Democracy denied: Momentum’s online democracy platform

By Jamie Green, Lambeth Momentum activist

(Please note: the proposal referred to in this article which was deleted has now been restored)

Late last night, Momentum launched its new MxV platform – a website designed to give members a chance to deliberate and vote on motions ahead of its conference next year.

To be totally frank, I am against the concept of e-democracy: I think it promotes a passive form of participation (often called ‘clicktivism’), I think it reduces the potential for our movement to scrutinise and deliberate motions in an effective way, and this week’s poorly run National Committee ballots have already shown both of these things to be true.

Indeed, I find the whole idea of online voting as key pillar of an organisation substitutes several important tenets of democracy with a false notion that the bigger the electorate, the more democratic it is. Online ballots might have their place, but a diverse multifaceted democracy is the only worthwhile democracy in my eyes.

With this in mind, I submitted a motion which, although slightly facetious in its name (‘Abolish MxV’), was completely sincere in its criticisms of this form of decision making. It also further called for Momentum’s democratic structure to be decided by a democratic conference, where deliberation and scrutiny was offered and motions brought from local groups or other affiliated bodies to be debated.

Less than two hours after it launched, I received an email saying my motion had been removed by an admin. The reasons were apparently that whilst my ‘…contribution was valid and important’ it was ‘…on a single issue rather than actually attempting to define the organisation of Momentum’.

I’m still somewhat baffled by what counts as ‘a single issue’ and why indeed that is a bad thing. Current proposals on the site currently include unifying the process of electing local delegates to Momentum bodies and making meetings more and physically accessible – both admirable aims that I support, yet both unarguably single issues.

Other proposals include the creation of a 24 hour news channel to combat ‘MSM’ bias and advocating ‘bursting the Westminster bubble’ through members attending CLP meetings. Again, single issues but not particularly constructive ones that set the direction of the organisation.

My initial concerns on constant e-ballots and online deliberation were that they call for less commitment than attending a meeting, writing an article and generally engaging with the movement. However, it is now abundantly clear that the MxV site is also shrouded in a vague bureaucracy that sees some ideas more worthy than others and where an arbitrary line is drawn by an admin on what is acceptable.

If the idea was to make Momentum more democratic by letting anybody submit a policy with a click of a button, the fact that a click of another button from Momentum HQ can anonymously censor legitimate ideas proves it’s unlikely to be a successful one.

Let us know what you think? Write a reply? theclarionmag@gmail.com

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