Campaign group’s attempt to force candidates to sign up to pledge sparks anger among other left organisations
Momentum yesterday sparked anger among delegates from other left groups at a meeting that was meant to finalise the left ‘slate’ of candidates for the National Executive Committee (NEC) to be elected by members at the same time as the ballot for leader and deputy leader of the party.
Frustrated ‘CLGA’ members accused Momentum founder Jon Lansman and his organisation of holding up the decision on the slate when local parties have already begun nominating candidates – but have also complained about the group’s approach concerning a statement to which Momentum is demanding all candidates sign up.
Delegates have told the SKWAWKBOX that they arrived for yesterday’s meeting with no idea of what the statement would contain and were therefore unwilling to agree that it should be mandatory for left-slate candidates. Momentum had not decided which candidates it wanted to back and the meeting broke up without any decision.
And when the statement was eventually circulated today, its contents have caused even greater concern:
Statement of Candidates for Momentum’s support in Internal Elections, 2020
Momentum is supporting candidates for the NEC who support the following statements:
Rebecca Long-Bailey is the best candidate to be leader of the Labour Party and our next Prime Minister.
We need a Labour Government with a transformative vision for the country and a programme incorporating the broad content
and spirit of the 2019 Manifesto as a core overriding political priority.
Significant further democratisation of the Party is necessary to empower members, individual and affiliated. This must include
(a) open selections of all candidates for public elected office;
(b) a member-led policy making process at every level – to determine the party’s programme for government, policies for our regions and nations, and all local government areas;
(c) properly resourced political education in the Party; (d) a professional and accountable party staff operation; and
e) working within communities and harnessing our link with trade unions to become a year-round campaigning force in every constituency, a different type of party, organising within communities and workplaces.
Clear and unambiguous support for the Labour Party policy of promoting equality, tackling under-representation and challenging all discrimination on the basis of gender, age, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability or religious beliefs. While the Labour Party is the strongest vehicle in society for delivering transformative change, our historic record in opposing discrimination is imperfect and contradictory, and there is no room for complacency when combatting forms of prejudice which exist in society.
Our candidates commit to not seeking any elected position which would be incompatible with NEC membership & full participation in the term for which they are standing.
Delegates have told the SKWAWKBOX of their unease at what one described as the ‘totalitarian’ nature of the list:
We didn’t know what Jon [Lansman] was demanding until after the meeting and now we’ve seen it, it’s deeply concerning. Whichever candidate you support for the leadership, being told that you have to support a particular one to be a candidate for the NEC before any leader has been elected is totalitarian.
As for demanding democracy, Momentum is criticised all the time for its lack of democracy and it’s only just finished giving members a vote that had only one name each for leader and deputy leader.
Another felt that CLGA delegates and NEC members were being none too subtly boxed into supporting the list of ten demands by the Board of Deputies (BOD):
We’re an anti-racist party and nobody who’s going to be in a position to be a candidate for the NEC is going to think discrimination of any kind is acceptable.
But Jon’s statement is clearly meant to put candidates in a position that will tie their hands if the BOD list is put to the NEC under the new leader, even though a lot of people have grave reservations about the demands, whether they discriminate against minority Jewish groups and whether some of them are lawful for other reasons.
Jon Lansman is managing Rebecca Long-Bailey’s leadership campaign. Both have supported the BOD’s list of ‘pledges’, as have the other candidates for the leader’s position.
Delegates also raised the Momentum demand that candidates agree not to seek elected positions, pointing out that Momentum supported two NEC members in their successful general election bids and that Lansman himself was on the NEC when he tried to become Labour’s general secretary.
Momentum was contacted for comment about its statement and its expectation that candidates will agree to it. Jon Lansman has told the SKWAWKBOX that he does not wish to receive requests for comment.
Momentum earlier issued a statement in response to criticism of the delay:
We’re still going through our open process for selecting candidates while also campaigning full tilt for the left to win in the leadership election. Momentum NCG members will be at the CLGA meeting on Tuesday and hope to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.
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