By Ed Whitby, Newcastle Momentum secretary (pc) and former Northern region rep on Momentum NC
On 2 February, 13 months after the coup to abolish Momentum democracy which justified itself by claiming the organisation would hold frequent online votes, the Momentum office launched a sort of online voting system, MyMomentum.
So far the only vote granted – under the coup constitution it is almost impossible for members to initiate a vote – is on what Momentum should submit to Phase 2 of Labour’s Democracy Review.
A few days before submissions closed, Momentum said 2677 (7.5pc) of members had activated their account. It’s hard to tell exactly how many people voted as you could vote for multiple proposals; probably less than half of that (the most “nominated” proposal got 114 votes).
I am the web-literate secretary of a Momentum group but I found the process confusing. Anecdotally, many members didn’t receive the email to activate their account or any notification. Most importantly, there was no attempt to get wide discussion among members and in local groups which could have made an online vote meaningful.
Despite my scepticism, I gave it a go. After discussing with Stop the Labour Purge comrades, I submitted a 250 word proposal on reversing unjust expulsions and suspensions and transforming the party’s disciplinary system (see here). Despite being one of the last submitted – less than two days before the deadline – it came second out of 120 proposals.
Momentum’s guidance said the “most popular” proposals in each category would go to an online ballot – with the sting that they would first go to the National Coordinating Group to produce “final versions”.
I received an email from the Momentum office saying that an “NCG panel” had considered my proposal and, essentially, rejected it. It flagged up the “Charter of Members’ Rights” the NCG (NCG panel?) submitted to MyMomentum – which had received precisely zero votes!
According to the staff member who contacted me, the unnamed panel disagreed with the basic planks of my proposal. What forcefully struck me was that they opposed deletion of the first part of Rule 2.1.4.B (autoexclusion for anyone who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party”) on the grounds that “this could benefit groups opposed to the party”.
I don’t know what that means. The clause in question is a Blairite outrage clearly put in the Rulebook in order to allow expulsion of anyone they don’t like and feel strong enough to purge. It could, if you read what it says, be used against members of Momentum (or indeed, strictly logically, Progress) as well various political campaigns. It is only ever used against the left.
The right don’t feel so strong now, but it is not long ago we heard calls to ban Momentum!
I was asked to suggest amendments to their Charter. This was somewhat difficult given I’d already been told all the substantive demands of my proposal were rejected.
This fiasco has exposed both the limitations of “e-democracy”, and the attitude of Momentum’s “leadership” towards alternative proposals. An unaccountable “panel” simply ignored the second most popular. You can only presume that those who run the organisation do not want to fight expulsions and suspensions. Momentum members should call to them account.
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