Motion from London to 3 December National Committee re National Conference

The following motion was passed by 24 votes to 1, with 3 abstentions at the meeting of the London Momentum Regional Committee on Saturday 19th November.

“The Momentum London Regional Committee agrees to send the following motion to the National Committee.

The Momentum National Committee agrees that:

1. Momentum’s national conference in February 2017 should be a delegate-based conference with decision-making by delegates voting at the conference.

2. The delegates will be from local branches and affiliated groups.

a. Each local group may send 2 delegates per 50 members or part         thereof, up to a maximum of 10, at least 50% of these to be women and these to be elected at a meeting where appropriate.

b. Momentum Youth & Students and liberation groups may send a number of delegates to be agreed by the National Committee in consultation with these groups, subject to the verification of structures and election processes by the National Committee.

c. Each affiliated unions may send 5 delegates if their membership is less than 250,000, and 10 otherwise.

d. The outgoing National Committee may attend as ex officio non-voting delegates.

3. The conference invite and accept motions, amendments and nominations not only from the current national committee and regional committees, but also from recognised Momentum branches. Motions are to be geared towards broad policy discussion.

a. Each local group may send 1 motion.

b. Momentum Youth & Students and liberation groups may send 1 motion each.

c. Each affiliated unions may send 1 motion.

d. The National Committee may send 1 motion or constitutional amendment.

e. Each Regional Committee may send 1 motion or constitutional amendment.

4. Motions to be submitted 3 weeks before conference (i.e. from 5 Dec to X Jan / Feb).

5. All motions to be shared on X date online and groups encouraged to composite motions (motions composited by more groups will move higher up the agenda as incentive to composite). Amendments to be circulated before the conference.

6. An open e-forum for all members should be set up, where motions can be discussed, amendments can be mooted and compositing processes can be arranged.

7. There should be an online priorities ballot.

8. The conference to be open to observers to attend as much as is practically possible.

9. The outgoing National Steering Committee to ensure that it has provided full reports for consideration and acceptance by the conference.”

Motion for 3 December National Committee from London Momentum Regional Committee

The following motion was passed by 27 votes to 1, with 2 abstentions at the meeting of the London Momentum Regional Committee on Saturday 19th November.

“The London Momentum Regional Committee agrees to send the following motion to the National Committee:

The National Committee agrees that:

  1. Local groups are the basic unit of Momentum. All members of Momentum should be encouraged to join and get involved in their local group. For those members where groups don’t presently exist the Momentum office and the regional committees/networks should encourage and support the establishment of new local groups. We should use FaceBook and e.groups as tools to bring members together to establish new groups. All unnecessary impediments to setting up local groups should be removed.
  2. In between National Annual Conferences, the National Committee (NC) is the highest elected body. The Steering Committee is a sub-committee of the NC elected from the NC.
  3. This meeting of the National Committee (3 December 2016) agrees to elect a new Steering Committee to hold office until the national conference, unless removed by the National Committee beforehand. The new SC will comprise of a Chair, Secretary and Treasurer elected directly by the NC by exhaustive ballot for each post, along with 8 other members to be elected by the NC by Single Transferable Vote, plus one representative from each affiliated Trade Union.
  4. In the interests of good communications and transparency, there will be a page on the national website that sets out and explains what the structures are in Momentum and who serves on the various committees (giving, with permission, contact details for our elected representatives). Minutes and decisions from all SC and NC meetings will be posted on the national website.
  5. This NC agrees to elect a sub-committee of three members from the NC to conduct a review of the current Momentum companies’ structure, with administrative support from a staff member. This sub-committee will make proposals to the next NC.
  6. This NC believes that Momentum needs a simple Rule book. This NC agrees to set up a working group made up of 5 members from the NC, with support from a staff member, to produce an initial draft for consideration at the next NC with a view to it being presented for adoption by the national conference.”

Informal meeting of Momentum NC members

by Nick Wrack

Yesterday there was an informal meeting of members of the Momentum National Committee (NC) in Birmingham, following a call from FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and several other NC members.

It was a meeting to discuss recent events and find a common way forward to help make Momentum a more effective campaigning socialist organisation. It was not to set up a rival NC or to entrench divisions within Momentum. Far from it. No one really wanted to spend a day discussing problems in Momentum when we have so many campaigns to build and so much work inside the Labour Party to carry out. We are all committed to building Momentum and are involved at local level.

All those who attended did so with the best interests of Momentum in mind. We have a unique opportunity to build Momentum as a massive socialist force in the Labour Party, which can turn out to recruit new members and turn in to the Labour Party to effect change from top to bottom. No-one wants this opportunity to be squandered.

Consternation

The meeting was called to discuss the decisions of the Momentum Steering Committee (SC) on 28 October to cancel a long-scheduled NC meeting which was to take place on 5 November, and to hold the February national Momentum conference on the basis of OMOV (one member, one vote).

These decisions caused a lot of consternation across the country with four regional meetings (London, Eastern, South East and Northern) passing motions of censure on the SC over the weekend of 29/30 October.

On Wednesday 2 November the SC met and unanimously agreed a very good statement that went a long way to acknowledging that things should have been done differently and allowed Momentum members to breathe a sigh of relief.

Eighteen members of the NC and three members of Momentum Youth and Students’ group who had been delegated specifically to this meeting attended. There were apologies from three other NC members. A further thirteen observers were present, from Manchester, Yorkshire, West Midlands, East Midlands and London. Had the SC not issued its 2 November statement other members of the NC would have attended.

The meeting began with a discussion about recent events. Steering Committee members Jill Mountford, Michael Chessum, Jackie Walker and Matt Wrack all commented. There was general agreement that the democracy within Momentum’s leading bodies needed to be dramatically improved, and urgently. The criticism voiced was directed at a small number in the leadership, not at the staff and volunteers who, it was felt, do a great job but are poorly managed and directed.

Room for improvement

We then discussed proposals for how things could be improved. Among the suggestions put forward were:

  1. The need to restate that the NC is the highest body in Momentum, not the SC.
  2. A new SC should be elected at the next NC (which is on 3 December).
  3. The main officers of the SC should be elected by the NC, rather than by the SC.
  4. Local groups should be the basis of Momentum.
  5. Every member should be encouraged by the national office to join a local group.
  6. The national office should assist in setting up new local branches where they do not currently exist (the recent mapping exercise carried out by the office to see where the members live shows that 33% of members are not in a local group).
  7. We need to complete the mapping exercise.
  8. It should be made easier to establish a local group. There are too many hurdles to jump over before a group can be ‘verified’.
  9. There should be a page on the national website to set out the various proposals about structures.
  10. We should have a conference based on local group delegates.
  11. There should be clearer ‘routes of communication’ between the office and the members.
  12. We need to take a serious look at the Momentum companies’ structures and consider ways to democratise them. There was a concern about who controls the data about members and supporters.
  13. There should be a Momentum Rule Book.
  14. We need clear lines of accountability. Who is responsible for what?
  15. The role of the staff and volunteers should be better defined, with the elected leadership responsible for decisions taken and directing the staff on the basis of decisions taken by the SC and NC.
  16. The SC and NC must produce and circulate minutes. There should be an identified member of staff responsible for administering the running of the SC. Every decision should have identified the person who will implement the agreed action.
  17. Decisions about money and resources have to be taken democratically by the relevant officer/committee and those responsible must be accountable.

Structures: what sort of democracy?

Lastly we discussed the issues of OMOV and delegated democracy for the conference. There was a range of views. No one argued for a complete OMOV system. It seemed that most were in favour of a delegate based conference but quite a few argued for a mixed delegate/OMOV system. However, it is difficult to assess the merits of OMOV or of a mixed system without them being set out in black and white. We urgently need proponents of the varying systems to write them down for consideration.

I am strongly in favour of a delegate based conference, for the reasons set out in my article, but I am still open to persuasion. I argued, however, that those of us who want a delegate conference and a Momentum based on local groups cannot just insist that our proposals are right. We need to persuade patiently by careful argument and example.

In my opinion we need a constitution, structures and a conference that put primacy on creating activists who will turn out to campaign on issues affecting the working class as well as working to create a bigger, stronger and more effective socialist Labour party. That means going to ward and constituency meetings.

The meeting was a positive contribution to the building of a democratic and socialist Momentum and I hope that some of the ideas raised will feed into the NC on 3 December and the national conference in February.

The meeting raised £109 to assist three people with their travel costs.

If you would like any further information, please contact: nickwrack@btinternet.com

London Momentum Regional Committee, 29 October 2016

Minutes NC meeting 29 October 2016 

Delia Mattis (Chair)

 Proposal to move the discussion on NC cancellation to the end of the agenda.

Motion from the Chair to discuss NC first. Passed overwhelmingly


[Session 1] Cancellation of the NC

Jill explained what happened at the emergency SC meeting on 28 October.

Beth read out a statement from the staff about their concerns over legtimacy of some local groups.

Mike proposed Jon Lansman be allowed to speak earlier on the list – Chair overruled.

Nick Wrack moved a Censure motion on the SC.

Motion 1

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

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.”

Lorraine proposed “We do not accept the legitimacy of the SC decision and reject it”.

Sacha proposed inserting that if the next meeting was in December then it would definitely happen.

Nick agreed to insert after first paragraph insert “We do not recognise the legitimacy of the SC to make these decisions.”

Proposal to take the motion in parts.

“This meeting of the London Momentum Regional Committee censures the national SC for cancelling the meeting of the NC that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the NC to discuss it. We do not recognise the legitimacy of the SC to make these 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.”

To delete the first paragraph:

6 in favour.

Against 23

Abstentions 3

 

31 in favour of motion unamended.

Abstentions 2

 

Motion was passed.

 

[End of session 1]

 

Lunch

 

[Session 2]

 

Momentum Hackney statement

Meeting agreed to discussing Hackney’s statement separately from the process documents.

Charlie spoke on the Hackney statement

Discussion on the role of the London Regional Committee.

There was no proposal to vote on.

Structures debate

Michael introduced the first document

Mike introduced on Camden’s document

Stan introduced Hammersmith and Fulham’s document.

Sacha spoke on the composite Wrack/Mountford proposal

 

A Discussion from the Committee took place. No Structure paper was voted on. Chair advised more discussion with Local Groups.

 

National Committee delegates Election

Proposal from Nick Wrack  and Mike Tait for STV voting. Proposal from Chris Ford for more simple method.

The Committee voted overwhelmingly for STV.

Open Election

Candidates spoke

Rosie Woods on behalf of Jill Mountford in her absence.

Sara Callaway

Delia Mattis

Stan Keable

Nick Wrack

Charlie Clarke

Michael Chessum

 

National Committee Delegates Elected

 

Jill Mountford

Sara Callaway

Nick Wrack

Delia Mattis

 

 

London Region Steering Committee elections

Open elections

Simon proposed a position of vice-chair: accepted

The new Steering Committee for London Region is

 

Delia Mattis (Chair)

Mike Tate (vice chair)

Lee Griffiths (Secretary)

Jan and Linda (Secretary job share)

Rosie Woods (organiser)

Pasqual Mitchell (organiser)

Leigh Griffiths (organiser)

Simon Hannah (organiser)

Sara Callaway (organiser)

 

 

 

 

 

 

From social movement to socialist movement, a reply to Paul Mason

by Nick Wrack

I am currently working in Sheffield. It’s not a city that I’ve spent much time in, so one morning this week I went for an early walk around the city centre. The first thing I came across, immediately outside my hotel, was a plaque to Samuel Holberry, a radical Chartist who died of consumption in prison in 1842. He was imprisoned for advocating and trying to implement the People’s Charter, which called for universal male suffrage. The Chartists saw that as a way of fundamentally changing society in favour of the working class, who did not have the vote. When Samuel died, 50,000 attended his funeral.

50,000! In days without social media, TV or radio, without public transport. 50,000 walked from all the surrounding towns and villages to commemorate Samuel’s life and his struggle on their behalf. I reminded myself that what motivated these mourners was the revolutionary idea of change. This was a real social movement. The Chartists relied mainly on their newspapers and word of mouth. How much easier it should be today, I thought, with all the extra media we have at our disposal.

The point, of course, is that whatever media we have, it is the message not the medium that is paramount. In my opinion, the most important thing is to concentrate on the basic message of socialism, of abolishing capitalism and establishing a truly democratic society based on the common ownership of society’s resources. How we get that across is always open to improvement and innovation.

We haven’t seen anything quite like the Chartist movement, which was the first real mass working-class party and was revolutionary in content. But we have seen a mass social movement in support of Jeremy Corbyn with two peaks of activity this year and last ensuring that he was elected twice as Labour Party leader. Momentum emerged and grew out of this movement.

How does it harness that energy and ensure it continues and is channelled effectively into campaigning inside and outside the Labour Party?

Concentrate on the politics and on the campaigning. But, there are always practical issues that have to be resolved, some of which are more controversial than others. In the last few days one such issue has erupted in Momentum.

A mosquito bite

The well-known left-wing journalist and writer Paul Mason has written a series of articles on Mosquito Ridge setting out his own ideas and advice on how Corbyn and the movement around him should progress. Paul has recently written an article, Why I Joined Momentum. It’s very good that Paul has joined. He has a long involvement in the socialist left. His books and articles are thought-provoking and interesting to read. He writes with a breathless excitability that captures much of the mood around the election and re-election of Jeremy Corbyn.

I’ll state my position clearly here. I am a Marxist and therefore probably fall into Paul’s category of ‘hard left’, an unfortunate echo of Thatcher’s criticism of her socialist opponents in the 1980s. Only he can explain whether that puts me in the “die-hard Bolshevik re-enactment groups” or whether I adhere to a “zombie ideology”. Like so much of what Paul writes, he coins good phrases but passes over in silence what he means by them, rarely substantiating his sweeping statements. I enjoy reading Paul’s material but I also disagree with much, if not most, of what he says.

I believe that it is always better to engage with what your opponents actually say and do, rather than attribute to them arguments that they don’t share. There is little point in knocking down straw men.

His most recent article is an obvious engagement with the recent upheaval over Momentum democracy and how it should organise. The problem is, though, that it doesn’t address the origin of the argument.

It’s about process not OMOV

The recent debate has erupted not over the substantive merits or otherwise of OMOV (one member, one vote) or of delegated democracy but over the undemocratic trampling of any democratic process by seven members of the Momentum Steering Committee. That is the starting point. You either agree with the way Jon Lansman and the other six behaved at the Steering Committee meeting on 28 October or you don’t.

Paul doesn’t even begin to engage with what happened; what led to the recent motions of censure of the Steering Committee by at least four regions of Momentum. To my knowledge he hasn’t contacted the main opponent of the SC decisions, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack.

Now Paul can disagree with Matt Wrack’s proposals in favour of a delegate conference. He can champion OMOV. But surely any competent journalist would seek, in fact is obliged to ask for, a comment on what happened, so that he can properly engage with the other side. I don’t expect Paul not to have his own opinion, but I would have more respect for it if it were an informed one.

The complaints have not been primarily about OMOV but about the process by which OMOV has been imposed on the Momentum conference without any decision being taken by the Momentum National Conference. On Friday 28 October, the Steering Committee voted at an ‘emergency’ meeting to cancel a meeting of the NC scheduled for 5 November, which would have been discussing this very issue.

Papers with different proposals about how Momentum should organise its national and local structures, including national conference, had only just begun to circulate, with two papers – one from Jon Lansman and one from Matt Wrack – going out from the Momentum office only hours before the SC met. The SC also voted to discuss the conference, even though it wasn’t mentioned on the order paper in the notification for the meeting, and imposed a streamed conference with online voting of the 20,000 members, cutting across the process of consultation that the SC had itself initiated. Matt Wrack’s paper was consigned to the dustbin in his absence.

Of course, behind any organisational difference, such as we see now, there are political differences. But Paul is wrong to see this as a binary argument between the ‘hard left’ “negative, factionalist tendencies” who want delegated democracy and those who argue for “a horizontal, consensus-based organization, directly accountable to its mass of members” who want OMOV. There were supporters of OMOV who voted for the motion of censure at the London Regional Committee.

Semblance of worth, not substance

Like much of Paul’s writing, the article is a broad brush, a pell-mell sweep, without any substantive argument being elaborated. There are no quotes setting out the arguments he purports to engage with, no examples to back up his dystopian predictions. Just superficial assertions. They’re nicely written but they remain unsubstantiated assertions. (I’ll have to deal with some other political issues raised by Paul’s article in a future article, for reasons of space.)

Now, I will openly admit that I do not yet have a complete answer to the constitutional difficulties posed by Momentum’s rapid growth to 20,000 members. No sensible socialist wants to do anything to exclude or limit the involvement of any one of those members. We have new technology in terms of social media and use of the internet that open up possibilities that were not available in the 1980s or 1990s. So all proposals are up for discussion and should not be dismissed (by either side) in a cavalier fashion.

But, likewise, reservations and hesitations about online voting should also not be dismissed as old-fashioned, hard left, hierarchical etc. Let’s consider all the proposals on their merits. This immediately raises a difficulty. To consider all the proposals carefully requires time, patience and effort in setting out the competing proposals, and having the time to read them and to consider them carefully. Such deliberation is usually assisted by having face to face discussions with others involved, in meetings or online, or both.

And that is precisely what the SC did not allow. It did not allow the local groups to discuss the various papers and to make their own proposals. It did not even allow the NC, which is surely a higher authority than the SC, the opportunity to discuss the issues. It did not send out the documents to the 20,000 members. The papers have still not been posted on the Momentum website for all to see and comment. I have heard the justification for OMOV from some of its advocates, “trust the members”. Well, why haven’t the papers been sent out to all the members, or posted online for them to see, so that they can think for themselves? And why haven’t the proponents of the different methods been given direct access to the members to explain why they support a particular proposal rather than another?

Accountability

Here are some basic questions that any serious participant in Momentum should be asking. If you want to avoid a hierarchical structure, is it a good idea to have all the Momentum supporters’ data – phone numbers, emails, addresses etc – owned by a company with little if any transparency about who controls it? No amount of OMOV will improve things if Momentum can essentially be controlled by one person threatening to pack up and take the data away.

Do we need elected officers who are accountable to the members? Is it right that one person can make decisions about Momentum’s finances without reference to other officers? If the answer is yes, we do need officers but they must be accountable, then isn’t that a form of hierarchy. The issue, surely, is not about having a hierarchy, it is whether it is a necessary layer of bureaucracy or not; whether it is exercised transparently or not; whether it is accountable or not; whether the officers can be recalled or not.

My concern is that we are able to hold leaders to account. To do that we need effective and efficient ways of communicating as members, of meeting together to discuss and make decisions. Quite often, a concern will be answered or recede in importance following discussion.

The purpose of rules

The labour and trade union movement has spent two hundred years developing forms of working class democracy with the purpose of strengthening and building this movement. On many occasions this democracy has been abused, by both the right and the Stalinists. Rank and file union members and Labour Party members have often had to fight against the bureaucratic misapplication of the rules and procedure of the movement. We saw an example of this undemocratic manipulation at this year’s Labour Party conference.

The socialist left should always be prepared to be self-critical and question the way it works. We know that many union and Labour Party meetings are as dry as dust, uninteresting and devoid of politics. New members have to be very determined indeed if they are ever to return. We don’t want to replicate that in Momentum. So anything that can improve on this is to be welcomed. Are the new methods better than the old?

At the same time, many of the ‘old’ methods have survived precisely because they work. Constitutions, rules and ‘standing orders’ can protect members’ rights and can be used to hold leaders to account. Delegated democracy has developed because there is a practical difficulty in getting large numbers of people together to make decisions on complicated issues. These can be difficulties of time, size of venue, cost and so on. Perhaps these can be overcome by OMOV but it will be difficult.

If 20,000 can watch the conference online and vote online, what is the purpose of anyone attending? If only the self-selecting few attend, who decides on the agenda, the speakers? If someone sitting at home objects to a perceived abuse of procedure how do they intervene to raise a point of order, to challenge the chair etc?

Privilege

Paul Mason unintentionally raises another problem with OMOV. He accepts that he, as a journalist, is in a privileged position. He does not have to engage in any Momentum local group. He can post an article online and thousands will read it. It is unlikely that they will read the replies from lesser-known Momentum members. This leads to an obvious inequality that does not exist to anything like the same degree when decisions are taken in face to face meetings when everyone is on an equal (horizontal?) level. I believe that face to face discussion is by far the most effective way to conduct debate and to arrive at decisions.

More fundamental, I suspect, are my concerns that OMOV may lead to a ‘scissors’ effect within Momentum, that is, to a widening gap between the ‘active’ and the ‘passive’ members. Our aim should be to involve as many members as possible in discussion and decision making. Members should feel that they own the organisation and have a democratic say in what it does and how it is done. In any political organisation some will be more active than others, whether because of commitment or difficulties of engaging – disability, child care, shift work and so on. We have to find ways of making sure that those who want to participate but can’t, are enabled to do so. This may involve online participation.

But if we have online voting it is possible that we will end up with decisions that reflect the choices of passive members – those who, out of choice, do not attend meetings and who don’t follow the debates and discussions; who are happy to click a 38 degrees-type motion but not to go out campaigning or canvassing – and ignore or override the views of the active members who do the campaigning work and run the local groups. If these views are in conflict, we could end up with the passive layer deciding on campaigns and policies that carry no support from the active members who will be the ones expected to implement them.

This will lead to demobilisation, demoralisation of the activists and the eventual shrivelling of local groups. Without the local groups Momentum will not survive. Perhaps, though, that is what some would prefer – no unruly local groups; just a passive bloc of members who will vote for left-wing slates for the Labour Party NEC drawn up by unaccountable cliques.

The problem with this, however, is that it will not bring about the vital change in local constituency Labour Parties. Change in the Labour Party requires that Momentum supporters turn up at ward and CLP meetings, argue their politics and vote for candidates who will represent them. Building a mass online membership will not be enough. We cannot change the Labour Party, let alone society, by clicking on a touchpad or mouse at home.

Our starting point when considering structures should be to consider the main purpose of the organisation. The constitution and rules must be geared to its objectives. Momentum should, in my opinion, be aiming to build mass active local groups that will turn out to the local working-class communities and turn in towards the Labour Party to bring about the change we need to win support for socialist policies.

My preference at the moment is for a delegate-based conference as I have serious reservations that an OMOV conference will assist in that process.

 

 

 

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