As the Parliamentary Labour Party manages to — uncharacteristically — stay out of the headlines for in-fighting, over on the left of Labour trouble is brewing. A bout of civil war has broken out in Momentum, the grassroots group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
The issue? A disagreement over just how democratic the organisation ought to be. The group’s head Jon Lansman — a former Bennite and the brains behind Momentum — has been accused of behaving in an ‘autocratic’ manner after he gave his support to a plan to allow every Momentum member to vote on motions on the future of the party, rather than be decided through a delegate system as at present. This has ruffled feathers in the organisation as the meeting of the steering committee — where it was also decided that the meeting of the national committee should be postponed until December — was arranged last-minute, meaning some were unable to attend and have a say.
The change to the voting system has been widely interpreted as a means to stop hard left groups exerting too much control on the future direction of the group. By allowing every one of Momentum’s 20,000 or so members a vote, some hope to quash the small but effective groups like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. However, the decision has been met like a cup of cold sick with certain factions of the group. Since the meeting, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union — Matt Wrack — has declared a ‘major crisis’ while another Momentum member has accused Lansman and co of resorting to ‘the modus operandi of Blairism during the wilderness years’.