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Momentum is not the only way for Labour

09 November, 2017

• NEITHER John Gulliver’s original article (Momentum lacks momentum in the Town Hall, October 26) nor the majority of letters in reply fully address the current situation in the local Labour Party.

Susanna Mitchell, for example, perceives a right/left split, but this is simplistic (Plotting and bickering could lose us our hard-won advantage, November 2).

Far from being divided into the sheep and goats of “Momentum” and “Blairite”, there is a rich diversity of views among party members in the borough.

I, for example, regard myself as a socialist (a word seldom heard these days). I voted both times for Jeremy Corbyn as leader. I continue to support him and have no time for the destructive attitude of some right-wing Labour MPs.

On the other hand I am not a member of Momentum. I see no need to be, since I am already a member of the Labour Party.

I have also been critical of Jeremy Corbyn at times. For example, I was not happy about his position in regard to Brexit (though I wholeheartedly support the efforts of our MP, Sir Keir Starmer, to retrieve the situation).

Yet it seems as if in the minds of some people, any criticism of Jeremy Corbyn is enough to send one into the outer darkness of “Blairism”.

In reality the cliché that the Labour Party is a “broad church” is absolutely accurate and must be respected. That is what having an “inclusive, diverse membership”, as Paul Renny puts it, means.

It means looking outward and working together to win the widest possible support, while not necessarily being in agreement about everything.

It means recognising that the “new politics” for which Momentum sometimes seems to take sole credit, has been supported by many party members for a very long time and that it is ignorant and disrespectful to treat anyone who is not a member of Momentum as though they were somehow the enemy.

I recognise Momentum’s contribution to the election result, even if they have been a bit arrogant in attributing the result almost entirely to themselves, but it was a mistake – and rather insulting to party members – to institute a “slate” of candidates, since that inevitably produced resentment and opposition from members with varying positions who did not want to be told who to vote for.

One result may have been that fewer of the candidates supported by Momentum were elected to the General Committee than would otherwise have been the case.

The irony of entryism in the case of Militant was that it succeeded only in pushing the Labour Party to the right and even, arguably, in fostering “Blairism”.

Members of Momentum might be a little more self-aware in understanding that their “my way or the highway” attitude is deepening rather than healing divisions.

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