11 January 2017

Lansman’s Kitchen Coup Against Momentum’s Membership

All Elected Bodies are Dissolved by Dictat

Three days ago I wrote about how a survey sent to Momentum’s membership before Xmas  contained rigged questions designed to elicit the desired (for Jon Lansman) answers.  Jon Lansman’s Xmas Punch Could Sucker Corbyn.  In short the questions were rigged in order to produce the ‘right’ answers. 
Lansman's bogus questionnaire
Question 4 asked How should key national decisions be taken?  The options give were by all members via OMOV or by delegates elected by attendees at meetings.  Posed in that way, of course, people elected for everyone to vote.  But what wasn’t said was that all members have the right to attend local meetings.
Lansman's Bogus Questions
Question 5 similarly asked How should Momentum members elect representatives? And again the alternatives given were either delegates from local groups should elect representatives or every member should do so.  Again those not aware of this debate would therefore assume that delegates acted of their own accord whereas the true situation is that all members have the right to attend meetings that elect those delegates.
Apparently 40% of members and 32% agreeing with Lansman is 'huge'
We are told that ‘A huge 40.3% of members responded to the survey.’  40% of an electorate voting is anything but huge.  In general elections it is about 60-70%.  80% of those answering these skewed questions i.e. 32% of the membership voted in favour of them.  That is hardly a ‘huge’ democratic mandate.  What is clear is that when large meetings of Momentum meetings have been held in localities, such as Brighton the overwhelming number of people at those meetings decided to vote against OMOV. 
Momentum email sent to all members yesterday

 ‘Team Momentum’ also informed us that a Constitution had been agreed by the Steering Committee at its last meeting.  I have just spoken to a member of the Steering Committee and that is a lie.  There was no meeting because Sam Tarry, the TSSA representative on the Committee informed members  there were ‘no rooms available’ at TSSA HQ where Momentum is currently based.  A Constitution was therefore sent by Lansman’s acronies aka ‘Team Momentum’ to each individual Steering Committee member for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  This is the democracy that Lansman, Tarry and co. are introducing.  No debate, no discussion, either assent or dissent and if the latter then it is punished accordingly.
Matt Wrack of the Firefighters Union is one of those opposed to Lansman's Gerrymandering
The rigged poll that was sent to people before Xmas and the apparent concern that all members should vote, was a spurious and cynical attempt to concentrate all power in the hands of Lansman and his cronies  If Jon Lansman, Christine Shawcroft, Sam  Tarry and Marsha Thompson were at all serious in involving  members, then they would have sent out a draft constitution to all members via their OMOV system.  Why were people never invited to give their opinion on the Constitution?  What has happened to the principle of all members having a say in matters?  It seems that OMOV is only used when it is of convenience to Lansman and cronies.  Otherwise it is discarded.
And if you disagree with the constitution?  Well if you don’t like it then the email says that:

If you consent to Momentum’s constitution, you do not have to do anything. Simply continue paying your membership fees. However, if you wish to opt out, you can email  membership@peoplesmomentum.com to cancel your membership.
Having done his best to get Jackie Walker suspended, Lansman is now ensuring that she cannot remain a member of Momentum if the Labour Party expels her or Livingstone or me
In other words if you don’t agree with Lansman’s treating Momentum as his personal property then you can simply leave Momentum by cancelling your membership.  This is a democratic outrage.  All carried out under the guise of getting more members involved! 

When I said in my previous article that OMOV was a Tory version of democracy I was not engaging in making rhetorical points.  This is exactly how OMOV works.  You are consulted, you are asked to consent, but real power of decision making is not in your power because that can be effected only within a delegate based structure.

Of course it would have been impossible to draw up a constitution with 20,000 members on the basis of OMOV.  That is why you it is essential to have a delegate based structure. 

The alternatives are not between everyone voting and only delegates voting but between Lansman deciding and everyone voting via their delegates.
Owen Jones - one of Lansman's cronies and someone who in the summer was undecided as to whether to support Corbyn
The Constitution is as bad and undemocratic as it can be.  Of the 26 members of the new National Co-ordinating Group that will run momentum, just 12 will be elected by the 20,000 members.  The rest will be Lansman appointees in essence or fixed between him and a number of power brokers.  4 will be MPs, Police Commissioners (!) or other elected Labour office holders.  There is no guarantee they will even be on the Left.  6 will be trade union affiliates and another 4 will be ‘affiliated organisations’. 

Who will the ‘affilated organisations’ be?  The World Transformed, Campaign for Labour Party, Democracy, Labour Representation Committee, Compass, Labour Assembly Against Austerity, Labour CND, Labour Briefing Coop, Left Futures, Red Labour.

Most of these groups represent no-one.  They are not democratic.  The World  Transformed is not a membership constituted organisation.  It does good work but in practice Lansman will use it and other similar organisations to obtain crony representation.  Red Labour represents nothing but a blog.  Left Futures is another name for Jon Lansman’s blog.  CLPD is a small organisation, which Lansman will manipulate as is the Labour Briefing Coop.  As for Compass, they aren’t even on the left and work with other parties, including the Lib Dems.  Labour CND is a shadow of what it once was and is no longer on the left.
An undemocratic constitution which leave members in a minority
In other words a sham group, effectively controlled by one person, will run Momentum and OMOV will the means by which Lansman maintains his power.  Plebiscitary ‘democracy’ was how Hitler and Mussolini maintained control.  It is the antithesis of democracy because it means that rulers consult the people, or in Lansman’s case, the members only when the need arises.  What it doesn’t allow is for the members to depose their rulers.

The Constitution mentions the word 'socialist' just twice under 

3. Aims 'To broaden support for a transformative, socialist programme' and under
15.  Code of Ethics  when it talks of ''socialist values'.  

At no stage does the Constitution even hint at what socialist values might be.  This is a Constitution that politically Progress would be happy with.  There is no mention of public ownership or nationalisation.  Instead it speaks in terms that are essentially meaningless soundbites.  
Making 'politics more accessible to more people' 
'To ensure a wide and diverse membership of Labour who are in and heard atevery level of the party
To demonstrate how collective action and Labour values can transform oursociety for the better and improve the lives of ordinary people; and
To achieve a society that is more democratic, fair and equal.
What the hell does that mean?  There is no mention of effecting even a redistribution of wealth from poor to rich, or workers' control of the economy or challenging the main citadels of wealth and power.

This is a Constitution that challenges no vested interest and no centre of wealth and power in this society.  Indeed not only Progress but the Liberal Democrats could live with a Constitution that doesn't even mention international solidarity or nuclear weapons.  It is an utter disgrace.

The National Conference – Why It Must Go Ahead
It is crucial that the national conference, as agreed by the December National Committee goes ahead.  If we lost Momentum (!) now we will lose it forever.  Lansman can only be stopped by a determination to ignore his undemocratic gerrymandering and dictatorial practices.  Lansman controls nothing but the office and a few sycophants.  The vast majority of Momentum groups support a democratic Momentum and we should continue to hold the conference.  It may be that a new national office will need to be set up and we will need to start afresh given that Lansman has a stranglehold over the existing databases and personally owns the Momentum companies.

At the last National Committee a 7 person Conference Arrangements Committee was elected to organise a national conference which will be on the 25th February.  It is intended to be a policy making and organising conference.  Lansman, without any authority at all, via a Steering Committee that isn’t even meeting anymore, is effectively proposing to organise a conference on the same date, presumably in another place, that will decide  nothing and will be nothing more than window dressing, a talk shop whilst the decisions are made elsewhere.  It is crucial that the original conference, organised by the CAC goes ahead.  If Lansman wants to organise his own conference, that is up to him.  However it won’t be a Momentum Conference.

Expelled Members of the Labour Party will be Expelled from Momentum

One of the key elements of the new ‘Constitution’ is that only members of the Labour Party will be eligible to be members of Momentum.  At the moment those who are not members of parties standing against Labour are eligible to become members of Momentum.  This is right.  Not all convinced socialists are members of the Labour Party and we wish to attract the broadest number of community activists as long as they are not members of another party.  However this decision will mean that expelled members of the Labour Party will be unable to join the Labour Party or will be expelled from it if they have already joined.  Not only will this exclude the Alliance for Workers Liberty but it will mean that if Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone or myself are expelled, we will be ineligible for membership of Momentum.  Apparently this has been introduced in order that Unite Union will affiliate to Momentum.  If that is the case then it should be argued out with them because many affiliated socialist societies to the Labour Party have members who are not Labour Party members – e.g. SERA, Socialist Health and Socialist Education Associations.

We are facing an attempted coup by a small clique that does not have the support of the majority of Momentum members or groups.  It is essential that they are faced down and told that they have to abide by democratic norms.  Lansman can take his constitution and use it to wipe a place that doesn't see the sun.

Tony Greenstein

Lanman's e-mail to fellow members of Momentum's Steering Committee
A new constitution for Momentum

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to explain why, in consultation with a number of others in Momentum, the Leader’s office and trade unions that have supported Jeremy Corbyn, I have decided to propose today that we immediately act to put Momentum on the proper footing that those dependant on the success of Jeremy’s leadership need it to be and our members want it to be.

Most of our members joined Momentum because they support Jeremy Corbyn and want to help him achieve what he is trying to do. We must put behind us the paralysis that has for months bedevilled all our national structures, and focus on our most urgent task – winning the general election that could come within months, by turning Labour into an effective force committed to that task, and to the transformative government that would follow.

I have also taken legal advice, based on a review of a substantial body of Momentum records, which is that in order to operate effectively as an organisation with members, Momentum needs written rules or a constitution with which all its members agree, and in our current circumstances, the only way of agreeing such a constitution which is binding on the relationship between the organisation and our members is to seek the individual consent of each of our members and affiliates.

The papers which are included in this mailing set out:
1. The results of the survey initiated by Jeremy Corbyn’s pre-Christmas message to Momentum members, which indicate members’ overwhelming support for the type of organisation we will continue to build, action-focused, rooted in our communities, wholly committed to the Labour Party, and involving our members directly in decision-making;

2. A constitution which establishes a sustainable democratic framework for the sort of organisation we need – an outwards-looking, campaigning organisation to change and strengthen the Labour Party, not to mirror its structures. This constitution would apply from now but would be reviewed in due course and be subject to amendments;

3. A paper on interim governance

4. A paper on election process for the new National Coordinating Group to replace existing regional and national structures.

The Constitution may not be perfect in everyone’s eyes, but, whatever process we follow, it is common ground that we need one, and it is surely better to have it now and amend it later by a process that is indisputable. As well as setting out the essential elements of our aims and objectives as they have always appeared on our website and in our public statements, the constitution:

1. Reinforces our wholehearted commitment to the Labour Party by restating our aim of working towards affiliation, and requiring all members to be party members;

2. Provides for elections and key decisions including changes to the constitution to be made by our members themselves;

3. Provides for a structure with minimum bureaucracy reflecting members desire to focus externally on organising and campaigning through our local groups, liberation networks and the Labour Party rather than internally on making policy for ourselves.

If this constitution is agreed, the effect would be to wind up the SC, the NC and CAC, with immediate effect, though the conference would go ahead but under the new rules, no motions would be considered.

If you are happy with all these proposals as they stand, please indicate by email. If there is a majority – I think we all recognise that we shall continue to disagree on this matter – I propose that we seek the approval of members immediately.

In solidarity

Jon Lansman


Momentum National Steering Group


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