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

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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.

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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.