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25 November 2016

Momentum’s new ideas platform is getting everyone very excited

And also attracting a few radical left-wing trolls. 

By Julia Rampen

Momentum, the grassroots organisation set up to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party, is undergoing a bit of turmoil, as Stephen has outlined here.

The crunch point is who controls Momentum. Jon Lansman, the movement’s patriarch, has long been considered autocratic by his internal critics, but recently embraced “e-democracy”. In theory, this will make the movement truly responsive to its grassroots members. 

But cynics consider this a way for the Momentum leadership to reach over their heads and use their considerable social media clout to sway more passive supporters.

By early November, the two sides had managed to come to a temporary truce, but then, overnight, an online platform appeared. 

The “MxV” section of the Momentum website allows members to propose their own organisational policies and institutional ethics to be discussed at conference. It is strictly about the structure of Momentum itself, not public policy, but that hasn’t stopped members using their imagination. 

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Members have enthusiastically taken up the opportunity to suggest and endorse ideas, but the proposals so far suggest the debate over organisation is far from over. 

“No to e-democracy”, one by Jamie Green declares:

Momentum needs to be a thriving grassroots movement, but the massive focus toward online deliberation creates a tendency of passive participation, reduces scrutiny of motions and candidates and will mean the decisions will be largely decided be who can send the most Facebook messages to their friends rather than what ideas work best.

Other proposals include a crowd-funded 24 hours TV station, solar tiles on new builds, a strategy for working with other political parties, a public statement on the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, and a demand for expelled members to be reinstated.

It seems, though, not everything is up for debate. One proposal endorsed Posadism, an obscure Trotskyist movement that became increasingly obsessed with UFOs. Sadly, within hours, the declaration “Momentum should be a 4th International Posadist organisation”, seemed to have disappeared from the site. 

A Momentum spokeswoman said: “MxV, Momentum’s innovative new digital democracy platform, enables members to propose and discuss our purpose, ethics and organisation ahead of our first national conference in February. It will help ensure that Momentum is a member-led, modern, inclusive movement.”