An email from Jon Lansman to the Momentum Steering Committee

From: Jon Lansman
Date: Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 7:39 PM
Subject: Proposal to Steering Group: A new constitution for Momentum

To: Marsha Jane Thompson, Christine Shawcroft, Sam Tarry, Jacqueline Walker, Martyn Cook, Michael Chessum, Matt Wrack, Sam Wheeler, Professor Cecile Wright, Jill Mountford, Maggie Simpson
Cc: Emma Rees, Adam Klug

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to explain why, in consultation with a number of others in Momentum, the Leader’s office and trade unions that have supported Jeremy Corbyn, I have decided to propose today that we immediately act to put Momentum on the proper footing that those dependant on the success of Jeremy’s leadership need it to be and our members want it to be.
Most of our members joined Momentum because they support Jeremy Corbyn and want to help him achieve what he is trying to do. We must put behind us the paralysis that has for months bedevilled all our national structures, and focus on our most urgent task – winning the general election that could come within months, by turning Labour into an effective force committed to that task, and to the transformative government that would follow.
I have also taken legal advice, based on a review of a substantial body of Momentum records, which is that in order to operate effectively as an organisation with members, Momentum needs written rules or a constitution with which all its members agree, and in our current circumstances, the only way of agreeing such a constitution which is binding on the relationship between the organisation and our members is to seek the individual consent of each of our members and affiliates.
The papers which are included in this mailing set out:

  1. The results of the survey initiated by Jeremy Corbyn’s pre-Christmas message to Momentum members, which indicate members’ overwhelming support for the type of organisation we will continue to build, action-focused, rooted in our communities, wholly committed to the Labour Party, and involving our members directly in decision-making;
  2. A constitution which establishes a sustainable democratic framework for the sort of organisation we need – an outwards-looking, campaigning organisation to change and strengthen the Labour Party, not to mirror its structures. This constitution would apply from now but would be reviewed in due course and be subject to amendments;
  3. A paper on interim governance
  4. A paper on election process for the new National Coordinating Group to replace existing regional and national structures.

The Constitution may not be perfect in everyone’s eyes, but, whatever process we follow, it is common ground that we need one, and it is surely better to have it now and amend it later by a process that is indisputable. As well as setting out the essential elements of our aims and objectives as they have always appeared on our website and in our public statements, the constitution:

  1. Reinforces our wholehearted commitment to the Labour Party by restating our aim of working towards affiliation, and requiring all members to be party members;
  2. Provides for elections and key decisions including changes to the constitution to be made by our members themselves;
  3. Provides for a structure with minimum bureaucracy reflecting members desire to focus externally on organising and campaigning through our local groups, liberation networks and the Labour Party rather than internally on making policy for ourselves.

If this constitution is agreed, the effect would be to wind up the SC, the NC and CAC, with immediate effect, though the conference would go ahead but under the new rules, no motions would be considered.
If you are happy with all these proposals as they stand, please indicate by email. If there is a majority – I think we all recognise that we shall continue to disagree on this matter – I propose that we seek the approval of members immediately.
In solidarity

Jon Lansman
Chair
Momentum National Steering Group


LINKS TO FILES

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Members Meeting: Sat 26 November

PRE-REGISTRATION IS ESSENTIAL (click here to register)


The open letter issued immediately after this summer’s coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn – in the name of a number of socialists who have since gone on to form the Labour Party Socialist Network – argued that “Labour must immediately go on the offensive to win back voters across the country by vigorously campaigning for an immediate improvement in working-class living standards and democratic rights. This is the only way that Labour can begin the process of winning back large sections of its working class base. Labour must set out its aim of a society in which the obscene gap between the super-rich and the rest of us is ended; where there is no poverty, austerity, exploitation or discrimination. That will require a fundamental change in the way this society is run. It means campaigning on a socialist programme.”

Much has happened since then, not least another surge in Labour Party and Momentum membership, and Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election with a bigger share of the vote than in 2015. These events should be a source of inspiration for us all. However, our statement remains as true now as it did in late June. The problems facing the working class since the Brexit vote have, if anything, increased. And the opponents of socialism – within and outside of our movement – have not gone away. It is vital that the Labour and trade union movement is rearmed with a democratic, anti-austerity, and avowedly socialist alternative to take into working-class communities. The LPSN can play an important role in this process.

Pre-registration is essential (click here to register) and a pooled fare will operate to reduce travel costs. Attendance is free for LPSN members (you can join at socialistnetwork.org.uk/join , or on the day.) Attendance for non-members £3.

N.B. LPSN meetings are open to members, and those eligible to become members. People belonging to “democratic centralist” groups are not eligible to attend.

Meeting Agenda

  • Building a million-strong Labour Party on a socialist programme (intro from Matt Wrack)
  • A socialist response to Brexit (intro from Nick Wrack)
  • Campaigning priorities
  • Organisation (including election of the steering committee.)

 

Report: Momentum South East Region meeting 30.10.16

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

TWT feedback – Please fill in this form for feedback on TWT <link>

Matt Wrack calls for Momentum NC delegates to meet

31 October 2016

Dear Comrade,

Re: A meeting of Momentum National Committee delegates to discuss the present situation & consider solutions

Over the past few days we have all been involved in discussions with Momentum members about the concerns which have arisen from the decisions of the Steering Committee to cancel the meeting of the NC due to take place on 5 November and to go ahead with a national conference with online voting of all members.

You will also know the consternation these decisions have caused and the response from London, Eastern, Northern and South East regions.

Below is an email sent yesterday (30 October) to the Steering Committee members from Matt Wrack who is a member of the National Committee and Steering Committee. We echo those observations and comments.

We are extremely concerned that we overcome this current difficult division that has arisen as quickly as possible. Therefore, we are proposing to convene a meeting of as many NC members as possible in Birmingham next Saturday 5 November to discuss the recent events and, most importantly, consider ways to overcome the resulting differences and to move forward together.

There is no desire or intention to create any separate or parallel organisation within or in opposition to Momentum. We are all committed to building Momentum, as we are all doing at a local level. We simply want to address what we perceive to be a democratic deficit in its decision-making at the present time.

Please let us know if you can attend. If you can’t, is there someone you can send in your place?

We will send out further information about the venue and starting time along with a provisional agenda as soon as we can.

In solidarity,

Matt Wrack

Delia Mattis      ) London NC delegates

Jill Mountford   )  ” ”

Nick Wrack        )  ” ”

John Pickard      ) Eastern NC delegate

Steve Battlemuch ) East Midlands NC delegate

Michael Chessum ) Member of national Steering Committee

See the SC email below the line.


From: matt.wrack@####

Date: 30 October 2016 at 16:05:52 GMT

To: Jill Mountford , jonlansman@####, bethfosterogg@####

Cc: Michael Chessum, Sophie Williams, James Schneider, Martyn Cook, Professor Cecile Wright, samuel wheeler, Samuel Tarry, Darren Williams, Marshajane Thompson, Emma Rees, Christine Shawcroft, Jacqueline Walker, Adam Klug

Subject: Re: MOMENTUM SC composition of the national committee and a survey to members

Comrades

We are facing a major crisis.

In my view this was inevitable once a series of decisions were taken last Thursday and Friday. Nevertheless, we can still try out mitigate – and possibly sort out – the mess we are in.

We need to keep in mind a couple of things.

  1. The most legitimate body in Momentum is the National Committee. It represents regions and in a number of cases, at least, this has been re-confirmed by recent conferences or regional events.
  1. The Steering Committee was elected by the National Committee and is, therefore, clearly subordinate to the NC. The Steering Committee cannot usurp the position of the NC – to which it is accountable.

Whatever the weaknesses of the National Committee, it has far more legitimacy than any other body within Momentum. This is the central fact which seems to have been forgotten.

The central problem which has been created is that the SC has usurped the authority of the National Committee. Two decisions have produced this:

A) The decision to cancel the meeting of the parent body (the National Committee) – particularly without consultation with the regions or with the members of the National Committee.

B) The decision regarding the conference. It was the National Committee which agreed to convene a conference. That decision and all issues relating to it are the responsibility of the National Committee unless the NC specifically delegates those responsibilities to another body. It has not done so.

In these circumstances, it was inevitable that there would be any angry reaction. The London meeting passed a vote of censure and Jon Lansman, as Chair of the SC, could find no support whatsoever from a single delegate from a single London Momentum group.

Likewise, the Eastern region has expressed similar concern and expressed the view that the issues considered by the Steering Committee are properly matters for the National Committee.

I do not have details but believe the SE may have also taken a similar view. All of this has happened within two days of the Steering Committee.

There are serious risks which arise. Risks of serious division, of demoralisation, of public embarrassment etc.

We can still take steps to address this and put it right. Even at this stage, I would urge the SC to go ahead with the meeting of the National Committee. I am sure that compromises and a way forward can be found over issues such as the form of the conference. These issues are not matters of principle and are secondary to basic rules of democracy and accountability. It is important to note, for example, that the anger at the London meeting united people who disagree on the form of the conference. This was reflected in the vote.

I strongly urge us to agree to convene the National Committee next Saturday as planned and attempt to put this episode behind us.

In hope.

Matt Wrack

General Secretary

Fire Brigades Union

Momentum Northern Region urges recall of national Steering Committee

The following motion of censure was passed by a meeting of delegates from across Momentum Northern region, with 14 votes in favour and none against.


Momentum Northern Regional Network 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. The Steering Committee was elected by the National Committee on an interim basis for a now expired term and it has no right to usurp the authority of Momentum’s sovereign decision-making body.

The Steering Committee’s decision to impose online referenda on the organisation regardless of the feedback from local branches goes against all traditions of democratic good practice in the labour movement; it is disrespectful to the many members who have worked hard to develop local branches and regional networks; it undermines our efforts to promote meaningful participation in the Labour Party; and it will turn Momentum into a top-down, officer-led organisation.

We call for the Steering Committee’s decision regarding the format of the conference to be rescinded. We support the National Committee proceeding as originally scheduled on 5 November with full authority to decide how a conference should be organised.

We also call for the National Committee to recall the current Steering Committee and elect a new line-up to take Momentum’s work forward until the national conference.

Report on Momentum Eastern Region Conference 29.10.16

There were about 80 present, including delegates from 13 Momentum groups. The agenda and procedure was agreed by a short ‘pre-meeting’ so that delegates had ownership of the whole process. The meeting elected myself and Dr Sue Eason (Bedford) as NC members for the Momentum Eastern region until next year’s conference. This means that Marshajane Thompson is no longer on the NC and should not be on the Steering Committee either.

We passed a resolution, moved by Ian Ilett, on the following lines:

“This conference believes that the National Committee is at present the highest democratically-elected body of Momentum and should have control over the organisation of the forthcoming national conference”.

I can’t remember the wording exactly.

The conference also condemned the postponement of the NC on November 5th.

Feedback we’ve had from delegates and visitors who were there (via Loomio) has been extremely positive. They enjoyed the conference, the discussion, the comradely mood and the general atmosphere. We were trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot and we made a fairly good job of it. We’ll do a better job next year.

John Pickard

London Momentum censures national steering committee

The London Regional Committee of Momentum, having heard about the business and decisions taken by the national steering committee last night, discussed the issues extensively this morning. We heard that the Steering Committee (SC) meeting had been convened at just 19 hours’ notice and that items were added to the agenda in the course of the meeting that had not been notified in advance. Decisions were made by the Steering Committee which should have been taken by the National Committee.

The SC voted to cancel a planned meeting of the NC due to take place on 5 November. It also voted on a method of organising the conference that pre-empted the discussion that has only just begun in the local and regional Momentum groups and which should have been taken to the NC.

There was a wide-ranging discussion including contributions from Jill Mountford and Michael Chessum who are London members of the Steering Committee who had voted against the decisions, as well as from Jon Lansman, the chair of the national Steering Committee who defended the decision, and from FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, who is also a member of the SC and who had refused to attend the meeting because of its lack of legitimacy.

The motion dealt exclusively with the undemocratic process involved and did not comment on the merits or otherwise of the substantive decision to held a conference based on all members voting online.

The meeting passed the resolution below by 31 votes to 0 with 2 abstentions.

“This meeting of the London 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.”

What’s going on with Momentum’s Steering Committee?

From reports of last night’s hastily called Momentum National Steering Committee (a sub-committee, it should be remembered, of the National Committee) it is clear that an anti-democratic stitch-up has taken place.

Momentum was due to hold a National Committee next Saturday 5 November, with new people elected from the Regions. The present NC was put together on the basis of an opaque and dubious democracy in February and was supposed to sit for six months only. We are now two months past its sell-by date.

Recently the SC has begun (very belatedly) to consult the local groups and members on what structures we should have for the national conference which is scheduled for February. Only yesterday two papers were circulated from HQ for consultation. One was from Jon Lansman and the other was co-authored by Matt Wrack and Jill Mountford.

At 9:45pm on Thursday a notice went out calling a meeting of the SC for the following night (i.e. last night, Friday) – that is, with less than 24 hours notice. Matt Wrack was unable to attend.

At that meeting of the SC it decided by 7 votes to 2, as far as I can gather, to cancel the NC meeting on 5 November!

It then proceeded, on a motion from Jon Lansman, to vote for his proposal for a streamed conference with voting by all members via an online connection. i.e. no delegates, no branch representation. Now, whatever the merits of this (and I don’t think it has many) this was simply steam-rolling through Lansman’s own preferred option, in the absence of Matt (the General Secretary of the FBU, a major left union) and without waiting for the consultation with the local groups. And without waiting for next week’s scheduled NC.

It should be stated again: the SC is a sub-committee of the NC. How on earth can the sub-committee remove the rights of the NC, which is the very body that gives the SC any legitimacy?

The members of the SC who took these decisions are there well past their period of office.

Please read Jill Mountford’s report;

as well as Michael Chessum’s Facebook post;

and my own two FB comments: [1] [2]

I will post further updates when I get time.

Nick Wrack

A report of Momentum London Regional Committee meeting 15 October 2016

The London Regional Committee of Momentum met on 15 October 2016. It was the first meeting since April, which is a very long time to go without a meeting. This can only be partly explained by the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn and the ensuing leadership election campaign.

There were representatives from 21 local groups. Each group is entitled to two delegates, of whom at least one must be a woman.

The local groups represented were:

Hackney
Enfield
Hammersmith & Fulham
Hounslow
Camden
Ealing
Richmond & Twickenham
City of London
Lewisham
Greenwich
Harrow
Wandsworth
Haringey
Newham
Waltham Forest
Southwark
Brent
Barnet
Southall
Tower Hamlets
Lambeth

There were also representatives from London Momentum groups for LGBT, disabled, women and Youth and Student members.

Around 45-50 were present.

Momentum nationally has a system of registering and then verifying groups before they become entitled to have reps and voting entitlements. It appears that some local groups and liberation groups may not yet be verified.

There was a packed agenda (due partly to the long time gap since the previous meeting) and it had also been proposed that no motions be taken. This caused some controversy as the meeting then voted to take three motions on the issue of suspensions, expulsions and the issue of Jackie Walker’s removal as Vice-Chair of the Momentum national steering committee.

The first session was a three minute report from each group. It took much longer than anticipated but was very interesting and encouraging. Groups are at different stages of development but all seem to be actively engaging positively with local campaigns and setting up democratic structures. It showed that Momentum is growing at local level and is involved in both outward campaigning as well as getting involved in serious Labour Party activity at ward and constituency level. Pascale reported from Southwark.

The next session was an introduction by Seema Chandwani, secretary of Tottenham CLP, on how the Labour Party functions, some of the problems that can be faced when running local wards and constituencies, and how to be better organised. She stressed the importance of standing people for officers’ positions who are capable of doing a very good job. Seema also dealt with how the London Labour Left slate for London conference came about. In the discussion there were observations about the need for the left to be better organised at national Labour Party Conference.

A report was given on The World Transformed, the event sponsored by Momentum on the conference fringe. It included politics, culture and music. Over 4,000 attended and it received positive press coverage. There was some concern raised that while the event was successful and positive, Momentum was less present in the conference itself. For example, it produced no daily bulletin giving reports and guidance for the sessions to come.

There was then a fairly controversial session on the suspensions and expulsions, and the Jackie Walker issue.

Firstly, following what seemed like endless amendments, the following resolution was eventually passed:

“Momentum will, in line with previously agreed commitments, start seriously and publicly campaigning against unjust expulsions and suspensions of individuals and local parties from the Labour Party – and for reform of the party’s structure and processes to stop such factional abuse of the party machine. It will also include calling on Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and other left-wing Labour Party leaders to be bold on these issues.”

Secondly, Haringey motivated support for a very long resolution on anti-Semitism and related issues, which they had submitted four months ago when Jackie Walker was first suspended from the Labour Party. It became obvious that there was no time to do justice to the many issues raised in the motion and Haringey agreed to withdraw it and return with a more succinct and contemporary motion.

Thirdly, the meeting also discussed a petition supporting Jackie Walker, criticising the decision of the Steering Committee to remove her as chair and calling for her reinstatement.  After many amendments the following statement was agreed:

London Region Momentum

  1. Condemns the unjust suspension of Labour Party members, many of whom are Black, Muslim, committed anti-racists and/or Jewish supporters of Palestinian rights.
  2. Calls for Momentum to campaign against the purge of thousands of Labour Party members and supporters in the run up to the Leadership election, some of which were targeted for spurious reasons such as tweeting about other political parties. Free speech is a right that should be respected by the Labour Party Compliance Unit.
  3. Calls for Jackie Walker, a Jewish Black woman and anti-racist campaigner, to be reinstated into the Labour Party.
  4. Calls for discussion on democratic structures and procedures, suspensions and elections at the national conference in February.

By now it was 4:00pm and we had run out of time. We had still not discussed the issue of Momentum’s structures and other constitutional issues such as the election of the National Committee. There is to be a national Momentum conference in February 2017 and it is imperative that local groups discuss these issues. There is also a National Committee meeting on 5 November and regional groups can elect new representation. London is entitled to four NC members, of whom two must be women.

As a result, it was agreed to re-convene the Regional Committee on Saturday 29 October to discuss structures and to elect the new NC members.

Volunteers for an ad hoc steering committee were requested and we both did so.

At the end the meeting organised a collection for the Picturehouses living wage strike.

Some observations:

We do need to have regular monthly meetings of the Regional Committee to share experiences, give assistance to local groups by offering support and by learning from one another, and to give political and organisational direction on the basis of open debate and discussion. The Regional Committee could be an extremely useful body to pass on information and to co-ordinate campaigns (where relevant) across London. It should also be the body to co-ordinate Momentum’s intervention into events like the London Labour Party regional conference and similar events.

There needs to be better preparation for the Regional Committee and better communication with the local groups.  There should be a set of Standing Orders or rules for the conduct of business such as the submission of motions and voting rights.

Despite some frustrating aspects the meeting really showed the potential strength of the socialist left in the Labour Party in London and how, if we organise around democracy and socialism, we can really make an impact over the next year.

Momentum is here to stay. We just need to make it democratically accountable, socialist and outward looking. There were really encouraging local group reports, showing how campaigning on local issues is being taken up. This is so important.

Despite some differences, everyone is committed to building Momentum and building a socialist Labour Party.

We need to build Momentum as an active, campaigning, socialist group that turns outwards to the working class and also acts to effect socialist and democratic change within the Labour Party.

Pascale Mitchell
Nick Wrack