’t say you had accused JL of being a Blairite and we are agreed on that , just the rise in rhetoric that JL is aping Blairrtes that I disagree with you on .
        His decision to stand cannot ( I believe ) be evidence of aping the Blairites , but if there was some backroom stitch up that prevented anyone else from standing and he was party to that ,then yes that in my opinion would be acting like Blairites.
        Re the damage to the party , yep it’s exactly what I thought the MSM and others anti COrbyn /left would say and use it for .It’s something I feel we will have to live with and we are well used to it on the left , are we not ..But it’s his democratic right to stand as it is for anyone else who might want to . And this is my concern , at grass roots level we have some great new people now in JC’s labour and seeing the way in which JL has been attacked I fear might put them off from coming forward for other posts as they become vacant ( I hope not ) .

        By all means stand by your comments as I will by mine and it’s regrettable that we are even having this type of conversation on the left but Lansman has decided to stand , as is his right and he should be allowed to do so without unfair and continuous criticism until he capitulates and stands down .
        BTW I am no fan of JL but it’s the principle of democratisation that I am concerned with .
        In Solidarity

      3. Those are fair and well made points, Rob.

        But they do not change the fact that Lansman’s challenge is motivated by personal political ambitions and not the interests of the Labour Party.

        He was specifically asked not to stand by the leadership.

        We need a GS who puts party first for a change. That person is self evidently not Jon Lansman.

        That is why I think he should withdraw, before he does any further damage to the Labour Party.

        Stand down Jon.

  2. On the other hand, he may just happen to believe that he is the best person for the job. I disagree, just as I disagreed with the Brexit vote.
    But – just as with Brexit – I want us to practice the democratic principles we happily blether on about.
    We should stop bullying the guy, and let him stand. If – as we endlessly claim – we trust Mr Corbyn and those we elected to NEC, then we should all butt out and trust them to make the right decision.
    “the signal a that a single left candidate would send is a strong and positive one” – No. It isn’t. It’s a strong and negative one, signalling that Momentum – and others – prefer stitch-up and bullying to a fair and open contest.
    What a gift to the MSM and and the tories. And believe me, they’ll throw it back at us, possibly doing immeasurable harm.

    1. We are preparing for government.

      We need order and discipline, not self indulgent showboaters engaging in gesture politics.

      We have got the Blairite saboteurs running around doing as much damage as they can to the Labour Party, the last thing we need is people like Lansman doing the same from the left, albeit unintentionally.

      Now he is aware of the damage he is causing he should withdraw.

      Anyone who knows Lansman personally or professionally knows he isn’t up to the job, so the let him stand for democracy’s sake argument doesn’t wash with me, 73. One might as well argue a lampshade should run, if it isn’t capable of doing the job what is the point of running?

      1. You contrive to miss the main point of my post, which is the damage done to Labour if the Left is seen to be ‘fixing’ – and fixing by bullying at that.
        But I’ll answer your point: If you are seriously suggesting that Lansman’s abilities equate with those of a lampshade, then you clearly know nothing of Lansman’s abilities.
        I rhope – and fully expect – Formby to win, but much better to win fair and square in an honest contest. Better for her, better for the Left, better for Labour.
        There should be no place for bullying. Anywhere.

  3. Lansman’s decision to be silent during the witchunt against the expelled Walker, his dismissal of Galloway as “an anti-semite”, and his backing by Wes Streeting; when seen against the faux-rumpus kicked up two years ago in the Press about Formby’s “controversial” backing of Palestinians – cannot but raise questions as to whether the matter in hand is domestic versus foreign policy. It is on foreign policy that the core of the two year undivided hatred against Corbyn from the msm and within Westminster on both sides of the house, has come. Is Lansman really unaware he could be testing a united anti-monetarist privatisaton austerity at home, against serious criticism of Nato-Israel-America-Gulf States UK support abroad?The Euston Group with John Spellar etc are busy still in Hayter’s gloating 2004 spilling of beans about how the Right scoured the Left, as they thought, from the Labour Party, is required reading. Details, details, application: seek a majority of one with your quiet dealings, one is enough. But this is not about Israel, though it is forefronted by the Right as that. It is about oil, about the bombing of Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, the suppression of the Arab Spring, the restoration of Blair’s chum Sisi as even more dictatorial than his chum Mubarak. It is about onward to Iran; about the BBC having Rasmussen from Nato on saying if Corbyn won “there would be dancing in the Kremlin.” Yes, there is a lot of money about, and what is at stake should out in the open, not an elephant in the room for those old enough to see repetitions.

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