Momentum’s (first) national conference isn’t until February, and in fact the date has not been set. Nonetheless Momentum activists need to get prepared now. This is an opportunity to democratise Momentum and push it towards more active campaigning and towards class-struggle socialist politics.
The first challenge is to ensure a democratic conference with control over Momentum policy and decision-making. Some oppose the conference taking motions and oppose a conference being held regularly with delegates from local groups – the only way meaningful democratic control can be established in a large organisation.
The most widely touted alternative is every Momentum member being able to vote online. This would give a semblance of participation without real democracy, and lend itself to manipulation by dominant individuals and groups in and around the Momentum office or with good media profiles.
Local groups and regional networks are currently discussing proposals for the organisation of the conference and for longer-term structures to be established by the conference.
Workers’ Liberty supporters are promoting the proposals written by national Steering Committee member Jill Mountford and National Committee member Ed Whitby. They involve: the 5 November NC meeting deciding the shape of the conference; a delegate-based conference which votes on motions from groups and elects about half the NC, with most of the other half elected by the regions; a Steering Committee elected by the NC; and similar structures in the longer term.
The conference can also provide an opportunity to deal with specific problems like Momentum Youth and Students being denied control over their social media and Momentum members in Northern Ireland being told they are not allowed to organise a group. The conference is also an opportunity to steer Momentum’s politics in a more socialist direction – both in terms of its basic statement of aims and individual policies and proposals.
The statements agreed at the first Momentum NC in February did, after some argument, use the word socialist, but they are not recognisably socialist in the sense of aiming for a new society without exploitation based on collective ownership of industry, services and finance. Immediately crucial is the issue of migrants’ rights. There are those in the organisation who want to endorse further attacks on freedom of movement – we need to push the other way.
The conference will be an opportunity to assess the campaigning on the NHS which is currently being launched, work out Momentum’s campaigning priorities for the period ahead, and discuss the barriers to getting groups and activists involved in such activity. There should be a serious discussion about activity in the Labour Party, exchanging best practice and discussing problems faced, and working out clear Momentum goals, including on the so far much-avoided question of whether and how we should try to deselect right-wing MPs.
Uniting all this is changing the Momentum from an organisation with great life locally, but at a national level very much controlled from the top down – limiting its radicalism and militancy. A democratic organisation with a culture of debate and discussion, will allow the socialist aspirations of Momentum members to come to the fore. Join the discussion in Momentum, push for democracy and socialist policies, and seek to become a delegate to the conference to help make all this happen.
• For Jill Mountford and Ed Whitby’s documents, plus Jon Lansman’s, see here
• To invite Jill to come and speak at your Momentum group, email her