The leadership’s policy agenda is currently being challenged, within the Labour Party, by a pincer movement of attacks, orchestrated from both the right and from Momentum.
Since May 2019 Momentum has promoted a series of alternative policies to those of the party leadership. They superficially appear to be radical, but are mostly unworkable policies that no government could deliver, so would never become manifesto commitments of a party seriously seeking to form a government.
Momentum’s alternative policies divide the supporters of the leadership in the party and are seized on by the right wing. The right wing is prepared to aid any attacks on the leadership’s policy agenda, even attacks, like Momentum’s, that pose as attacks from the left.
Momentum was founded in 2015 to continue the promotion of Jeremy’s leadership and policies. He is advancing a truly radical agenda for government, which is why he and his policies face a constant right wing offensive, from both outside and inside the Labour Party. The barrage of attacks are aimed at preventing the election of a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government.
Unhelpfully, since May 2019 Momentum has also been publicly challenging the leadership’s radical policies, seeking to change some of them at the September 2019 Annual Labour Conference to policies that Labour would not be able to deliver, and in the process encouraging attacks on the leadership’s transformative agenda.
In effect, as noted already, the Party leadership’s radical policy agenda is now facing a pincer movement of attacks – both from the right and from Momentum, posing as the left.
The alternative policies that Momentum’s NCG agreed in May 2019 are largely a series of unworkable proposals that it wants Labour Conference to agree for inclusion in the next General Election manifesto.
Fortunately, Labour Conference delegates, particularly in the compositing meetings, were mostly successful in removing the unworkable demands that Momentum’s NCG are campaigning for. On the policy subjects of the ‘Green New Deal’ and ‘Working Hours’ composite motions were agreed by Conference that back up the leadership’s approach, as set out below.
Green New Deal
On the ‘Green New Deal’, Momentum’s NCG is seeking the following, currently unachievable, demand in the next manifesto:
‘A commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2030.’
Conference instead agreed two composites supportive of the leadership’s approach, both making similarly progressive commitments:
Composite 17, which was agreed, stated:
‘In power Labour will:
‘In collaboration with the trade unions and the scientific community, work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, guaranteeing an increase in good unionised jobs in the UK, and the cost of which would be borne by the wealthiest not the majority; and implementing this target into law if it achieves a just-transition for workers.
‘Introduce a complete ban on fracking.’
Composite 16, which was agreed, stated:
‘In power Labour will:
‘Have a comprehensive plan that leads the world in bold climate targets to the latest IPCC expert advice to keep global average temperature below 1.5c.
‘In collaboration with the trade union movement and the scientific community, work towards a path of net zero carbon emissions within keeping of the IPCC advice including to keep global average temperature rises below 1.5C by reinstating subsidies for renewable energy industries and rapidly phasing out fossil fuels in keeping with the Labour manifesto pledge of a complete and immediate ban on fracking.’
Conference in effect decided that a Labour government should be highly ambitious, as has been the case with the Labour leadership’s plans on tackling climate change for several years now. The Conference decisions confirm that a Labour government will pursue the fastest possible approach to decarbonise the economy, working with scientists and trade unions. Conference, wisely, agreed that a Labour government should ‘work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030’, rather than committing the Party to the currently unachievable demand of: ‘zero carbon emissions by 2030’, that Momentum is seeking.
On Working Hours, Momentum’s NCG is seeking the following, currently unachievable, demand in the next manifesto:
‘…a commitment to introduce a four day week with no loss of pay for all those who want it by the end of the next Labour government’s first full Parliamentary term.’
Conference instead agreed a composite making the following commitment, again supportive of the leadership’s approach:
‘Conference believes Labour should support the aims of Labour for a 4 day week campaign, go beyond the pledge to introduce four new public holidays and commit in the next manifesto to set out a plan to achieve a standard four day or 32 hour gross week with no loss of pay within a decade through sectoral collective bargaining and a new ‘UK Shorter Working Time Directive.’
Conference, wisely, adopted a policy that Labour set out ‘a plan to achieve a standard four day or 32 hour… within a decade through sectoral collective bargaining.’ Conference did not adopt Momentum’s unachievable demand of a four day week ‘by the end of the next Labour government’s first full Parliamentary term’.
Annual Conference agreed to support an NEC statement on Brexit and a composite motion (Composite 14), both supportive of the Labour leadership’s Brexit strategy.
Prior to the debate, Momentum’s Officers agreed to back the Labour Party NEC statement.
The anti-Labour press attacked the decision of the Conference to support the Labour leadership’s approach and were unfortunately joined by an Officer of Momentum attacking the NEC’s decision making.
The change needed in Momentum
To ensure Momentum supports the leadership’s policies within Labour and campaigns to unite the Labour Party behind Jeremy’s agenda, Momentum’s members need to elect an NCG that will deliver this change in orientation.