The under-reported ‘political coup’ by Jon Lansman and his supporters to impose a new constitution on Momentum was designed to ward of supposed threats from ‘hard-left’ groups. The threat was actually quite small. Lansman probably had enough support among the members and supporters to see off any take-over but chose instead to use his control over membership data to abolish the National Committee and impose arrangements to ensure his own control. So much for democracy.
The interesting thing about Momentum was always whether the political energy that Corbyn released would find its way into a new kind politics. Corbyn himself, and the woolly socialist principles he has been repeating for 40 years, was never going to be enough. Sadly, the youth that rallied to Corbyn seems to have melted into the social media atmosphere. What remains seems to be a few remnants of an unimaginative Marxist left and many more older one-time Labour Party people driven out by Blairism. The former are largely irrelevant, the latter have no more idea what to do than the people who stuck with Labour.
Absurdly, Momentum is now committed to a refusal to engage with politics in the sense of political ideas and policies at all, beyond support for the Corbyn leadership, for fear of being dragged off into fruitless ideological tussles with what Paul Mason has called ‘zombie ideologies’. Mason himself seems to think that the 10 pledges made as part of Corbyn’s re-election campaign is all that is needed. Anyone observing the political and ideological shambles of the current Labour ‘opposition’, or looking across the channel at the crisis of social democratic ideas, purpose and identity, will wonder where on earth this complacency comes from.
And since it has confined itself to a Corbyn cheer-leader role, dedicated to securing support in the Labour Party for whatever it is that Corbyn is saying, Momentum can hardly develop as a ‘new politics’ of community engagement as envisioned by Michael Chessum in the Guardian.
It is a crying shame. A way could have been found to escape a dreary debate with worn out ideologies while still pushing the boundaries of political thinking in a constructive dialogue with the Corbyn leadership. What began as a political insurgency has been buried alive somewhere in the Labour Party.