Momentum National Committee – Some Observations

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Below is the text of a leaflet that Nick Wrack distributed to delegates at the 3 December 2016 meeting of the Momentum National Committee:

  1. This NC takes place after the successful re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Momentum has grown to over 20,000 members and has the potential to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for socialist change. There is much to applaud; and much still to do.
  2. We would all rather be discussing campaigning initiatives and activities to build Momentum and to help transform the Labour Party, drawing in even more members to reach one million and to double Momentum’s membership.
  3. Unfortunately, however, there have recently been real concerns about the way decisions are taken by the majority of the Steering Committee, by-passing the National Committee and seeming to treat the local groups with suspicion.
  4. There is a real danger that, if unchecked, such behaviour will threaten the tremendous achievements that Momentum has made so far. So we have to address the issues.
  5. Today’s NC is an opportunity to assert some basic democratic principles and practice in Momentum.
  6. We may all have different views on how the national conference should be organised: delegate-based, OMOV, a mix. We may all have different views on how to organise, campaign priorities and may have different positions on important policies.
  7. However, if Momentum is to grow we surely can all agree that basic democratic labour movement principles must be maintained. That is what protects the right to have differences and to debate them fairly.
  8. There must be accountability and transparency at all levels. All too frequently we do not know what decisions have been made, or by whom. Decisions are implemented without ever having been agreed.
  9. We are all aware of the decision made by a majority of the SC to cancel the NC and to impose an OMOV conference. Thankfully, those decisions were then rescinded following a rebellion from below.
  10. Now, however, despite the fact that the NC is due to debate the conference and how it will be organised, the MxV website has already been launched, pre-empting the NC decision. This sort of thing must stop.
  11. This is why it is essential that Motion 10 from London is passed by today’s NC.
  12. I propose that Motion 10 is taken in parts and that parts 2 & 3 are moved very early in the agenda. This is so that, if passed, we have time to call for nominations and conduct an election and announce the result today.
  13. It seems obvious that the existing SC has to be re-elected. The NC has gone through a process of regeneration with new elections taking place. The SC is a product, a sub-committee, of the NC. So clearly the new NC has to elect a new SC.
  14. Three members of the SC are no longer members of the NC. Two stood for re-election and lost; one did not stand again. How can they properly remain on the SC?
  15. The SC needs to have a clear mandate. This is the case whoever is on it. Without a new election the SC will have no authority; there will continue to be mistrust, cynicism and antipathy to the SC from many members.
  16. The other parts of Motion 10 should also be supported.

Item 6: Democratic Process & February Conference

  1. A very good job has been done in reducing down the many and various proposals into a comprehensible series of alternatives. So thanks to whoever did that.
  1. Part 1 Purpose of conference:– Options A and B probably don’t amount to substantial differences but I don’t see the need to debate a section on ‘ethics and code of conduct’ and prefer B to A.
  2. Part 2 Timing:- Choose Option A
  3. Part 3 How proposals get to conference:- The alternatives boil down to a choice between OMOV (or a variant) and an emphasis on local groups.
  4. Option A, which is the MxV etc is not only politically wrong but practically unwieldy and will lead to chaos.
  5. The local groups are the bedrock of Momentum. They should form the bedrock of the conference. Face to face discussions on motions is a far better collective method of developing policy and practice than the atomisation of the membership that is encouraged by Option A. So vote for Option B.
  6. Part 4 Composition of Conference:- So long as the principle of a delegate conference is agreed, the ratio of delegates is less important. A decisive factor is the size of the hall. It should be as representative as possible.
  7. In my opinion the NC should be entitled to attend conference but not to vote unless elected as a delegate.
  8. Representation of members not in groups:- I support option B from London. The emphasis should be on creating the local groups before the conference and getting delegates from them.
  9. Equalities strands:- either Option A or B but Option C is premature given that we do not yet appear to have nationally established liberation groups, let alone regional units of them.
  10. Part 5 Who organises conference?:- Vote for the motion from the North East and we must choose the committee today. It should be possible to have a combination of people from the NC and others who aren’t.
  11. Part 6:- How voting is done:- Again, this is a choice between conference being the sovereign body, or whether OMOV should prevail. The proposals from both Jon Lansman (Option A) and Michael Chessum (Option B) are Byzantine in their complexity. Why? For what purpose?
  12. Conference should make the decisions on the motions. There is no need to drag out the decision-making process. We will end up with conflicting decisions. Which one is to be implemented? The same criticisms apply to Yorkshire & Humberside’s Option D. So vote for Option C.
  13. Part 7:- How to elect delegates? Choose Option A.
  14. On the rest I would ask that Motions 7 and 8 are withdrawn in favour of Motion 10, which covers the same ground. I don’t think that the proposal on the companies in Motion 7 deals adequately with the issue and a review, with time to consider all aspects, is a better way to go than a rushed decision today.
  15. Motion 9 contains a lot of good stuff but personally I think we still need more time to consider how to elect the NC. I think the present system (without the socialist organisations) needs a little tweaking but is generally satisfactory.
  16. We only need to ‘note’ Motions 11 and 12, not debate them.
  17. Motion 13 is unsubstantiated.
  18. Motions 14, 15 and 16 will hopefully have been dealt with by re-electing Jackie onto the Steering Committee.
  19. It will be a long meeting. But hopefully conducted in a comradely and constructive manner.

 

By Nick Wrack

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