26 January 2017

Brighton and Hove Momentum Overwhelmingly Rejects Lansman’s Coup

B&H Momentum Votes to Oppose the Witch-hunt and for Labour to Break all links with Labour Friends of Israel

After Jon Lansman’s coup against democracy a couple of weeks ago [Lansman’s Kitchen Coup Against Momentum’s Membership] members of Brighton and Hove Momentum had the chance to give their views on what had happened. 

Momentum's self-appointed dictator
It wasn’t so long ago that Momentum’s Steering Committee cancelled the November meeting of the National Committee, the very body that had elected tit.  At the December NC Lansman’s faction, despite appointing a host of ‘delegates’ from non-existent organisations, narrowly lost the vote on OMOV – one member one vote. 
A packed Friends Meeting House

If one is to believe him and in the light of subsequent events it’s very difficult to do so, the involvement of all 21,000 Momentum members in  decision making and voting on policy was a matter of principle for Jon Lansman.  When Lansman lost the vote at the NC then there was a veritable propaganda barrage in the Guardian and on-line.  It was all the fault of those Trots in the Alliance 4 Workers Liberty.  All 100 of them were, according to Owen Jones, hijacking Momentum’s democracy.  It was a war of the generations with Jon Lansman, who is not exactly a spring chicken, defending the rights of the teens and tweenies in Momentum’s ranks. 

Before Xmas Lansman and the anonymous ‘Team Momentum’ had gone to the trouble of surveying the views of the membership.  Did people want everyone to vote or would they allow those nasty sectarian Trots to be allowed to destroy Momentum through hijacking a delegate system in which only they could vote?  (it wasn’t quite worded like this but you get the message).  Unsurprisingly most people voted against sin and for god, mother and apple pie.  

Being an untrustworthy soul and smelling a rat I wrote a post Jon Lansman’s Xmas Punch Could Sucker Corbyn and then felt guilty afterwards for not trusting Jon Lansman’s better nature.  After all he (or the ubiquitous Team Momentum) had wished everyone Happy Xmas and New Year and I was deliberately misinterpreting the most noble and selfless of motives as if Lansman was a latter-day version of Dickens' Mr Gradgrind with a touch of Mr Micawber.  

Labour Friends of Israel Chair Joan Ryan MP asking about funding for an MPs trip and to Israel

It must therefore have come as quite a surprise to people when Father Xmas Lansman presented as his gift to Momentum members a hefty Constitution, which not a soul had been allowed to see beforehand.  No doubt it was because he didn’t want to spoil the surprise.  He wanted us to savour that look of delight when small children open their present for the first time. 

However when he gave the Steering Committee the first look at his Xmas present it was certainly a surprise, albeit not not an altogether welcome one.  The Committee (which was not allowed to meet  – it was all done online) was presented with a take it or leave it Constitution which not a soul had seen beforehand.  By 6-4 the Steering Committee voted to abolish not only itself but the body which had elected it, the NC and for good measure the Conference Arrangements Committee too.  

Surprisingly for someone who had indicated that he considered the rights of the membership to vote a principle worthy of going to the stake for, there was no OMOV vote.  Instead there was a highly centralised Constitution in which there will be a 28 member National Co-ordinating Group.  Only 12 of the places will be taken by the members with councillors, MPs, Police commissioners even, taking up the rest, alongside 6 trade unionists.  

The NCG will only meet 4 times a year and in practice will have even less control over Lansman and ‘Team Momentum’ than the existing Steering Committee does today.  Unsurprisingly, tonight’s Brighton and Hove members meeting passed a resolution (see below) rejecting these proposals. 

Brighton and Hove Momentum’s Steering Committee had unanimously agreed upon a resolution to put to the meeting.  I proposed the resolution and after discussion it was passed by 33-4 votes with 3 abstentions.  I quoted the famous Bertolt Brecht poem "Die Lösung" (The Solution) concerning the East German workers' uprising of 1953.  It was most appropriate to the situation we are in:

Bertolt Brecht

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the 
Writers' Union
Had leaflets distributed in the 
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

After this we discussed three motions – on Anti-Semitism and the Witch-hunt, the NHS and Gender Quotes.  The latter motion, which proposed abolishing them, was heavily defeated.  I abstained on this primarily because although I agree with the sentiments I wasn’t enamoured of the arguments made or how they were presented.  The motion on the NHS passed overwhelmingly.  The only debate was on the anti-Semitism witch-hunt.  As a suspended member of the Labour Party and a Jewish anti-Zionist who had been suspended for ‘anti-Semitism’ I moved the motion.  Many people had already seen the programmes by Al Jazeera  about the destabilisation of the Labour Party by Israeli agents with a million pounds being given to Labour Friends of Israel in order that MPs could visit Israel for a propaganda tour and no doubt other nefarious purposes.
As Colonial Secretary, Churchill had a better grasp on the meaning of Zionism than the Alliance 4 Workers Liberty
Mark Sandell, the previously elected Chairperson of Brighton and Hove Labour Party, a member of the Alliance for Workers Liberty, a pro-Zionist and pro-imperialist group, got up to oppose the motion.  He supported the expulsion of Ken Livingstone for saying that Hitler supported Zionism.  Even if Livingstone was wrong, he wasn’t anti-Semitic.  Among Black people in London Livingstone is almost revered for his opposition throughout his period as Mayor and Leader of the GLC before that for his opposition to racism.

In fact he was basically correct – it is a fact that the Nazi government did support the Zionist movement vs the non-Zionist majority of the German Jewish community.  A cursory reading of say Francis Nicosia's Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany or Lucy Dawidowcz's War Against the Jews, both Zionist historians, would confirm that fact.

Joan Ryan MP is delighted that she has got a lot of dosh - attacks on this Israeli state subsidised body are 'anti-semitic' according to the AWL
At one point Mark asserted that supporters of the motion were talking about a ‘Jewish conspiracy’ – seemingly unable to understand that opposition to an Apartheid state has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.  Becky Massey, a member of the Steering Committee and a member of the previously disbanded Executive as well as the newly elected Chair of her ward stood up to make a really excellent speech rebutting the Zionist nonsense of the AWL.  She made it clear that we oppose things like the demolition of an Arab village in order to make way for a Jewish town for the same reason we opposed similar things in Apartheid South Africa.  The AWL, which  refused to call for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and supported Partition in Ireland, has a history of support for western imperialism.  
Joan Ryan is so happy at having got £1m for her slush fund that she cracks a joke
The meeting voted 28-6 with 10 abstentions to support the motion.  We were then faced with the choice of which motion to send to the forthcoming Momentum national policy making conference and a vote was taken after two short speeches.  The meeting voted by 28-18 with some abstentions to send the motion on Anti-Semitism and the Witch-hunt to conference and thus support all those who are suspended because of bogus allegations of anti-Semitism.  The motion also called for links to Labour Friends of Israel to be broken.

The meeting then broke up into 3 constituency meetings so that people could ensure that there were enough people willing to stand for places on the Executives of the three constituency Labour Parties.  After Labour’s NEC under Ann Black suspended Brighton and Hove Labour Party on July 4th last year, because the Right had lost the elections, a decision was subsequently taken to break the district party, comprising all 3 Brighton and Hove constituencies, into its component parts.

I counted at one stage 57 people in what was a good natured and lively meeting.  We also voted to send 8 delegates to Momentum’s conference, 4 men and 4 women.

Resolution on Current Situation

1.       We condemn the attempt by Jon Lansman and the majority of the Steering Committee to abolish the National Committee and the Conference Arrangements Committee, which was elected at the December NC meeting. 

2.       It is not possible for the Steering Committee, which was elected by the NC, to abolish the very body which elected it.  

3.       We do not recognise the newly-announced ‘Constitution’ imposed by way of an email.  It has no validity. We note that the Steering Committee, let alone the National Committee, was not even given an opportunity to discuss this proposed Constitution. 

4.       We particularly condemn the fact that those who refuse to accept an imposed, undemocratic Constitution, will be deemed to have resigned from Momentum.

5.       6.       We wish to give full support to the elected National and Conference Arrangement Committees.  We urge that a national delegate conference open to all Momentum groups and oppressed groups be convened as a matter of urgency and ask that in the meantime a bank account etc. be opened by the NC in order that the necessary financial arrangements can be made.

7.       We call on other Momentum groups and oppressed groups to boycott the proposed conference that Jon Lansman and the Steering Committee majority are organising.  It will be undemocratic and will not discuss policy, the new 'constitution' or motions.  Likewise we urge members to boycott elections to the new National Co-ordinating Group.  The NCG has no political, moral or legal validity.

8.       We urge that Jon Lansman and the Steering Committee majority to place all Momentum data in the hands of the Steering Committee and warn them that any ‘change in use’ of that data will be illegal under the Data Protection Act 1998.

9.       We hope that the Steering Committee rethinks its decisions as to the agreed Conference as it has clearly led to widespread anger and confusion amongst Momentum activists, including calls for a split.
Anti-Semitism and the Witch-hunt – Motion for Momentum Conference
Conference believes:
i.               That there has been a systematic and concerted attempt to destabilise the Labour Party with false allegations of anti-Semitism. 

ii.             That the sudden upsurge in anti-Semitism in the Labour Party when Corbyn became leader was a fiction created and sustained by a well organised campaign by both the Israel lobby and pro-Israel supporters within the Labour Party. 

iii.           The Labour Party has been the target of black propaganda or psyops by the Israeli embassy.  Corbyn was himself initially targeted as an anti-Semite by the Daily Mail and Guardian. 

iv.           We note the recent Al Jazeera programmes ‘The Lobby’ which revealed the involvement of the Israeli Embassy and its Senior Political Officer, Shai Masot, in destabilising the Labour Party.  We note Masot’s close links with Labour Friends of Israel, including his attempts to create a new Young LFI.  We also note the links between the Jewish Labour Movement and the Israeli Embassy. 

We propose:

1.             That those suspended as a result of the bogus allegations of anti-Semitism, in particular Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Tony Greenstein, are reinstated immediately.  That no one should remain suspended unless there is clear and convincing prima facie evidence of racism and they should be notified of such evidence immediately in line with the recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report, which to date has been ignored.  Further that the new Momentum Committee takes up the witch hunt as an immediate priority.

2.             That an inquiry is set up into the background of both the wave of suspensions last summer and the false anti-Semitism campaign in the Labour Party with particular regard to the allegations against Oxford University Labour Club, the incidents at the Chakrabarti press conference and the participation of two Labour members in the flawed Home Affairs Select Committee report which attacked Corbyn, Chakrabarti and others.

3.             That it is unacceptable that an affiliated socialist society should be the British wing of an overseas party, the Israeli Labour Party.  We note that the JLM is an affiliate of the World Zionist Organisation, an openly racist organisation.  We demand that the JLM be disaffiliated and that a genuine Jewish section of the Labour Party, which is not Zionist, to which all Jewish members can belong, is established.

4.              That the Labour Party cuts its ties with Labour Friends of Israel, which operates as an extension of the Israeli Embassy inside the Labour Party.  It is unacceptable that an Israeli state lobby should operate inside the Labour Party.  The Al Jazeera revelations clearly show that Friends of Israel groups are an extension of the Israeli Embassy.

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