By a Forward Momentum policy delegate
• For a somewhat different, more positive take, see the Momentum Internationalists website here.
• Update: Forward Momentum activists say a longer document which will include the demands we mention here is coming soon. We’ll link etc when it does.
• Further update: The second, longer document promised in fact never appeared.
On 2 June Forward Momentum published its “plan to take Momentum forward”. This 1,075 word document was put together following two gatherings of delegates mainly elected in local and other (e.g. BME) meetings of FM supporters.
In that sense, the process was reasonably open. There were, however, serious problems both with the process and the political positions the majority used it to take.
First of all, the delegate meetings included unelected “founding members”, who nonetheless got a vote.
In addition, a number of important policies which were adopted by these meetings were not included in the final document. (For all proposals, whether they were voted up or down and voting figures, see here. For the submissions they were put together from, see here.)
Almost a third of delegates voted against campaigning for “free movement and migrants’ rights”. That’s bad enough. But it was passed 38-16-2. Then free movement was left out of the the published version of statement (see screenshot here) and only later added in.
It only took a short look to find that other crucial demands not added back include:
• “Campaign to make the Labour Party conference sovereign with a final say on manifesto policies”
• “Campaign for democratic ownership of energy and finance”
• Reference to pushing for councillors to “fight cuts” and holding them “to account over… opposition to austerity”.
From the general point of view of left policies and struggles, it is extremely bad these have been left out. Particularly given that includes the high profile and controversial issue of free movement, it seems implausible they were oversights. If they were, it suggests amazing lack of attention combined with shockingly bad judgement about what is important politically.
In addition, delegates voted to reject a number of important and even essential demands including:
• “Hold an annual Momentum sovereign conference to decide policy and strategy”
• “Reinvigorating regional networks with annual regional all-member conferences to build networks and to coordinate on campaigns and on the Refounding Momentum process”
• “Regional conferences to elect some representation to the NCG”
• “Give members the data and resources to organise autonomous Momentum networks in trade unions to push for democracy and radical action in unions”
• “Campaign to extend the Brexit transition period”
They also rejected the call to “campaign for UBI” (Universal Basic Income). There is a strong socialist case against UBI, but an emergency UBI is surely a valid and useful demand in the current circumstances.
The whole process and the way it was used looked like trying to avoid anything too radical or concrete.
Given what was rejected and even more so given what was adopted but then dropped, we should have no faith in Forward Momentum to stand up and fight for radical policies that it has included.
An FM victory over Momentum Renewal in the Momentum NCG election is of course desirable, but the most important thing is the election of the more radical candidates who will argue clearly for socialist politics, bring pressure to bear, and help organise struggles.
For quite a while there was ambiguity about whether Forward Momentum would adopt a wider political program at all. Whether it would seemed to change depending on what was most convenient for a particular argument or controversy. What has happened now suggests that FM has not broken properly from the approach of the existing Momentum leadership, which long argued against members democratically discussing and adopting policies to fight for in the Labour Party and then suddenly announced policies from the top down.
Is this how FM will continue to run Momentum if it wins?
All this raises further concerns about the strength of Forward Momentum’s commitment to democracy and to socialist politics.
Let us know what you think? Write a reply? firstname.lastname@example.org. We specifically invite the Forward Momentum steering group or any of its members to submit a reply/replies, which we will publish.