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29 October 2016

Momentum to put its future in the hands of its 20,000 members

Critics of the scheme have attacked the moves as "e-populism". 

By Stephen Bush

In a bid to heal and settle its internal divisions, Momentum will decide the form of its new structures through a vote of its whole membership, under proposals that have the backing of the organisation’s founder, Jon Lansman.

In stark language, the proposal concedes that Momentum HQ, its organising committees, and its regional networks now lack “sufficient legitimacy” to be considered adequate instruments to decide on the organisation’s future and direction.

Under the proposals, a draft of which has been passed to the New Statesman, Momentum’s guiding principles, structures and code of ethics would be debated by delegates from local groups, liberation groups and affiliated organisations,  at a conference that would be livestreamed and recorded. Momentum’s 20,000 members would then vote on the proposals.

But critics of the scheme have attacked the proposal as “e-populism”. They are backing the delegate model, proposed by Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, and Jill Mountford, a member of the Alliance of Workers Liberty.

Although the proposal is not Lansman’s, it will receive his backing and that of his alliest and closest associates. Insiders said that the one member one vote (OMOV) proposal reflected the evolution of Lansman’s views over the last year. In times past, Lansman had favoured a delegate model, but has been won over to the idea that OMOV more accurately reflects the spirit of the times. One Momentum activist said that the proposal would protect Momentum from falling under the control of “any sectarian organisation or well-organised group”.

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But another senior figure lambasted the plans for “online plebiscites”,and said the plans were an attempt to “consolidate” Lansman’s hold over the organization. In a sign of the tensions on the Labour left, delegates at the Labour Representation Committee put forward proposals in support of the Mountford-Wrack proposals, and, according to one atteendee, were “heavily” critical of Lansman and the Momentum staff, while the London branch of Momentum voted to censure the organisation’s steering committee over last night’s vote to delay its national committee meeting until December. 

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But a Momentum source said that the likelihood is that neither proposal would end up implemented. “Despite a tumultuous 24 hours, I expect compromise and some hybridity rather than continuous rows and splits.”