What’s coming up at the 11 March grassroots Momentum conference?

I’m looking forward to seeing representatives from Momentum groups around the country at the grassroots networking conference in London on 11 March (10am-5pm at Conway Hall).

A few things I’d like to flag up in advance:

1. Whether through official resolutions or, even more importantly, through informal links made on the day, we need to push forward progress in getting Momentum groups to campaign actively on the issues facing us – through the Labour Party if we can, independently if we must. In addition to supporting workers in struggle, I have in mind particularly the NHS, migrants’ rights and the massive cuts to schools which are being imposed and which are certainly a big focus for us in Lewisham. I hope that proposals on these issues will emerge from the workshops.

2. I’m pleased representatives from two of the most significant workers’ struggles going on in Britain at the moment are coming to the conference Continue reading “What’s coming up at the 11 March grassroots Momentum conference?”

Plan for 2017 to be discussed and voted on at Lewisham Momentum AGM

lewishammomentumOn Monday 27 February Lewisham Momentum is holding its second AGM (7pm, New Cross Learning, 283 New Cross Road – Facebook event here). The agenda is below.

We will be discussing and voting on a strategic plan for 2017 drafted out of a brainstorm and discussion we had at our last organising meeting on 6 February. You can read the document here.

***

7pm Welcome and introduction to AGM (chair Jill Mountford)

7.10 Speakers:
Joe Cowley, NUT rep at Forest Hill Boys School, where a big struggle is about to begin
Kelly Rogers, rep at Ritzy cinema in Brixton, part of Picturehouse strike
Questions and suggestions

AGM business

7.30 Strategy document (Rebecca Lawrence to introduce)

8.10 Election of officers
3 Chairs (to rotate each meeting)
3 or 4 administrators – emails, social media, data, website
3 CLP organisers
Treasurer – supported by fundraising working group
2 or 3 action point minutes takers (to rotate each meeting)
6 delegates to 11 March grassroots Momentum networking conference

8.40
Reports from working groups and organisation of new ones, including
Migrant workers and refugees
Political education
Twinning
Education cuts

8.50 Solidarity picture for Derby TAs’ fight

8.55 CLP caucuses

9.15 Finish

Sylvia Pankhurst: an organiser for working-class women

sylviaI first had this published in Workers’ Liberty magazine number 58 in 2000.

I’ll be speaking about Sylvia at a meeting on 5 March to celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 – 3pm at New Cross Learning, 283 New Cross Road. Facebook event here.

“The name of our paper, the Woman’s Dreadnought, is symbolic of the fact that the women who are fighting for freedom must fear nothing. It suggests also the policy of social care and reconstruction which is the policy of awakening womanhood throughout the world, as opposed to the cruel, disorganised struggle for existence amongst individuals and nations from which Humanity has suffered in the past… the chief duty of the Dreadnought will be to deal with the franchise question from the working-woman’s point of view… (and) to review the whole field of the women’s emancipation movement.”
– From the first edition of the Woman’s Dreadnought

On International Women’s Day (March 8, 1914) Sylvia Pankhurst, having been expelled from the suffragette organisation, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), by her mother, Emmeline, and sister, Christabel, launched a working class women’s paper, the Women’s Dreadnought, in the East End of London. Continue reading “Sylvia Pankhurst: an organiser for working-class women”

Statement from the four Momentum Steering Committee members who did not betray democracy

The following statement has been issued by the four Momentum Steering Committee members who voted against Jon Lansman’s coup on 10 January – myself, Matt Wrack, Michael Chessum and Jackie Walker. The Steering Committee is continuing to meet in defiance of its being shut down. The National Committee is meeting on Saturday 28 January to discuss the way forward. More soon.

For updates see here.

Feel free to get in touch: jillmountford1871@gmail.com Continue reading “Statement from the four Momentum Steering Committee members who did not betray democracy”

Shocking turn of events! Stay in Momentum and build a local groups network!

Contact me: jillmountford1871@gmail.com

All democratic structures in Momentum were dissolved last evening and a new constitution adopted via an email put out by Jon Lansman to the other 11 voting National Steering Committee members.

“If this constitution is agreed, the effect would be to wind up the SC, the NC and CAC, with immediate effect, though the conference would go ahead but under the new rules, no motions would be considered.”

There was no prior notice to find out who might be available to take part in this email vote, there was no discussion about the significant content of Jon’s email or the 4 attached documents one of which is a constitution for the organisation and surely worthy of much discussion. Just a simple vote in favour or against and as soon as a majority had been reached supporting Jon’s proposals (it took less than a hour – 6 votes for and 4 votes against) dissolution of all structures was announced along with a new constitution.

So this is how e.voting works? A fine example of things to come!

No sooner had Jon Lansman declared the new situation than an email was sent out to all National Committee members spreading the good news. This email ends with an invitation to leave Momentum.

“If you consent to Momentum’s constitution, you do not have to do anything. Simply continue paying your membership fees. However, if you wish to opt out, you can email membership@peoplesmomentum.com to cancel your membership.”

So you can nod through a new constitution discussed nowhere, amended by no one or you can leave!

According to the new constitution some members have no choice but to leave, they are, in effect, being expelled from Momentum because they’ve been expelled from the Labour Party. Most, myself included, have been expelled for political reasons, that is, being wrong kind of socialist, and have been provided with no evidence against them or had any opportunity to appeal. A practice generally condemned by the left in the Labour Party.

Is this the ‘new kind of politics’? Only it seems rather old fashioned, not to mention right wing. Neil Kinnock was expelling members back in the eighties only then Jeremy Corbyn was rightly campaigning against expulsions and for socialists to be readmitted into the Labour Party.

No one should leave Momentum, we should stay and organise in the local groups, establish the best possible, most democratic local groups network, intervene where we can in the bureaucratic structures and continue to build an activists movement all around the country.

There has always been willingness to compromise by those wanting a delegate based national conference in order for us to build a movement that can transform the Labour Party and defeat the Tories. Since the National Committee in Birmingham on 3 December two National Steering committees have been cancelled and the one arranged for this evening was usurped by Lansman’s coup-by-email last evening. This coup is astounding and not what any of us expected. I always doubted they would let the national delegate based conference go ahead but I did not anticipate this level of blatant anti-democratic carving. I do not understand this extreme response to one side winning a vote to organise a national conference where some of the time would be dedicated to discussing motions.

I urge activists to resist demoralisation and walking away from Momentum instead we should go to our local groups and discuss what’s happened, we should find a forum where we can all meet up nationally and strengthen the local group connections. We should continue with the good work many groups are doing all around the country. Our aim is to transform the Labour Party and to replace the Tories with a Labour Party that fights for the working class as hard as the Tories fight for the bosses class.

See Jon Lansman’s email and attached documents.

Proposal to Steering Group: A new constitution for Momentum
• Jon Lansman
Message body
Dear Colleagues
I am writing to explain why, in consultation with a number of others in Momentum, the Leader’s office and trade unions that have supported Jeremy Corbyn, I have decided to propose today that we immediately act to put Momentum on the proper footing that those dependant on the success of Jeremy’s leadership need it to be and our members want it to be.
Most of our members joined Momentum because they support Jeremy Corbyn and want to help him achieve what he is trying to do. We must put behind us the paralysis that has for months bedevilled all our national structures, and focus on our most urgent task – winning the general election that could come within months, by turning Labour into an effective force committed to that task, and to the transformative government that would follow.
I have also taken legal advice, based on a review of a substantial body of Momentum records, which is that in order to operate effectively as an organisation with members, Momentum needs written rules or a constitution with which all its members agree, and in our current circumstances, the only way of agreeing such a constitution which is binding on the relationship between the organisation and our members is to seek the individual consent of each of our members and affiliates.
The papers which are included in this mailing set out:
1. The results of the survey initiated by Jeremy Corbyn’s pre-Christmas message to Momentum members, which indicate members’ overwhelming support for the type of organisation we will continue to build, action-focused, rooted in our communities, wholly committed to the Labour Party, and involving our members directly in decision-making;
2. A constitution which establishes a sustainable democratic framework for the sort of organisation we need – an outwards-looking, campaigning organisation to change and strengthen the Labour Party, not to mirror its structures. This constitution would apply from now but would be reviewed in due course and be subject to amendments;
3. A paper on interim governance
4. A paper on election process for the new National Coordinating Group to replace existing regional and national structures.
The Constitution may not be perfect in everyone’s eyes, but, whatever process we follow, it is common ground that we need one, and it is surely better to have it now and amend it later by a process that is indisputable. As well as setting out the essential elements of our aims and objectives as they have always appeared on our website and in our public statements, the constitution:
1. Reinforces our wholehearted commitment to the Labour Party by restating our aim of working towards affiliation, and requiring all members to be party members;
2. Provides for elections and key decisions including changes to the constitution to be made by our members themselves;
3. Provides for a structure with minimum bureaucracy reflecting members desire to focus externally on organising and campaigning through our local groups, liberation networks and the Labour Party rather than internally on making policy for ourselves.
If this constitution is agreed, the effect would be to wind up the SC, the NC and CAC, with immediate effect, though the conference would go ahead but under the new rules, no motions would be considered.
If you are happy with all these proposals as they stand, please indicate by email. If there is a majority – I think we all recognise that we shall continue to disagree on this matter – I propose that we seek the approval of members immediately.
In solidarity

Jon Lansman
Chair
Momentum National Steering Group

jon.lansman@peoplesmomentum.com

interimgovernance-1electionprocessforthenationalcoordinatinggroup-1momentum-members-survey-16-17momentum-constitutionmomentum-constitution

Two proposals to Momentum Steering Committee – support for strikes, Aleppo

Hi everyone – there is a Momentum Steering Committee coming up (date tbc) and I am going to put these two proposals to it. Obviously there is a lot to discuss about how Momentum as an organisation moves forward next year, but I hope we’ll have time to discuss and agree actions on these two significant issues which I believe will command broad support among our members.

I will also be trying to make sure the actions around supporting the Picture dispute we agreed in October have been carried out (see here).

Please raise these issues in your group. And feel free to get in touch: jillmountford1871@gmail.com

***

Support the strikes!

We note the strikes developing in a number of industries: rail workers in various companies, Post Office workers, British Airways cabin crew, Argos logistics workers, Picturehouse cinema workers, Tangerine confectionary workers, in addition to recent organising by non-traditional unions among cleaners, Deliveroo workers, etc…

We support these disputes. An important part of our purpose as a socialist organisation is to support and encourage workers’ struggles. Struggle, including strikes, is crucial for workers to defend themselves and win better rights. It is essential to building a labour movement and Labour Party with a real base and legitimacy in workplaces and working-class communities.

We agree to
1. Urgently launch an online solidarity campaign around the slogan #supportthestrikes, providing ideas on what Momentum groups can do to build solidarity.
2. Publicly call on Labour to declare solidarity and mobilise in support of these struggles, linking them to policies such as union rights and public ownership.
3. Organise and publicise official Steering Committee visits (also inviting National Committee members) to as many picket lines as possible, starting with the London Picturehouse workers.
4. Publish this resolution.

Aleppo

We welcome the outpouring of solidarity with the people of Aleppo by Momentum members and supporters, and condemn the Syrian government/Russian assault on the city.

We condemn all those violating human rights in Syria (and everywhere) – above all the Assad Regime and its Russian, Iranian and other backers, who have killed huge numbers of people in this conflict. We express our solidarity with those struggling for human rights and democracy in Syria.

We will make a public statement based on this resolution, advocating strong Labour Party and labour movement opposition to the Assad/Russian war; support for Syrian human rights activists, democrats and leftists; and a welcome for Syrian refugees in Britain.

Decisions on National Conference – positive steps forward to building a democratic movement

Yesterday National Committee (3 December, in Birmingham – not met since May!) decided Momentum’s first national conference, set to take place in February 2017, should be ‘a delegate-based conference with decision-making by delegates voting at the conference’. This position was won by 31 votes to 28 votes after debate around three possible ways of organising the conference and the decision-making processes. This is a positive step forward to building a democratic activist based organisation, where delegates are elected from local groups and liberation strands, where face-to-face political debate and discussion takes place in local groups,at regional committees and at the national conference.

It was agreed that from local groups there will be 2 delegates for every 100 members or part of; that ‘members in areas without local groups to be represented at the same rate as members in groups, elected by OMOV ballot in regions’; and that ‘Momentum Youth & Student and liberation groups may send a number of delegates to be agreed by the National Committee in consultation with these groups, subject to the verification of structures and election processes by the National Committee. Delegates will be elected face to face in meetings open to all members in a local group.

We also agreed to elect a Conference Arrangements Committee of 7 people ‘to make further decisions regarding the agenda, subject to the approval of the conference where possible, and to the decisions of the NC and SC to date’.

I’m sure over the next few days there will be much talk about the machinations of this National Committee, who was there, how they were voting, what they were arguing etc. One big discussion will, no doubt, be around the Labour Party groups that get automatic delegates to Momentum National Committee. Groups such as Labour CND, Labour Against Austerity, Open Labour, Compass, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Briefing, Labour Representation Committee and Labour Futures (Jon Lansman’s blog). It was Jon Lansman who proposed these groups and their delegate entitlement at the first National Committee back in February this year (04.02.16). That NC was divided, angry and, in parts, somewhat confused and chaotic. Jon says that these groups were put forward by the MPs involved in establishing Momentum early on and this is the way it is. This may be so but what about other Labour supporting groups that might want to affiliate to Momentum, how do they do so? At the moment it’s affiliation by invite only. Another inconsistency is that trade unions pay an affiliation fee (FBU and TSSA) to Momentum and get two delegates. There is at present no policy on affiliating groups, their delegate entitlement, commitment and affiliation fees. We need to fix this.

Yesterday’s NC saw an impressive turn-out from the Labour groups ‘affiliated’. LRC (President is John McDonell and Matt Wrack is Chair)and Labour Futures (Jon’s Blog) have sent delegates to all the NCs. Briefing failed to send anyone to the May NC. The other Labour groups have a poor track record on attending (I intend to get a very accurate record of this soon). Interestingly, with the exception of LRC delegates (Jackie Walker and Michael Calderbank) the other Labour groups’ delegates voted en-bloc for Jon’s proposals, and were in fact, the only people getting up to support any of his proposals (which were often billed as the Steering Committee’s proposals).

The matter of affiliated groups to Momentum is something we have to discuss and resolve. If groups can affiliate to Momentum we have to have an agreed criteria, there has to be some affiliation fee and all delegates have to be individual members of Momentum.

Other things to note: there will another NC in January this will be dominated by conference arrangements and details.

Early on in the meeting we moved parts on a motion set to be taken later in the day so we could discuss electing a new Steering Committee. The existing SC only had a mandate until the end of July (elected by in early February as a temporary committee). Jon and others on the SC are desperate to keep control and have consistently argued that the SC has more legitimacy than the NC and therefore should remain in place. Cheeky on every level. The SC which is an executive body elected from the National Committee. It is not a higher body, it is subservient and accountable to the NC. Add to this the NC is newly elected through democratic structures and procedures and therefore, on every level, has more legitimacy that the SC. We lost this by a couple of votes. With hindsight it might have been better to take this item a little later in the day, we may well have won it. There will be a new SC elected at the National​ Conference in the new year.

Conference Arrangements Committee:
Four of the seven people elected supported a national delegate based conference with decision-making powers.
Delia Mattis
Jackie Walker
Josie Runswick​
Alec Price

The other three members of this committee supported Jon Lansman’s proposals conference and structures at the natioanl Committee.