Sunday 26 November 2017

Supporting Momentum's Pledges

There's a great way of spotting nincompoops in the Labour Party, and that's by dropping a story about Momentum in the press. News that Momentum is backing candidates for internal selections have moved some into incandescent rage. "No way am I signing up to outsource my thinking to a third party organisation", wibbled Wes Streeting. Our friend Mike Gapes predictably joined in with "I did not sign up to a Trotskyist party or a Stalinist cult.". Such fury, much anger. If only this pair tweeted as passionately about what the Tories are doing to their least fortunate constituents.

This is the latest standard tussle with the decaying remnants of the Labour right. They can't go for the leader, so they show their gratitude for the extra votes won back in June (9K and 10k more in the case of Streeting and Gapes) by attacking proxies instead - shadow cabinet members, staff in the leader's office, Momentum itself, we've seen it before and we'll see it again. Regardless of how stupid it makes them and those who cling to their coat tails look.

And they do look stupid. As we're in selection season, Momentum is expecting people who want its backing to sign up to a series of straight forward and non-controversial pledges, which include implementing Labour's manifesto should we form the next government. This is hardly too much to ask for. After all, when Richard Angell rings up Progress candidates before they head into their selection meeting, odds are he's confident they're not going to be tabling the nationalisation of the top 100 monopolies any time soon. If candidates don't want Momentum's assistance to help out their selection, that's their decision. In other words, it's another non-story kicked up by those who still have yet to develop a political critique of Corbynism, let alone a narrative explaining why they're kicking around their dog days - with further marginalisation to come.

Among the dross was this bobbins from Mike Creighton. Any piece whose summing up begins with "The revolutionary vanguard must step back from dictating who may or may not be a Labour Party candidate ..." is not politically serious, but the earnestness with which it was treated by sundry Progress-y types, former apparatchiks (like Mike himself), and others who think the democratic remaking of the Labour Party by its mass membership is a Jolly Bad Thing means we have to take a look. Their inability to argue the politics is worked up here into an ulcerous bulge of whingeing. Mike's piece is entitled 'Not in accord with the rules', but fails to make the argument that Momentum's plan to support candidates is, um, not in accord with the rules. He starts with the cessation of direct individual sponsorship of MPs by trade unions in the mid-90s, before going off on one about revolutionary vanguards. Okay, this sponsorship ceased in name but continued in practice as unions or, as was much more common in the era Mike presumably pines for, companies could and did subsidise parliamentary operations with donations to it and/or the secondment of staff. Readers might recall Tom Watson's office getting a huge wedge from Max Mosley, for instance. That said, this isn't even what Momentum is offering. If you sign up and Momentum agrees to back you (which isn't a foregone process, it won't accept any old), it will support your selection by, perhaps, helping out with selection literature and mobilise its not inconsiderable database in your support.

Still, Mike should get a slap on his back for moving from nudge, nudge, wink, wink bad faith to explicit honesty. The reason he says, and by extension his PLP co-thinkers, are scared is because the Momentum juggernaut threatens to roll them over. Come selection time MPs who've made a name for themselves entirely out of their opposition to Labour's leadership, and therefore its membership face a very difficult time. They're not going to get the Momentum nomination, and so their berths are under threat. And so everything must be done now to stop them, which in Mike's case involves a few lines begging Momentum to not mobilise its people to select people whose views are more aligned to the massed legions of Labour people.

It's quite simple, really. Majorities have the right to be majorities. For the Labour Party to succeed it must carry on down the road it has travelled since Jeremy's election. It has to and is going back to its roots and consolidate and cohere the class interests that are powering our movement for that is the only way to power. It means we need candidates and Parliamentarians prepared to stand up for them. If there are Labour MPs not prepared to, then they should make room for those who are. Momentum are therefore entirely right to introduce a pledge.

1 comment:

Purplenaartjie said...

All very well, but the left slate chose not to include a disabled candidate. I suppose, given Party structures don't comply with the disability elements of the Equality Act we shouldn't be surprised that neither wing of the Party puts up a disabled person. Read it and weep people...

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