Momentum supporters at a Liverpool fringe festival during the Labour party conference in September [Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images].
The most interesting part of this story is Jon Lansman’s claim that Momentum members are being “disenfranchised” by a decision to let elected delegates approve motions at the organisation’s conference next February.
Perhaps we should all remind ourselves that the choice was between a delegate system that would examine all motions put before it, or Mr Lansman’s hybrid plan that would mix a delegate-led conference with a computerised, ‘one-member-one-vote’ scheme that would whittle down the supportable resolutions until only three were left.
Which of those is more democratic? Ultimately, This Writer thinks the delegate system has the edge – simply because it doesn’t impose an unnecessary limit on the number of resolutions to be passed.
One wonders why Mr Lansman wanted to impose such a limit in the first place.
Jon Lansman, the founder of Momentum and a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, has promised to fight for his key role in the grassroots organisation following claims that it has been taken over by Trotskyists and could split.
In a statement to the Guardian, Lansman distanced himself from rumours he could walk away and claimed recent changes to the organisation had disenfranchised many of its thousands of members.
His first comments on the group’s internal crisis come as the activist accused of leading an alleged Trotskyist takeover said Lansman himself had first raised the prospect of a split last month.
Jill Mountford, who is on the organisation’s steering committee, said that far from being pushed out, Lansman appeared to be reacting to changes to the democratic structures which meant that he could no longer control it.
Lansman in turn indicated that he had not yet given up on the organisation he set up and whose database he controls. “Of course I’m not walking away from Momentum, but I do take the disenfranchisement of most of our 21,000 members very seriously,” he said.
A murky horizon? Momentum members are among Jeremy Corbyn’s strongest supporters, but he risks losing them, opines The Graun. This Writer disagrees [Image: Filip Singer/EPA].
What a shame: Organisers of the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting organisation Momentum appear to be splitting, with each faction claiming the other is betraying democracy.
Focus of the split is Momentum founder Jon Lansman. One group says his plans for computerised, one-member-one-vote democracy feeding into a delegate-led debate is a “slap in the face” for democracy – the other touts it as the future of democracy.
The Guardian article quoted below focuses heavily on a blog by Laura Murray, a Lansman supporter – but blows its credibility by suggesting that a meeting of Momentum’s national committee on Saturday was “to decide whether to support the one-member-one-vote (OMOV) system favoured by Lansman, or a delegate-based system… Critics have claimed that a delegate-based system will mean that the hard left will be able to control Momentum’s future direction”.
In fact, the meeting was called to discuss arrangements for the organisation’s conference in February next year, when delegates will discuss broad political and campaigning priorities for the organisation and questions of strategy and tactics relating to its involvement in the Labour Party.
It seems members decided to support a procedure in which delegates debate and approve – or reject – motions submitted by Momentum’s constituent organisations, with an online forum for all members where motions can be discussed, amendments mooted and compositing processes arranged, and an online priorities ballot.
This was the controversial part.
Mr Lansman’s proposal was for his online, one-member-one-vote method to be used to propose motions and gather supporters for them – but also to whittle them down to the six most popular motions in each of three categories – purpose, ethics and structure (and a catch-all ‘other’ category for those that don’t fit in any of them).
Delegates would debate all six proposals in each category – and vote on them – but the final say would go to members, after the conference, who would vote on only three proposals in each category, using the digital OMOV method.
Here’s the catch, though: Only the top three proposals – one for each category – would be approved.
Momentum LGBT+ co-representative Josie Runswick had this to say about it, in her own blog:
“It represents a slap in the face to the membership. What it allows, at the end of a lengthy and complex process, is asking the membership to whittle nine potential policies down to three. Just three actions to take from a national conference and months of organising work.
“It is also a slap in the face to all of the local and regional groups which have been organising, building and campaigning for the last year. It affords them absolutely no real say in the agenda of conference, and doesn’t allow their conference delegates to do any more than reduce eighteen motions to nine.
“I could not see any positives in the specifics of the Lansman proposals, so I voted against them.
“It is worth noting that electronic OMOV is still used several times in the run-up to the conference, and it also worth noting that nothing prevents conference from agreeing to put proposals to an electronic OMOV ballot of the membership. I would be minded to do this myself on some major issues.”
Contrast this with Ms Murray’s comments, in her blog:
“People who have only recently flocked into the Labour Party from other left-wing parties seek to agitate against Jon Lansman, in the hope that they can take ownership of Momentum for themselves.
It is in the context of these bitter and hurt groups that we lost any proposal to use OMOV for elections — other than for those areas of the country which don’t have local Momentum groups — and lost the proposal to use MxV to propose and vote on motions.
“These groups are unified only by their opposition to Jon Lansman and their realisation that the existing structures and processes are those which benefit themselves and their style of politics.”
What do you think?
The Guardian‘s piece scaremongers shamelessly, suggesting that under this “Trotskyite” controlled Momentum, Jeremy Corbyn could lose the group’s support. It quotes Ms Murray’s claim that “Jeremy Corbyn will inevitably make one compromise or concession that isn’t ideologically pure enough for them, and they will abandon him and Labour altogether to turn Momentum into a rival leftwing party”.
No. Momentum was created to support Mr Corbyn and the new vigour he has brought to the politics of the Left.
This seems nothing more than bleating from those who themselves sought to control the organisation undemocratically and then accused those who foiled them of exactly the same thing.
Sharp divisions have emerged within Momentum, the grassroots organisation that supports Jeremy Corbyn, following reports of an attempted takeover by Trotskyist and factional groups, an executive committee member has claimed.
Momentum’s women’s officer has written a blog claiming that members of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and others are seeking to wrest control from its founder, Jon Lansman. Laura Murray, who is also a Labour shadow cabinet adviser, has claimed that ultimately, some activists will try to force Momentum to abandon Corbyn and turn to another leftwing organisation.
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