“Peace reigns” was the verdict of one senior Momentum figure last night as the influential left wing group appeared to have put days of acrimony behind it with a deal to ease tensions between its warring factions.
Spats at the top of the group have played out publicly, with disagreements over whether decisions at its conference should be made with an elected delegate system or an online vote of all members. The latter model was adopted after an emergency meeting of the group’s steering committee last week, with critics unhappy at the short notice given for the meeting – and claiming that the committee did not have the power to make such a call.
Following a further meeting of the steering committee last night an accord was reached between the two sides about how the February conference should be run.
A unanimous statement from the committee was published late last agreeing that a delegate system would be used to debate and amend motions at the conference, with all members then receiving a vote to pass or reject the finalised proposals about the future structure of Momentum.
“There will be both a physical delegates conference to thoroughly debate proposals submitted from the membership, and then OMOV voting on the proposals in the period after the conference,” the statement said. “The details of this procedure will be determined over the coming weeks.”
The statement also said that the delay in building a democratic structure to Momentum, which is at the root of the recent arguments, was due to this summer’s leadership election, which they say “delayed that development, with all our energy being diverted into ensuring Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election.”
As things stand, the meeting organised for this weekend by disgruntled senior Momentum activists still appears to be going ahead, although its importance is being downplayed, with a spokesperson stressing it is “an informal meeting for Momentum activists”.
One of the steering committee members who organised the meet-up, Michael Chessum, said: “After the decision was made to postpone Momentum’s national committee this Saturday, many people due to attend the meeting had already booked travel and there was an appetite among some to meet up informally. The meeting is explicitly just a gathering of activists – and is open to everyone in Momentum – to chat and share ideas.”
It was also decided last night that the next meeting of Momentum’s national committee, which has many more members than the small steering committee and has not met since May, will take place on on December 3, despite some attempts to delay it further. This will then be followed up by another national committee meeting in January, ahead of the February delegate conference. This appears to represent something of a climbdown for some of the vocal proponents of OMOV, who had been pushing for fewer meetings ahead of the conference.
However, not everyone is happy with the outcome, with prominent Momentum supporter Aaron Bastani calling the compromise deal a “fudge” and warning that “delegates, like national committee, will be chosen by hard core of activists”.