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Will Momentum be able to affiliate to Labour?

The party's current rules bar the group from doing so - and that is unlikely to change. 

In Momentum's internal war, Jon Lansman has won. The group's founder and owner has drawn up a hastily-approved constitution, which will force members to join Labour by 1 July 2017 or face expulsion. Lansman's move is designed to neutralise Momentum's Trotskyist wing, which has long resisted his reforms. Senior members such as Jill Mountford of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and former Militant member Nick Wrack, who are barred from Labour, will be forced out. 

Mountford said: "This is a coup. We are not splitting and we are not going to be provoked by this. We are going to call a conference for grassroots activists and we will to seek to reverse these changes. The constitution has been imposed, we are going to continue to fight for a democratic organisation."

Lansman's ruthlessness has prompted the rare sight of Blairites praising the veteran Bennite (who I interviewed last year). It was, they wryly noted, the 88th anniversary of Stalin exiling Trotsky to Siberia. "Lansman is behaving like an absolute monarch," said Richard Angell, the director of Progress.

But despite the coming purge, Labour MPs still baulk at the thought of the pro-Corbyn group affiliating to the party. "I will be opposing this with every fibre of my body," vowed Tom Blenkinsop. But what are the chances of Momentum being permitted to affiliate? Under the current rules, the answer is non-existent - unless the group changes beyond recognition. Labour's constitution states that groups which have "their own programme, principles and policy, or distinctive and separate propaganda" or which promote parliamentary or local government candidates (as Momentum does) shall be "ineligible for affiliation to the party." 

It is for this reason that other factions, such as Progress, the old right Labour First and the Bennite Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, are not officially affiliated. It is theoretically possible that the the party could change its rules to accept applications from such groups. But in practice it is unlikely that either the NEC or the Labour conference would approve this hazard-strewn move. Even some of Corbyn's NEC supporters are opposed to Momentum's affiliation bid. 

Were Labour's rules to remain unchanged, Momentum itself would have to change. It would have to cease to be a pro-Corbyn faction and become a blander socialist society (no disrespect to the Fabians). Rather than a genuine affiliation bid, then, Lansman's announcement looks more like a symbolic declaration. By stating that he wishes to affiliate, he has made it clear that those who don't are not welcome. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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