Meeting of Momentum representatives in place on Momentum NC on 5 November

(for background this the 5 November meeting was called off by an emergency Steering committee with 19 hours notice and this was condemned by 4 regional networks who met that weekend with delegates from local groups, it also proposed that the national conference in February couldn’t truly be democratic and voted for an online referendum of all members instead to decide policy.. this again was against the policy of all regions who had met, and was without consultation of a single local group, regional network, equailty network or National Committee member or affiliate. So this meeting was called as people had already booked trains and planned to be in Birmingham anyway.. a few days prior to Saturdays meeting the Steering Committee met and agreed a statement that recognised the strength of anger of local groups and regions see jill’s report here – we continued with the meeting anyway as agreed)

On 5 November approximately 35 people attended at meeting in Birmingham in place of the National Committee meeting which was cancelled the the Steering Committee last month. The unofficial meeting was well attended, with great open discussion and lots of positive ideas about how to build and ensure momentum is more democratic and inclusive and that we don’t waste this historic opportunity to build a grassroots bottom up labour left. The meeting included 18 National Committee members from London, North East and Cumbria, West Midlands, Eastern, South West, Yorkshire and Humberside, Momentum Student and Youth, Momentum Disabled members, LRC, Red Labour, Fire Brigates Union. Apologies were also received from delegates from the East Midlands region and members from local groups in East Midlands, North West, South East and regional BAME reps were also present. Every english region was represented. (The meeting had was approx 15 women and 8 were BAME)

It was agreed the meeting would be for Momentum members only and those who support Momentum aims and objectives and voted to not allow members of the SWP or SP to take part in the meeting.

The meeting allowed an informed discussion what had happened at recent SC meetings with 4 SC members present, what decisions SC had made, and plans for motions and the National Conference in February. Since the NC hadn’t met since May this year representatives used the opportunity to share there concerns, to raise questions and to consider the options for the future.

We agreed that this wasn’t a platform or defined caucus in Momentum, but that people were there because they shared a number of concerns. These concerns mainly focussed around:
– the calling off of the NC on 5 November (after no meeting had been called since May – breaking the Momentum rules agreed in Feb that it should be at least every 3 months)
– that the Steering Committee shouldn’t be able to call off or override National Committee decisions
– that there is insufficient transparency in the group as it stands (no minutes available or circulated yet for the May National Committee, no minutes circulated of the Steering committee) and no of this information including who is on committees etc is available for members via the Momentum website
– that the central office and staff within in have access to information and resources that isnt available was readily to the regions (i.e. expenses for staff and volunteers in london momentum office to travel, but no resources for National Committee regional reps or others in the region to travel to support local groups etc)

We agreed this would act as a forum for people from regions, local groups and affiliated organisations to share ideas around improving momentum and the way it works, ensuring it is member / local group led and that the conference happens in February and is delegate based and policy making.

The following were some of the key policy areas agreed:
– National Conference is the highest elected body (when it meets) and that until that time the National Committee is and that the Steering Committee is accountable to the NC. The 3 December NC will elect a new SC.
– Local groups are the central organised activist base for Momentum. All member / activists should be encouraged to join / get involved in local groups. The centre should help the set up of local groups where there are none and support regional NC reps and regional networks do this. Regional FB and e-groups could help with this.
– A structures page on the website – describing structures and naming all the  elected representatives on the structures with contact details
– A delegate based voting activist based national conference in February as already agreed. Discussion about if and how this could incorporate online ballots / referenda (there were some people who felt a form of online voting could be incorporated, but no clear proposal was put forward, it was suggested that those who supported this put specific proposals in writing to allow discussion)
– Communication – up and down the organisation to be made more explicit and transparent
– Need to examine structure of the 2 limited companies and the momentum national organisation (unincorporated organisations) motion from NE and Cumbria to be shared  looked at by those with knowledge of law etc.

Other ideas and points raised:
– Steering committee minutes need to be circulated
– Political leadership of Momentum is the national committee in between annual conferences and that it needs to be clarified that staff are employed to carry out the decisions of this body.
– Mapping of members and supporters is essential but this needs to be carried out by local activists as those in London might not understand the make up of regions.
– Regional networks to have autonomy to help organise groups (i.e. addressing the idea that 33% of members not covered by a group) with budgets, access to data and resources
– Discussion on unincorporated structure and if the present model is the best model going forward
Better equality group representation on bodies including Steering Committee
Groups that do not support Momentum and clarification of which groups should representation on the National Committee and why.

People left feeling positive about what can be achieved about ensuring the conference goes ahead in February and about what can be achieved at the December National Committee meeting on 3 December.

see also Jill Mountfords report on the meeting here