On Saturday 21 May Momentum National Committee met for the second time, this time in Manchester (for those who read my last report you may recall, we  – North East and Cumbria-  proposed  meetings should rotate and not always be held in London, so great start)

The run up to the NC was not without its problems:

  • the agenda with submitted motions was circulated on Friday afternoon (slightly earlier than the 4pm achieved for the first meeting, but this time approximately 6 motions were not included)
  • regional delegates could not consult regional networks or local groups and many delegates only got chance to see the paperwork on the actual day
  • the proposed  ‘consultation paper’ on electing the NC (remember this NC had been proposed for a period of six months i.e. to hold office until 6 August 2016) was circulated on the evening of Sunday 8 May, with responses required by Monday 16 May.  Since this was already after the North East and Cumbria (NE&C) region had met we had no process of submitting an alternative proposal.
  • of the motions missing were our NE&C proposal for a National democratic annual conference. Some further motions were circulated at 11pm the night before, but at least 3 other motions didn’t appear at all even on the day and had to be shown on the screen at the committee. This added to particular upset when they were controversial.
  • I am a firm believer of the cock-up versus conspiracy theory for this, the staff team in the office are working really hard and perhaps we need to look at how to more clearly identify what falls off the agenda if there is too much. I think ensuring all paperwork is correct, and timely and proper deadlines for circulation should be agreed by the Steering Committee to avoid this happening again.

Nevertheless there were motions submitted by a number of regions (North East and Cumbria, London, South West, Yorkshire and Humber), equality groups and local groups and Momentum NHS.

As with the first national committee delegates voted and argued for a more democratic and radical Momentum agreeing:
– a national democratic delegate based conference by Feb 2017
– a radical socialist IN campaign on the EU referendum
– to reconsider the proposals for online elections (which had failed to be consulted on my most regions, let alone local groups and members)
– rejecting the wave of suspensions and expulsions of momentum supporting from the labour party (including criticism of, and very nearly supporting abolition of the Compliance Unit)
– other decisions including political education, NHS campaigning, organising for Labour Conference, Convoy for Calais and Trident.

The meeting was less well attended, perhaps 37 rather than the 53 delegates last time, this was probably due to a combination of factors less delegates from labour left organisations / websites – Open Labour and Compass had delegates last time, Trade Union delegates last time included FBU, TSSA, Unite, Bakers Union and CWU, perhaps this time it was just FBU. And perhaps a couple of delegates from regions/ equality groups were not in attendance. So this slightly reduced attendance was unfortunate.

A summary of decisions:

  • Campaign update: a number of sensible and uncontroversial proposals were agreed with little need for discussion on Trident / Labour defence review; By-elections; NEC slate; Convoy to Calais
  • We agreed Momentum would block book accommodation  and a Venue for running events from throughout the week and encourage members to attend and help out and run workshops / fringe events during conference
  • NHS Campaign – in a vote of members NHS topped the poll of priorities for Momentum. It was agreed that we campaign to expose and resist destruction and privatisation of NHS, campaign for reinstatement of NHS (universal, comprehensive, publicly owned etc) and support NHS Bill, support workers in struggle as a central part of this struggle, and win these positioning in NHS. A motion from Yorkshire and Humberside proposal circulation of the NHS Momentum model motion was also agreed
  • Political education – motion from NE&C proposes a campaign of grassroots political education on theme of economic alternatives to austerity.
  • EU referendum for a left in campaign – proposed by NE&C and supported by London region and others was carried by 27 for, 6 against, 4 abstentions (see text below)
  • Membership: encourage more people to join (as of 18 May 4,168 have joined) and promote this with recruitment targets and social media campaigns etc.
  • Annual Conference – this was one of the key debates we discussed the motion from NE&C which called for a annual, democratic conference representing local groups directly, and the motion from London region which proposed a conference before the end of 2016. The debate was quite complicated but Jon Lansman proposed an amendment to the NE&C motion calling proposing a date of no later than end of February, and with this amendment, the NE&C motion won and the london proposal of by end of 2016 fell. (technically i believe you could have voted for both, as before end of Feb 2017, could still be before end 2016, but in practice people voted for one or the other). We also agreed a working group of representatives from NC members one from each region to work on this proposal for the next NC meeting.
  • Electing the national committee as mentioned earlier there were proposals circulated less than 3 weeks before the committee and after NE&C’s regional network, with a week to propose alternative positions. This was a very very complicated proposal including electronic voting (specific quotas depending on region – without regions or the equality representatives being able to choose themselves how to be represented). We were given the proposal and a series of amendments (some of which had already been incorporated into the motion, which again doesn’t seem democratic to put a different proposal to the meeting than originally circulated. In the end we voted for a motion submitted by Haringey which resolved to delay the decision not make a decision until next NC in July / August. (this was passed with just 4 votes against)
  • Equality / Liberation and Youth / Student: proposed that all E/L and S/Y members are invited to join online regional network supported by Regional Networks. Equalities and Liberation reps should be encouraged at regional networks. There was also a paper regarding the Student and Youth Conference in June, and three documents for consultation from Disability Caucus.
  • Suspension there were three motions: a) Nottingham Motion on undemocratic and arbitrary suspensions and taking a socialist approach including an audit of suspensions and a report for Momentum NC on this. This was carried. b) Motion from SW region on Jackie Walker suspension – urging the LP to quickly resolve the matter and reinstate Jackie, in the mean time urging motions of support from CLPs, and welcoming a full inquiry from Corbyn into Anti semitism in the LP and calling for support for Anti racist / anti-fascist protests in Dover.  This was amended to include reference to the wider investigation now including all racism and Islamophobia c) Motion from London on Suspensions, calling for opposition to attacks on left wing activists, criticism of Compliance Unit and arguing for democratic accountablity, rights to appeal etc.  This was taken in parts and the vote was taken narrowly not to include the abolition of the Compliance Unit after considerable discussion.
  • This session and the following discussion on Anti-semitism statement and an additional motion. This is where the meeting got very complicated and I am not sure how well i have captured this section. It was hindered the fact that the motion from Yorkshire and Humberside had not been circulated before the meeting or in the papers in the morning , so was  only available on the screen. This was not the delegates from Y&H fault as a number of motions had to be seen for the first time in this manner, but since the debate on Anti-semitism was more contentious and there were disagreements this debate led to concerns as people needed time to consider this, and also the previous discussion on suspensions had already raised some issues on this and the meeting was no overrunning by perhaps 30 – 45 minutes. Jon Lansman proposed that the motion not be taken (which I voted for as I would have needed to propose a number of amendments or have to vote against the motion as it stood) but we didn’t have a copy of the motion to draw up amendments. This caused considerable upset, which i think was understandable, as it was rightly deemed unfair to allow some motions on the agenda that hadn’t been circulated, and others not. But the meeting voted to not take this motion.
  • The statement on Anti-semitism which was circulated but likewise hadn’t been seen before hand (the steering committee had failed to reach a consensus at the last steering committee and the statement was an attempt by staff to include all opinions). It was agreed not to vote on this statement after some discussion.
  • Complaints and Appeals process was adopted and 10 members of the existed committee were nominated to comprise an appeals group to allow 3 members to be able to serve as an appeals panel.
  • Finance: Treasures report including a summary of accounts (See paper work) under local finances we voted for the motion from NE&C on supporting local groups to fundraise, to set up bank accounts and support with fundraising. Pool fare: it was proposed but with limited discussion due to the timescale that their should be a pool fare for relieve the burden on those traveling the furthest distance and costs.
  • The meeting ended with plugs for Merchandise packs, t-shirts, stickers, badges and leaflets.

Agenda and motions passed. For copies of all reports and paperwork including those not agreed, please get in touch.

Agenda:
1.Campaign priorities
1.1 Update on campaigns from the last three months
1.2 Trident
1.3 By­-elections
1.4 NEC elections & other conference focused activities 1.5 Plans for Labour Conference
1.6 NHS
1.7 EU referendum
1.8 Convoy to Calais
1.9 Political Education
2. Membership
3. Regional networks and conferences
4. Democracy within Momentum
5. Equalities / liberation groups
6. Suspensions incl Solidarity statement with Jackie Walker
7. Antisemitism and other forms of racism statement
8. Complaints / Appeals incl. Election of appeals panel (10 people)
9. Treasurer’s report
10. Local finances incl Fare pools
11. Discussion and networking time for regions/nations, equalities groups
12. AOB / Closing remarks

Motions agreed:

Motion 1: EU REFERENDUM: FOR A LEFT ­IN Proposed by North East & Cumbria Region and supported by London Region

Britain leaving the EU would be a victory for the nationalist right and their campaign against migrants, almost certainly reshaping the British political and social landscape for the worse.

The EU promotes neoliberal policies in the interests of capitalism – but so does the UK. The British ruling class and government will press ahead with attacks in or out – and outside the EU, the barriers to their assault will be lower, while barriers between us and our brothers and sisters in other countries will be higher.

We support an “in” vote.

We oppose David Cameron’s reforms, which attack the rights of workers and migrants. We endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a “Europe that puts people, not multinationals, at its heart”, through “public ownership […] democratisation, stronger workers rights, sustainable growth and jobs”, won through “alliances across Europe to end austerity”.

We call for:

Cross European working class and social movement struggles against austerit ­ and for levelling up wages, conditions, services and rights, funded by taxing the rich and public ownership of finance; Radical democratisation, including empowering the European Parliament; An end to “Fortress Europe” – freedom of movement and equal rights for all.

Using the slogans “Another Europe is possible”, “For a workers Europe” and “For a socialist Europe”; Momentum nationally will campaign for an “in” on this basis, making defence of migrants, anti austerity and international solidarity central. This will include an urgent press release, a leaflet and a rally in London at least.

We will work with Labour, with “in” unions, and with the Another Europe is

Possible network. We call on the whole of Momentum to campaign on this basis.

Motion 2: Yorks and Humber motion on NHS

(this hasn’t been circulated but was shown on the screen and voted for)

Motion 3: Political education motion ­ North East and Cumbria region

We propose that a campaign of grassroots political education on the theme of “economic alternatives to austerity” become a priority activity for Momentum in the next year. This could include, as far as possible given local circumstances and resources:

●  Popular engagement with academic economic arguments.

●  Collective inputs in discussions of what should form an economic
alternative to austerity.

●  A consideration by individual groups of local and regional issues to be
addressed as part of an alternative economic strategy.

●  A toolkit of documents assembled by a national working group of
Momentum that would enable and support local discussion on these
issues.

●  Articulation on a national, regional and local level of concrete policies that
could form part of an economic alternative to austerity.”

Motion 4: FOR A DEMOCRATIC ANNUAL MOMENTUM CONFERENCE – North East and Cumbria Region

We need a widely representative Momentum conference in order to empower the membership, push forward the development of our policy and activities, and allow groups to coordinate, network and become part of a national Momentum culture.

We therefore agree to convene a democratic conference, representing local groups directly by the end of February 2017 at the latest. The Steering Committee should begin working on plans to make this happen, with a working group made up of regional representatives from the NC or others representatives from regions where necessary. (bold = amends)

Motion 5): Delay this decision: give time for proper collective thought – Haringey Momentum
Momentum NC notes

1. The NC will meet again before the end of its term.

2. The paper now put to the NC was circulated to the Steering Committee with little notice, and was not the product of a properly structured process of consultation or collective thinking on the part of the Steering Committee.

3. Most local groups, let alone most regions, have not had time to meet and discuss these proposals.

Momentum NC believes

1. These proposals have been put together with the best of intentions. However there are bound to be substantial differences of opinion about their content, and proposals which are of this level or importance deserve proper collective thought.

2. These proposals give us an electoral system for some time to come, but are being raised before we have concluded the initial discussions about our basic structure. For instance, they have been written without taking into account possibility of (or potential role for) a Momentum National Conference, or even regional conferences.

3. We should not adopt a national structure without properly consulting Momentum’s members and supporters.

Momentum NC resolves

1. Not to adopt a national electoral structure at this meeting, and to properly decide one at the next NC meeting; and to schedule another meeting of the NC in July or August with a view to finally agreeing one.

2. To take the position that:

Momentum’s democratic structures need to be opened to a wider layer of participation
We are committed to bringing a functioning permanent democratic system to Momentum at a national level before the end of the interim NC’s term of office.
Both e-balloting and face-to-face elections have a role to play in Momentum’s structures; as do both delegate meetings and open meetings.
3. If necessary, to extend the term of office for this NC until the end of August in order to finalise Momentum’s structures in a proper and consultative way. This would be an extension of just under a month beyond the 6 month term initially agreed.

Motion 6: Suspension and Party Democracy ­ – Nottingham Momentum

●  Momentum should campaign nationally and locally against the undemocratic and arbitrary suspensions currently sweeping through the Party and propose a democratic and socialist approach to member disputes.

●  Momentum both national and locally should undertake an audit of suspensions and prepare a report for Momentum NC and campaign for resolutions to be taken to National Conference.

Motion 7:  Solidarity statement for Jackie Walker ­- SW Region & Medway, Swanley, SE Kent

The National Committee of Momentum is shocked and disappointed to hear of the suspension of our National Vice­Chair, Jacqueline Walker, from the Labour Party. Jacqueline is a lifelong anti­racism campaigner and a founder member of the Kent Anti­Racism Network (KARN) whose actions all our branches have supported.

Jacqueline has Jewish heritage, as does her partner, and is vocal in her opposition of all forms of racism. We urge the Labour Party to quickly resolve this matter and reinstate one of its most active anti­racism campaigners at once

In addition: We urge CLPs to pass motions in support of Jackie Walker and not to be cowed by any rumours of suspension for speaking out. We call for public meetings/rallies in support of Jackie.

We want to make it clear that we are serious in the fight to defeat racism and welcome the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in a sensible fashion.

We welcome Jeremy Corbyn initiative to hold a full inquiry into anti­Semitism in the Labour Party. Any member who has actually made anti­Semitic comments should face immediate suspension pending an investigation. But care must be taken not to suspend members on a spurious basis and to immediately reinstate those who have been spuriously suspended, such as Jackie Walker.

We call on the Labour Movement to support anti­racist and anti­fascist demonstrations including the 28/29 May in Dover Momentum supports the fight against austerity. We realise that austerity measures create the conditions where racism thrives.

Motion 8: Against expulsions and suspensions – Lewisham Momentum

We agree to actively oppose the expulsions and suspensions from the Labour Party of national and steering committee member Jill Mountford, Southwark activist Nick Wrack and all others expelled or suspended from the party because of their left­wing views. Momentum will actively campaign for their reinstatement as full party members.

Momentum calls and will campaign for the Labour Party Compliance Unit to [these words were voted down in parts “be abolished or” ] have its responsibility for membership disputes removed and for the establishment of a democratic, transparent and accountable body to deal with complaints of breach of party rules. This body should publish a clear, easy to understand and consistent set of procedures by which it will operate, which should follow the basic principles of natural justice. Everyone about whom a complaint is made should receive advance written notification of the charges and the evidence supporting them; have the opportunity to respond in writing and in person at a hearing to hear the complaint; the right to have the support and assistance at any such hearing of another person, before any decision is made. There should also be a separate, independent appeals system to review any expulsions or suspensions.

Momentum will issue a public statement to this effect and regularly issue information, statements, etc about these issues.

Motion 9: Finances

Momentum nationally should support local groups in being able to function especially when local groups have no access to national membership funds.

This would include:
– formal guidance and necessary national documents to support setting up bank accounts
– advice on the best way to do this
– support and advice on fundraising (perhaps a database of supportive artists, peformers and speakers)
– thought needs to be given how to support when local groups have difficulty raising funds to ensure Momentum is inclusive of those on benefits and low incomes etc.  including clarification on support for delegates or groups with low income or little access to resources on support to attend regional meetings as delegates

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