A key ally of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has told party activists in north London to prepare for another leadership contest.
Jon Lansman, who founded the Momentum group out of Corbyn's successful leadership election campaign, said on Thursday night, “I’m in no doubt that after May we could face a leadership election.
“We have got to be in a position to be able to run another leadership campaign after May.”
Lansman made his comments at a meeting of the Haringey Momentum branch last night, Thursday. He pointed to the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell from right wing members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
He argued that Momentum activists had to be organised to defend Corbyn and McDonnell.
Lansman said, “We’ve had a very rough time—Jeremy and John particularly. You hear about Momentum bullying. What happens in the PLP every Monday is bullying by a small section of the PLP. What it is designed to do is grind Jeremy down.”
He later added that the Labour right “are organising to get their supporters installed as conference delegates. We’ve got to do the same.
“We want to see a Momentum supporter elected as the Young Labour representative on the National Executive. We need a majority on the National Executive.”
Lansman also said that it was important for Momentum members to campaign for Labour candidate Sadiq Khan to win the London mayoral election in May.
He said, “We’ve got to win the election in London for Sadiq Khan. Absolutely crucial.” The election’s outcome “will partly determine whether or not there is a leadership challenge”.
On Scotland he added, “I have to say, in Scotland we can’t be under any illusions. We are going to lose more seats in Scotland.”
There had been some controversy at the Haringey Momentum meeting, as it had been only open to Labour Party members.
Momentum supporters who had been at two previous meetings in Haringey were not allowed in on the basis that it was an organisational meeting.
Lansman argued that the restrictions were necessary and that “The desire for these restrictions come from the top. They come from Jeremy and John McDonnell.”
He added, “It’s because they see it as necessary to resist the attacks from the right of the party and from the media.”
The restrictions follow an announcement last December that only Labour members could hold positions in Momentum or attend decision making meetings. But non-Labour Party members would be allowed to be involved in Momentum.
Lansman said, “There are some people including some trade unionists who would rather it was more restricted to just local Labour Party members.
“Personally I think there’s quite a strong argument against being quite so restricted because we want Momentum to be able to reach out to people who are still outside the party, keeping in contact with those people who paid their three quid and try and bring them into the party.”
Lansman is right to say that it is important to defend Corbyn against the right.
Corbyn was elected as Labour leader last September because his campaign mobilised hundreds of thousands of people looking for an alternative.
Everyone who wants to fight war, racism and austerity needs to stand with Corbyn against the right. Doing that means making the sure those hundreds of thousands of people stay active and involved in campaigning.
Lansman himself said, “We have got be as united then as we were last summer. We have got to mobilise the same coalition and more.
“We have got to try and recruit not only the people who paid the £3 last time, but more than who paid the £3 pounds and joined the party.”
But as many as 250 people had attended the first Haringey Momentum meeting last year. Thursday’s meeting was made up of around 50 mostly older Labour activists.
And it was dominated by procedural arguments between organisers and speakers from the floor.
One Labour activist at the meeting argued, “In the summer before Jeremy got elected he spoke at the People’s Assembly march. 250,000 people in the middle of Westminster.
“There was no boundaries between him and people at that march. They’re not all Labour Party members—but I bet that most of them either paid the £3 or joined the Labour Party to vote for him.
“If we don’t allow those people in then how are they ever going to be part of our group?”