Socialist Worker

Is Jeremy Corbyn supporters group Momentum cutting off its grassroots?

Momentum’s ever tighter focus on the Labour Party is a retreat that limits its potential to mobilise, warns Nick Clark

Issue No. 2490

Jeremy Corbyn supporters awaiting the result of the Labour leadership election last year

Labour Party supporters awaiting the result of the Labour deputy leadership election last year (Pic: The Weekly Bull/flickr)


Momentum, the group founded to build on the success of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign, has decided formally to restrict its membership.

The group’s National Committee agreed last Saturday that membership of Momentum should be restricted to Labour Party members and affiliated supporters.

Non-Labour members will still be allowed to join provided they are “supporters of the aims and values of the Labour Party.”

But people who are members of other political parties will not be allowed to join Momentum.

Momentum was set up in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn's successful campaign to be elected leader of the Labour Party.

Its aim was to build on that groundswell of support by building a “mass movement for social change.”

It wanted to organise “supporters amongst the Labour Party membership as well as the wider social movement which is springing up”.

Momentum’s aim was also to pull people into the Labour Party. And there were debates about whether the focus should be on building outward looking campaigns or looking towards internal Labour Party battles.

Nuclear

Momentum’s national committee rightly agreed to support the CND demonstration against Trident nuclear missiles in London on Saturday 27 February.

And it also committed to build for the People’s Assembly national demo in London on 16 April.

But the committee’s agenda emphasised a focus on building the Labour Party.

It said Momentum’s stated aim is to “strengthen the Labour Party by increasing participation and engagement at local, regional and national levels.

“Furthermore, Momentum is committed to supporting the Labour Party winning elections and entering government.”

Such a strategy risks allowing the groundswell of support that grew around Corbyn’s campaign to melt away.

Corbyn’s strength came from the hundreds of thousands of people who voted for him because they wanted an alternative to austerity, racism and war.

Sustaining that will mean building a broad-based movement.


Labour benefit gig puts emphasis on elections

The opening gig in the JC4PM tour in Kentish Town, north London, last week showed that it is still possible to mobilise large numbers of Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

Well over 400 people turned out to hear musicians, comedians and activists.

Jo told Socialist Worker, “I’m still very enthused by Corbyn’s victory. I came here to be with like-minded people.”

She added that defending Corbyn against the right in Labour “can’t be left to him alone”.

But the audience was smaller than at Corbyn’s election rallies last summer—and the average age seemed older. Labour activist Namaa said, “I came tonight to see how many people would be here. It’s smaller than I hoped it would be—and there aren’t enough young people. It’s starting to look like just the old activists.”

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone told the audience the most important task was to “elect a Labour government”.

He added, “Get involved in your local Labour Party. Get involved in Momentum.”

And tour organiser Jeremy Hardy said it was important to campaign for a “Labour-led coalition in 2020”.


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