This report of Momentum’s National Committee which met on Saturday 28 January is by Ed Whitby and Tracy McGuire, northern regional delegates. More can be found on Ed’s blog.
Approximately 20 committee members attended the 28 January National Committee with a number of apologies. There were also over 30 observers, mostly from London, though also a number from further a field.
With apologies, it seemed that approximately half the the National Committee supported this meeting going ahead including members from FBU, Red Labour and LRC, LGBT+, Disabled, Womens and Black Connexions. The majority of English Regions sent all or some of their National Committee representatives.
The day began with general discussion on the political landscape, by-elections, and the Labour Party situation introduced by Matt Wrack (Steering Committee member). There was an open discussion, including discussions around migrant rights, freedom of movement and racism, LP structures and bureaucracy, witch-hunts and expulsions, opportunities and risks for the future.
People were honest about the real problems with face in the party and with Corbyn’s leadership. Some practical ideas for campaigning were put forward and we agreed to come back to these in the next steps item at the end of the meeting. What was very welcome was that this was the first time we had been able to have a political discussion at the National Committee, and this also gave an opportunity for us both to talk about what was happening in our region and our local groups.
After lunch we began the discussion on what had happened in Momentum. The final afternoon session on next steps, outcomes and statements, while still open to observers, only allowed contributions and proposals from National Committee members.
Despite there being different views of the way forward and different opinions of how we relate to the group who are continuing to impose a constitution, there was consensus achieved around key things. Some people clearly felt that walking away was an option, other seemed more keen on pushing forward with the annual conference as planned for February with the existing Conference Arrangements Committee. But a consensus was achieved (again another real achievement for the National Committee) that we go ahead with a national Grassroots Networking Conference, supported by as many local groups and regions as possible, on Saturday 11 March.
We agreed that this would not be the “founding conference” as originally planned for February, and this is not setting up a rival organisation. There was some discussion on the upcoming National Coordinating Group elections. Some people felt that they should be boycotted. Others, that this was an opportunity to share our criticisms of what has happened and candidates is one way to do this.
The meeting agreed to take no position on this. The meeting did agree statements opposing the coup and reasserting the existence of the National Committee. We agreed a coordinating group of the existing Steering Committee, members and the Conference Arrangements committee with additional representatives to be coopted from regions not represented. The meeting also agreed to do some work around key campaigning ideas in addition to policies passed at the last National Committee meeting.
We will set up some working groups with volunteers via the email list. These will initially includes: Migrant Rights; Expulsions and suspensions; the NHS The meeting also agreed to discuss with John McDonnell arranging a meeting with representatives of our group and representatives of the Directors of the Momentum companies to see if there is any way to resolve this situation. Two resolutions were passed by the meeting. These resolutions condemned the imposition of a new constitution, encouraged those who disagree with the new constinution to stay in Momentum and organise together, and supported the call for a Grassroots Networking Conference on 11 March.
• Full text of motions can be found here
Pro-democracy candidates stand for NCG
The Momentum NCG elections are now open. Voting runs from 1-17 February.
In each of the three regions, a pro coup slate has been drawn up seeking to win members votes for an endorsement of the new constitution and the way the whole thing was imposed on members without any consultation or vote. The members elected onto the NCG will form a minority on a group that has the overall responsibility for the whole of Momentum: 12 out of 28 or 32, with the others chosen outside Momentum or co-opted.
The NCG’s power can be summed up in the ominous phrase in the constitution that it has the; “Power to do all other things necessary to achieve the aims [of Momentum].” As Jamie Green, one of the candidates for the NCG, points out, “The NCG can co-opt four additional members at any time. Therefore, if a particular faction has a slender majority; it could add new members in order to bolster its position.
In a more evenly split NCG, a faction could wait for a meeting where it knows it has a majority due to no-shows and co-opt a majority that way.”
Workers Liberty is backing a number of activists who have stood for the NCG on the clear basis of opposing the constitution and fighting for a democratic member-led Momentum, committed to socialist policies.
SE Region — Anita Downs, Sahaya James, Jamie Green, Yannis Gourtsoyannis
Midlands, East & West — Liz Yeates, Rida Vaquas, Phil Pope
North & Scotland — Camila Bassi, Alan Runswick, Helen Rutherford Gregory, Gary Wareing