Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. This shocking NHS bill is without sense or mandate (Guardian)

The Lords should be affronted by the slipshod way our health system is being blown apart, before they can even debate it, writes Polly Toynbee.

2. Visionary, genius, game-changer ... but also a freak (Financial Times)

Steve Jobs could be PT Barnum one minute, banging the drum for a new operating system, and a sweet sixties hippie the next, guilelessly quoting Beatles lyrics, says Philip Delves Broughton.

3. Is Vladimir Putin's Eurasian dream worth the effort? (Guardian)

The Russian prime minister's union plan is not meant as a return to the Soviet past, but he would do well to check precedent, suggests Mark Mazower.

4. Gay marriage is not as simple as David Cameron believes (Daily Telegraph)

Government diktat should not be used to alter the basics of human society, writes Charles Moore.

5. The fight against climate change is down to us - the 99 per cent (Guardian)

Our movement differs from previous anti-globalisation protests, says Naomi Klein. To change society's values we must stay together for years.

6. France's battle to understand banks and banlieues (Financial Times)

French political leaders have still not learnt to think in new terms, argues Christopher Caldwell

7. All I get on the BBC these days is ... the BBC (Daily Telegraph)

From Desert Island Discs to PM to its own cuts, the Beeb is obsessed with itself, says Vicki Woods.

8. Get back on the maple-leaf road to recovery (Times) (£)

Canada and the conquest of debt once topped Cameron's reading list. But he has failed to follow the plot, writes Philip Collins.

9. Dave's posh, Ed's weird: which will be the bigger liability at the polls? (Independent)

Cameron and Miliband can change their policies, but they cannot change who they are, argues Andrew Grice.

10. Women's rights in, before troops out (Times) (£)

We cannot leave Afghanistan if half its population faces a future of virtual slavery, says Marielle Frostrup.

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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.