It is important that supporters of the party leadership are properly represented on Labour’s national committees (NEC, NPF, CAC, NCC), so that these bodies reflect the support that the leadership has amongst the party membership.
That requires the diverse organisations of leadership supporters to work together in internal elections and reach agreements around common sets of candidates.
Unfortunately, since 2018, national Momentum has been playing a divisive role in some of these elections. This objectively aids the right wing against the supporters of the leadership in the party.
Momentum needs an NCG that promotes unity not division.
The task for the left in Labour’s internal elections is to achieve agreement amongst its different components on a single set of candidates. This is normally achieved through the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) which is the alliance within which the different left organisations discuss and agree a common slate. Such discussions require compromises across the left, including by Momentum.
The current Momentum leadership is part of a diverse Labour left that supports Jeremy. It has become clear over this past year that on some issues the factional views of Momentum’s leadership do not represent the majority of Labour members, and that it just represents a minority. But even when Momentum’s views on an issue reflect the majority view of members, it is still not appropriate for it to try to impose its views. The priority in internal elections is to achieve unity and aid the party leadership – that requires discussion and compromise across the left, including from Momentum.
2018 NEC election
In August 2018, Momentum withdrew support from a leadership supporting candidate who was running as part of a joint NEC slate of a number of Labour left organisations. Momentum then went on to make social media attacks on that candidate and proceeded to campaign for the election of only eight, not nine, supporters of the party leadership onto an NEC where the political balance can be decisive. The other organisations on the Labour left took responsibility for maximising the election of leadership supporters and were successful.
2018 NCC election
In October 2018, there were attempts by the Momentum leadership to block a Jewish supporter of the party leadership from standing as a CLGA candidate for the National Constitutional Committee (NCC). Momentum even temporarily launched its own alternative slate (to the rest of the Labour left) for a few days, and again Momentum publicly attacked others on the left (not the opponents on the right), before it eventually backed down and a united CLGA slate was agreed.
Attack on Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL)
To achieve unity, all the Labour left organisations, including Momentum need to reach out positively and work with the rest of the left and centre in a constructive manner. It is unhelpful to have any public attack on Jewish Voice for Labour, an organisation of Jewish people within Labour.
2019 Disabled Members’ Representative on CAC election
At 2019 Labour Conference, in the election of the Disabled Members’ Representative to the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC), Momentum refused to join with the rest of the left and back the strongest left candidate against the right wing.
Other left organisations in the CLGA decided to back the candidate who had secured 50 nominations prior to the Conference. In the past Labour left organisations have been largely practical about putting forward the strongest candidates. However on this occasion Momentum would not compromise with the rest of the left and instead backed a candidate who had only secured 31 nominations.
In the Conference vote, across both the CLPs and affiliates, the left’s strongest candidate achieved 19.3% and the Momentum backed candidate only 12.0%. This unnecessary division, for which Momentum was clearly responsible, does not bode well for future internal elections.
The change needed in Momentum
To ensure Momentum promotes unity amongst the leadership’s supporters in internal elections, and does not attempt to divide those supporters, Momentum’s members need to elect an NCG that will change the approach Momentum takes to the other parts of the Labour left. In many cases (such as at the 2019 Labour Conference) the other parts of the Labour left have greater political support amongst the membership than Momentum does. But even on issues where Momentum’s views coincide with the majority, it still should be seeking unity through collaboration with others.