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Momentum left meeting excludes socialists
A Birmingham Socialist Party member
Momentum national committee (NC) members and reps from local groups met in Birmingham on 5 November to "discuss recent events and, most importantly, consider ways to overcome the resulting differences and move forward together". This followed the cancellation of an NC meeting, itself due on 5 November, by the steering committee.
The recent events referred to include not only the cancellation but also the convening of a meeting of the steering committee with less than 24-hours' notice resulting in leading activists like Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack not attending.
As reported in the Socialist ('Corbyn movement must seize the initiative or face defeat'), Matt correctly came out in criticism of the leadership of Momentum and their proposals for a conference organised by an online voting process. In a speech on the question, Matt expressed concern that alternative proposals for a delegate-based conference were ruled out at the urgent meeting.
Faced with outrage from Momentum groups in London and elsewhere, it seems that the steering committee had partially retreated from its position by 4 November. However, while a physical conference will now take place, it is still not clear that it will have any decision making powers.
A report of the Birmingham meeting by Nick Wrack described the meeting as "encouraging and positive". Nick also explained that the meeting discussed how best to build Momentum as a democratic organisation, set up new local groups, get support from HQ and how to improve communication, among others. Nick concludes by reporting that these ideas will be presented to the next NC on 3 December.
Socialists should welcome any initiative aiming to strengthen the movement to transform Labour into an anti-austerity party. Unfortunately, no mention was made in the notice given for the Birmingham meeting of the democratic deficit in Labour and no mention of the crucial question of reselection.
Nor does it bode well for the future of Momentum that I was excluded from this meeting for being a Socialist Party member. I am a member of Momentum and have been trying to bring people together in my area in a Momentum group, yet I was told by Nick Wrack - himself undemocratically excluded from the Labour Party - that I cannot be a member of Momentum and a member of the Socialist Party. When I argued against this I was told it would be put to a vote of the meeting. It was voted down without me even being able to put my case.
For Momentum to become truly democratic it needs to open up, end these arbitrary un-fraternal acts, welcome all those who oppose austerity into Momentum, and support expelled and other socialists being admitted to the Labour Party and maximise the massive potential that exists to build a party for the 99%.
- 'Labour, Militant and the role of socialists' - one of the sessions at Socialism 2016, see socialism2016.net