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18 August 2016updated 20 Aug 2021 9:20am

Momentum launches “special event” timed with Labour’s conference – but some see it as a rival

Jeremy Corbyn plans to go to the radical politics festival. 

By Julia Rampen

Labour party supporters may have seen their party divided this summer, but some have hoped it will all be patched up after the highlight of the year – conference.

Now, though, it seems that conference itself has become controversial.

Momentum, the grassroots organisation supporting the embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has set up what it describes as a “celebration of politics, art, culture and community”. The event will be held 20 minutes walk away from the main conference, in the Black-E.

Unlike the main conference, it is free to attend.

The “five-day festival” of radical politics will take place alongside the official party conference in Liverpool, and will include talks from the film-maker Ken Loach and the journalist Paul Mason. The Young Fabians’ Greg Dash will be doing a slot at the event, but tells the Staggers it is not an official Young Fabians event (the group will, however, be hosting their own fringe events alongside the conference). 

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Corbyn has given the event his blessing in a video, where he says: “We’re in Liverpool this year for the party conference, and we’re going to have a special event alongside, called The World Transformed

“I’m going to be there because I want to see a world transformed. All those people with all those ideas ambitions energy are going to be there as well. Come along and join us.”

All eyes will be on Liverpool in September, as the winner of the Labour leadership contest is to be announced on 24 September, before the conference begins. So far, polls suggest Corbyn is ahead of his rival, Owen Smith, among the selectorate.

The idea of fringe events at party conferences is nothing new. But some Labour MPs have seen the event as a rival for their attention.

Tom Blenkinsop tweeted: “It’s part of the hard-left, the fringe of British politics. They’re not affiliated to UK Labour and are entryists.”

Trade unionist and Owen Smith supporter Will Holmes tweeted:  “How is it ok for Momentum to organise an alternative conference, that JC will attend? Clearly a party within a party which is not OK.”

But there’s always a chance Labour MPs will have no choice but to listen to the entryists – the GMB union has warned the whole conference could be scuppered if the preferred security company for the event does not sign a unions agreement.