I’d like, briefly, to offer my thoughts on what is happening with Central Momentum. I think there is need to read between the lines on the proposals set out in their recent email and included as a blog post here.
Momentum’s strength is grassroots enthusiasm and motivation. A wide range of people motivated to involve themselves in politics as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign during the summer of 2015.
The aim of local Momentum groups should be to facilitate inclusive participation. In which anyone can come a long and contribute to discussion on a range of local, national and global issues. It is also is an opportunity for people to become involved in campaigns.
Campaigning is more complex, there are local issues: public transport, housing etc.; there are local and national issues, for example, NHS and education. There are national issues, such as, defence and economics. And there are global issues like war, environment, refugee crises and inequality.
A further complexity is the relationship between Momentum and the Labour Party. This is partly defined by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, but at the same time constrained by the rules and regulations of the Labour Party. The tension here is that Momentum is a more inclusive. There is no reason why anyone with any political persuasion or affiliation can contribute to and participate in Momentum. The same thing would be unlikely in the Labour Party.
The proposals made by the Central Momentum group are a response to media pressure and to criticisms made by senior figures in the Labour Party. Accusations have been made about lack of organisation and questions raised over its intentions, particularly in relation to facilitating the far left (whatever that might mean) and the deselection of Labour MPs associated with New Labour and the Blair/Brown project.
This has made it necessary to act and produce a plan for central organisation. It is sooner than would have happened had (unfounded) criticisms not been so public. There is a danger that central organisation could undermine the grassroots projects developed by local Momentum groups. Authority once centrally constructed through process and regulation has a habit of doing such things. I suggest that Central Momentum are aware of this.
It is necessary that local Momentum groups continue to concentrate on local activism and organisation and not become too preoccupied with central organisation. Of course it is important that we contribute our views and try and shape the whole organisation. Overall Momentum should continue to be about encouraging participation in politics.