Report: Momentum South East Region meeting 30.10.16

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Minutes for South East regional meeting –

In attendance –

Holly Peacock – Southampton

Angela George – Swanley Branch, Sevenoaks CLP

Will Baker – Brighton and Hove

Sarah Pickett – Brighton and Hove

Hannah Minns – Milton Keynes

Dave Isaacson – Milton Keynes

Jim Moody – Isle of White

Andy Forse – Oxford, observer

Alec Price – Medway

Fola Brady – Medway

Christine Tongue – Thanet

Norma Thomas – Thanet

Leah Levane – Hastings

Dan Iley-Williams – Oxford

David Carr – Swanley

Apologies, Mel Melvin, Lottie, Maya Evans, Tariq, Jackie Walker, Roxana Fraser, Ashley Kelly

LOCAL GROUPS REPORT

Medway Momentum – Medway Momentum covers three different CLPs, Momentum supported delegates have been elected into positions across the three CLPs including a trade union officer in one CLP and Momentum supporters holding the majority of positions in another. Normally have 30 people to meetings and have been doing local campaigns including on the NHS campaign.

Isle of White Momentum –  established in September with 45 people at initial meeting. IoW is currently the largest CLP in the country and is considered to be left wing. There are 40 seats for the county council, only 25 to be contested, with 6 full-blown contests. 7 fold increase in Labour party membership, with roughly 1400 members. Momentum meetings have a good age range. For context Isle of White has a ward that is in the 10 most disenfranchised wards in the region. Haven’t yet been given data of Momentum members. ACTION: Beth investigate data situation.

Milton Keynes Momentum – 2 constituencies with Tory MPs, historically CLPs dominated by progress. At last AGM filled officers with Momentum members. Momentum active during local elections. Have hosted discussions about Anti Semitism with Jackie Walker. Organise for biggest ever political meeting in MK with 2000 people. Trying to have stalls on Jeremy’s policies.

Brighton and Hove – Labour party AGM, organised hundreds of people to attend, all candidates elected to LP exec. NEC annulled results of AGM and reinstated previous exec due to alleged bulling in the meeting. On going battle in the CLP. 3 CLPs, 8,200 members. NEC wants it to split into three. Want to use it to brush over accusations on the AGM.  Active local Momentum group, have meetings that relate to things going on like trade union action and refugee crisis.

Swanley – majority Momentum supporters on Sevenoaks CLP exec, promote eco housing for all in CLPs. Eco housing motion (to be discussed in meeting) adopted by Sevenoaks CLP and Kent Momentum. Swanley Momentum held session on eco housing at TWT with an amazing response.

Southampton – Have successful organised for Jeremy supporters to get seats on CLP exec. Political education initiative – training up a series of people in how to deliver political education workshops and understand how to talk about policies.

ACTION – Holly and Beth talk about initiative and linking up with other local groups who are doing similar. Holly to see if booklet and other resources including workshop plans once written can be circulated.

Oxford – Organising for local elections including winning biggest council swing in the city. Oxford has 2 CLPs, interesting local dynamics as NEC members Ann Black, Luke Akehurst, and Pete Willsman all live in Oxford.

Hastings – Have had many public meetings with core group of 10 people driving things. Have been active locally on issues such as RMT dispute with common rail. For work done regarding this dispute Momentum group/CLP (was unsure) received commendation. Labour party relations are good, have representative on trade council, chair and secretary of Hastings CLP.

Momentum group do a lot of work to transform local CLPs and help them campaign. There are 900 people in CLP. Momentum put a lot of political motions to CLP to generally politicise and push it left. Momentum local action included survey monkey on top issues, education and academisation and mental health. Other local actions include collection for food bank and refugees with lots of LP members present.

Thanet – 3 CLPs covered by Momentum group. Membership of Momentum grew out of campaign to stop UKIP and the local anti fascist movement. Specifically successfully ensuing Nigel Farage did not win election. There are hundreds of people engaged in Momentum locally but problems with contact list. ACTION: Beth investigate data situation.

This context mean that lots of people who would never normally touch the Labour Party are drifting in because of the campaigns against the fascist movement. Local activity is fire fighting and street fighting. Campaigns range from street stalls to events such as continental breakfast, music and organising in the streets.

Momentum Thanet was launched with meeting with John McDonnell to launch Another Thanet is Possible, the idea being to come up with left wing solutions to problems in local area including meeting with economists. Kent for Corbyn – organised music festival with Jeremy – 3000 attended open air rally. Also involved in Kent anti racism network – all events for which have been filmed and can be watched online. Have held counter rallies to the fascist movement such as the white lives matter rally. Margate rocks against racism.

Local activity de-railed with Jackie getting suspended and arguments about anti-Semitism

Didn’t think they would have to fight this when real fascism on the doorstep.

Jackie twice suspended from LP and action of national Momentum suspending her as vice chair. No-one in Thanet who doesn’t support her.

Hearing of motions – hour to discuss motions – equal numbers of speakers on each side, Need at least proposer and seconder, 3 min speeches

Motion from Swanley Momentum

Amendment passed:  For all Momentum groups to promote the policy in their momentum and labour party branches

Unanimous acceptance of motion

“Labour’s proposed national house building programme should be based on eco council housing where all properties have solar panels and other green technologies”

Meeting decides to read updated motion in replacement for above motion.

“Labour’s proposed national house building programme should be based on eco council housing. Eco council houses should  have solar panels and other green technologies. 

Labour should also commit to providing eco refurbishment for all forms of existing social housing and privately owned properties, at no cost for the associations and/or householder(s). 

The aim of Eco housing would be to provide homes, skilled and well paid jobs, tackle fuel poverty and enable all to enjoy clean, renewable energy at little or no cost. 

Eco Housing would play a central role in tackling climate change and pollution and enable sustainable economic growth, stimulating a green industrial revolution.”

Conversation on motion:

Labour committed to propose austerity and promote growth. If we continue with growth we must ensure our growth is eco friendly in order to not be destructive. Devastations reaped on environment has many consequences across the board, health, housing and homelessness.

Point of process: Motion goes to NC to see whether it will be adopted as Momentum policy if passed Momentum will lobby the Labour Party on this issue?

Motion from Momentum Medway

“In order to make the Parliamentary Labour Party more accountable [name of group] supports the right of each Constituency Labour Party to 

(1) Select its electoral candidate before each parliamentary election for that constituency

(2) Recall its MP at any point upon a members vote upon a majority to be determined.

In response to the proposed boundary review, all seats with a sitting Labour MP – regardless of the impact of the change on the constituency – should  undergo a selection meeting to determine the CLP’s choice of MP”

Amendment to motions suggested:

Motion with amendments passed

“In order to make the Parliamentary Labour Party more accountable [name of group] supports the right of each Constituency Labour Party to 

(1) Select its electoral candidate before each parliamentary election for that constituency

(2) withdraw the whip of its MP at any point upon a members vote upon a majority to be determined.

In response to the proposed boundary review, all seats with a sitting Labour MP – whether or not there is an impact on the constituency – should  undergo a selection meeting to determine the CLP’s choice of MP”

vote for deletion of (2)

for 2

against 10

abstention 1

Vote on entire motion with amendments

For 14 unanimously passed

Discussion on motion:

  • Essentially mandatory reselection.
  • It is our democratic right to decide the candidate that will represent our views as candidate is always accountable to Labour Party as well as constituents. This was Labour Party rules but removed in 1993.
  • Part of campaign to re-democratise the party. Means you can recall MP at any point not just at election time. This motion means at point of boundary review all MPs be re-selected.
  • ‘Accountable to members, be loud and clear about what we want from our representatives. Mainstream media will have a field day but we should stand on principles’
  • ‘agree with motion, suspended from LP for calling for deselection of Hove MP, energy cannot be harnessed in local CLP because opposition to MP’
  • ‘General Secretaries have to re-stand every year’

Point of clarification: does re-selection always trigger by-election. Clarification offered  Majority vote to be able to re-call MP at any point, CLP could withdraw the whip, means they are no longer LABOUR MP

Request for comment from Jon Lansman about why this was previously rejected by NC, Jon provides explanation via text.

Emergency motion from Brighton and Hove

We note that on the evening of Friday 28 October the national Steering Committee, called at 21 hour’s notice late on Thursday night, voted to cancel the 5 November National Committee by 6 votes to 3 with 1 abstention. The stated motivation was the clash with the NW Regional Labour Party conference, but the date of the NC has been out for over five weeks! Moreover, the idea the NW region could not provide three delegates on that date makes no sense. This will have unnecessarily caused inconvenience to many groups, regions and delegates, but as we note below that is the least of the problem. It is clear that some on the Steering Committee did not want the NC to meet at all, on any date.

We further note that the same meeting voted to call a new NC meeting on 3 December – 6 votes for, 4 abstentions.

Assuming it meets in December, NC will not have met for seven months – after repeated cancellations, votes against holding it and delays. And what months! This looks like not a matter of the technical advantages of different dates and of moving things around, but a systematic attempt to prevent Momentum’s leading democratic body from functioning. Moreover this power has been exercised, over a broad National Committee elected and re-elected by local groups, by a small Steering Committee that was last elected in February.

We call for the decision for the NC to meet in December to be promptly and properly carried out. We deplore the fact that the NC will not have met for seven months and call for it to meet at least every three months in future. We call for new elections to the Steering Committee to be held at the December NC meeting.

We call for manipulative practices like the way the Steering Committee was called and used yesterday to come to an end. This is not an isolated incident but part of a wider problem about democracy in Momentum.

Agreement in the room to replace this motion with London motion below:

“This meeting of the South East Momentum Regional Committee censures the national Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.

We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make those decisions.

We call for these decisions of the national Steering Committee on the conference and the National Committee to be rescinded and for the NC to proceed as originally scheduled on 5 November.”

Discussion:

  • Burocratic decision made, self appointed leaders of the organisation, executives of the organisation make decisions
  • Andy – support emergency motion, procedure of which decision was made cannot be recognised as legitimate, 13 members, called for less than 24 hours to attend, lack of procedure, reasons where not given properly. Proposal for amendment – Matt Wrack proposed that unofficial NC go ahead on the 5th November
  • Leah – Hastings – one of the groups that complained about the lack of notice, 12th October, ludicrously short notice, pleased it has been delayed, major decision about methodology without consultation, democratic structures have been imposed
  • Hannah –one member one vote creates division of grassroots movements.

Amendment in red suggested:

Motion passed by meeting

“This meeting of the South East Momentum Regional Committee censures the national Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.

We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make those decisions.

We call for these decisions of the national Steering Committee on the conference and the National Committee to be rescinded and for the NC to proceed as originally scheduled on 5 November and in the event that the steering committee does not rescind its decision we support Matt Wracks call for an unofficial NC to take place on 5th November

Vote on addition of amendment:

For 10

Against 1

Abstentions 3

Vote on whole motion with amendment:

for 10

against 2

abstentions 2

Motion to Call a National Conference ( to Steering Committee) from Brighton and Hove:

Unanimous decision to pass motion

“Momentum Brighton and Hove, at its AGM of 5th October 2016, called on the National Organisers to plan for a National Conference without delay. This conference should be held by no later than the 1st March 2017. Momentum Brighton and Hove further mandates its South East Regional Network Delegates to submit a motion calling for a National Conference.”

Emergency resolution on the removal of Jackie Walker as vice-chair of Momentum from Brighton and Hove Momentum:

This annual general meeting of Momentum – Brighton and Hove condemns the decision to remove Jackie Walker as vice-chair of Momentum nationally made at the Steering Group meeting held on Monday October 3rd. We call for her immediate reinstatement.

The background to this decision was a video, circulated on social media, of a contribution Jackie made in a fringe event at Labour Party conference. The event was an ‘educational meeting on fighting anti-Semitism’ organised by the Jewish Labour Movement and, as such, ran counter to the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The filming was done in secret and the only part of the meeting to be circulated was Jackie’s contribution from the floor; which is difficult to hear due to the poor quality of the tape.

As such it is completely unacceptable for either the Labour Party or Momentum to use it as evidence or respond to it. Moreover, whatever one’s views of Jackie’s decision to attend the meeting or her comments at it, there is no evidence of anti-Semitism in anything she said and the suggestion that it is is both ludicrous and offensive.

It is clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s election, together with the unprecedented growth in membership this has generated, is seen as a threat by the establishment and mass media, together with some within the movement. They will stop at nothing in their efforts to undermine, demoralise, confuse and divide this movement and remove him from office. Accusations of anti-Semitism, like those of misogyny and bullying, are just one aspect of this ‘guerrilla warfare’. 

Removing Jackie from her position will not appease these people rather it will embolden them to continue their attacks.

Further, we do not believe that a decision of this magnitude should have been made by a hastily called Steering Group but by a more democratic body and after wider consultation. We look forward to the inaugural national conference of Momentum in February and the establishment of a democratic constitution, structures and procedures.

Motion after amendments:

This annual general meeting of Momentum – Brighton and Hove condemns the decision to remove Jackie Walker as vice-chair of Momentum nationally made at the Steering Group meeting held on Monday October 3rd. We call for her immediate reinstatement.

The background to this decision was a video, circulated on social media, of a contribution Jackie made in a fringe event at Labour Party conference. The event was an ‘educational meeting on fighting anti-Semitism’ organised by the Jewish Labour Movement and, as such, ran counter to the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The filming was done in secret and the only part of the meeting to be circulated was Jackie’s contribution from the floor; which is difficult to hear due to the poor quality of the tape.

As such it is completely unacceptable for either the Labour Party or Momentum to use it as evidence or respond to it. Moreover, whatever one’s views of Jackie’s decision to attend the meeting or her comments at it, there is no evidence of anti-Semitism in anything she said and the suggestion that it is is both ludicrous and offensive.

It is clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s election, together with the unprecedented growth in membership this has generated, is seen as a threat by the establishment and mass media, together with some within the movement. They will stop at nothing in their efforts to undermine, demoralise, confuse and divide this movement and remove him from office. Accusations of anti-Semitism, like those of misogyny and bullying, are just one aspect of this ‘guerrilla warfare’. 

Removing Jackie from her position will not appease these people rather it will embolden them to continue their attacks.

Further, we do not believe that a decision of this magnitude should have been made by a hastily called Steering Group without due process, but by a more democratic body with evidence being produced, due regard to national justice and after wider consultation. We look forward to the inaugural national conference of Momentum in February and the establishment of a democratic constitution, structures and procedures.

Discussion on call for reinstatement of Jackie Walker as vice chair of Momentum:

  • No evidence was taken at the steering committee, which made this decision. They based their decision on what was reported in the media.
  • Steering committee elected Jackie as vice chair and have the right to take vote on this decision
  • There was no due process and media leaking story from staff member
  • More critical things were said at the meeting in question but those who said them where not attacked, it was a personal attack because of Jackie public profile, weaponisation of anti-Semitism
  • Many people have been suspended from the labour party without being informed or given an explanation  – Momentum can not do the same
  • Jackie was not suspended although was demoted
  • People who have positions of authority have the responsibility to be careful about what they say. Jackie was ill advised in her comments and behaved irresponsibly in giving weapons to the right

Amendments accepted by Brighton and Hove:

Vote on entire motion

For  – 13

Against – 0

Abstention  – 1

Discussion on structure proposals based on proposal from Jon Lansman and proposal from Matt Wrack and Jill Mountford

Proposal from Jon Lansman

  • NC will decide, papers that will be fed into the national committee
  • Motions with highest numbers, priority ballot, rather than with votes
  • Have not been formally proposed, need to take it back to local groups, can not make decision
  • Technology cannot work  – Paul Mason could not be live streamed from one building to another at TWT
  • Attend in person or can watch online, makes it more accessible, broadening the democratic process
  • Organisational issues, things caught up in stringent process that will be counter productive
  • Having to learn new bits of technology
  • Smaller branch might not be listened too
  • Nothing like meeting people face to face
  • Fairly considerable amounts of people cannot be involved – debate on this point
  • Great mistake to take away from digital democracy
  • Learnings from Podemos and Iceland
  • Bringing in lots of young people
  • Compromise between two proposals preferable

Proposal from Jill Mountford and Matt Wrack

  • Labour movement democracy
  • Conference you can hear peoples opinions and debate them
  • Jon’s proposal is a popularity contest
  • What’s the point of having liberation groups, why are we duplicating the labour party structures with affiliated unions
  • Suspicions for what this might be used for, do we trust proposal? are they going to manipulate it to further their own interests?
  • Simple system needs to be presented but delay in solidifying these things after we know what we are doing better, work on them as experiments with very simple structures
  • Concerns about digital democracy, combination between the two might be better, not give more weight to local groups who are the backbone of the organisation
  • Call for combination of the two, a significant element of digital democracy
  • Concern on numbers and some elements of process
  • Digital democracy should be used
  • Numbers involved – big numbers – momentum people would be spending ages persuading people
  • Maybe accept proposals from local group or 10 members
  • 33% totally excluded
  • Would more people be excluded by online or delegate system?
  • Construct system, which allows those not represented to be able to take part
  • Only controlled by one person who can rig the system
  • Culture of politics
  • The data is a red hearing
  • Leadership election for momentum by OMOV
  • Conference arrangements committee – who’s on it?
  • Representative democracy over new fangled measures

Vote on whether meeting should support no proposal

for 13

Against – 0

Abstention -2

NC vote for delegates –

Will Baker – 11

Angela George – 12

Jackie Walker – 10

Alec Price – 11

Where next for the South East?

Circulation of contact details – (At top of page)

South East labour conference –  Jim Moody IoW CLP, David Wanguse Milton Keynes CLP, Sarah Pickett (possibly depending on Brighton LP), David Carr and Cherly Johnson Sevenoaks CLP

Next meeting – Lottie – arrange next regional meeting to be in January, London, catering <email>. On Agenda of next meeting organisation of festival. South East regional conference/festivals/party.

AOB – all come to ‘Another Thanet is Possible’  – circulate information

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