This Saturday: will Momentum’s NCG make the right call on democracy?

15288450_364576653887728_1361145226147083901_o

By The Clarion editors

On Saturday 1st December, Momentum’s National Coordinating Group (NCG) will discuss and vote on motions concerning the democratisation of the organisation. These motions are likely to vary considerably, and if a recent petition is anything to go by, some may use the language of “democratisation” to actually imply the further stifling of debate.

One of the motions on the agenda, sponsored by and with input from an elected member of the NCG, was submitted by activists from Dudley Momentum. Much of the text comes out of a Momentum Democracy Charter recently drawn up by editors of the Clarion for the consideration of local groups. We believe this motion, which we publish in full below, would potentially represent some very positive changes.

Entitled ‘Democratise and revitalise Momentum’, it makes a number of key demands, many of which Clarion contributors and activists have been calling for since the Momentum “coup” of January 2017. This includes establishing a national decision-making conference, re-establishing proper regional structures, and ensuring a majority of the NCG is directly elected by members.

While the motion doesn’t contain everything dissenting voices might wish for, e.g. around officer requirements, the proposals are nevertheless a blueprint for radical democratic reform of the organisation, spreading power from the centre.

Top figures in the Momentum office have started to recognise that current arrangements are simply no longer sustainable for a growing organisation of around 40,000 members. Elsewhere, national Momentum is now doing more of the things we’ve long called for with, for example, greater support for strikes. However, this motion represents a significant shift that the Momentum leadership would be uncomfortable with, rolling back much of what the 2017 constitution imposed and moving away from the current top-down, passive model of engagement.

Given this, and given we don’t have a great deal of time, please share this and contact your regional NCG representatives now. Ask them, regardless of closeness to the leadership, to support the key aspects of the motion and to vote against any attempts to make NCG elections biennial, as has been mooted.

If the motion passes, or if elements of it pass – great! If it doesn’t or if proposals are severely watered down or not properly implemented, we hope it will form a launchpad for renewed conversations around greater democracy within Momentum. Regardless, if we win the key demand of a national decision-making conference, we must make sure that it is genuinely sovereign and not just another office fudge to placate frustrated local groups and members.​

If we are to democratise the country we need a democratic Labour Party and movement, and if we are to democratise Labour we need a democratic left. That means, in both structure and culture, a democratic Momentum. We hope you will raise and discuss these issues in your local Momentum groups and keep up the pressure, whatever happens on Saturday.


Democratise and revitalise Momentum  ​

There is mounting concern about democratic deficit within Momentum. Hundreds of members, for example, recently signed a petition calling for the democratic selection of candidates for party elections.  ​

Momentum has doubled in size over the last year. This is a tremendous achievement, but obviously comes with some organisational challenges.  ​

To meet these challenges and opportunities, and to start a process of democratisation within Momentum – strengthening it up and down the country – this NCG resolves to: ​

⦁ Ensure that a clear majority of the NCG is directly elected by members under a more pluralist voting system. The full NCG will then have full control of all key decisions, which must be made through accountable and transparent processes. To make this happen, the NCG should make use of technology to meet more frequently than it currently does in person.
⦁  Put in place a transparent and democratic process for the selection of candidates for party elections.
⦁ Ensure groups the length and breadth of the country get the resources, training and help they need. This will involve a portion of membership funds going to established local groups that provide action plans.
⦁  Replace the 3 current super-regions with 7 or 8 proper regional groups. Replace the current Members Council & establish Regional Councils along these lines, with delegates from local groups and affiliates to meet quarterly to give local/national reports, coordinate regional actions, make recommendations (e.g. on backing local candidates) and ensure elected regional NCG reps are kept accountable.
⦁ Begin the process of building democratically-ran, official liberation groups, e.g. BAME Momentum, Women’s Momentum, LGBT+ Momentum, Disability Momentum.
⦁ Look at ways to devolve management from our London office wherever possible (e.g. to the regional councils and liberation groups), to take advantage of all the talents in our organisation. We must also better engage members, making the most of the Momentum Votes system, while also going beyond the existing e-democracy. ​
⦁ Establish an annual national conference with proper decision-making functions, with delegates from local groups and affiliated organisations.
⦁ Regularly publish minutes and action notes from NCG meetings to ensure proper transparency.

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

5 Comments

  1. Ordinarily you could not disagree with something like:

    “This includes establishing a national decision-making conference, re-establishing proper regional structures, and ensuring a majority of the NCG is directly elected by members”.

    All democratic political parties would surely subscribe to this. e.g. the Labour Party. However Momentum is not a Political Party, so why should it mimic one. It is not a replacement for the Labour Party is it? The main Party should adhere to such demands but all sub sections neither should, not should they attempt to do so. Momentum is not a short – cut attempt to socialism for the most frustrated by means of formation a parallel organisation with the (potontially) competing policies, but give energy, emphasis, coherence and comprehensiveness to the most Left policies that have been achieved in the Political Party. Attempts at replacements are misguided allusions of short cuts against the main Party’s membership.

    I accept that it is the frustrations at the absence of radical change that leads to this Leftism, but it is leftism and is also the story of Left failures since at least the 1920s. There are no short – cuts to working with the flow of working class perceptions to build that Party rather than forming an alternative framework within that Workers Party, albeit concealed within the main organisation. Personally I would make this, the very definition of ultra-Leftism.

  2. What a very odd comment. Democracy is “ultra-leftism”? What we have at the moment is unelected officers in the London office telling the press what “Momentum”s policy is on various issues, when the membership hasn’t even discussed it. In what universe is that better than members of the organisation deciding what the organisation’s policy should be?

    1. You appear to be missing the central point that it is not democracy if only a subset of the electorate takes the decision. If the electorate in my constituency takes one view and a subset takes another – it is not democracy if the subset decides for all. Momentum is NOT a political party but a group. It has the choice to form a party if it wishes but whilst it remains a group the democratic outcome is that of the whole party. The attempts at internal organisation which mimics those of a political party confuses the constitution of that group. You are right ultra leftism prevails when a subset seeks to replace the whole party by intra group activities by itself without reference to its party.

  3. We’ve had a brief report from an NCG member and hope to get a more detailed report to publish very soon.

Leave a Reply