Jon Lansman branded "autocratic" as Momentum splits turn acrimonious

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Jon Lansman, the founder of Momentum, was tonight accused of behaving in an “autocratic” manner after the organisation voted to delay a meeting of its national committee to December and that the vote on its founding principles in February 2017 would be using a one member, one vote system rather than a delegate system.

The move will make it harder for the Alliance of Workers Liberty, Lansman’s major internal opponents, to win key votes, as they are well-organised but have limited numbers.

Michael Chessum, a member of Momentum’s steering committee and a regular contributor to the New Statesman, accused elements of Momentum of having “absorbed the modus operandi of Blairism” in a post on Facebook.

The meeting was held with less than 21 hours notice, which led to Matt Wrack, the head of the Fire Brigades Union, and Jackie Walker, who has been stripped of the role of vice-chair but remains a member of Momentum's steering comittee, being unable to attend.

Jill Mountford, of the Alliance of Workers Liberty, said the decision to delay the national committeee meeting again  “smacks at the very least of an inadequate appreciation of the importance of democracy", and that a "shocking amount of energy" is being wasted on "totally unnecessary, bureaucratically-generated internal rows". 

Separately, Cecile Wright, who sits on Momentum’s steering committee as a representative of the organisation's ethnic minority wing, has come under fire after replacing Walker as a vice-chair. One figure accused her of being “desperate for a seat”. However, Wright voted against cancelling November's national committee meeting.

The divides within Momentum have spilt out into the open, with the removal of Jackie Walker as vice-chair the catalyst. Although the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty did not support Walker, they have cited the row as an example of their wider criticisms of the organisation's democratic direction.

Momentum have been reached for comment.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.