Momentum needs left internationalist politics

By Ruth Cashman, Labour for a Socialist Europe secretary

In January the Labour for a Socialist Europe steering committee adopted a political statement in view of possible upcoming elections for Momentum’s National Coordinating Group (which now look like they’ll be in May). We agreed we want to support candidates who stand for these kinds of policies and politics.

The platform is now out of date, for obvious reasons, but it sets out some important ideas.

Momentum has attracted and sometimes mobilised large numbers of people. But as a political organisation to push forward the transformation of the Labour Party and wider labour movement, and to educate and organise for class struggle, it is a negligible force. Sometimes its influence has been conservative or even harmful.

This is intertwined with its striking lack of internal democracy and the negative political culture it has generated. Despite talking about democratising Labour, Momentum has not only hesitated on pushing structural reforms like open selection, but encouraged trends of leadership-adulation, top-down decision-making, and hostility to debate and dissent – the opposite of what we need.

On Brexit, freedom of movement and migrants’ rights, Momentum has failed the test of internationalism and solidarity. At best it has passively tailed the campaigning of others. Mostly it has, beyond platitudes, remained silent, refusing to bring its influence to bear in this movement-defining struggle. It has sometimes promoted nationalistic narratives.

Instead of educating and organising socialists as fighters for a “world transformed” to replace capitalism, Momentum explicitly promotes the idea that partial “socialism” already exists in state intervention and that the job of “socialists” is to fight for more.

L4SE’s demands

• Orient the labour movement towards workers’ struggles across Europe, organising solidarity actions and spreading the word.

• Campaign for an international democratic assembly and other ways to bring together socialists from across Europe together to debate and discuss common strategies.

• Campaign step-by-step against the implementation of Johnson’s Brexit – on immigration restrictions, migrant rights, regressive trade deals. Unambiguous support for migrants’ rights, including for free movement. Campaign to implement the full Labour Campaign for Free Movement platform won at Labour conference.

• Transform Labour – campaign for thoroughgoing structural changes including open selection. Conference should determine party policy and manifestos. Radicalise policy further. Democratise Momentum, including a democratic annual decision-making conference. For bottom-up decision-making, leadership accountability and vibrant political education and debate in Labour and Momentum.

• Fight for socialism – to replace capitalism with a new society based on democratic social ownership of major industry, services and finance, and workers’ control.

• Fight climate change. For a “Socialist Green New Deal” including the full conference policy, expanded to include public ownership of banking and finance and no airport expansion.

• Class struggle. Actively support workers’ and working- class community struggles, and grassroots organising to build and transform the labour movement. Fight to repeal all anti-union laws. Demand Labour councils join their workforces and communities in fighting cuts. Tackle social problems with structural social reform rather than repressive “law and order” policies.

• For Momentum to support rank-and-file coordination and democracy in the unions.

• Strong stances against all racism, bigotry, and oppression. Labour should lead anti-racist and anti- fascist campaigning in our communities and mobilise on the streets where necessary.

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