Labour: fight back for democracy and policies!

Submitted by AWL on 30 September, 2020 - 7:31 Author: Josh Lovell
Labour conference

Josh Lovell outlines priorities which Momentum Internationalists will fight for as the leadership swings Labour to the right.

It is now one year since the Labour Party’s 2019 national conference — arguably the most radical Labour Party event in decades. Delegates passed resolutions committing the party to 2030 decarbonisation as part of a worker-led just transition, to support the abolition of academies and private schools, and to defend and extend free movement, ensure voting rights for all UK residents, abolish No Recourse to Public Funds, and to close all detention centres (to name but a few).

The shifts were almost entirely led by grassroots campaigns and explicitly to the left of promises made in the 2017 Labour Manifesto — already touted as the most left-wing set of Labour proposals since 1983.

But as with all democratic gains — they must be continually fought for and defended. Within just one year it feels like the energy and enthusiasm of rank-and-file Labour members — who won so emphatically in Brighton — has been drained away. We cannot let ourselves lose the socialist militancy needed to build and win such a programme.

The organised left, despite being on the back foot, has an urgent job before this is all canned entirely; defend conference democracy. Be that within local CLPs, union and momentum branches, activists must start putting pressure on to stop any further retreats; and this applies at all levels of our movement.

Momentum — with around 25,000 members, and by far the largest organisation on the Labour left — has a job to do. Since its National Coordinating Group (NCG) elections ending on 1 July, it has been positive steps towards some of the pledges made by the victorious Forward Momentum slate, but on the level of policy, the organisation has been inadequately vocal.

On paper Forward Momentum supported “defending and building on the 2019 manifesto: a Green New Deal, […], repealing all anti-trade union laws, advancing migrants’ rights, international solidarity, and more”. However in reality, Momentum’s main thrust has been towards winning a left NEC and now anti-evictions campaigning — both important and necessary tasks — but ones that cannot be done at the expense of keeping Labour committed to fighting climate change, ending educational injustice, and radically expanding migrants’ rights.

The NCG — with a clear majority of Forward Momentum candidates — now must act to defend party democracy, make clear its own commitment to every single socialist policy passed at Labour Conference in recent years, and use Momentum to put their own campaign pledges into action. And to empower local groups to take this battle into their local Labour and union branches, in a struggle against the Labour right who would rather all Corbyn-era victories were totally quashed. Momentum can and must bring together the grassroots campaigns and activists to build a programme to defend and expand conference policy, ready for a clash at Labour’s 2021 conference, where without an organised presence the left could be routed.

And in advance of that, the NCG must ensure that Momentum uses every opportunity it can to amplify struggles in line with conference policy, such as those demanding Labour Party support for EU residents’ Right to Stay, and anti-racist, anti-deportation battles such as the urgent one to Free Osime Brown, which sadly the organisation has been silent on. We need the Momentum NCG to come out swinging for grassroots activism, and party democracy.

• Abridged from the Momentum Internationalists blog

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