Momentum launches membership

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 10:39 Author: Jill Mountford

The third meeting of Momentum’s Steering Committee took place on 5 April. Things are taking shape around the membership structure and drive. This will not only firm up the supporter base for Momentum but will also generate a much needed income for staff wages and campaigning. As I write thousands of people have already signed up to become full members.

I plan to write a longer report which you will be able to find on my new blog, but for now want to let you know about the three motions I submitted to the Steering Committee to be discussed on the fight against academisation of schools, on the steel crisis and on the Lambeth libraries occupation. You can read them here.

The schools motion, which called for Momentum groups to work with school unions and Labour Parties to build local campaigns to defend education (something we have already agreed in Lewisham), was passed without controversy. I now see it as my job to push to make sure it is implemented.

At the second steering committee, three weeks earlier, Michael Chessum and I proposed a motion for a nationally coordinated campaign on the NHS. In the next couple of weeks we’ll be meeting Momentum staff to discuss how both these proposals will be implemented.

The motion on steel caused more controversy. Some people said we should not object to posing things in terms of defending British industry against foreign industry as that would alienate steel workers — though it seems to me very much necessary for socialists in the current riot of nationalism to be prepared to have these arguments and discussions. There was also a suggestion that calling for nationalisation under workers’ control is old fashioned. I can’t agree. It is the wave of the future. I would also note that it is what Jeremy Corbyn called for in regards to Britain’s railways during his leadership campaign — was that old-fashioned?

It was agreed to get the text redrafted, but, regrettably, six days later this has not yet happened. I am chasing it though. Given the severity and speed of the steel crisis I think we need a much quicker process. I hope we can make sure Momentum comes out with a strong statement, at least, before it is too late to have an impact. As for the other concrete proposals contained in my motion, it seems they won’t happen.

However, it was my last motion, on support for the Lambeth libraries occupation, that caused the most controversy. In the end the steering committee did not back this proposal. I am consulting with Momentum comrades in Lambeth, and hope to write something more detailed about this soon. For now I will just say that I think the committee’s failure to back the Lambeth struggle, which has mobilised so many workers, such wide layers of the community and such powerful solidarity, is a very poor show.

Michael Chessum reported on good progress with Momentum Youth and Students, which will be holding a national conference in Manchester on Sunday 5 June, open to all Momentum members who are students or under 30. This is a good example from the youth: surely the whole organisation needs a democratic conference to discuss the way forward?

The next Steering Committee meeting will be on the evening of Tuesday 26 April. The National Committee, which is made up of delegates from the regions as well as affiliated organisations like trade unions (and which elected the Steering Committee) meets on Saturday 21 May. There should be regional meetings with delegates from local groups before then.

• Please feel free to get in touch with any questions, issues you want me to raise or proposals, on my Momentum blog

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