Momentum (organisation)
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Momentum Organisation

Momentum
Momentum logo (2017).png
MottoA new kind of politics
Formation8 October 2015; 5 years ago (2015-10-08)
FounderJon Lansman
Location
Region
Membership (2019)
40,000[3]
Co-Chairs
  • Andrew Scattergood
  • Gaya Sriskanthan[4]
Affiliations
Staff (2019)
13[1]
Websitepeoplesmomentum.com

Momentum is a British left-wing political organisation.[5][6][7][8] It has been described as a grassroots movement supportive of the Labour Party.[9][10][11] Since January 2017, all Momentum members must also be or become members of the Labour Party.[12] The organisation was reported to have 40,000 members in 2019.[3] It has close links with The World Transformed.

It was founded in 2015 by Jon Lansman, Adam Klug, Emma Rees and James Schneider, following the successful campaign for Jeremy Corbyn to become the Leader of the Labour Party. The current officers of Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd are:[13] Lansman, Sam Tarry MP, Mossley Hill Councillor Elizabeth Hayden,[14] solicitor Anthony Kearns,[15] and Professor Cecile Wright of the University of Nottingham.[16] The organisation has polarised Labour politicians and journalists since its inception. Some have compared it to the Militant tendency within the Labour party; however, others have praised its grassroots engagement as well as its effective and virally spread but low budget information videos, such as those used in the 2017 general election campaign.

Background

Momentum supporters at the "Rally for Corbyn" demonstration in Canterbury, 16 July 2016

Momentum was founded in 2015 by Jon Lansman along with the original national organisers, Adam Klug, Emma Rees and James Schneider, four weeks after Jeremy Corbyn's successful campaign for the Labour Party leadership.[17][9][18] Local groups formed in support for Corbyn's leadership, uniting different factions of the left across Britain behind the movement to get him elected.[18] Lansman was active in Tony Benn's 1981 deputy leadership bid.[19] Beyond their support for Corbyn, Momentum has three primary goals: to win elections for Labour, to create a socialist Labour government, and help build a wider social movement.[2] Corbyn was positive about Momentum following its formation, saying in 2016: "I see Momentum as a social movement. A movement that will campaign on all of these issues. But above all, excite and unite people to come together, to come together to challenge injustice, inequality and social exclusion. Bring people together to achieve things together. That is what is makes us [Labour] so different from every other political party in this country."[20]

With its formation, Momentum drew inspiration from Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, both of which were fed by practical, grassroots organising to counter the effects of austerity cuts.[18][21] As the movement has evolved, it has also benefited from ideas from other campaigns that operate on a left-wing or progressive platform such as in the United States, with the Bernie Sanders campaign to become presidential candidate for the Democratic party in 2016[22] and 2020[23] or Beto O'Rourke's campaign to become the Democratic Senator for Texas.[24]

Relationship with other organisations

In 2016 the Scottish left-wing organisation Campaign for Socialism (CfS) formed a partnership with Momentum. Though they are maintained as separate organisations they share membership and resources. Since then, the membership of CfS has grown from 400 in 2015 to 1,418 by 2019.[25][26] Welsh Labour Grassroots a left wing organisation in Wales has similar links to Momentum as the CfS.[27][28]

International relationships

Momentum has built ties with other political organisations across North America and Europe. They have collaborated with the Canadian Leap movement, the Social Democratic Party of Germany's Young Socialists,[29] the Democratic Socialists of America in the United States[30] and similar organisations in Greece. In 2018, Rees and Klug went on a ten-week lecture tour of the United States to educate progressive activists and members of the National Nurses United union on political campaigning techniques as well as advising Real Justice.[31]

Early infiltration from the far-left

Members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) had raised concerns that parties on the far-left of British politics including the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Left Unity, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Socialist Party and the Alliance for Workers' Liberty (AWL) might join Momentum as a means to influence the Labour Party.[32][33][34] However, Momentum was mired by the joining of members of these groups and the disruption they caused in the democratisation and organisation of Momentum.[35][36][37][38] An example was Jill Mountford, a long established member of AWL who was accused of bullying with Momentum.[12] There was some consideration in these groups to disband and support Momentum- such as Left Unity in 2015 members proposed a motion to merge with Momentum several times, to no success.[39]

The movement has drawn comparisons to the Militant Tendency, or Militant, a group that was expelled by Labour under Neil Kinnock in the 1980s. Labour MP Owen Smith accused Momentum of using the same tactics as Militant such as threatening to deselect Labour MPs.[40] These concerns were echoed by former deputy Labour leader Roy Hattersley.[41]Oliver Kamm of The Times wrote in October 2015: "Like the Trotskyists of a generation ago Momentum is an entrist organisation that's parasitic on the Labour host. This time, though, the far left has managed to gain control of the party structures and is intent on making life tough for Labour MPs".[42] A Labour councillor in Liverpool in 2019 had commented about the presence of Momentum in the city by saying: "I think Momentum in Liverpool is a mask for Militant. There are decent Momentum people and then there are the others who have their own agenda".[43]

Momentum itself and a number of political commentators characterise their supposed relationship with other groups as unfair.[44] In October 2015, Momentum stated would resist such entryism.[45][46] Author and journalist Michael Crick opposes the comparison to Militant, stating that "the rise of Jeremy Corbyn can be attributed more to the phenomenon of 'Corbynmania' than to hard-left entrism".[47] Former Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle, who had acted as enforcer for the Labour leadership against Militant on Merseyside in the 1980s as the party's North West Regional Organiser, also rejected the comparison, instead describing Momentum as fulfilling the same kind of role on the left of the party as Progress did on the right.[48] In December 2015, Labour's then deputy leader Tom Watson made a commentary on the Today programme about the group: "They look like a bit of a rabble to me, but I don't think they are a problem for the Labour Party".[49] Schneider commented in response to this accusation as such: "The purpose of Momentum is not to have internal factional battles, it's to look outside".[50]

Campaigning history

Early formation (2015-2017)

Rally for Corbyn, Canterbury, 16 July 2016.

Momentum undertook a campaign called Democracy SOS to address the problem of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government implementing the changes to the electoral register to an Individual Electoral Registration system. The Electoral Commission recommended that the program be implemented a year later than it was. The EC believed, based on 2015 records, that there were eight million people eligible for registration but not registered and 1.9 million people previously registered who have been dropped off by the changes. Momentum utilized their network to campaign in towns and university campuses to encourage people to register.[51][52][53]

In 2016, Labour's former shadow chancellor John McDonnell praise Momentum for their work in the local elections that May. They coordinated activists from Brighton and London to areas like Hastings, Crawley and Harlow; activists in the North West were directed to West Lancashire.[54]

After the Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland by-elections were called, Momentum mobilised its large activist base to campaign for both. Momentum launched two pieces of technology to help this, a Phone Banking web application called Grassroots Now (previously used in Corbyn's Labour leadership election campaigns in 2015 and 2016) and a carpooling web application to help activists travel to the campaign days from across the country.[55][56][57] Ultimately, Labour Party candidate in Stoke-on-trent Gareth Snell won while in the traditional Labour stronghold of Copeland the Labour candidate Gillian Troughton lost to her Conservative opponent.[58]

2017 general election campaign and aftermath

People holding up a Momentum banner at the Stop Trump Rally in London in February 2017
A Momentum activist's meeting in Birmingham in March 2017

In the run-up to the general election on 8 June 2017, Momentum worked to mobilise voters and encourage volunteers to canvass on behalf of Labour. Their campaign strategy was to target marginal seats rather than defend safe seats.[2][59] As part of this ambition the group created 'MyNearestMarginal.com', a website which allows voters to search for campaigning events in marginal constituencies closest to them;[60] and ElectionDayPledge.com, where voters can pledge to volunteer on Polling Day, were created. Momentum also worked with organisers from Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign to hold training sessions for volunteers, such as persuasive conversation training.[22][1] It drafted in senior figures from Sanders' campaign, including Erika Uyterhoeven, formerly a national director for outer-state organising,[61] Grayson Lookner, Jeremy Parkin and Kim McMurray.[62]

They had an effective social media presence with many of their low-budget videos becoming virally spread. One example was "Daddy, do you hate me?", which was watched by 12.7 million unique Facebook users- at the time more than one in three in the UK.[19] By the end of the election campaign, Momentum reached 51 million views on all of their videos.[63]

Membership of the organisation increased by 1,500 within four days of the general election[21] and by another 3,000 within two months.[64] The organisation's Facebook page reached 23.7 million views and videos were watched by 12.7 million unique users. In total, Momentum spent less than £2,000 advertising on the social media platform.[61] In May 2017, Noam Chomsky claimed the future of the party must lie with the left of the party and Momentum, saying: "The constituency of the Labour Party, the new participants, the Momentum group and so on, [...] if there is to be a serious future for the Labour Party that is where it is in my opinion".[65] On polling day, 10,000 Momentum activists knocked on an estimated 1.2 million doors in the UK.[19]

The general election led to Labour losing five seats to the Conservatives, but Labour won 28 from them, as well as six from the SNP and two from the Lib Dems. Almost every constituency that Momentum targeted was gained by Labour.[60] After the general election, Giles Kenningham, former Conservative Party director of communications, said in July 2017: "Labour have used Momentum to devastating effect".[66] Later in the month, Michael Gove, Conservative MP said: "The Conservative Party can learn a lot from Momentum".[67] In August, it was announced that the Communication Workers Union will formally affiliate to Momentum after its ruling executive voted unanimously in favour to join the organisation.[68] A former critic of the Labour left and Corbyn, John McTernan, joined Momentum in summer 2017.[69] In summer 2017, Adam Klug resigned as national co-ordinator following the snap general election. In October 2017, Emma Rees, a co-founder of the group, stood down as national co-ordinator. Laura Parker who left her role as Jeremy Corbyn's political secretary before the national conference replaced Rees as national co-ordinator.[70]

In March 2019, the Electoral Commission (EC) announced that Momentum had been fined £16,700 for multiple breaches of electoral law, including failing to accurately report donations during the general election period.[71] The fine for not submitting an accurate spending return was the biggest issued to a non-party campaign.[72] Though the group was initially investigated by the EC with the concern that they had overspent, the EC found this was not the case.[73][failed verification] Momentum's then national treasurer Puru Miah, a councilor in Tower Hamlets, commented "we have put in place comprehensive systems so we can fully adhere to regulations".[74] In April 2020 Momentum published a report dissecting their performance in both the 2017 and 19 general elections- saying that constituencies such as Broxtowe, Hendon, Morley and Outwood, Southampton Itchen, Pudsey, Thurrock and Harrow East could have been won with the enhanced ground support they had reached by 2019.[63]

The Unseat! campaign and expansion into local government (2017-2019)

Following the 2017 general election, Momentum mobilised the Unseat campaign with prominent partners such as Owen Jones, targeting constituencies where prominent Conservative MPs have a small majority and could be susceptible to a Labour win at the next general election. Thousands have attended Unseat events in seats held by then Education Secretary Justine Greening (Putney), former DWP Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) and current Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip).[75][76][77][78][79][80] The campaign motivated Duncan Smith to contact local Conservative associations to organise activists to run counter campaigns.[81]

Because the Labour Party believed another snap general election was likely, the party ran the selection procedure to have a slate of parliamentary candidates in place for the 96 marginal constituencies- Momentum backed several candidates.[82] By January 2019, it was recorded that over half of their 67 selections were successful in becoming candidates.[83] Additionally, Momentum wished to influence the new manifesto by promising to introduce a four-day working week and a Green New Deal- an idea of mass state investment to address climate change.[84]

Momentum members in London at an anti-fascist rally in 2018

Momentum established a candidate network in which they provide support to new councillors, encourage women to stand, give them spaces to discuss policy and also training on the success of Labour controlled councils like Salford and Preston.[85] Notable Momentum-backed selections from the 2018 local elections was Rokhsana Fiaz for Mayor of Newham, who successfully became mayor on an increased majority.[82] Trafford Labour party's leader cited Momentum as a key reason for why Labour gained seats in borough.[86] A Momentum-supported councillor Joseph Ejiofor became the leader of Haringey London Borough Council after the elections in London.[87]

In February 2019, following the resignation of 9 Labour members of parliament, with 8 becoming members of the centrist Independent Group with resigning Conservatives,[88] Momentum began to organise resources and activists to campaign in these seats. They wished to initiate public pressure from their constituents to trigger by-elections. The group raised £15,000 from their activists in the hours after their split to contribute to funding this campaign.[89] On 19 March, the group organized 100 activists in Streatham, Chuka Umunna's constituency, with Owen Jones, Diane Abbott and Ash Sarkar speaking to the activists at a rally.[90]

During the 2019 local elections, James Driscoll was selected as Labour candidate for the inaugural first North of Tyne mayoral election became a notable Momentum-backed selection.[91] Driscoll won this election with 56.1% of the vote in the second round. In addition, Brighton and Hove City Council, where Momentum backed 12 Labour candidates[92] and Sandwell council were key focals point for Momentum.[93]

2019 general election campaign

Following the announcement of the 12 December 2019 snap general election, Momentum called for a large mobilisation of Momentum and Labour members.[94][19] The group increased their number of paid staff from 13 to 56 for the election campaign period.[1] The group set a funding target of £50,000 in 48 hours, however exceeded this and raised £100,000 in 12 hours.[95] Within six days of this funding drive Momentum have raised £255,000 from 10,000 individual donations, averaging at £26 per donation which came close to beating the amount raised during the entirety of the 2017 General election campaign.[3] Within 10 days, the group reached over £300,000 from 11,000 donations. Parker commented on these funds saying the organisation will be able to "scale up every aspect of our operation from the get-go, which will allow us to deliver a campaign like nothing this country has ever seen before."[96]

Momentum created different tools and initiatives to help activists to organise. Prior to the campaign in September Momentum created a website "Univotes" to help students strategically plan which constituency is better for them to vote in; as students can register at both their home address and student address. The student vote been cited by Momentum as why Labour won in Canterbury, Warwick and Leamington, Portsmouth South, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Lincoln in 2017.[97][98] They created a website "mycampaignmap.com"- as a successor the to the 'My Nearest Marginal' website used for the 2017 election- which helps activists to coordinate their efforts in areas they are most needed.[94] My Campaign Map was used to organise over 21,000 events for the election period,[60] and had over 170,000 unique visitors.[63]

Momentum created a new type of volunteers called "Labour Legends", who took time off from work and commit at least a full week of campaigning in their area, or to volunteer in other constituencies.[3] In 10 days this initiative acquired over 1,000 people have signed up, providing 40,000 volunteer hours,[1][2] and eventually rising to over 1,400 people getting involved,[60][19] 500 of which were allocated to marginal seats.[63] Momentum additionally encourages Labour party members abroad in Europe, The United States and Australia to register British expats to vote and to participate in phone banking from where they live.[23]

The group developed their campaign strategy with three principles in mind, according to Emma Rees: people power, the targeting of marginal seats, and the idea of getting everybody to step up. This was done by following a decentralised model in which activists have both a clear understanding of the aims and taking on organisational roles.[59] Momentum has created several opportunities for activists to get involved in other ways of promotion- these include "Let's Go" teams who communicate on do phone banking using Whatsapp, volunteers who watch through interviews of Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians to be used for videos[1] and also people creating videos of themselves explaining why they are voting labour and posting them on social media to help engage with voters on all available platforms.[96]

Momentum used social media advertising to encourage people to register to vote for the election. One of their adverts targeted Urdu speakers.[99] The organising group controversially made a video for Twitter based on a Coca-Cola Christmas advert that circulates every year. They were asked to cease and desist by the Coca-Cola company and the advertisement was taken down.[100] By the end of the election, their videos had a combined viewing of 106 million, double that of the last election.[63]

In 2020, Momentum submitted a report to the Labour party's "Labour Together Review", which was a cross-factional analysis of the party's performance and strategy, making several recommendations on the tools and approach for future elections.[63]

Labour leadership elections and recent campaigning

Following defeat in the 2019 general election in which Labour lost 60 seats, Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum's national coordinator Laura Parker resigned.[101] Corbyn's triggered a leadership election, which was coupled with the deputy leadership election, with the results to be unveiled for both in April 2020.[102][103] On 14 January Momentum ran a 2-day online consultation with their members whether to endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey for leader and Angela Rayner for deputy leader. The closed format of the consultation was controversial.[104][105][34] 7,395 members participated with 70% supporting Long-Bailey and 52% supporting Rayner.[106] Momentum planned hundreds of phone banking events to support Long-Bailey.[107] Keir Starmer won the election in the first round - with Long-Bailey winning 28% of the vote - and Momentum failed to win any of the NEC by elections.[108][109] In response to his victory, Momentum congratulated him and positioned themselves as challenging and working with the new leadership to push for 'transformational policies'.[110]

In May 2020, Momentum's founder Jon Lansman announced that he will step down as the chairman of Momentum the following month.[111][112][113]

Following Starmer's election, Momentum has focused more on grassroots campaigning.[114] Such as their 'Eviction Resistance' campaign in September 2020.[115]

Leading to the 2020 local elections, the London Labour Party changed its selection process for assembly members so that party members select new candidates. Four assembly members were standing down leading up to the election. This was believed to be an opportunity for Momentum, who have gained influence in the regional party in 2018 regional conference elections,[116] to put up candidates so they can push Sadiq Khan's election manifesto to the left.[117][118]

Issues and other campaigning

Austerity

One of Momentum's primary objectives was to create an anti-austerity movement in the UK connected to the Labour Party.[37] In particular, Momentum criticised Osborne's proposal to cut tax credit payments for working families.[119][120]

In 2016, local Momentum groups started to collect and volunteer for food banks.[21]

2015 Syria airstrikes

Momentum called for its membership to lobby Labour MPs "to support Corbyn, not Cameron, over Syria" on Twitter, linking to the Stop the War Coalition's Don't Bomb Syria campaign which opposed the Conservative government's proposal to extend its bombing sorties against Daesh (also known as ISIS) from Daesh-held territory in Iraq to also cover Daesh-held territory in Syria. Corbyn had argued that Cameron's government lacked a credible plan for defeating Daesh and that the bombing in Syria would not increase the United Kingdom's national security. Corbyn has also stated his view that military action should always be a last resort. Some Labour MPs criticised Momentum's move to lobby on party political grounds before the Labour party's official position on military action had been decided, with Gavin Shuker asking: "Who decided this was your position on Syria, and to lobby MPs in this way?".[121]

Antisemitism allegations

Since 2015, there have been a series of allegations of antisemitism against Labour Party members. Many leading figures in Momentum were Jewish or of Jewish heritage, such as Klug,[122] Lansman,[123] Schneider,[122] Rhea Wolfson[124] and Jackie Walker.[125] Walker, Momentum's vice-chair, was expelled from the Labour Party for behaviour related to allegations of antisemitism.[126] In April 2018, Joshua Garfield, a Jewish youth officer in a Momentum branch in London, resigned from his role because, he says, antisemitism from members of the branch was making him feel "sometimes unsafe and certainly untrusted".[122][127][128] Garfield was a member and later officer of the Jewish Labour Movement who appeared in the Panorama programme on antisemitism in the Labour Party.[129]

Momentum itself has also had issues with individual members[130] and have accepted that some Labour members have expressed antisemitism,[122][131] with Lansman attributing this to "conspiracy theorists" joining.[123] Such antisemitic conspiracy theories have been challenged by Momentum through viral videos.[132] In the 2018 NEC elections, Momentum withdrew their support for Peter Willsman after an NEC meeting in which he described some of those "lecturing" the party about antisemitism as "Trump fanatics" who were "making up duff information without any evidence at all".[133][134]

Brexit

Officially during the Corbyn years, Momentum maintained a neutral position of the European Union and the prospect of a second referendum, instead supporting the party's position.[84] However several members of Momentum have supported a second referendum with remain and the government's deal as options. In June 2018, the People's Vote campaign group was launched and included several former Momentum figures as well as trade union leaders. The group's launch statement was signed by TSSA union general secretary Manuel Cortes, economist Ann Pettifor, former Momentum steering group member Michael Chessum and former CWU general secretary Billy Hayes.[135] Polling of Momentum members in November 2018 found a majority supporting such a referendum[136] The left-wing, pro-European pressure group Another Europe Is Possible features Momentum members,[137] such as former steering committee member Michael Chessum.[138] In March 2019 188 Momentum activists sent an open letter to Lansman to support a second referendum.[139]

2019 Climate Change

In March 2019, Momentum started a campaign called 'Bankrupt Climate Change', a direct action campaign protesting outside of Barclays' banks in 40 different local groups. The campaign's objective is to raise awareness for Barclays bank investing in fossil fuel companies.[140][141] They reference a report says that Barclays as the largest financer in Europe and sixth in the world for financing the fossil fuel companies.[142]

Immigration and refuge in the UK

Momentum has been supportive of refugees attempting to claim asylum in the United Kingdom. In August 2020, Momentum was vocally critical of Labour Leader Keir Starmer's lack of support for those crossing the English Channel in order to claim asylum in the UK.[143] This condemnation was in coordination with Open Labour and Labour Campaign for Free movement.[115]

Eviction Resistance campaign

In the face of a recession due to the COVID19 Pandemic, Momentum organised with renters unions Acorn and London Renters' Union to organise renters against evictions and direct action and educate renters in the private sector on their tenancy rights.[115] During the lockdown, it was believed that 220,000 private renters having fallen into arrears, and an estimated 60,000 eviction notices served.[144] As early as May, Momentum promoted to London members and supporters to join the London Renters' Union.[145] By September the campaign had been fully initiated.[144] To assist with coordination, Momentum repurposed their 'mycampaignmap' website to display local groups, training and events.[146]

Reselection of MPs

Critics of Corbyn within the Parliamentary Labour Party have raised a concern that Momentum may encourage the deselection of MPs and councillors who disagree with it, in a process called mandatory reselection, in which all Labour politicians would be subject to internal elections.[147][148] In 2015 Momentum denied this claim, saying "we will not campaign for the deselection of any MP and will not permit any local Momentum groups to do so. The selection of candidates is entirely a matter for local party members and rightly so".[33][149] The organization is however supportive of open selections, in which all members have equal influence on the selection process and are more democratically accountable rather than just socialist societies and trade unions having a strong say.[150]

In July 2018 Momentum's national coordinator Laura Parker advocated that four Labour MPs who voted down an opposition amendment to the EU withdrawal bill to feature a Customs Union, in line with the government, should be deselected. At the 2018 Labour Conference, Momentum's reselection reforms were supported by Corbyn.[151] In July 2019, Momentum announced they would support Labour and Momentum members wishing to challenge sitting Labour MPs. The aim has been to encourage a younger, more working class and ethnically diverse selection of Labour MPs.[152]

Labour Party Democracy Review

From 2017, the Labour Party consulted on a democracy review that would see the membership gain greater voting capabilities. Momentum has been an advocate of both greater membership involvement in party decision making and in their view "bolder reforms",[150][153] such as Labour members having a greater role in policy development.[34] Momentum has pushed for the lowering of nomination threshold for a candidate in Labour leadership elections. This is so a left-wing successor to Corbyn could contest any future election easily.[153] The Group also supports member election council leaders.[154]

Momentum tabled plans to update the way the NEC's BAME representative is chosen, with a one member, one vote election replacing the current system where a small party group decides the post. Under the group's plans, all black or minority ethnic members of the party would automatically become part of BAME Labour and have one member, one vote rights in electing their NEC representative. BAME Labour would also have an independent organisation, with its committee having direct access to its own membership list and centrally-funded finances and the ability to organise its own campaigns and events independently.[155]

Crucial votes regarding the Democracy Review took place during the 2017 Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Momentum launched M.app, a smartphone app to alert delegates to timings of key votes on the national conference floor as well as send real-time information about events and rallies.[156] The compromise motion of lowering the threshold required of local branches and local union branches to express dissatisfaction in an MP's performance from 50% to 33% passed.[157] However it was announced that the democracy review was being shelved.[153]

Elections to Labour's Executive Committees

In the 2016 elections for the National Executive Committee, it emerged that Momentum, alongside Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and other left groups formed a joined slate under the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA),[158] were jointly backing six representatives for the National Executive Committee (NEC), namely Rhea Wolfson, the former chair of the Jewish Society who replaced Ken Livingstone,[159]Christine Shawcroft, a senior figure in Momentum who had been a member of the NEC for fifteen years and had been briefly suspended from the party after defending Lutfur Rahman,[160][161] gaining media attention after jocular comments about dialogue with Daesh instead of air strikes,[162]Peter Willsman, Claudia Webbe, Ann Black, and Darren Williams.[161] All six of the candidates were elected to the six available places.[163]

In 2017 Momentum and Campaign for Socialism, their Scottish sister organisation, won 5 our of eight of the seats on the Executive Committee in Scottish Labour.[164]

At the 2017 labour conference, it was announced that Labour would add three more member-elected spaces on the NEC, in response to the significant rise in membership. During the ballot period, Peter Willsman was removed from Momentum's list of recommended candidates following an allegation of antisemitism. Willsman had been recorded as describing some Jewish critics of Labour as "Trump fanatics".[165][166] Three other Momentum-backed candidates were elected onto the Labour Party's NEC, namely Jon Lansman, Yasmine Dar and Rachel Garnham.[167][168][169][170]

In April 2020, Momentum put up three candidates- two for two casual vacancies and one for a newly created BAME position. None of these candidates were successful.[110] This has been credited due to Momentum and other left-wing factions in Labour not agreeing a CLGA slate.[171] In July 2020, The groups of the CLGA agreed a slate called "Grassroots Voice", which included six representative on the 9 CLP seats and a representative for the disabled and youth seats to contest an October election.[172] The selection process say 450 constituency labour parties participate, the high turnout of CLPs in Labour's history- 42% of selection nominations went to the Grassroots Voice CLP slate.[173]

The World Transformed

Starting in 2016, Momentum began a four-day festival called The World Transformed alongside the Labour Party conference featuring art, music and culture alongside political discussions.[19][174] This started with the Liverpool conference in 2016. One event featured a debate between Caroline Lucas co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, Compass chair Neal Lawson and Jon Lansman and Rhea Wolfson of Momentum.[175] In The Times, Tony Blair's former speech writer Philip Collins was positive about the event, compared to the Labour conference, "harnessed and embraced, Momentum could be a force for good", but wrote "the only thing wrong with their slogan 'Jez We Can' is the first word".[176]

The World Transformed spanned nine venues across Brighton, where the Labour Party 2017 Conference was held. Many MPs attended, including Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry and Ed Miliband.

The 2018 festival at the Liverpool conference had the capacity for 10,000 people to attend.[177] Speakers include 2017 French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon as a key-note speaker,[178] as well as Jeremy Corbyn, Katja Kipping (leader of Die Linke), Ralf Stegner (SPD), Zitto Kabwe (leader of Alliance for Change and Transparency) and Ash Sarkar.[179]

Constitution and structure

In the original formation of Momentum, it used a delegate system on an executive board known as the steering committee. In late October 2016, the steering committee voted to adopt to One member, one vote (OMOV) done only on a digital instead of the delegate system- it was controversial with some on the committee and didn't pass.[180][35][36][37] However, a new constitution was announced on 11 January 2017 including OMOV. New members of Momentum were now required to also be members of the Labour Party, with existing Momentum members being given until July to join.[181] Lansman initiated changes via an email. After managing to convince the steering committee, he abolished the national committee and replaced it with a Labour-only national coordinating group (NCG).[182][183] A new online model of organisation without a regional structure was created with the specific intention of preventing far-left entryists dominating delegated meetings.[184]

Following a January 2017 survey by Momentum to which over 40% of members responded, the organisation's steering committee voted by majority to introduce a new constitution.[12] Lansman resigned as a director of Momentum on 12 January 2017, being replaced by Christine Shawcroft, in order to stand for election to the steering committee.[185][186] The group in early March 2017 relaunched with its new constitutional structure, and a first meeting of the new NCG on 11 March and a conference on 25 March, both in Birmingham.[187]

In 2020, the newly elected NCG initiated a process of "refounding Momentum" to adapt the organisation.[115]

Membership

Membership (by year)
Year
2016[36]
2017[188]
2018[189]
2019[3]

In 2015, the year of the group's formation, Momentum originally had 60,000 supporters who paid no subscription and 50 local groups organised.[33] By September 2017 the organisation had grown to have 31,000 members across 170 local groups, with 15 members of staff.[188] As of January 2018, the group had 35,000 members[190] With 15% membership increase since the start of 2018, by April the organisation had 40,000. Momentum has said that 95 per cent of its current funding comes from membership fees and small donations, with the average fee standing at £3 a year.[191] In July 2018, it was reported that Momentum had 42,000 members with 92% (38,700) in England, 4% in Wales (2,000) and 3% in Scotland (1,300).[189]

Momentum's membership base has been seen as being occupied by two types: young activists who joined the Labour Party during and after Corbyn's initial leadership election in 2015; and older veterans of the Labour Party left and far-left parties across Great Britain.[36][37][20]

National Coordinating Group

In the first election that took place in 2018, eight Members' Representatives were elected: four for London and the South East; two for the Midlands, the East, the West and Wales; two for the North, Scotland and International; and four public office holders.[192] 7,500 members took part in the election, or 34% of the membership.[193] In April 2018 a new set of elections took place with all four regional coordinating offices having four spaces. Over 13,000 votes were cast (35% of eligible members).[192][193]

The second NCG election in 2020 saw its represented geographic regions expand from four to five. Two slates emerged to stand in all the positions, Momentum Renewal and Forward Momentum- both received endorsement from various left-wing figures, journalists and politicians. There is some crossover between the slates ambitions for the organisation and wider movement.[194][34] Sam Bright from Byline Times wrote "Both want to reform the democratic structures of the organisation; both want to see more devolution of powers to local groups; both want to defend the radical policies of the Corbyn era".[34] The Momentum Renewal slate advocated greater emphasis on trade union organising in communities.[195] Forward Momentum's objective was to democratise Momentum further, advocating greater democracy in the Labour Party and using open primaries for internal elections.[112][195] The result saw Forward Momentum Candidates win in all regions, except for public office holders.[196][197][4]

The current composition is:[196]

}}
London Midlands and East
North West and Wales South East and South West
Yorkshire, North East, Scotland and International Public Office Holders' section
Affiliated organisations

See also

References

Notes
Citations
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  71. ^ "Momentum fined by Electoral Commission for multiple breaches of electoral law". electoralcommission.org.uk. 6 March 2019. Retrieved 2019.
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  74. ^ Mike Brooke (8 March 2019). "Tower Hamlets councilor holds his hands up to Momentum's election offences over cash payments as its treasurer". East London Advertiser. Retrieved 2019.
  75. ^ Owen Jones (8 May 2018). "Owen Jones: Momentum campaigning was crucial to Labour's local election gains". Labour List. Retrieved 2019.
  76. ^ Helena Horton (3 August 2017). "#UnseatBoris: Momentum sets up training camps to get rid of the Foreign Secretary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2019.
  77. ^ Josiah Mortimer (16 August 2017). "Revealed: The eight Tories Momentum are now gearing up to unseat". Left Foot Forward. Retrieved 2019.
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  79. ^ James Graves (2 August 2018). "Labour and Momentum rally to target Paul Maynard's marginal seat". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 2019.
  80. ^ Thomas Haworth (16 April 2018). "Owen Jones and Momentum descend on Swindon to 'unseat Tory council'". Swindon Advisor. Retrieved 2019.
  81. ^ Alex Spence (20 March 2018). "These Leaked WhatsApp Chats Show Iain Duncan Smith's Pleas For Help After His Seat Was Targeted By Momentum". Buzzfeed News. Retrieved 2019.
  82. ^ a b Jessica Elgot (19 March 2018). "Momentum-backed Labour candidates to contest most-marginal seats". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019.
  83. ^ Eleni Courea (5 January 2019). "Unite and Momentum candidates dominate Labour's selection races". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019.
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  85. ^ "Momentum sets up councillor network to target local elections". The Guardian. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 2019.
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  91. ^ Sean Seddon (21 February 2019). "Who is Jamie Driscoll? Labour's left-wing North of Tyne mayoral candidate". The Chronicle and the Journal. Retrieved 2019.
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  93. ^ Madeley, Pete (2 April 2019). "'Completely anti-democratic': Tom Watson slams 'hard-left takeover' of Sandwell Council". The Express and Star. Retrieved 2019.
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  118. ^ Sophia Sleigh (16 March 2019). "Momentum bids to push Sadiq Khan manifesto to Left". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2019.
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  130. ^ Benjamin Kentish (1 August 2018). "Momentum activists accused of 'anti-Zionist ranting' in Labour antisemitism row". The Independent. Retrieved 2019.
  131. ^ Andrew Woodcock (2 April 2018). "Antisemitism in Labour cannot be dismissed as smears, say Momentum". The Independent. Retrieved 2019.
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  133. ^ "Labour NEC member Pete Willsman threatened to 'do in' Momentum chief Jon Lansman". The Jewish Chronicle. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  134. ^ Verity Bowman and Pippa Crerar (31 July 2018). "Corbyn ally says 'Jewish Trump fanatics making up' antisemitism claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019.
  135. ^ Elgot, Jessica (25 June 2018). "Pro-Corbyn group to launch drive for public vote on Brexit deal". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018.
  136. ^ Benjamin Kentish (6 November 2018). "Brexit: Corbyn under pressure as Momentum members back referendum on Theresa May's deal". The Independent. Retrieved 2019.
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  138. ^ Jessica Elgot (10 December 2018). "New leftwing coalition urges Labour to reject Brexit". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019.
  139. ^ Sienna Rodgers (22 March 2019). "Join 'Put it to the People' demo, Momentum activists tell Jon Lansman". Labour List. Retrieved 2019.
  140. ^ Damien Gayle (30 March 2019). "John McDonnell backs Momentum on Barclays protest". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019.
  141. ^ Felicity Macnamara (28 March 2019). "Bradford Momentum branch to stage city centre climate change protest". Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 2019.
  142. ^ Chris Saltmarsh (21 March 2019). "Momentum members join fight against Barclays' fossil fuel funding". Bright Green. Retrieved 2019.
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  145. ^ "Activists step up call for tenants to pay no rent at all". Letting Agent Today. Retrieved 2020.
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  149. ^ "The 66 Labour MPs who voted for Syria air strikes face threats of deselection and branded 'warmongers'". The Independent. 3 December 2015.
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  189. ^ a b Libby Brooks (26 July 2018). "Momentum heads to Glasgow to hold first Scottish training event". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018.
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External links


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