We need to address Momentum, and soon

The Labour Party conference last week shed light on one of the most significant phenomena to emerge from Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader: Momentum.

momentum

Set up by Jon Lansman in 2015 to build support for Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum is dominated by the young and ideological. According to their website, the principle aim of their 100,000 membership is to create ‘a mass movement for real transformative change’. Despite this vague description, Momentum is in fact a far-left grassroots movement whose political, social and economic objectives include virtually eradicating the role of the British Army, restoring Clause IV, increasing public ownership, and campaigning for nuclear disarmament.

While their aims appear somewhat generic, their existence during the Labour Party conference has exposed the latent culture beneath the beaming smile which declares they just want to ‘make a difference’. From criticising Holocaust Memorial Day, to suggesting that questioning Corbyn’s electability should be a ‘forbidden and punishable offence’, Momentum are divisive and undemocratic.[1] It’s time to expose the reality behind ‘we just want to change the world for the better’.

The merchandise on sale at the Labour Conference is symbolic of the dangerous organisation they are. Stalls around the conference are draped in t-shirts and mugs imprinted with the famous mass-murderer and racist Che Guevara in support of his Marxist philosophy. Other merchandise on sale includes ‘Tories are lower than vermin’ posters, truly embracing the ‘kinder, gentler’ politics Corbyn promised and somewhat disconcerting since Momentum believes 80% of Labour MPs are ‘red Tories’.

However, the great double standard they frequently exercise lies in their hypocritical stance on war, indeed prior to his leadership of Leader Corbyn was perhaps best known for his activism. Similarly, Momentum opposes the British Army’s expansion, funding, or engagement abroad; frequently found marching in ‘Stop the War’ protests. At the Labour Party conference, British Army ‘Make Stuff Dead’ mugs and a book mocking ‘free prosthetic limbs’ scattered the tables.

As many lament rightly such an inappropriate and hurtful exhibition to the families of servicemen and women who have died serving this country, such offensives have gone largely unreported by the mainstream media. The caring and compassionate clothing of socialism has allowed such disrespectful actions to go largely unnoticed.

But they’re not so aggravated by those whom the British Army has encountered on missions. Assad’s mass murderous, torturing, genocidal army nor ISIS’s army has provoked an outcry. No, their funding, energy and political activity has been thrown wholeheartedly behind opposing the British Army.[2]

Nonetheless, the disingenuous contempt Momentum holds for deceased and injured servicemen and women is only one of many reasons they must be confronted.

Their record on anti-Semitism is appalling. It’s undeniable that Labour is under increasing pressure with mounting claims of anti-Semitism within the Party, as Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth hired bodyguards for the conference itself, and a recent staggering 87% of a Jewish poll felt anti-Semitism was ignored in Labour (compared with 13% in the Conservative Party). One might safely assume this is a time for heightened sensitivity around the issue of anti-Semitism.

But not for Momentum.

Only a week ago Vice Chair of Momentum Jackie Walker, who claims Jews financed the slave trade, was seen criticising Holocaust Memorial Day, at an anti-Semitism training event. The very fact this subdivision of Labour even requires a training day to address anti-Semitism is shocking, let alone this woman’s timing in vocalising such criticism.

But why are we surprised? Their leader called Hamas a ‘friend’ (only a manner of speaking, of course) and attended the pro-Palestine events of a constituent who thought Jews caused 9/11.[3] Indeed, it was Chuka Umunna who suggested that “in order to deal with this anti-Semitism issue, do you not think it would be helpful for Momentum to be wound up and shut down?” but Corbyn accused him of veering ‘off topic’.

Corbyn’s grassroots fan club is fast becoming a racist and dangerous fragment within Labour, the extent of which was revealed during their Party conference. Hope for a unified and inclusive opposition to the Conservative Party disintegrates every time their voices are amplified within Labour. They must be confronted.

If not for the unity of the Party, for the unity of the population. It’s not about the context of your comments, it’s not about the phrasing of your sentences. When members of your Party feel compelled to hire bodyguards, feel powerless to involve themselves in political activism for fear of attack, it’s time you stood up and took action instead of regurgitating empty words.

We can’t rely on Shami Chakrabarti, whose investigation found anti-Semitism ‘wasn’t an issue’ in the Party promptly before receiving her peerage and a shadow cabinet position.

We have to rely on the Labour members committed to a unified and inclusive party to persevere and produce an opposition which can hold Theresa May and the Conservative Party to account.

[1] http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/shelagh-fogarty/labours-warring-sides-do-battle-over-hackney/

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/26/momentum-jokes-about-injured-british-soldiers-reveal-the-corbyni/

[3] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/07/momentum-anti-semitism-and-problem-labours-grassroots-activists