A Hain in the neck

As Peter Hain's agony continues, bloggers scramble to uncover further political funding scandals

Following a proud week for the NS, as Derek Pasquill was cleared of breaching the Official Secrets Act, messages of congratulations were posted at Harry’s Place. But the case leads Spyblog to query: “What other politically embarrassing revelations are [the government] keeping secret from the British public?”

While, Obsolete believes the case highlights the injustice of last year’s leaked al-Jazeera memo trial.

In case you’ve missed Peter Hain’s week from Hell, Mark Pack supplies an overview.

Alex Hilton at Labourhome makes a case for the Labour Party to learn from the funding scandals and puts forward a list of eight suggestions for the party to adopt if it is to avoid getting into similar scrapes.

Guido Fawkes suggests the blame goes right to the top. Having received donations totalling £215,705, Gordon Brown must - under Labour Party rules - pay 15% (or £32,335) into central party funds. This he hasn’t yet done, according to the Electoral Commission. Fawkes states this is why Brown has offered his support to Hain, Harriet Harman and Wendy Alexander.

The accusations against Brown mounted. Dizzy Thinks believes he has stumbled upon another failure on Brown’s part to reveal non-cash donations to the Electoral Commission for a website registration and domain name. All of which is angrily refuted by Chris Paul.

As reports emerged of a potential Tory funding scandal, Kerron Cross is quick to drew comparisons between the two parties, for which he is criticised by posters on his own blog.

Anthony Wells at UK Polling Report chronicles the past month in the polls, which makes depressing reading for Labour.

Meanwhile, Hain’s opposite number, Chris Grayling, has been receiving praise from unexpected quarters. Paul Walter at Liberal Burbling notes: “Grayling is the only Conservative politician who does not send me into a rage-fuelled high blood pressure crisis. I actually feel the man might actually be talking some sense and that he's not just saying what he says because he thinks he ought to.

"And of course, he is a member of the organisation of which I am the proud Life Patron - the BOGS (Bald Old Gits' Society).”

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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No, the battle in Momentum isn't about young against old

Jon Lansman and his allies' narrative doesn't add up, argues Rida Vaquas.

If you examined the recent coverage around Momentum, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was headed towards an acrimonious split, judging by the vitriol, paranoia and lurid accusations that have appeared online in the last couple days. You’d also be forgiven for thinking that this divide was between a Trotskyist old guard who can’t countenance new ways of working, and hip youngsters who are filled with idealism and better at memes. You might then be incredibly bemused as to how the Trotskyists Momentum was keen to deny existed over the summer have suddenly come to the brink of launching a ‘takeover bid’.

However these accounts, whatever intentions or frustrations that they are driven by, largely misrepresent the dispute within Momentum and what transpired at the now infamous National Committee meeting last Saturday.

In the first instance, ‘young people’ are by no means universally on the side of e-democracy as embodied by the MxV online platform, nor did all young people at the National Committee vote for Jon Lansman’s proposal which would make this platform the essential method of deciding Momentum policy.

Being on National Committee as the representative from Red Labour, I spoke in favour of a conference with delegates from local groups, believing this is the best way to ensure local groups are at the forefront of what we do as an organisation.

I was nineteen years old then. Unfortunately speaking and voting in favour of a delegates based conference has morphed me into a Trotskyist sectarian from the 1970s, aging me by over thirty years.

Moreover I was by no means the only young person in favour of this, Josie Runswick (LGBT+ representative) and the Scottish delegates Martyn Cook and Lauren Gilmour are all under thirty and all voted for a delegates based national conference. I say this to highlight that the caricature of an intergenerational war between the old and the new is precisely that: a caricature bearing little relation to a much more nuanced reality.

Furthermore, I believe that many people who voted for a delegates-based conference would be rather astounded to find themselves described as Trotskyists. I do not deny that there are Trotskyists on National Committee, nor do I deny that Trotskyists supported a delegates-based conference – that is an open position of theirs. What I do object is a characterisation of the 32 delegates who voted for a delegates-based conference as Trotskyists, or at best, gullible fools who’ve been taken in.  Many regional delegates were mandated by the people to whom they are accountable to support a national conference based on this democratic model, following broad and free political discussion within their regions. As thrilling as it might be to fantasise about a sinister plot driven by the shadow emperors of the hard Left against all that it is sensible and moderate in Momentum, the truth is rather more mundane. Jon Lansman and his supporters failed to convince people in local groups of the merits of his e-democracy proposal, and as a result lost the vote.

I do not think that Momentum is doomed to fail on account of the particular details of our internal structures, providing that there is democracy, accountability and grassroots participation embedded into it. I do not think Momentum is doomed to fail the moment Jon Lansman, however much respect I have for him, loses a vote. I do not even think Momentum is doomed to fail if Trotskyists are involved, or even win sometimes, if they make their case openly and convince others of their ideas in the structures available.

The existential threat that Momentum faces is none of these things, it is the propagation of a toxic and polarised political culture based on cliques and personal loyalties as opposed to genuine political discussion on how we can transform labour movement and transform society. It is a political culture in which those opposed to you in the organisation are treated as alien invaders hell-bent on destroying it, even when we’ve worked together to build it up, and we worked together before the Corbyn moment even happened. It is a political culture where members drag others through the mud, using the rhetoric of the Right that’s been used to attack all of us, on social and national media and lend their tacit support to witch hunts that saw thousands of Labour members and supporters barred from voting in the summer. It is ultimately a political culture in which our trust in each other and capacity to work together on is irreparably eroded.

We have a tremendous task facing us: to fight for a socialist alternative in a global context where far right populism is rapidly accruing victories; to fight for the Labour Party to win governmental power; to fight for a world in which working class people have the power to collectively change their lives and change the societies we live in. In short: there is an urgent need to get our act together. This will not be accomplished by sniping about ‘saboteurs’ but by debating the kind of politics we want clearly and openly, and then coming together to campaign from a grassroots level upwards.

Rida Vaquas is Red Labour Representative on Momentum National Committee.