Momentum has announced this evening that it has withdrawn its support for veteran left NEC member Peter Willsman in the vital election for nine places on Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee).
The decision comes, at least ostensibly, as a result of his comments – illicitly recorded and leaked this week – challenging the evidence and motives of some of the people behind antisemitism claims.
As analysis of the audio by the SKWAWKBOX showed, while Willsman’s comments will anger some, there was no trace of antisemitism in them – and his comments were both demonstrably accurate and severely misrepresented by those who were calling for his resignation or suspension.
A decision to withdraw support – more accurately to ‘throw under a bus’ – a colleague of long merit and service because of comments misleadingly portrayed by the Establishment media is bad enough.
A decision to do so when it puts at risk the work of years just at the point when the Labour Party is about to be put firmly back into the hands of its members is inexcusable.
And choosing to do so on a day when the Labour right and Establishment have been rocked by the exposure of two false claims about the party’s code of conduct is shameful.
Momentum is now recommending a slate of eight candidates – in a nine-place contest. If this short-sighted decision damages Willsman’s support among members yet to vote, it guarantees at least one candidate will make it onto the NEC who will oppose the key ‘democracy review’ measures that will make it near-impossible for functionaries to disempower the membership again as they did under Tony Blair.
So tight is the balance of power on the NEC at the moment that getting all of ‘the JC9’ onto the NEC is the only way to ensure that those measures are successfully sent forward for Conference delegates to approve into Labour’s rules and procedures and then implemented fully and smoothly afterward.
Not only does Momentum’s poor judgment put the electoral result at risk, it’s also an invitation for the right to try to exert pressure on Willsman’s position on the NEC now, putting the whole democracy review at risk.
Labour’s leadership must send any such attempt away with the contempt it deserves.
The responses to the announcement indicate the level of anger it has caused among Labour – and in many cases – Momentum members:
In putting the democratisation of the party at risk, Momentum has already done itself and its reputation considerable damage – a further tragedy when it could play such a vital role in raising member awareness and marshalling their support, as it did so effectively during last year’s Labour conference in Brighton.
As an added blight, this move has handed the right a PR opportunity on a platter. The attempts by Blairites and their allies to make hay from the supposed ‘divided left’ when Jon Lansman briefly stood against Jennie Formby for general secretary shows how eagerly they will seize it.
Momentum’s best chance of restoring its status lies in an immediate recognition of the views of its members and those of Labour members in general – and an immediate reversal of its reckless, short-sighted and idiotic decision.
The SKWAWKBOX asks all readers and all Labour members who have not yet cast their ballots to remember solidarity, to see the big picture and the prize at stake – and to vote, without exception, for the full slate of nine left candidates, then tweet and Facebook your choice so the ‘momentum’ of the left’s project is maintained undiminished.
That includes Momentum head Jon Lansman – there is no room for the self-indulgence of a boycott because of tonight’s decision, which would be just as damaging to the project as not voting for Willsman.
That full slate is below:
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