What’s a Momentum?

By Callum Salfield, Momentum Chesterfield and North Derbyshire and Labour Party activist

(This was written before the Momentum grassroots conference on 11 March)

In recent times I’ve become a little disillusioned with all that is going on with Momentum nationally. My thoughts have been wondering and I find myself, over and over and over again, asking myself “What are we?” and “What do we do?”. I’m not sure is the only honest answer I can give. Hopefully in writing down my thoughts, and having them ripped to shreds by my comrades (just kidding, but you know what I mean), I may end up getting to an answer I’m happy with. Either way at least I will know.

Some of you will know I’ve been quite vocal about my disagreement with the recent turn of events which is resulting in a new NCG and possibly a second structure (somehow intertwined or not?) however I would like that to stay out of this as we discuss it enough elsewhere. Lets leave that aside for a minute and concentrate on what Momentum is for.

I’m not as lucky as some and seem to live in a Progress hotbed. The Branch and Constituency Labour Parties I am a member of aren’t exactly welcoming to Corbyn supporters, especially if you are a Momentum member. Most of the officers are also Councillors and they seem to not want any help at all outside of door-knocking. They say no when I ask to put on Labour campaign stalls on the National campaign days. I reply along the lines of “Well we are going to have a stall and would you PLEASE email the other Labour members to come along”. They reply along the lines of “We are going to concentrate on door to door canvassing and will spread the message there”. We have the stalls anyway and the public love it and say things like “It’s great to see the Labour Party our campaigning for the NHS”. I offer to help out with many things and nearly always my help is declined. I don’t understand why but I’m told they think I’m after the membership list. It’s not a nice party to be a part of and that’s not good for anyone. Anyway enough about where I’m coming from and back to the question. What is a Momentum for?

So some of my thoughts:

  • Momentum is not and never should be a political party, this does not mean it can’t have democratic structures but it should never have candidates.
  • As individuals, Momentum members, need to support Labour candidates once selected (unless they are truly awful) even if we don’t agree with all their politics or views on Corbyn. We, as Labour members, need to make sure we select “better” candidates. The way to achieve this is having more left leaning people winning positions in Branches and CLPs and winning more seats on the NEC. We then need to make sure we have good, preferably local people willing to run for these candidate selections. Getting left leaning Labour members out to selection meetings and engaged in the entire process will improve the candidates the Labour Party produce. Education doesn’t have to just mean putting on political discussion talks and although these are vital they can be done by the Labour Party itself, our Momentum education should be geared towards getting people involved and active in local Labour Party. So I guess I’m saying for now we should bite our tongue a little but that can’t last forever so we need to tackle these internal issues ASAP.
  • However maybe as Momentum we should not be campaigning for any clearly anti Corbyn candidates. We can still do that as Labour members (most of us) but Momentum as an organisation should be looking at the Labour Party and what can be changed there. Outward facing campaigns are great but again we can do those as Labour. As momentum we should be organising and educating and I mean getting more people involved in democracy at a grass roots level, get more people to Labour Party meetings and start to hit the establishment where it hurts – in the bureaucracy.

(Some of my thoughts although similar do conflict!)

  • Should we be discussing and should we be developing policy, on both local issues and nationally? This one I’m really unsure about as I’m new to politics outside of my old union branch I don’t know even how we would get the Labour Party to adopt it other than campaigning for it directly to Labour members and getting it passed, as motions, through the BLPs, CLPs and onwards? Organisations like the TUC are able to exert some pressure on the Labour Party to back some policies, could we do that at a national level? Sorry a lot more questions than answers so far on this thought.

Now I’d like your thoughts. So please tell me in your opinion what’s a Momentum?

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

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