Momentum needs democracy push

Submitted by AWL on 7 September, 2021 - 5:01 Author: Martin Thomas
Forward Momentum graphic

The Labour left grouping Momentum, which claimed 40,000 members in 2018 and surely still has some tens of thousands, is currently running a consultation to democratise itself.

The need for that has been highlighted by the run-up-to-conference email Momentum sent to members (in fact, sent twice, on 1 and 3 September).

The email makes no call to push the eleven model policy motions for Labour conference decided by Momentum, although the motions deadline is 13 September and some local Labour Parties are deciding their motions only in the last days.

No, it chooses to publicise one of the 16 motions from the right-wing faction Labour To Win - as the main threat from the Labour right and a hook on which to hang a fund appeal,.

Like the other 15 right-wing motion drafts, it’s a poor one. Momentum sounds the alarm, not about the headline principle of the motion (two nations, two states, which is already Labour Party policy), and not about the lack in the motion of solidarity with movements in Israel and the occupied territories fighting for that principle, but about an odd clause in it, calling for “Hamas.. to be removed from power in Gaza... in return for massive investment”.

That, Momentum exclaims, means “catastrophic military intervention in Palestine”.

The clause probably tells us something about half-formulated impulses in the mind of whoever drafted it, but to hold up the chief risk of a move to the right by Labour as Labour sending British troops to conquer Gaza is to fire wide of the actual risks.

The Labour Right motion contains much else that makes little sense, and nothing to improve Labour policy. The Momentum email denounces the “legitimacy of Zionism”, leaving it unclear (as so often) whether the denunciation means a historical criticism of actions of the pre-state Zionist movement and of Israel, or a rejection of the right of the now-existing Israeli Jewish nation to self-determination alongside a real independent Palestinian state.

Momentum is trying to get in with the Israel-hating wing of the Labour left, still strong though subdued. Instead of debating or even formulating an actual policy on Israel-Palestine, it relies on implications, nudges, and hints.

The consultation needs to equip Momentum to have real political debates and discussions, and to get a fix on the real risks from the right.

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