God, it feels like years since my last post – rather than just a couple of months. I have as you might expect been very busy and expect to be even busier in the coming months, thanks to the Tories decision to go nuclear against the unions among many other “auld enemies” (also thanks to my idiotic decsion to participate in Nanowrimo).
So Momentum then? Is the rolling stone of Corbynmania gathering any moss?
At the moment I suspect it’s too early to tell.
This is however different to previous recent far left jokes like the pathetic Left “Unity” and the stale and tedious People’s Assembly.
Momentum clearly does represent a real force, hundreds of thousands of people who want to live in a quite radically decent, different society and who don’t see, and mostly never have seen any practical alternative to the Labour party in making that happen. The so called entryists that some people have been a little hysterical about represent the same tiny forces that failed utterly to make Left Unity or TUSC, or any other of a number of pointless far-left lemon parties work. They hardly pose a threat to Labour.
However what I have yet to see any understanding of from Momentum’s leaders is:
- How to relate to swing voters in marginal constituencies, the people that are needed in order to win elections.
- How to engage with people with whom they don’t already agree on 99% of things.
I also have serious concerns about an organisation that relies on people from groups like the vile and odd Labour Representation Committee, which includes these lovely North Korea supporters.
However none of the above are reasons to not engage with Momentum and it’s supporters at this stage, it still seems like there are potentially large numbers of people up for working for a Labour victory in the coming rounds of local and devolved elections in order to build for 2020.
People on the right of Labour who refuse to engage with the waves of new and enthused people flocking to Labour as a result of Corbyn’s victory, and indeed who attack them, and try and exclude them from the life of the party, will be contributing just as much to defeat in 2020 as the nutters they rail against.
What everyone who wants to see a Labour victory, and a better society out of that needs to do is talk to each other as equals, making the assumption of good faith – in order to understand each other’s motivations and influences.
That process may take time, but it should happen alongside and indeed be facilitated by campaigning together in the upcoming 2016 round of elections, as well as around issues such as defending the NHS and opposing the Trade Union Bill.
It seems to me that we can as usual look at community organising techniques – particularly those championed by Stella Creasy in her extremely impressive deputy leadership campaign, and previously by her and other MPs and PPCs in their constituencies in the general election campaign.
What Labour activists and Momentum need to do is organise opportunities for new party members and supporters and interested people to come together and identify their priorities for campaigning, and then Labour needs to act as the umbrella body that facilitates those campaigns.
Community organising teaches us that if we want to facilitate real social change, it needs to be carried out by the people that most need and want that change organising to make it for themselves, with our help.
A ray of light breaking through the storm clouds of party realignment at the moment in my view is Labour Together. A join iniative that includes people like John Cruddas and Maurice Glassman, people who understand organising, and relating to people around their own self identified interests. They say their aim is to bring together all arms of the Labour family, and if they can succeed in doing that, there is hope for us.