What the Corbyn campaign did next: meet Momentum

James Schneider writes on the launch of Momentum, the grassroots network building on the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader campaign
October 2015

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The campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has planted the seeds of what could be the largest movement for social change in a generation. Momentum, the grassroots network that emerged out of the campaign, is developing an organising force for that broad, mass movement.

Working with trade unions, campaigners and activists, Momentum represents an opportunity to harness and enable the outpouring of progressive energy seen in this summer’s Labour leadership election, to strengthen democratic, popular social forces in Britain.

The linked forces of individualisation and attacks on trade unions over the last forty years has radically shrunk and reshaped civil society. The outburst of enthusiasm for the Corbyn campaign provides an opportunity to fight this shrinking of democratic space, build on the achievements of the past, and strengthen popular power.

Momentum has an organisation on a national scale to facilitate and coordinate the main work, which will take place in local groups. Still in our first week, hundreds of groups are being set up. They are organising events, rallies, meet-ups and policy consultations to encourage mass mobilisation for a more democratic, equal and decent society. Wherever possible, these actions will be done in coordination with the existing organisations that work for these same ends.

Momentum wants to see a more democratic Labour Party with the policies and collective will to build a more democratic, equal and decent society in government. To do so, Momentum will work with campaigners to change political debate to promote and popularise policies that will improve our society and the world.

Momentum is not only a campaigning network. We seek to help build new and support existing organisations that can make concrete improvements now to people's lives. We want to see hundreds, thousands of organisations making change now: private sector tenants' unions, childcare cooperatives, educational programs, participatory budgeting groups, people's pension funds, community land trusts, clean energy cooperatives – the possibilities are enormous. To deliver these organisations effectively, Momentum groups will work with, through, and alongside existing entities in civil society.

The Labour Party used to have a more organic relationship with more of the population through trade union shop floor activity. As trade union membership has shrunk under government attack – it now stands at around 6.4 million – and Labour’s previous leaderships sought to distance themselves from organised labour, this connection has dwindled. Momentum, through its link to Labour, can further ground the party in activist, organising work in communities, helping people win victories even when Labour is in opposition. These efforts should improve Labour’s chances of winning elections and returning to government. People are more likely to vote Labour if, for instance, a Momentum tenants' union has helped them get their deposit back or a Momentum group helped them set up a cooperative enterprise.

If Momentum is successful in growing itself, working with trade unions, campaigners, civil society organisations and the Labour Party, it will improve people’s lives and help transform society. It won’t always get things right. The network’s decentralisation and complexity will present some challenges, but it is also Momentum’s greatest strength. It allows the organisation the flexibility to use different models and methods of democracy, of organising, and of cooperation with other groups that are the most appropriate to the situation.

Momentum looks forward to working with partners, friends and allies in other organisations. We hope we offer them a chance to build and grow what we love and what we want to see in the world.

Get involved with Momentum at peoplesmomentum.com

Note from the editors: Communities for Corbyn, a network that emerged from a grassroots letter Red Pepper hosted, is one of the groups supporting Momentum.


 

A question of leadership

The ‘new politics’ Jeremy Corbyn proclaims must be an explicit agenda of institutional change, not simply a change of style at the dispatch box, writes Hilary Wainwright

'We're standing up for democracy in the party – for the members to choose the leader'

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell on the attempted coup against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

'How can you decant people from estates then make deals with developers to build luxury apartments?’

Andrew Dolan spoke with Amina Gichinga of Take Back the City about doing politics differently and righting Labour's wrongs in London

Lambeth library occupiers are renewing the anti-cuts struggle

Simon Hardy looks at what led community campaigners to occupy their local library in south London – and says others should follow their example




Will Podmore 15 October 2015, 10.07

Back in the real world, the Labour party is now saying that it would back military action in Syria even if the UN vetoed such action, that is, even if it were illegal to conduct military action. The Labour party also says that it would back the creation of ‘safe zones’ within Syria, which the Foreign Office has not backed (yet). So the Labour party under Corbyn is calling for war,just as it did under Blair.


Clive 17 October 2015, 13.48

Working Class History in a Nutshell.

(Answer to Len McCluskey’s Pro-Trident, Anti-Democratic, Labour Conference Conspiracy)

First there was serfdom and feudalism,

Then there was the transatlantic slave trade, press gangs and shanghaiing of seamen, in Bristol pubs, to get crews for the slave ships.

Then there was wage-slavery and ‘hard-labour’ transportation to the
colonies.

Now there is debt-slavery, economic conscription, military- Keynesianism combined with ‘neo-liberal’ economics, and prisoners assembling weapons components for BAe and Lockheed Martin, for 23 cents per hour in US prisons.

(http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-pentagon-and-slave-labor-in-u-s-prisons/25376)

Always there has been endless wars for ruling class profits.

‘New Deal’ Keynesianism is always transformed into military Keynesianism, because it is more profitable for capitalists, and it makes politicians feel more powerful (a sad illusion on their part!). That is why Len McCluskey has sabotaged Jeremy Corbyn’s intended anti-Trident policies (whilst claiming to represent ‘Trident Workers’), and turned the pro-Corbyn ‘momentum’, instead, to undefined “anti-austerity” campaigning,

The economic solution to it all is not more unsustainable, debt- financed, Keynesianism.

The only sustainable solution to current economic problems would be to;-

1) Scrap Trident and promote world peace, instead of promoting endless imperial wars and increased wage-slavery.

2) Implement the economic ideas of Andre Gorz
(http://globalsolidarity.antenna.nl/gorz.html)

3) Stop creating money (from nothing) as unsustainable debt for banker’s profits, and, instead, start creating debt-free money to
pay for essential public services (especially NHS wages), and to finance unconditional ‘basic income’ for all.

( See – Geoffrey Rowbotham – ‘Grip of Death – A Study of Modern Money, Debt Slavery and Destructive Economics’, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 1998.)


Clive 18 October 2015, 17.46

I want my money back! I was suckered into rejoining the Labour Party under false pretences!

I rejoined Labour to scrap Trident, and to campaign against UK government promotion of endless imperial wars, and to abolish wasteful, unproductive wage-slavery.

I did not rejoin Labour to “fight for the right to work’ or to support military Keynesianism (or any other sort of Keynesianism).

Jeremy Corbyn promised us that he also wants to scrap Trident and end wars. I believed him. I still do believe that is what he wants.

A quarter of a million people (nearly 60% of the voters) voted for Corbyn, knowing that those were his intentions. Those people should all demand their money back too!

(Pro-Trident) Labour MPs and trade union bosses are supposed to represent us – not the military establishment.

If Labour doesn’t win back seats in Scotland, they cannot win a general election. This is especially so around Glasgow (Dumbarton, Argyll & Bute etc), the areas nearest to the Trident bases at Faslane and Coulport, where people have been voting strongly for the anti-Trident SNP in recent elections.

If they had supported Corbyn, they might have a slim chance of winning future elections. Now that they have betrayed Corbyn and the quarter million people who voted for Corbyn, they will have no chance of winning or of implementing their “anti-austerity” policies, unless they change their minds before the time of the Trident renewal debate and vote against Trident renewal. Unless that happens, I won’t be a Labour Party member for much longer.


Rip 5 November 2015, 15.55

Clive is being too simplistic in demanding an instant transformation of the Labour Party. I too have joined because of Corbyn but I do not expect Corbyn’s election to change very much very soon. Instead of hectoring the Party as ‘they’, we new members should be working with all our comrades to make sure that WE do things better from now on. To take just the Trident issue, for example. As a unilateralist I intend to ask the multilateralists to start saying more about THEIR proposed path to nuclear disarmament. There is now a wide-open political opportunity for Labour to make itself the Party which opposes all nuclear weapons and demands that all nuclear weapons worldwide join chemical and biological weapons as illegal WMD. The anti-nuclear movement in this country has been too parochial for too long, ever since the days of “Let Britain lead the way” under Canon Collins in the 1960s. But renewal of policy calls for staying-power. A turning-point is never the end of the road.


tony greenstein 7 November 2015, 19.39

I haven’t joined the LP yet but will probably do so. However it is clear that there is going to be a fight to the death with the Labour Right. Corbyn has got to stop running away talking of the ‘new politics’. The Right ain’t fooled. He should be marshalling his forces before there are none left to marshall.


Will Podmore 10 November 2015, 15.29

The Labour party is still for NATO; it is against industry and transport (witness its opposition to the much-needed third runway at Heathrow), against Britain’s national sovereignty, against peace.
Labour under Corbyn is committing us – unconditionally – to membership of an unreformed EU just as Blair did. Committing us to the EU and saying you’re against ‘austerity’ is like committing us to NATO and saying you’re against wars – which Corbyn’s done too! He’s against wars but wants us to stay in NATO which wages wars. He’s against austerity but wants us to stay in the EU which enforces austerity. He’s against TTIP but wants us to stay in the EU which wants to force TTIP on us all.
EU rules on state aid for industry prevent the government giving financial support for the Redcar steel plant, to prevent its closure, even if the government wanted to. This is yet another example of EU membership leading to loss of jobs for British workers and further loss of manufacturing industry.



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