Excl: Willsman thumbs his nose at unsupportive Momentum exec


NEC member Peter Willsman was re-elected to Labour’s National Executive Committee on Monday, in spite of a controversial decision by a subset of officers of Momentum to withdraw support from him after mainstream media and Labour right-wingers misrepresented comments by Willsman during a meeting, which had been illicitly recorded by one of a handful of people dialling in by phone.

Willsman appears to be in combative mood, as he has just issued a statement in which he compares the politics of self-described Blairite Eddie Izzard and those of the campaign group founded by fellow NEC member Jon Lansman:

Thanks to all the comrades who voted for me.I won,despite Momentum’s huge efforts to help Eddie Izzard. I hear Eddie wants to join his politically like-minded mates in Momentum.

The withdrawal of support clearly hurt, as well as being widely condemned even by local Momentum groups furious at the decision to give credence to a media narrative of Willsman’s comments when the comments themselves contained nothing antisemitic – as even arch-critic and deputy Labour leader Tom Watson admitted during yesterday’s meeting of the committee.

The misrepresentation of Willsman’s comments led to death-threats against him.

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  1. I left Momentum when they did that to Willsman, I couldn’t believe the haste in which they dropped him! Even after they heard his comments that weren’t antisemetic they still did it! Thousands of us went on the Momentum site to state our disappointment, I left that day, a lot said they were too. I don’t know how many kept to the threat of leaving though.

    1. Understand the frustration I too contemplated leaving then decided you can’t effect change from the outside , better within.
      You can bet there will be changes as the Momentum leadership has dictated changes in the past that were very unpopular , and this throwing pepole under the bus at the first sign of trouble ( Jackie Walker ) has to stop .
      We need a solid grassroots left wing group and Momentum is it , for now, but I feel that there is change in the wind .

      1. But until there is change I’ll withdraw my membership. The process that they went through to throw Pete Willsman under the bus was anything but transparent and democratic. Then Lansman wanted the NEC to adopt all the definitions of the IHRA that prohibited any criticism of Israel’s behaviour in Palestine, and voted against Corbyn’s caveat. What’s going on?

      2. And what process is there in Momentum for achieving change, or even lodging a complaint come to that?

      3. @Hades , complaints start here


        But what process there is after that is ???? and I am still trying to find out just who is on this NCG board that made the decision and how it is possible, if at all , to hold them to account .This is as far as I can see a weakness in Momentum and it needs to be addressed.
        I’ll be asking my local Momentum group about it to see if anyone knows.

    2. They’ve had plenty of practise. Jackie Walker was a classic example. Silence over Ken and Marc. I’m sure others can add to Momentum’s list of shame. That’s why I left.

      1. Just read this Hades , but as you have left then there is little point in my earlier reply.

  2. I also left after the disgraceful lack of solidarity with Mr Willsman. I’m hopeful that momentum will rethink their priorities and, if they do, I’ll be happy to rejoin.

  3. I aggree with all you have said Pat. They will not get another penny out of me until they put this right. Throughout history appeasment of bullies and red tories has never worked and it clearly is not working now as can be seen by the results of the current capitulation.

  4. I joined Momentum because I felt there was a need for coordinated action to ensure that the members of the Labour party should have the power to determine the Party’s policies, and that Momentum was performing a vital role in this process. With the election of the #JC9 to the NEC, we are well on the way to achieving these aims. Of course, there is far still to go, but I feel that we now have a Party that will be able to reform itself, democratically, as necessary. What then is the future role of Momentum? I am not sure that there is one, and I am increasingly disappointed with the way the organisation makes policy – a process that I feel I have almost no input to. The “betrayal” of Willsman is a serious example. Because of my uncertainty in this, I shall retain my Momentum membership for the time being, but unless I find some good reason to remain, it will be for a very limited time only.

  5. I remain in Momentum because it is not those at the top of the tree that matter it’s how we formulate policies and initiatives. I voted for the nine regardless of what Jon Lansman said.

    Momentum is important what we need to do now is democratise it.

    1. Because of the democratic deficit and Lansman’s high handed ‘take it or leave it’ constitution, Momentum is only good for Labour election campaigning and TWT type cultural-pilitical events. I will stay in it for that.

      However, for Palestine solidarity work in Labour, it is actually a disorganising force. Witness Lansman’s disgraceful role on yesterday’s NEC.

      We need to create a new, mass Labour Palestine Solidarity Network to campaign within the party and to get some RELIABLE people elected on to the NEC who will back up Corbyn solidky.

      In the 1980s we had the Labour Committee in Ireland which played a good role in achieving peace in Ireland. We a similar body for Palestine now.

      Can Skwawkbox help get this off the ground? JVL might also be able to help.

      1. Perhaps a secondary objective of a Labour Palestine Solidarity network might be to organise democrats within Momentum to bring it back under proper democratic control, get some decent policies adopted and some reliable pro-Palestine NEC members and MPs elected?

      2. Just to clarify I checked with TWT and they say that , TWT has nothing to do with Momentum and is not involved with any of its decisions or policies , they do what they do and that is educate via events like TWT which Momentum attend along with many others , and like you LPT I’ve decided to stay in both
        I agree regarding Lansmans actions it stinks , but there are many good people in Momentum who could replace him ,I hope, should the opportunity arise or be engineered.( votes of no confidence ) or demonstrations at TWT this Sept ? who knows ???

  6. Poor Pete, I knew him from his graft on CLPD which is why I stood by him, he has always been for a more Democratic Labour Party for members.
    But I am afraid the old left (not by age but by the old ways of wheeling and dealing and decisions made by a few) need to change their ways; we need the democratic revolution we want for society (as we hope to transform it) on us first!
    Which is why I have argued for the grassroots left to elect the left NEC JC9 slate.
    And yesterday’s NEC clearly illustrated how some on the top table seemed to take the power for themselves?
    Perhaps Bourgeois socialism’s greatest failing when we need a left wing democratic, participatory, bottom up, revolution WITH!

  7. Footnote – when you leave you give victory to the top down bourgeois socialists – don’t give up, come back and help us transform Momentum into a grassroots-led organisation.
    Oh and if you are frustrated, in my city we have not met for 2 years – wonder if some of us have too many ideas?
    But these comments are further evidence of some of the grassroots left being turned off by constantly being told top down who to vote for, perhaps the left NEC votes should have been in the 100-120k region?

    1. Agree 100% that the ‘leaders’ telling us who to vote for demotivates members who thought they were joining a new kind of politics. Who among the nine is most likely to break rank and join a campaign to open up selections for the left slate?

  8. Just wish that Lansman would grow up – he’s a real spoilt child and a very arrogant zionist showing little loyalty. Many people struggled with voting for him and I’ve also left Momentum for similar reasons. Pete will always have my support. Joined CLPD instead.

    1. Lansman has a big voice in CLPD as well, but yes I left Momentum but stayed with CLPD.

  9. Momentum is more than Lansman and many Momentum members don’t agree with many of the decisions made at the top, so its not really fair to slag off Momentum as a whole group. The left wouldn’t be in the position it is now without the organisational skills of Momentum. You shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      1. Yes, for all the incredible good work that it has done, in the longer term, Momentum has to break free from its owner, even if it wants to change from within; which, perhaps means a new model of ownership and certainly, for me, that means a model, not in any sense controlled by Lansman. I admire the activism, expressed, for example, in the comments above by leftpoliticstoday, but perhaps the whole project, including campaigning, has to be infused with the right values from the start, otherwise look at the chaos that ensues.

        All too easy for me to say this from the table, I know. I’m new to this and I’m not a member of Momentum. Instead, I have learned about Lansman via his implicit/explicit support for Zionism, the implications of which I find deeply discomforting, disturbing, incompatible with democratic socialism.

        As others have suggested, the pattern is all too clear: Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Peter Willsman, the IHRA examples and so on and I certainly don’t think his actions have been based on some misguided view about PR.

        For me there is no such thing as a “progressive Zionist” (cf Mondoweiss – Neiman 2018). I did vote for him on the slate (as advised by SB re the importance of the democracy review) and I hope that’s the end of any support required.

  10. It appears that Momentum is a proper “work in progress”, and I apologize for that word, although it is with a small “p”! Some at the top need to be much, much more savvy than they have shown. The onslaught against Labour is nowhere near as bad as it can, and probably will get, and it is only pure nerve and strength of conviction that will win the day. I agree with the view that appeasement only encourages further attacks. Positions taken up must be defended, and faint-hearts invited to give way to those prepared to lead in the struggle. And that is something the electorate are crying out for.

  11. I left Momentum too, and told them they needed to replace their NCG with members who had a spine and weren’t cowards. Only then will I rejoin.

  12. I decided not to vote for Lansman as he left a nasty taste in my mouth since Jacky Walker. Also Momentums deafening silence on this whole issue of AA is to me a huge let down. I have decided to give up my membership although ille still attend meetings and instead donate to Sqwarkbox as I’m getting much more out of these breaking news updates.

  13. Norfolk and Norwich Momentum members rejected Lansman’s line on anti-semitism (this was preNEC meeting) and for the national organisation to apologise to Peter Willsman for their mistake in withdrawing support.

  14. At any internal election from now on – I will listen to what Sqwarkbox advises not what momentum advises. The Sqwarkbox 9.

      1. Yep, because for the moment the Democracy Review is #1 priority and Ann Black was likely to help block it. Now we have to hope Lansman sticks to the task.

  15. I too cancelled my membership of Momentum. Wholly owned by Lansman who is the Zionist worm in the socialist bud. He has to go.
    FFS Skwawkie learn the lesson, the man is self obsessed and poisonous.

  16. Momentum supports the capitalist system and the EU and opposes any transition to a socialist society.

    To further prevent any venturing beyond capitalism it distracts its members with pious door-knocking and leafleting activities and soppy festivals to cover up their policy-making impotence.

    It is also a cesspit of seat-desiring young careerists.

    I went to a meeting of Greenwich Momentum and was told to leave it and join a revolutionary communist party instead because I expressed support for public ownership becoming the dominant form of property ownership. I vaguely thought that was the constitutional aim of the Labour Party until Blair amended Clause IV!

    The members typify the journey of the Labour Left after 40 years of neoliberalism from democratic socialism to left-liberalism: a wholehearted acceptance of the capitalist system.

    So I do not know why Tony Blair and the Blairites get their knickers in a twist because the differences between Left and Right are not actually that great these days.

    I did not bother renewing after the Lansman coup a couple of years ago.

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