As we approach the end of 2016 with much debate about the direction of Momentum nationally its important to remember that Momentum’s strength lies in the organising on the ground in local groups in CLPs and in helping Labour reach out with a socialist vision of what society could look like as well as practically fighting to support workers and others in struggle in the here and now.
Here’s a quick review on the past 12 months here in Tyne and Wear (including the wider Northern region) in which we held many great public meetings including a massive rally with John McDonnell, helped organised 2 over thousand people marches on NHS an Corbyn leadership supported striking doctors, Teaching Assistants and Ritzy workers, organised in our CLPs winning elections, motions including Devolution and overwhelming support for Corbyn and ending with victories in Newcastle and Durham and a massive conference.. read on to find out more.
January saw a great start with Momentum and Red Labour hosting an excellent meeting with over 50 activists discussing regional devolution (introduced by Harry Cross _ Durham Momentum / Momentum Student and Youth) – this played a significant role bringing together activists especially in Gateshead but also across Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, that culminated in defeating the North East Regional Assembly deal. We also helped launch the North East and Cumbria regional network and submitted policy and elected delegates (Ed Whitby and Jo Land to the National Committee)
February saw continued support for Junior Doctors and student health workers, we hosted a meeting of over 60 activists with BMA Regional Secretary Dr Pete Campbell, Joanne Land (Momentum NHS) and Ella Thorp (student Nurse and Unison activist) we agreed to call a joint demonstration on the NHS for Saturday 9th April. Ed and Jo attended the National Committee winning support for our local motions specifically a strengthening a clearer socialist vision for Momentum (see Link)
In March we showcased building Labours Grassroots workshop attended by 70 people incuding presentation from Rachel and Arman on how the Labour Party works (see links) and Diane Jones on experience practically from getting stuck into the local party. The event had imput from councillors, CLP and Trade Union officers
April brought our local demonstration on the NHS which saw well over a thousand march through Newcastle with Junior Doctors and BMA, student nurses and health workers in Unison and Unite, as well as Keep Our NHS Public and Peoples Assembly.
April also included a debate in our region on the European Union with Pat Glass MP and lecturer and Gateshead Labour member Andy Mullen a great turnout and an indicative vote to support a radical remain campaign. We also held our Regional Network meeting which reported on the successes of groups in Hexham, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Darlington and Teesside, as well our local Tyne and Wear group.
May brought the second national committee meeting which supported campaigning for a Workers Europe – a pro EU socialist campaign, despite it being quite late in the campaign this helped ensure Momentum would play an active role and could support both the Labour remain campaign, workers with Another’s Europe is Possible and developing its own socialist campaign.
May brought local elections with Momentum activists in our region getting stuck into campaigning, we took part in campaigning across wards as well as some focussing on key wards and some victories in Newcastle, as well as post election Momentum public meeting and the start of EU campaigning.
June I chaired and spoke at Another Europe is Possible alongside Clare Williams (Unison Convenor) Chi Onwurah MP and Owen Jones.
Unfortunately immediately following the EU referendum the Coup began and the end of June we hosted a big public Keep Corbyn launch rally to help coordinate CLP nominations, and campaigning and build for a big rally.
July we hosted our biggest indoor event yet as Momentum holding the first national Corbyn Leadership rally with John McDonnell with less than a weeks notice. I chaired this rally which saw MPs, councllors and FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack as well as John McDonnell speak to a packed and standing room only rally of over 600 people at the Centre of Life, giving us massive media coverage and helping us build on our Momentum to win nominations across the region.
As well as winning the overwhelming majority of nominations in our region for Corbyn (only one nomination for Owen Smith) we supported the Red Labour massive demonstration in Newcastle marching through the centre to Leazes Park which saw nearly 1000 supporters march, chant and hear speakers to continue the campaign both on the streets in the communities and in the CLP.
We also hosted a Corbyn meet the activists event in Gateshead just before the live BBC debate and we orgnised dozens of phone banks across the region, in Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Hexham, Darlington, and Teesside up to the leadership election.
September brough the re-election of Corbyn with an increased vote in all sections, and a larger membership. We held a victory party and activists from across the region especially delegates from Gateshead and Hexham highlighted our impact in winning support in the party, and our activists played key role including Rachel, Jamie, and other from Talk Socialism as part of The World Transformed.
After conference in October we continued our support for class struggle campaigning to support local activists like the Durham teaching assistants as well as raising funds for Ritzy Strikers at our public meeting with US author Peter Frase.
In October and November we held two regional network meetings and began the work to organise our Northern Regional Network conference (and preparing for the National Committee) and continuing to campaign in CLPs. In November our activists won support for low paid council workers facing pay cuts, and our activists in Durham won overwhelming support at a number of CLPs for the Durham TAs.
At the end of November labour groups in Newcastle reversed the decision to cut low paid workers anti social hour payments and in Durham the Labour council agreed to postpone imposition of pay cuts for Teaching Assistants and agreed to work with unions to review pay and grading for staff.
December saw our first Northern Confernence with over 200 attending across the day including motions and elections for members only and workshops open to all including the event being addressed by Unison activists from Newcastle and Durham Councils reporting on the victories so far to win concessions from labour councils for workers, as well as Local MPs and other activists.
All in all an amazing year of activism, including winning key support and positions for Corbyn supporters across the region in branch and consituency parties and winning great policies in the party and union movement.
Here’s to another 12 months of fighting for socialism and workers!