Breaking: Grassroots Black Left endorses JVL’s NCC candidate, attacks Momentum

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Grassroots Black Left (GBL), which entered the political arena last autumn at a parliamentary launch featuring Labour MPs Clive Lewis and Chris Williamson and is affiliated to CLPD (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy), has just issued a statement expressing serious concerns about the process used by key left-wing organisations for selecting its ‘slates’ – and going as far as suggesting institutional racism in the process on the part of Momentum.

The statement is also highly critical of CLPD, but supports Jewish Voice for Labour member Stephen Marks – the candidate to whom Jon Lansman objected and whom Momentum has not included in its slate.

GBL, working with the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), Red Labour and as Momentum members and supporters, has attempted to use the mechanisms of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) to help forge Left unity in the deciding of left slates for Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Constitutional Committee (NCC).

This has been thwarted by the undemocratic back-room deal making of the leadership of CLPD and Momentum, insistent on the stitching up of the process between themselves. We would have thought the CLPD leadership would have learnt their lesson after the serious breach in Left unity caused by the Momentum leadership most recently withdrawing its support for Peter Willsman, CLPD’s secretary, being on the left slate for Labour’s NEC.

The genuine support of CLPD and Momentum for the self-organisation of under represented groups, including Black people, requires them not to hand-pick tokens but to accept those people put forward by organisations like CLPD’s Black affiliate, Grassroots Black Left and Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL). JVL supports Jewish representative Stephen Marks for the NCC slate and so do LRC, CLPD and GBL. We note the statement that said: “The LRC continues to have serious concerns about how left slates are constructed, whether by the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, or parts of it, particularly the way in which Black candidates are hand-picked by predominantly white organisations with no reference to organisations of Black members.”

GBL’s parliamentary 2017 launch

While we welcome African, Caribbean and Asian comrades being on Left slates, they must be truly representative and accountable to the communities they serve. GBL was not consulted, and to our knowledge, nor was any other Black organisation, about the inclusion on the slate of any of these candidates and therefore cannot vouch for them. We note many prominent Black groups and individuals have written in protest to the Momentum leadership about concerns they have, effectively calling it out for institutional racism. How this matter, including the issue of truly representative and accountable Black representation on the left is resolved will decide whether the CLGA survives. The unity of pro-Jeremy Corbyn organisations and Left groups is seriously under threat. If that unity cannot be maintained Left organisations will end up going their separate ways with disastrous consequences for the Corbyn project and its prospects of forming a Labour government.

Momentum and CLPD have been contacted for comment.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The deficiencies in the selection process are beyond serious dispute. Both Labour and CLPD have urgent work to do to address those flaws and to ensure that the process properly enfranchises members and gives an appropriate voice to those from minorities.

Both organisations no doubt have the will and willingness to do so, but Thurday’s events have revealed the urgency of addressing all the issues and creating a process that genuinely empowers the grassroots of the movement.

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  1. We’re divided quite enough by our geographic location I think. Constituencies and wards at least used to make some sense when transport was onerous and before electronic communication.
    Further dividing ourselves by religion or ethnicity or occupation or this bee in that bonnet – what’s the logic in that when what we need above all else is solidarity?

    We’ve all signed up to Labour’s constitution and we all on the left want Corbyn as PM. That’s enough for me – I’ve no interest in putting my location’s interest above another’s, my atheism over your religion or my race or gender above yours.
    If we believe in the equality we signed up for why do we feel the need to divide ourselves into competing groups?
    It’s completely nonsensical.

    Bring on nationwide all-member videoconferencing and voting and let’s have an end to petty factionalism – after we’ve re-written the constitution to be socialist enough that it forces the Blairites to split.

    1. Great this is all we need. I am funnily tinged but first and foremost I am a Socialist who fights for the underdog. Be careful what you wish for since there are loads of slick, smooth Vaz’s out there let’s find some more Abbott’s etc. It really is time for unity. For heavens sake people are dying. Regards.

  2. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know all these acronyms and different splinter groups but it seems tto be proving the Right right that this is how the Left ends up. The Left eating itself. How many times I’ve heard that jibe, lol. Momentum institutionally racist?! Really?! All turning on each other now is it? Great headlines “Corbyn backing Momentum are institutionally racist says Black grassroots Labour group”. This because they have endorsed Black and Asian people who didn’t come from Grassroots Black Labour? Which black people did GBL put forward? Or did they not? I don’t know how this works. Maybe it doesn’t work like that but I only read here that GBL back Jewish Voice for Labour’s Stephen Marks, is he black? If GBL is saying they want to be more involved in picking representative candidates for left slates? They should have that right yes I agree. Also should have that right when the Right slates/Progress are picking their people. I do think it’s important to have people from different regions of the country represented though too. Which is what Lansman mentioned too.

    So, Momentum membership elect a committee and that committee then select the slate that Momentum backs… The slate that they backed is very similar to the slate another splinter group has backed (CLPD ? Is that correct?) I think there’s like one of two different peoole.




    How do the ‘nominee s’ of the slates get chosen in the first place?
    People put themselves forward or these splinter groups put people forward? Or certain groups/people pick them?

    ALso, in my opinion there is no way Momentum could continue backing Pete Willsman after that tape came out All over the mainstream media and all the fallout that came with it. And in the middle of the whole AS crisis. Come on.

    1. The ‘how’ is the problem. It’s a very opaque process. There was nothing a/s in Willsman’s comments in the leaked recording – analysis was published on the blog.

      The two slates have a 50% overlap.

    2. 2 people I often email (1 in Wales, 1 in London) turned out to have known Willsman over a long time – both said he’s a very OK guy. Willsman said nothing anti-Semitic . Listen carefully to the tape. He said that dastardly oh so anti-wotsit in a closed meeting, NOT shouting his mouth off in public with perhaps a swear word.
      Read the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s output re the a/s attack on JC by people who may be worried that a pro-Palestine UK Government might happen.
      At a gathering in the sticks, Lansman spoke re a/s being there in the Labour Party in a very certain manner, yet none of us at that table knew of any, and I’ve not heard of any such amongst contacts in Labour Party. Lansman’s manner concerned me at the time.

  3. All these acronyms combined as a whole are mind numbing. My mind just switches off.

  4. Crikey, the trolls are out in force already!

    This is a serious issue, that deserves to be discussed, not dismissed and played with. To trivialise it reflects the inherent racism of the right.

    GBL echo the serious questions that Skwawkbox and others have raised, and argue forcefully and convincingly that action is needed.

    1. Andrew, if you thought my post dismissive of GBL then I expressed myself badly.
      I didn’t intend to imply that anyone should shut up about their concerns – I was bemoaning the fact that, as a party, we’re not as socialist and inclusive as we ought to be.

  5. As I’ve made the point elsewhere, the argument that ‘we’re all the same’ leads to ambulant disabled people standing at the BOTTOM of steps to public buildings AND to the non-recognition that other minorities or excluded groups face additional challenges to being included in all sorts of processes. If [so-called] socialists cannot see that, they need to question why.

    1. Are you sure the ‘to each according to his (sic) needs’ principle doesn’t cover everyone?
      If we’re so-called socialists I mean?

  6. Priorities, comrades: (1)JC4PM, (2) An elected Socialist Labour Government – When these objectives are achieved, it follows that factional differences can be discussed and changes implemented – Fail to achieve our prime objective and we shall all have many years in the political wilderness to squabble amongst ourselves and not make two pence worth of difference to the plight of people we have pledged to serve as responsible Socialists … We really do not need to shoot ourselves in the foot after all the work and commitment that has brought us so close to success. Many of the hard yards have been done but it is only united and together that we will finally cross the line

  7. Identity politics, the gift that keeps on giving… to the Right.

    As a poster above said, “to each according to his [sic] needs” is a basic and long-standing principle for socialists. Amongst the working class as a whole, there are differences, there always has been, but that doesn’t mean that those differences are above the principle of solidarity and class unity. However, that said, class unity doesn’t mean that we ignore such differences, just that unity is our most important aim and weapon against discrimination in all its forms. If we unite, we’re in a *serious* position to deal with these issues.

    While we squabble and find any excuse not to unite, the Right will just seize the moment. Then what will we have achieved other than enlarged egos?

    1. I am not attacking either here but surely, by now we realise that the tiniest disagreement is turned into a civil war and the reptiles can use it as more ammo. Just in passing I’ve never heard any a/s from anyone in the Labour party and I am heading swiftly to the furnace. Viva Venezuela.

  8. It seems to me that Lansman is the problem. You may remember the problems he caused at the time of the election of the General secretary, and then there was the Pete Willsman situation. He must either stop being a problem or he should be forced out by Momentum.

  9. It’s the Class War. Everything can be resolved after victory over the Tories and their Quisling. Any more alpha spaghetti and the confusion will lead to liquidation. It’s happened before, many times.

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