Pushing Labour on council cuts

Submitted by Matthew on 4 May, 2016 - 12:37 Author: Jill Mountford

Momentum has been operating on the basis of regional delegate meetings (or, in at least one case, a mass members’ meetings) which send policy and elect representatives to the National Committee (NC).

On 30 April, London groups sent delegates to the second London region gathering. It was, overall, a positive and productive meeting. Summary of what was agreed (all good things):

• Election of a nine-person provisional London steering committee

• A London Momentum conference, open to all members, in August

• Coordinated London campaigning against council cuts

• A motion to the NC calling for a strong, active stance against expulsions from Labour

• A motion to the NC calling for an “in” vote in the EU referendum

There were 40 people there, about 30 of whom were group delegates – from Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Islington, Camden, Hounslow, Barnet, Lewisham, Greenwich, Waltham Forest, Haringey, Enfield, Harrow, Lambeth. A majority were women, about a quarter BME, and there was a mix of ages – not particularly old or young overall. The big positive was London Momentum people taking more control over our own organisation.

The meeting voted for a proposal from Enfield to elect a London steering committee of nine, to work with the four London NC reps, and a provisional committee was elected. It also agreed another Enfield motion to hold a London conference open to all members in August. Most delegates seemed to think a third motion from Enfield, to strictly mandate delegates to the NC, was too rigid and that was rejected.

A motion from Haringey for coordinated London campaigning against council cuts, putting pressure behind Labour councillors to encourage them to consider alternatives to their current stance, also passed. It was at the softer end of possible anti-cuts positions, but definitely a step in the right direction. Two proposals from Lewisham were also agreed to be sent to the NC – for a democratic national conference, directly representing local groups, by the end of the year; and for a strong, active position against expulsions of left-wingers from Labour and for the scrapping of the Compliance Unit as a body which control over membership disputes. The latter led to quite a bit of debate but in end passed by a big majority.

The two big political issues were the anti-semitism controversy and the EU referendum. On the former, the issue had only been raised after the agenda was put together. There was not much time for discussion, and none for motions. This was the result of it being quite a short meeting – two and half hours, although the London region had not met for some time. That, and the lack of adequate notice to groups, was something the new committee promised to remedy in future. The discussion continued afterwards in the pub, in a fairly intense but comradely way.

On the EU, one of the Harrow delegates had asked for the motion passed, unanimously bar one abstention, at the Northern (North East and Cumbria) region – for Momentum to adopt a “left” in position and work with the Another Europe is Possible campaign – to be put on the agenda. Some comrades argued the issue was too divisive to take a position, but the meeting voted 19-6-1 to endorse the Northern motion. There was also discussion on campaigning in the local elections and announcements about various initiatives in Momentum including Momentum Black Connexions, Momentum Latino, Momentum Women, the Youth and Student conference coming up in June and the proposal for a national Momentum campaign on the NHS.

Hopefully the London region will start to lead more vibrant political life and coordinate campaigning across the city, as well providing more opportunities for political networking.

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