Defend democracy in Momentum - convene the National Committee

By KD Tait FOUR of Momentum’s regional committees have passed motions censuring the National Steering Committee for its decision to postpone the overdue November National Committee and unilaterally refuse to have a democratic delegate conference, replacing it instead with a pseudo-democratic digital system where people can participate without engaging in debates or common activity.

These decisions were taken at a meeting of the Steering Committee called with less than 24 hours’ notice. The two reasons given were that the North West region delegates couldn’t attend and the NC and regional structures were illegitimate.

If the NW region wanted more time to consider the proposals why did the SC unilaterally decide the process? If the NC’s mandate has expired, then that is doubly true for the SC, which was elected out the NC and has refused to call a meeting of the NC for over six months.

The fact that Sam Tarry, Sam Wheeler, Jon Lansman and Marsha Jane Thompson all abstained on Jill Mountford’s proposal to re-schedule the cancelled NC meeting demonstrates both their contempt for Momentum’s democracy and their unsuitability to be leading representatives of the organisation.

Momentum’s London regional committee met on October 29 and passed the following motion, which condemns the SC and calls for the November 5 NC to go ahead as planned, 31-0 with two abstentions.

“This meeting of the London Momentum censures the national Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.

“We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make those decisions.

“We call for these decisions of the national Steering Committee on the conference and the National Committee to be rescinded and for the NC to proceed as originally scheduled on 5 November.”

The Eastern, North (North East & Cumbria) and South East regions also passed similar motions by overwhelming majorities.

SC member Matt Wrack has called on the SC, which is due to meet on Wednesday November 2, to reverse its decision and convene the NC as planned in Birmingham this Saturday.

A letter circulated by NC members opposed to the suspension of the November NC says:

“We are extremely concerned that we overcome this current difficult division that has arisen as quickly as possible. Therefore, we are proposing to convene a meeting of as many NC members as possible in Birmingham next Saturday 5 November to discuss the recent events and, most importantly, consider ways to overcome the resulting differences and to move forward together.”

The SC’s refusal to convene a meeting of the NC, which is the most representative and accountable body that currently exists, effectively means Momentum exists in a state of emergency, where members are unable to hold the SC to account. Whatever the declared motivations of the SC majority’s decisions, it was a reckless manoeuvre with entirely predictable consequences.

The branches and regional committees are the bedrock of Momentum, without whose organisation and commitment, the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn would not have been possible.

Whatever people’s individual opinions on how best to organise the conference, there is no justification for a handful of people, with no mandate, to unilaterally suspend the only democratic input available to Momentum members - the right to elect and mandate delegates to the National Committee.

We therefore add our voice to the appeal for the SC to reverse its decision and convene the NC on November 5, with the delegates recently elected by the regional groups.

If the SC refuses to accept the democratically expressed desire of the majority that the NC go ahead, then Momentum members who want to defend the broadest possible democracy should contact their NC delegates and urge them to attend Saturday’s meeting in Birmingham regardless.

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