If there is one word that strikes fear and loathing into the hearts of Labour MPs, it is Momentum. This mixed bag of Trots, tankies, cranks and hipsters who delivered Jeremy Corbyn the leadership has become his Red Guards. Its name is synonymous with the new wave of hard-left entryism into Labour, calls to deselect moderate MPs, picketing offices, harassing staff and tweeting bile. So it doesn’t quite fit the public persona that its founder and chief commissar, Jon Lansman, is such an affable fellow.
The 59-year-old Lansman is full of contradictions. He is the leader of Britain’s most notorious and divisive political movement, yet Labour colleagues agree he is ‘a lovely man’, ‘a loveable rogue’. He’s a veteran Bennite, but his many company directorships are registered to a million-pound riverside apartment at Shad Thames, described by estate agents as ‘spectacular’.