‘Momentum Organisers’ and ‘Your Momentum’ slates will likely be the key battle – but who are they and what do they stand for?
‘Slates’ of candidates put forward by two rival groups, with two very different outlooks and philosophies, are likely to be the main contenders battling for control of Momentum as the campaign group holds elections for its ‘NCG’ leadership committee later this month: ‘Your Momentum‘ and ‘Momentum Organisers‘. So who are these groups, what do they stand for and how do they differ? Skwawkbox takes a look below.
The core difference between the two groups, at least as far as those are public, centres on the relative priority of democracy and organising. Your Momentum (YM), which is largely an amalgam of the current NCG – which campaigned in the last NCG elections as the ‘Forward Momentum’ ‘change’ slate and swept the board – and local Momentum campaign groups broadly supportive of what the NCG has achieved so far and where it wants to go, is committed to maintaining and extending member democracy, including a firm commitment to letting Momentum members vote directly on which candidate the group will back in any future Labour leadership elections.
The Momentum Organisers (MO) group, by contrast, is critical of what it says has been an overly inward-looking focus on internal democracy and wants to switch to “prioritising organising above all else”, which its critics say means it has an interest in curtailing member democracy and restoring the old central ‘command and control’ model with superficial democracy despised by many member under founder Jon Lansman. Under that management, Momentum ended up backing Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner in the last Labour leadership contest instead of, for example, the more left-wing Richard Burgon as an option for deputy, with members given little practical say after the group put only a joint Long-Bailey/Rayner slate to the members. Almost half rejected it. However, two people involved in the MO project said in a recent article on the centrist-friendly LabourList website that the current NCG’s move to prevent a repeat of that farce was welcome, while attacking the overall focus on democracy as playing into the Labour right’s hands.
YM believes Momentum should be led from the grassroots and is grappling with how to build such an organisation with all its challenges. The group wants Momentum to be involved in internal Labour party work but also in supporting trade union struggle and community campaigns with the aim of building a broad socialist movement in the country.
MO, on the other hand, is much more exclusively focused on organising within the Labour party, despite the obvious issue that well over 200,000 left members have already abandoned the party in disgust at Keir Starmer’s war on members, his Establishment fetish and his fostering of right-wing racism.
YM’s commitment to democracy means that it is not guaranteeing a place on its slate for any existing NCG members – instead it is holding a gathering on 12 June at which anyone committed to its values can put themselves forward and member votes will decide who stands. The process by which MO will choose its slate is currently unknown.
As noted above, YM is a coalition of existing leaders and local groups. Not many of those involved in Momentum Organisers appear to have broken cover so far. However, the group set up a WhatsApp group for supporters and two of the admins in that group are, or were when it was set up, employees of Sam Tarry and Nav Mishra, front-benchers under Keir Starmer and two MPs considered very close to Angela Rayner.
MO also involves former Momentum staff members and others hostile to the current NCG and its aims and close to founder and Lansman. Critics say that the new MO campaign is strongly reminiscent of the message put forward in the last NCG election by the ‘Momentum Renewal’ Lansman-front group, which ran under that name despite consisting of the Lansmanite ‘old guard’ and was run by a team of Raynerite ‘fixers’, and which also took over an old ‘official’ Momentum page for its campaign to access a wider base of followers.
Those who remain members of Momentum will have an opportunity in the next few weeks to decide not just the focus but the whole ethos of the group and whether it will withstand the onslaught of Keir Starmer and his faction or be crushed or even assimilated.
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