Momentum Structures Discussion Paper

The following document has been circulated to some members of Momentum on 12 October 2016. It should be noted that this document was agreed only by the two officers of the Momentum Steering Committee, Jon Lansman and Michael Chessum. The third officer, Jackie Walker, had been removed from her post at the previous meeting on 3 October.

The document has not been discussed or agreed by the Momentum Steering Committee.

We note also that the document deals mainly with how policy proposals may be put to the national conference in February 2017, and does not cover the composition of the National Committee and how it is to be elected – something which we think is a crucial question.

The LPSN will publish a written response to these proposals in the near future.

Discussion papers from the Officers of the National Steering Committee

  1. Process for deciding Momentum’s new structures

Rather than attempting to decide Momentum’s structures at the National Committee, a body which is now technically running beyond its mandate and is not fully elected, the Steering Committee is proposing that Momentum’s permanent structures be debated at a national conference, and voted on either by delegates at that conference or by all members. This conference will take place in February (there is a separate paper on its composition).

The proposals we need to generate to go to that conference are not just about structures – they are also about what Momentum stands for and how we conduct ourselves. So there are 3 kinds of documents that can be submitted:

Momentum’s core politics and guiding principles – what we stand for

Momentum’s ethics and code of conduct – how we behave

Momentum’s democratic structures – how we make decisions

The process that the Steering Committee is proposing is designed to be as open as possible – proposals can come directly from members, unmediated by the National Committee or any other parts of Momentum’s ‘centre’.

Phase 1
Begins: November 12th
Drafts to be submitted to HQ for circulation: November 19th
Comments must be received at HQ by: December 9th
Revised documents submitted: January 9th

(dates assume an early Feb conference. A later conference should involve an extension of phase 1)
All members of Momentum will have the right to formulate and propose documents on the above areas. Members’ proposals attracting the support of 50 individual members will be circulated in a document (the “initial proposers”). All members and local groups will be able to submit comments or suggested amendments which will be considered by the initial proposers who may accept or reject them, and revise their documents prior to the next stage. They may also composite their documents with others

In order to progress to Phase 2, proposals will then need the support of:

200 individual members of Momentum.

Phase 2
Documents circulated: week commencing January 9th
Ends: One week before conference
This stage is an opportunity for local groups to discuss the final documents in advance of the conference and for people to declare their support, in order for favoured documents to get over the final hurdle. The numbers required to reach Phase 3 are:

1000 individual members; or

20 local groups; or

400 members and 10 local groups

Phase 3
The vote
The vote will take place between all proposals that make it to conference by Preferential Vote. The question of who gets to vote, and how conference is composed, is in section 2.
Questions which you should discuss:

  1. Do you agree with the broad process outlined, and if not, what should be used?
  2. Do you agree with the 3 categories of paper outlined above?
  3. Do you agree with the numbers needed to reach each stage, or are they too high or low?
  4. Do you agree with the dates and timescales outlined above?
  5. Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

Paper 2 – Momentum’s conference
The National Committee has already resolved (at its last meeting in May) that Momentum will hold a democratic conference in February 2017 in order to settle the permanent structures of the organisation. The text of the motion passed at the National Committee is as follows:
“We need a widely representative Momentum conference in order to empower the membership, push forward the development of our policy and activities, and allow groups to coordinate, network and become part of a national Momentum culture. We therefore agree to convene a democratic conference [in February 2017], representing local groups directly.”
We currently do not have an agreed delegate entitlement for the conference, or a firm idea of who can vote at it, other than that it will “represent local groups directly”.

The Steering Committee has commissioned a mapping exercise of Momentum’s local groups in order to determine the size of membership and health of local organisation, and to enable us to assist in supporting local activity. This process is underway, and will feed into the delegate

On the Steering Committee, there are different opinions as to how the conference should be composed. These include:

  • Delegates from local groups (according to their size)
  • A mixed delegate system: delegates from local groups (according to their size) and regional ‘top up’ lists elected by OMOV in order to represent people who live in areas not covered by local groups
  • No delegate system – the conference should be live-streamed and all Momentum members should be allowed to vote online

Questions which you should discuss:

  1. Should voting at conference be by delegates, or by an online ballot of Momentum members?
  2. If voting is by delegates, how should the delegate entitlement be calculated, and who should calculate it?  
  3. Apart from Momentum’s core documents (Politics, Ethics, Structure), what else should Momentum conference vote on, if anything?
  4. What kinds of sessions should the conference include? What should the agenda look like?
  5. Do you have any additional ideas and proposals for the composition of conference?


A statement from the Labour Party Socialist Network on Jackie Walker and Momentum

The Labour Party Socialist Network is opposed to the suspension of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party and is opposed to the moves from sections of the Momentum leadership to remove her from her position as Vice-Chair of Momentum.

The calls for her removal clearly originated with those who have their own anti-Corbyn, anti-Momentum agenda. It is pushed by those who want to stop any critical discussion about the role of the Israeli government in its treatment of the Palestinians.

Supporters of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians want to curtail any such criticism by equating it with anti-Semitism, by equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Such criticism does not equate.

It should not be forgotten that the issue arose because someone has released a film of the discussion at what everyone present thought would be a private meeting of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) in which there could be open and honest engagement on potentially controversial subjects. Those responsible have deliberately manipulated their recording to manufacture maximum embarrassment for Momentum and Corbyn and hostility towards Jackie Walker.

A careful viewing of the film clip shared on the Huffington Post reveals that there is no basis for the accusation that Jackie said anything at the meeting that was anti-Semitic. We do not believe that she is anti-Semitic.

We cannot agree with those on the left who have rushed to condemn her comments as being anti-Semitic and have called for her to be removed as Vice-Chair of Momentum on that basis, instead of confronting these unfounded allegations.

Initially, some in the leadership of Momentum, without first notifying Jackie of their intentions, went to the press to call for her removal as Vice Chair. There has still been no formal notification to the Steering Committee that it will meet this coming Monday to discuss the issue.

Now, apparently, those seeking to remove Jackie have said that there is to be no disciplinary action taken against her within Momentum.

Presumably this is because it is accepted that she did not say anything that could be considered anti-Semitic. If this is so, then why is there a continued determination to remove her as Vice-Chair? It can only be to appease her accusers. But they will not be appeased. They will want more.

Why has she been suspended (again) by the Labour Party? The Labour Party’s right-wing Compliance Unit has clearly been encouraged by the stance taken by sections of Momentum’s leadership.

Do those calling for Jackie’s removal not understand that this is a political attack on the left; an attempt to undermine Momentum? If Jackie is removed today those who have initiated this attack will be back for another target tomorrow, and another the day after.

Whatever one’s views on Jackie’s comments at the JLM event, she should be defended against these attacks. We must protect free speech and the right to be critical. There is no place for hatred or hostility towards Jews within the Labour Party or anywhere else. But honest criticism of political positions or clumsy questioning do not constitute such.

The controversial issues of Israeli policy, of Zionism, of Israeli-Palestinian relations and of the rights of the Palestinian people are extremely contested in society and especially in the Labour movement. If we are to make any headway on these or any other subjects we must ensure that we protect open, honest, rational and critical but comradely discussion.