Momentum (organisation)

Momentum is a British left-wing political organisation which has been described as a grassroots movement supportive of the Labour Party; since January 2017, all Momentum members must be (or become) members of the party.[5] The organisation was reported to have 40,000 members in 2019,[3] and has close ties to The World Transformed. It was founded in 2015 by Jon Lansman, Adam Klug, Emma Rees and James Schneider after Jeremy Corbyn's successful campaign to become Labour Party leader.

Momentum
Momentum logo (2017).png
Formation8 October 2015; 5 years ago (2015-10-08)
FounderJon Lansman
Location
Region
Great Britain
Membership (2019)
40,000[3]
Co-chairs
Andrew Scattergood
Gaya Sriskanthan[4]
Affiliations
Staff (2019)
13[1]
Websitepeoplesmomentum.com Edit this at Wikidata

The organisation has polarised Labour politicians and journalists since it was founded. Although Momentum has been compared to the Labour Party's Militant tendency, its grassroots engagement and effective, low-budget informational videos (such as those used in the 2017 general-election campaign) have been praised.

BackgroundEdit

 
Momentum supporters at the Rally for Corbyn demonstration in Canterbury on 16 July 2016

Momentum was founded in 2015 by Jon Lansman and fellow national organisers Adam Klug, Emma Rees and James Schneider, four weeks after Jeremy Corbyn's successful campaign for the Labour Party leadership.[6][7][8] Local groups formed to support Corbyn's leadership, uniting several factions of the left across Britain.[8] Lansman was active in Tony Benn's 1981 deputy leadership bid.[9] In addition to their support of Corbyn, Momentum has three primary goals: to win elections for Labour, to create a socialist Labour government, and to help build a broader social movement.[2] Corbyn was positive about Momentum after it was formed, saying in 2016: "I see Momentum as a social movement. A movement that will campaign on all of these issues. But above all, excite and unite people to come together, to come together to challenge injustice, inequality and social exclusion. Bring people together to achieve things together. That is what is makes us [Labour] so different from every other political party in this country."[10]

When it was formed, Momentum wanted to focus on local and Labour Party issues.[11] It was inspired by Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, both of which used pragmatic, grassroots organising to counter the effects of fiscal austerity.[8][12] The movement has also benefited from ideas by other campaigns operating on a left-wing or progressive platform, such as Bernie Sanders' campaigns to become a presidential candidate for the Democratic party in 2016[13] and 2020[14] and Beto O'Rourke's campaign to become a Democratic Senator in Texas.[15]

Relationship with other UK organisationsEdit

Momentum maintains close ties with the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance, a coalition of left-wing groups in the Labour Party who nominate joint candidates for the National Executive Committee and other internal elected positions.[16] In 2016, the Scottish left-wing Campaign for Socialism (CfS) formed a partnership with Momentum; although they remain separate organisations, they share membership and resources. CfS membership increased from 400 in 2015 to 1,418 by 2019.[17][18] The left-wing Welsh Labour Grassroots has similar links to Momentum.[19][20]

International relationshipsEdit

Momentum has formed ties with other political organisations across North America and Europe. They have collaborated with the Canadian Leap movement, the Social Democratic Party of Germany's Young Socialists,[21] the Democratic Socialists of America in the United States[22] and similar organisations in Greece. In 2018, Rees and Klug made a ten-week lecture tour of the United States to educate progressive activists and members of the National Nurses United union on political campaigning techniques and to advise Real Justice.[23]

Early infiltration from the far leftEdit

Members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) had raised concerns that parties on the far left of British politics, including the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Left Unity, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Socialist Party and the Alliance for Workers' Liberty (AWL), might join Momentum to influence the Labour Party.[24][25][26] Momentum was indeed mired by members of these groups and the disruption they caused in its organisation.[27][28][29][30] An example was Jill Mountford, a longtime member of AWL who was accused of bullying with Momentum.[5] The groups considered disbanding and supporting Momentum; in 2015, Left Unity members unsuccessfully proposed a merge with the organisation several times.[31]

The movement has been compared to the Militant tendency, a Trotskyist group which was expelled by Labour under Neil Kinnock during the 1980s. Labour MP Owen Smith accused Momentum of using Miliant-tendency tactics such as threatening to deselect Labour MPs,[32] a concern echoed by former deputy Labour leader Roy Hattersley.[33] Oliver Kamm of The Times wrote in October 2015, "Like the Trotskyists of a generation ago Momentum is an entrist organisation that's parasitic on the Labour host. This time, though, the far left has managed to gain control of the party structures and is intent on making life tough for Labour MPs".[34] A Labour councillor in Liverpool in 2019 said about Momentum's presence in the city, "I think Momentum in Liverpool is a mask for Militant. There are decent Momentum people and then there are the others who have their own agenda".[35]

Momentum and a number of political commentators characterise their supposed relationship with other groups as unfair,[36] and in October 2015 the organisation said that it would resist such entryism.[37][38] Author and journalist Michael Crick criticises the comparison to Militant, saying that "the rise of Jeremy Corbyn can be attributed more to the phenomenon of 'Corbynmania' than to hard-left entrism".[39] Former Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle, the Merseyside Labour-leadership enforcer against Militant during the 1980s as the party's north-west regional organiser, also rejected the comparison and describing Momentum as filling the role on the left of the party as Progress did on the right.[40] In December 2015, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said on the Today programme: "They look like a bit of a rabble to me, but I don't think they are a problem for the Labour Party".[41] James Schneider said in response to the accusation, "The purpose of Momentum is not to have internal factional battles, it's to look outside".[42]

Campaign historyEdit

Early days (2015–2017)Edit

16 July 2016 rally for Corbyn in Canterbury

Momentum began a campaign known as Democracy SOS to address the Conservative-Liberal Democratic government's change to an Individual Electoral Registration system; the Electoral Commission had recommended that the program be implemented a year later than it was. The commission believed, based on 2015 records, that eight million people were eligible to vote but not registered and 1.9 million registered voters who were removed by the change. Momentum utilized their network to campaign in towns and on university campuses to encourage voter registration.[43][44][45]

In 2016, former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell praised Momentum for their work in the local elections that May. The organisation coordinated activists from Brighton and London to areas such as Hastings, Crawley and Harlow; activists in the North West were directed to West Lancashire.[46]

After the 2017 Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland by-elections were called, Momentum mobilised its activist base to campaign for both. They introduced two technological applications: a phone-banking web application called Grassroots Now (used in Corbyn's 2015 and 2016 Labour-leadership election campaigns), and a carpooling web application to help out-of-town activists travel to campaign events.[47][48][49] Stoke-on-Trent Labour Party candidate Gareth Snell won, and Labour candidate Gillian Troughton lost to her Conservative opponent in the traditional Labour stronghold of Copeland.[50]

2017 general election campaign and aftermathEdit

 
At the February 2017 Stop Trump Rally in London
 
March 2017 Momentum activists' meeting in Birmingham

In the run-up to the 8 June 2017 general election, Momentum worked to mobilise voters and encourage volunteers to canvass on behalf of Labour. Their campaign strategy was to target marginal seats (rather than defend safe ones);[2][51] their MyNearestMarginal.com website enabled voters to search for campaign events in marginal constituencies closest to them,[52] and voters could promise to volunteer on election day at ElectionDayPledge.com. Momentum worked with organisers from Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign to hold training sessions for volunteers which included persuasive-conversation training.[13][1] Senior figures from Sanders' campaign included Erika Uyterhoeven (former national director for outer-state organising),[53] Grayson Lookner, Jeremy Parkin and Kim McMurray.[54]

Momentum had an effective social-media presence, and a number of their low-budget videos went viral. One example was "Daddy, do you hate me?", which was watched by 12.7 million Facebook users (more than one in three of the UK's Facebook users).[9] By the end of the election campaign, Momentum videos had a total of 51 million views.[55]

Membership in the organisation increased by 1,500 within four days of the general election,[12] and by another 3,000 within two months of the election.[56] Momentum's Facebook page had 23.7 million views, and its videos were watched by 12.7 million users. The organisation spent less than £2,000 on Facebook advertisements.[53] In May 2017, Noam Chomsky said that the Labour Party's future of the party lay with the left and Momentum: "The constituency of the Labour Party, the new participants, the Momentum group and so on, [...] if there is to be a serious future for the Labour Party that is where it is in my opinion".[57] On polling day, 10,000 Momentum activists knocked on an estimated 1.2 million doors in the UK.[9]

Although Labour lost five seats to the Conservatives in the general election, the party gained 28 seats from the Tories, six from the Scottish National Party and two from the Lib Dems. Almost every constituency targeted by Momentum was won by Labour.[52] Former Conservative Party director of communications Giles Kenningham said in July 2017, "Labour have used Momentum to devastating effect".[58] Later that month, Conservative MP Michael Gove said: "The Conservative Party can learn a lot from Momentum".[59] In August, it was announced that the Communication Workers Union would affiliate with Momentum after its executive committee voted unanimously to join the organisation.[60] John McTernan, a former critic of the Labour left and Corbyn, joined Momentum that summer.[61] Adam Klug resigned as Momentum national co-ordinator that summer after the snap general election, and national co-ordinator and co-founder Emma Rees resigned in October. Laura Parker, who resigned as Jeremy Corbyn's political secretary before the national conference, replaced Rees as national co-ordinator.[62]

The Electoral Commission (EC) announced in March 2019 that Momentum had been fined £16,700 for multiple breaches of electoral law, including failing to accurately report donations during the general-election period.[63] The fine for not submitting an accurate spending return was the largest imposed on a non-party campaign.[64] Although the organisation was initially investigated by the EC for overspending, the commission found that this was not the case.[65][failed verification] Momentum national treasurer Puru Miah, a councilor in Tower Hamlets, said that "we have put in place comprehensive systems so we can fully adhere to regulations".[66] An April 2020 Momentum report analysed their performance in the 2017 and 2019 general elections, saying that constituencies such as Broxtowe, Hendon, Morley and Outwood, Southampton Itchen, Pudsey, Thurrock and Harrow East could have been won with the enhanced ground support they had by 2019.[55]

Unseat campaign and expansion into local government (2017–2019)Edit

Momentum began their Unseat campaign after the 2017 general election with partners like Owen Jones, targeting constituencies where prominent Conservative MPs had a small majority and were susceptible to a Labour win at the next general election. Thousands of people attended Unseat events for seats held by Education Secretary Justine Greening (Putney), Department for Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip).[67][68][69][70][71][72] The campaign motivated Duncan Smith to contact local Conservative associations to organise activists to conduct counter-campaigns.[73]

Because the Labour Party believed that another snap general election was likely, the party conducted its selection procedure to have a slate of parliamentary candidates in place for the 96 marginal constituencies; Momentum backed several of those candidates.[74] By January 2019, over half of Momentum's 67 selections had become candidates.[75] Momentum wanted the Labour manifesto to propose a four-day work week and a Green New Deal: mass state investment to address climate change.[76]

 
Momentum members in London at a 2018 London anti-fascist rally

Momentum established a candidate network providing support for new councillors and encouraging women to stand, giving them opportunities to discuss policy and training in successful Labour-controlled councils such as Salford and Preston.[77] Momentum-backed selections in the 2018 local elections included Rokhsana Fiaz for Mayor of Newham, who was elected with an increased majority.[74] The Trafford Labour Party leader cited Momentum as a key reason for Labour's gain of seats in the borough.[78] Momentum-supported councillor Joseph Ejiofor became leader of Haringey London Borough Council after the elections in London.[79]

In February 2019, after the resignation of nine Labour members of parliament (eight becoming members of the centrist Independent Group with former Conservatives),[80] Momentum began to organise resources and activists to campaign for those seats, wanting public pressure from constituents to trigger by-elections. The organisation raised £15,000 in the hours after the split to fund the campaign.[81] Momentum organized 100 activists on 19 March in Streatham (Chuka Umunna's constituency), with Owen Jones, Diane Abbott and Ash Sarkar speaking to activists at a rally.[82]

During the 2019 local elections, James Driscoll was selected as Labour candidate for the inaugural first North of Tyne mayoral election as a notable Momentum-backed choice.[83] Driscoll won the election, with 56.1 percent of the second-round vote. Brighton and Hove City Council, where Momentum backed 12 Labour candidates,[84] and Sandwell Council were focal points for the organisation.[85]

2019 general election campaignEdit

Following the announcement of the 12 December 2019 snap general election, Momentum called for a large mobilisation of Momentum and Labour members.[86][9] The group increased their number of paid staff from 13 to 56 for the election campaign period.[1] The group set a funding target of £50,000 in 48 hours, however exceeded this and raised £100,000 in 12 hours.[87] Within six days of this funding drive Momentum have raised £255,000 from 10,000 individual donations, averaging at £26 per donation which came close to beating the amount raised during the entirety of the 2017 General election campaign.[3] Within 10 days, the group reached over £300,000 from 11,000 donations. Parker commented on these funds saying the organisation will be able to "scale up every aspect of our operation from the get-go, which will allow us to deliver a campaign like nothing this country has ever seen before.”[88]

Momentum created different tools and initiatives to help activists to organise. Prior to the campaign in September Momentum created a website "Univotes" to help students strategically plan which constituency is better for them to vote in; as students can register at both their home address and student address. The student vote been cited by Momentum as why Labour won in Canterbury, Warwick and Leamington, Portsmouth South, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Lincoln in 2017.[89][90] They created a website "mycampaignmap.com"- as a successor the to the 'My Nearest Marginal' website used for the 2017 election- which helps activists to coordinate their efforts in areas they are most needed.[86] My Campaign Map was used to organise over 21,000 events for the election period,[52] and had over 170,000 unique visitors.[55]

Momentum created a new type of volunteers called "Labour Legends", who took time off from work and commit at least a full week of campaigning in their area, or to volunteer in other constituencies.[3] In 10 days this initiative acquired over 1,000 people have signed up, providing 40,000 volunteer hours,[1][2] and eventually rising to over 1,400 people getting involved,[52][9] 500 of which were allocated to marginal seats.[55] Momentum additionally encourages Labour party members abroad in Europe, The United States and Australia to register British expats to vote and to participate in phone banking from where they live.[14]

The group developed their campaign strategy with three principles in mind, according to Emma Rees: people power, the targeting of marginal seats, and the idea of getting everybody to step up. This was done by following a decentralised model in which activists have both a clear understanding of the aims and taking on organisational roles.[51] Momentum has created several opportunities for activists to get involved in other ways of promotion- these include “Let’s Go” teams who communicate on do phone banking using Whatsapp, volunteers who watch through interviews of Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians to be used for videos[1] and also people creating videos of themselves explaining why they are voting labour and posting them on social media to help engage with voters on all available platforms.[88]

Momentum used social media advertising to encourage people to register to vote for the election. One of their adverts targeted Urdu speakers.[91] The organising group controversially made a video for Twitter based on a Coca-Cola Christmas advert that circulates every year. They were asked to cease and desist by the Coca-Cola company and the advertisement was taken down.[92] By the end of the election, their videos had a combined viewing of 106 million, double that of the last election.[55]

In 2020, Momentum submitted a report to the Labour party's "Labour Together Review", which was a cross-factional analysis of the party's performance and strategy, making several recommendations on the tools and approach for future elections.[93]

Labour leadership elections and socialist organising (2020–present)Edit

After their defeat in the 2019 general election, in which Labour lost 60 seats, Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum national coordinator Laura Parker resigned.[94] The election loss led Corbyn to call a leadership election, coupled with the deputy leadership election, with the results of both elections announced in April 2020.[95][96] On 14 January 2020, Momentum ran a two-day online consultation with their members about endorsing Rebecca Long-Bailey for leader and Angela Rayner for deputy leader. The consultation's closed format was controversial.[97][98][26] Of the 7,395 members participating, 70 percent supported Long-Bailey and 52 percent supported Rayner.[99] Momentum planned hundreds of phone-banking events to support Long-Bailey.[100] Keir Starmer won the election in the first round (with Long-Bailey receiving 28 percent of the vote), and Momentum failed to win any of the National Executive Committee by-elections.[101][102] Momentum congratulated Starmer on his victory, and positioned themselves to work with the new leadership for "transformational policies".[103] In May 2020, Momentum founder Jon Lansman announced that he would step down as chairman the following month.[104][105][106]

Momentum has focused more on grassroots campaigning,[107] such as their September 2020 Eviction Resistance campaign, since Starmer's election.[108] In March 2021, the organisation published their 2021-2024 stratergy: "Socialist Organising in a New Era".[109][110]

In the run-up to the 2020 local elections, the London Labour Party changed its selection process for assembly members so party members select new candidates; four assembly members were not standing for re-election. This was believed to be an opportunity for Momentum, who gained influence in the regional party in the 2018 regional-conference elections,[111] to nominate candidates who would push Sadiq Khan's election manifesto to the left.[112][113]

Other issuesEdit

AusterityEdit

One of Momentum's primary objectives was to create an anti-austerity movement in the UK which was connected to the Labour Party.[29] In particular, Momentum criticised George Osborne's proposal to cut tax credit payments for working families.[114][115] In 2016, local Momentum groups began to collect and volunteer for food banks.[12]

2015 Syria airstrikesEdit

Momentum called for its membership to lobby Labour MPs "to support Corbyn, not Cameron, over Syria" on Twitter, linking to the Stop the War Coalition's Don't Bomb Syria campaign which opposed the Conservative government's proposal to extend its bombing sorties against Daesh (also known as ISIS) from Daesh-held territory in Iraq to Daesh-held territory in Syria. Corbyn had argued that Cameron's government lacked a credible plan for defeating Daesh, and the bombing in Syria would not increase the United Kingdom's national security; he has also said that military action should always be a last resort. Some Labour MPs criticised Momentum's move to lobby on party-political grounds before the Labour Party's position on military action had been decided; Gavin Shuker asked, "Who decided this was your position on Syria, and to lobby MPs in this way?"[116]

Antisemitism allegationsEdit

Since 2015, there have been a series of allegations of antisemitism against Labour Party members. Many leading figures in Momentum were Jewish (or of Jewish ancestry), such as Klug,[117] Lansman,[118] Schneider,[117] Rhea Wolfson[119] and Jackie Walker.[120] Momentum has also had issues with members,[121] and have accepted antisemitism in some Labour members;[117][122] Lansman attributed the antisemitism to "conspiracy theorists" in the party and the organisation,[118] and Momentum has challenged the conspiracy theories have been challenged by Momentum with viral videos.[123]

Walker, Momentum's vice-chair, was expelled from the Labour Party for behaviour related to antisemitism.[124] Joshua Garfield, a Jewish youth officer in a London Momentum branch, resigned in April 2018 because antisemitism by branch members made him feel "sometimes unsafe and certainly untrusted".[117][125][126] Garfield was a member (and, later, an officer) of the Jewish Labour Movement who appeared on a Panorama episode about antisemitism in the Labour Party.[127] In the 2018 National Executive Committee elections, Momentum withdrew their support for Peter Willsman after an NEC meeting in which he described those "lecturing" the party about antisemitism as "Trump fanatics" who were "making up duff information without any evidence at all".[128][129]

In early 2020, two Momentum-backed Labour councillors in Brighton were suspended pending an investigation after accusations of antisemitism; the Green Party then led the minority administration.[130] In response to Jeremy Corbyn's suspension from the Labour Party after the antisemitism report, Momentum and other left-wing groups passed motions of solidarity with him; some of the motions indicated a vote of no confidence in leader Starmer and general secretary David Evans. This led to 50 suspensions, including seven from the Momentum-affiliated Welsh Labour Grassroots.[131][132]

BrexitEdit

During the Corbyn years, Momentum was neutral about remaining in the European Union and supported the Labour Party position.[76] Several Momentum members have supported a second referendum, however, with remaining and the government's deal as options. The People's Vote advocacy group, which included trade-union leaders and former Momentum members, was launched in April 2018.[133] The group's launch statement was signed by TSSA union general secretary Manuel Cortes, economist Ann Pettifor, former Momentum steering group member Michael Chessum and former CWU general secretary Billy Hayes.[134] A November 2018 poll of Momentum members found that a majority supported a second referendum.[135] The left-wing, pro-European pressure group Another Europe Is Possible contains Momentum members[136] such as former steering-committee member Michael Chessum.[137] In March 2019, 188 Momentum activists sent an open letter to Jon Lansman supporting a second referendum.[138]

Bankrupt Climate Change (2019)Edit

In March 2019, Momentum began Bankrupt Climate Change: a protest campaign outside Barclays banks by 40 local groups. The campaign's objective was to raise awareness of Barclays' investments in fossil-fuel companies;[139][140] the bank is reportedly Europe's largest financier (and the world's sixth-largest) of such companies.[141]

Immigration and refuge in the UKEdit

Momentum has been supportive of refugees attempting to claim asylum in the United Kingdom. In August 2020, the organisation criticised Labour leader Keir Starmer's lack of support for those crossing the English Channel to claim asylum in the UK.[142] Their condemnation was coordinated with Open Labour and the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.[108]

Eviction Resistance campaignEdit

In the face of a recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Momentum organised with ACORN and the London Renters' Union to organise renters to fight eviction and educate them about their tenancy rights.[108] During the lockdown, it was believed that 220,000 private renters fell into arrears and an estimated 60,000 eviction notices were served.[143] Momentum began encouraging their London members and supporters to join the London Renters' Union in May 2020,[144] and the campaign was in full swing by September.[143] To facilitate coordination, Momentum revamped their mycampaignmap website to display local groups, training and events.[145]

Reselection of MPsEdit

Critics of Corbyn in the Parliamentary Labour Party have raised concerns that Momentum might encourage the deselection of MPs and councillors who disagree with the organisation, in a process known as reselection.[146][147] The concern was amplified by prominent left-wing voices unaffiliated with Momentum.[148] Momentum denied the accusation in 2015, saying: "We will not campaign for the deselection of any MP and will not permit any local Momentum groups to do so. The selection of candidates is entirely a matter for local party members and rightly so".[25][149] The organization is supportive of open selections, however, in which all members (not just socialist societies and trade unions) have an equal influence on the selection process and are democratically accountable.[150]

In July 2018, Momentum national coordinator Laura Parker said that four Labour MPs who voted against an opposition amendment to the EU withdrawal bill should be deselected. At the Labour Party Conference that year, the organisation's reselection reforms were supported by Corbyn.[151] In July 2019, Momentum announced they would support Labour and Momentum members who wanted to challenge sitting Labour MPs to encourage a younger, more working class and ethnically-diverse pool of party representatives.[152]

Labour Party democracy reviewEdit

In 2017, the Labour Party began a democracy review which would give its membership greater voting capabilities. Momentum has advocated greater membership involvement in party decision-making and "bolder reforms",[150][153] such as Labour members having a larger role in policy development.[26] Momentum has pushed for lowering of the nomination threshold for Labour leadership candidates, so a left-wing successor to Corbyn could more easily contest a future election.[153] Jon Lansman, however, called the proposed Labour reforms "tinkering around the edges".[154]

Momentum tabled plans to update the selection of BAME Labour representatives, in which a one member, one vote election would replace a small-group decision. Under the Momentum plan, all Black or other-minority party members would automatically become part of BAME Labour and have a one-member, one-vote right to elect their NEC representative. BAME Labour would be an independent organisation, with its committee having direct access to its membership list and centrally-funded finances and the ability to independently organise its own campaigns and events.[155]

Crucial votes about the democracy review took place during the 2017 Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Momentum launched M.app, a smartphone app to alert delegates to key votes on the conference floor and send real-time information about events and rallies.[156] Although a compromise motion lowering the threshold for local party and union branches to express dissatisfaction with an MP's performance from 50 to 33 percent passed,[157] it was announced that the democracy review was being shelved.[153]

Internal elections in the Labour PartyEdit

In the 2016 elections for the National Executive Committee, it emerged that Momentum, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and other leftist groups had formed a joint slate under the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA),[158] and were backing six representatives for the NEC: Rhea Wolfson, former chair of the Jewish Society who replaced Ken Livingstone;[159] Christine Shawcroft, a senior Momentum figure who had been an NEC member for fifteen years and was briefly suspended from the party after defending Lutfur Rahman[160][161] (gaining media attention for jocular comments about dialogue with ISIS instead of air strikes);[162] Peter Willsman; Claudia Webbe; Ann Black, and Darren Williams.[161] All six candidates were elected.[163]

In 2017, Momentum and the Campaign for Socialism (their Scottish sister organisation) won five of the eight seats on the Scottish Labour executive committee.[164] At that year's Labour conference, it was announced that the party would add three more member-elected positions on the NEC in response to a significant rise in membership. During the balloting period, Peter Willsman was removed from Momentum's list of recommended candidates after an allegation of antisemitism; Willsman had been recorded as describing some Jewish critics of Labour as "Trump fanatics".[165][166] Three other Momentum-backed candidates were elected to the NEC: Jon Lansman, Yasmine Dar and Rachel Garnham.[167][168][169][170]

In April 2020, Momentum nominated three candidates: two for casual vacancies, and one for a newly created BAME position. None of the candidates were successful,[103] and the result was attributed to the failure of Momentum and other Labour left-wing factions to agree on a CLGA slate.[171] The alliance agreed on a Grassroots Voice slate in July 2020: six candidates for nine Constituency Labour Party seats in the October election.[172] Four hundred fifty CLPs participated, the highest turnout in Labour history; forty-two percent of the selection nominations went to the Grassroots Voice slate.[173] Five out of six candidates were elected from the slate.[174] As well as Momentum winning a majority of seats on Young Labour's National Exectutive.

In 2021, all four of Momentum's backed candidates for the newly created National Women's Committee were elected (Solma Ahmed, Ekua Bayunu, Tricia Duncan and Chloe Hopkins)- with the further two positions being other left-wing candidates from the CLGA.[175]

The World TransformedEdit

In 2016, Momentum began The World Transformed: a four-day festival at the same time as the Labour Party conference which features art, music, culture and political discussions.[9][176] Although Momentum originally organised the festival, it became an independent entity with close ties to the group.[177]

By 2018, the festival had a 10,000-person capacity.[178] That year's event was held in Liverpool, and guest speakers included 2017 French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon,[179] Jeremy Corbyn, Die Linke leader Katja Kipping, Ralf Stegner of the SPD, Alliance for Change and Transparency leader Zitto Kabwe, and Ash Sarkar.[180] After the 2018 World Transformed event, local one- and multi-day festivals not organised by Momentum or TWT began to emerge.[181]

Constitution and structureEdit

According to Companies House, the current officers of Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd are[182] solicitor Anthony Kearns (since 2019)[183] and co-chairs Andrew Scattergood and Gaya Sriskanthan (since 2021). Momentum originally had a delegate system for an executive board, known as the steering committee. In late October 2016, the steering committee voted to adopt one member, one vote (OMOV) for a digital instead of the delegate system; the decision, however, was controversial and did not survive a general vote.[184][27][28][29] A new constitution, including OMOV, was announced on 11 January 2017. New Momentum members were required to be members of the Labour Party, with existing Momentum members required to join the party by July of that year.[185] Lansman initiated changes via email. After persuading the steering committee, he replaced the national committee with a Labour-only national coordinating group (NCG).[186][187] A new online model of organisation without a regional structure was created to prevent far-left entryists dominating delegate meetings.[188]

After a January 2017 Momentum survey with a response rate of over 40 percent, the organisation's steering committee voted to introduce a new constitution.[5] Lansman resigned as a director on 12 January 2017 (replaced by Christine Shawcroft) to stand for election to the steering committee.[189][190] Momentum introduced its new constitutional structure in early March; the new NCG met on 11 March and a conference was held on 25 March, both in Birmingham.[191] In 2020, the newly elected NCG began a process of "refounding Momentum".[108] This was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however the process of members re-writing the constitution was begun in 2021.[192]

MembershipEdit

Year
2016[28]
21,000
2017[193]
31,000
2018[194]
42,000
2019[3]
40,000

In 2015 – the year it was founded – Momentum had 60,000 supporters (who paid no fees) and 50 local groups.[25] By September 2017, it had 31,000 members in 170 local groups and a staff of 15.[193] In January 2018, the group had 35,000 members.[195] By April of that year, Momentum had 40,000 members. According to the organisation, 95 percent of its funding comes from membership fees and small donations; the average fee is £3 per year.[196] In July 2018, it was reported that Momentum had 42,000 members: 92 percent (38,700) in England, four percent (2,000) in Wales, and three percent (1,300) in Scotland.[194] Its membership base has been seen as falling into two types: young activists who joined the Labour Party during (and after) Corbyn's first leadership election in 2015, and older, left-wing veterans of the Labour Party and the far left.[28][29][10]

National Coordinating GroupEdit

In the first election (in 2018), eight Members' Representatives were elected: four for London and the South East; two for the Midlands, the East, the West and Wales; two for the North, Scotland and International; and four public-office holders.[197] Thirty-four percent of the membership (7,500) voted.[198] Additional elections were held in April of that year for four positions in each of the four regional coordinating offices, and over 13,000 votes (35 percent of the eligible membership) were cast.[197][198]

For the second NCG election, in 2020, Momentum's represented geographic regions expanded from four to five. Two slates were nominated for all the positions: Momentum Renewal and Forward Momentum. Both were endorsed by left-wing figures, journalists and politicians, and their ideology had some overlap.[199][26] Sam Bright of Byline Times wrote, "Both want to reform the democratic structures of the organisation; both want to see more devolution of powers to local groups; both want to defend the radical policies of the Corbyn era".[26] The Momentum Renewal slate emphasised community trade-union organisation.[200] Forward Momentum intended to further democratise Momentum, advocating greater democracy in the Labour Party and the use of open primaries for internal elections.[105][200] Forward Momentum Candidates won in all regions except for public-office holders.[201][202][4]

The group's present composition is:[201]

London Midlands and East
List
  • Sonali Bhattacharyya
  • Deborah Hermanns
  • Mick Moore
  • Ana Oppenheim
List
  • Andrew Scattergood
  • Mish Rahman
  • Solma Ahmed
  • Abbie Clark
North West and Wales South East and South West
List
  • Alan Gibbon
  • Tracey Hylton
  • Harriet Protheroe-Soltani
  • Charlie Bollaan
List
  • Darran McLaughlin
  • Shona Jemphrey
  • Jennifer Forbes
  • Phil Clarke
Yorkshire, North East, Scotland and International Public Office Holders' section
List
  • Gaya Sriskanthan
  • Rory Maclean
  • Callum Bell
  • Liz Smith
List
Affiliated organisations
List

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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