Birmingham needs more women councillors!

Birmingham Momentum women’s group has launched a campaign to get more Labour women onto Birmingham City Council.

Only 40% of Labour councillors in Birmingham are women – 32 out of the 80 seats Labour currently holds. That’s way below Labour’s national target of a minimum of 50% female representation amongst Labour councillors in every local authority in the country.

The ward boundary changes and all-out local government elections in 2018 are unlikely to see any improvement. Based on the 2016 council election results, the number of Labour-held seats is likely to drop from 80 to approximately 68. So hitting the 50% target would require 34 women to become Labour councillors.

At the moment there are 30 women councillors on the Local Government Panel (the list of people whose nominations have been approved). But of the 35 non councillors on the panel only four are women! So to achieve the target of 50% in 2018, 34 women would need to be shortlisted, selected and elected i.e. all of the 30 women councillors currently nominating and all four of the new nominees. That’s rather unrealistic given some wards are becoming two-seat wards, and that not all panel members want to represent any area in the city.

We’re encouraging women to apply for the Local Government Panel for 2018. To be shortlisted as a candidate you need to be on the panel – it’s as simple as that.
At the time of writing we are unsure when councillor selections will start – probably from early July. Panel applications will still be considered and may be approved even after the selection process has begun.

We know it’s a big step so Birmingham Women’s Momentum will be supporting women who apply, by sharing information and our experience as we go through the process.
We are also looking at what training is available for applicants, and other platforms that provide development opportunities. Watch this space in late summer/early Autumn.

Finally, being on the panel doesn’t mean you have to accept a nomination to stand for selection in any particular ward – just that by being on the panel you would be considered.

Application forms are available by logging in at: http://www.birmingham-labour.com/splash?splash=1 and clicking on ‘City Council Election 2018’.

If you have any queries or just want to chat contact momentumbhamsouth@hotmail.com and we’ll point you in the direction of your local Momentum contact on the issue!

Support the Burton Argos workers!

 

While of course the eyes of Momentum South Birmingham are mostly fixed on the general election and ensuring our city’s constituencies return Labour MPs, we should not forget that there are industrial disputes going on that can and should be supported.

 

aROGS

One of those is just down the road in Burton where Argos workers organised by the Unite are on strike.   

Argos warehouse workers who prepare deliveries for the catalogue stores are fearful that a contracting out culture will lead to job losses and a deterioration in their terms and conditions.

Earlier in the year Argos revealed plans to transfer nearly 500 workers from its Lutterworth distribution hub in Leicestershire to Wincanton logistics in Kettering. Despite repeated requests by Unite, Argos has refused to give guarantees at all its distribution sites that workers’ terms and conditions will be safeguarded in the future.

Mick Casey, a member of Unite’s executive council, said: “Argos has been despicable in the way they are behaving. This affects people’s lives, their families and whole communities.”

Donations and messages of support should be sent to:

Unite the Union Branch WM7680

Care of Mick. Casey, 140 BRANSTON RD, BURTON ON TRENT, DE14 3DQ

For readers information we’ve also cut and pasted below a press release from Unite welcoming the failure of Argos to secure an injunction to bring an end to the strike. There is also a piece in the Morning Star that can be read here.

 

Unite Press Release

For immediate use: Friday 26 May 2017

Argos loses High Court bid as warehouse strikes continue

A High Court judgement thwarting a further attempt by the retail giant Argos to stop a two week strike was hailed as a ‘significant’ victory by Britain’s largest union, Unite today (Friday 26 May), as it urged the company to stop trying to use the law to ride roughshod over workers’ legitimate concerns.

Today’s ruling is the second to go against Argos and comes just over midway through a two week continuous strike in a dispute over jobs and terms and conditions which started on 17 May.

Set to finish at 05:59 on Wednesday (31 May), the ongoing stoppage is causing disruption to store deliveries and involves approximately 1,400 warehouse workers at Argos distribution centres in Basildon, Bridgwater, Burton-on-Trent, Castleford, Heywood and Lutterworth.

The warehouse workers, who prepare deliveries for Argos stores, are fearful that a culture of contracting out and the reduction in operating sites will lead to a deterioration in their terms and conditions.

Earlier in the year Argos revealed plans to transfer nearly 500 workers from its Lutterworth distribution hub in Leicestershire to Wincanton logistics in Kettering. Despite repeated requests by Unite, Argos has refused to give guarantees at all its distribution sites that workers’ terms and conditions will be safeguarded in the future.

Commenting Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “The retail giant would do well to start engaging constructively with Unite, rather than repeatedly trying to use the law to ride roughshod over workers’ legitimate concerns and prolonging disruptive industrial action.

“Having seen how Argos has treated colleagues who were transferred to Wincanton, Unite members are seeking reasonable guarantees about terms and conditions.

“They are justifiably concerned about being transferred to another company or being offered alternative employment on potentially inferior terms, if they are unwilling to travel to a new site.

“Argos needs to send its senior decision makers to negotiate meaningfully with Unite, if a resolution is to be found.”

Unite assistant general secretary for legal services Howard Beckett added: “For the second time, a judge has ruled against Argos and its attempts to stop legitimate and lawful strike action. This significant ruling deals a blow to those employers who seek to silence workers and use bogus TUPE procedures to cut costs and terms and conditions.

“This is a dispute which won’t be settled in the court room, but around the negotiating table. Unite urges Argos to start engaging constructively and offer the guarantees directly employed warehouse workers are seeking.

“Once again Unite’s legal services have demonstrated that Unite will not allow its members to be bullied and silenced by employers, such as Argos. Bad bosses should beware that Unite will use the full might of the law to defend its members and their lawful right to strike.

“Unite would like to place on record its thanks to Thompsons Solicitors and Richard Arthur, as well as Ben Cooper QC of Old Square Chambers in assisting with this matter. We would urge Argos to get around the table to reach a negotiated settlement.”

The stakes at this election

The membership of the Labour Party is now huge. But sadly, in my experience in Birmingham, many of those new members haven’t really got involved beyond clicking a button for Jeremy Corbyn a couple of times. Some of those very people may be reading this now, knowing in their heart of hearts that it is them I am talking about.

There are some good reasons for that of course. The Birmingham Labour Party is hugely resistant to change, or even rudimentary democratic practise, at all levels. It’s a microcosm of the situation that Corbyn has faced as leader since September 2015(which feels like a very long time ago). The decision to deny members even a rudimentary say in the selection of their local government candidates is a symptom of this malaise.

But I’m afraid those things won’t do as an excuse. Not now. This is the moment when people need to get involved. If we want a radical Labour government then the members need to campaign for it.

We are 20 points behind in the polls. Let’s not pretend that isn’t the case. And let’s not pretend that if the election was held the day it was called that Labour wouldn’t have been trounced.

The right-wing machine of the party have to take a lot of the blame for that, of course. Some of things they have done have been unforgivable frankly.

But the left of the party have to take some responsibility too. We’ve left the field clear for them too often in the last 18 months. We haven’t got involved and turned up for stuff. We haven’t persevered enough. We could have done more to transform the party into the mass movement it needs to be if it wants to take power and implement socialist policies. But that would have involved more of us turning up to some frankly tedious meetings for a while and forcing through change, and the left isn’t known for its patience.

We can’t do anything about any of that now. If we are serious about it we can go back and make a start on June 9th, whatever the result.

Now, the priority has to be campaigning for Labour candidates – even the ones that Momentum doesn’t like very much.

We have 6 weeks to start and win an argument with the British people that the Tory Party is not the answer and we need a socialist government. One that rejects austerity, privatization and Hard Brexit. One that starts a fundamental redistribution of wealth and power in society from the few to the many. We have a leader who means what he says. Who actually resonates with people when they meet him.

But winning that argument means campaigning – and campaigning is on the streets, not on Twitter or Facebook (much as we wish it was). It means stalls. Knocking doors. Delivering leaflets. Going to the working class areas that the politicians have given up on. Giving up the odd weekend and day of annual leave to get out there and do stuff.

You’ll get abuse. You’ll come across people who just won’t listen to reason. You’ll have crazy dogs slamming themselves at the door when you knock or stick a leaflet through.

It won’t be fun, unless you’re a masochist.

But believe me, it’s the only way.

I have no time for Owen Jones whatsoever. I think he’s in the process of reinventing himself as a left commentator who talks the talk but stopped walking the walk a long time ago. A spoilt brat who has thrown his toys out of the pram because Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t make him part of his inner circle. Too often these days the socialist rhetoric feels like an act with him. But the call he made recently for every member to do a couple of nights of canvassing really resonated with me. If our half-million members all did that it could make a massive difference. It could really turn the tide against the deluge of lying, dog-whistle, poisonous shit that we can expect from the Lynton Crosby-steered Conservative Party over the next few weeks.

So please, get out there and do something. It doesn’t have to take over your life.

And while I am at it with the moralising I have a message for a couple of other groups of people.

  • The Greens, TUSC etc: please don’t stand any candidates in Birmingham. It is pointless. If you genuinely want social change you know that it is Corbyn or bust now. Many Momentum activists campaign with you on opposing cuts and austerity; we work together in trade unions and in our communities. I know you are all sincere and the arguments you make come from a place of wanting to make the world a fairer and more just one. But please, put aside your pride and think about what matters. The Corbyn surge could and should have taught you a lesson about how things work in British politics.
  • Independent lefties: we all know them. Socialists, sympathetic to Corbyn, good sorts, but won’t take the plunge and join or campaign for the Labour Party or get involved in organised politics. Again, I’m sure it starts from an honest and decent place. But seriously, if you want to change the world, you will have to get your hands dirty. And that means Labour I’m afraid. If you have a better plan do let Momentum South Birmingham know. But I won’t hold my breath.

We may not get a better, or another chance in our lifetimes. Let’s at least be able to look back after and say we gave it our best shot.

 

JC

Here’s to Strong Women. May we know them, be them, raise them…

On International Women’s Day 2018 we asked some members and supporters of South Birmingham Momentum which women had inspired them….

Alison Gove-Humphries

Edith Cavell a British nurse during the First World War. – I passed her statue on the way back from the NHS rally in London on Saturday and the quote on her statue seemed very relevant to today.

“Someday, somehow, I am going to do something useful, something for people. They are most of them,so helpless, so hurt and so unhappy”

225px-edith-cavell


 

Nicky Brennan
I have always been very inspired by my daughter Eevie. I’d always been a mouse before I had her and becoming her mom made me realise I had to become a lion. Nothing matters more than her getting a fair shot at life. 
She also taught me that being your own person, no matter how wild and raw that is, is a completely beautiful thing which should be celebrated. 
eevieandme

Chris Kuriata
Malala Yousafzai is my inspiration woman and plus she lives in Birmingham now. This is one of my favourite quotes of hers: 
 
‘One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.’
malala-yousafzai-13-1484293579

Jodie McLoughlin

I nominate Maya Angelou – unless she’s already been nominated. As a poet, writer, actress and abuse survivor she managed to stay humble (she didn’t let bitterness consume her) and is an inspiration for women from all oppressed backgrounds. Still I rise is an exceptional poem (my favourite actually) as I find it very identifiable (as a disabled working class woman it speaks to me).

111


Sue Payne

The woman that inspired me is my mother. When my father died very young she had to raise my sister and I by herself. She was creative and practical in ways she earned money to look after us especially  as she left school at 14 to care for her mother, so had no education qualifications.

She was always there for me and my sister no matter what and  was a brilliant role model in terms of being a strong and independent woman with  a positive ‘can do’ mentality.


If there is a woman you feel inspired by this International Women’s Day please add your entry to the comments below. 

Towards an Effective Industrial Strategy for Britain

 

by Charles Regan

Britain, alone among western Europe’s major economies, does not have an industrial strategy. Ever since 1979, successive governments, New Labour as well as Conservative, have  elected to consign the fate of Britain’s industries to ‘the market’. Since 1979 manufacturing as a share of the overall economy has shrunk from 29% of GDP to 11%, leaving Britain import dependent and shifting from a balance of trade equilibrium in 1979 to a balance of trade deficit of  up to £13 billion per month by the latter part of 2016. Unemployment stands at c. 6 million, or 20% of the workforce, when total unemployment is calculated, when people on work programme, workfare, benefit sanction, DWP mandated ‘training courses and others are included.

mgrover

Background

In 1945, a Labour government was elected with a majority  of 145 seats, on a radical programme which included taking strategic industries such as coal, steel and transport into public ownership and an active and interventionist industrial strategy founded on collaboration between governments, employers and trades unions,  providing a stable  foundation for postwar economic revival. The principles that government implemented were adopted by every successive government until 1979.  The ‘postwar consensus’, as it was called, ensured more or less continuous full employment, funding for industry and  increasing prosperity for ordinary people and their families. Its policies also led to a decline in  Britain’s national debt from a level of 250% of GDP in 1945 to less than 50%  thirty years later.

Following the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, the  policies of the postwar consensus were abandoned. Industrial strategies were ditched. Britain’s publicly owned industries were sold off. Investment funding was truncated and Britain’s financial sector became increasingly focused on short term, risk free, maximal returns. ‘New Labour’ under Tony Blair enthusiastically  embraced  Thatcherite  policies of non intervention in the economy and  belief in an  economy based on finance and services.  Many manufacturers, starved of funding, closed down. Those sold off to overseas buyers often closed  and the order books were taken to other factories overseas. By mid 2009, Britain’s  balance of trade deficit had ballooned to £6 billion per month as Britain became yet more import dependent. Since then, the situation has worsened.

A New Industrial Strategy

An industrial strategy for the 21st century should  include the following;

1) A  commitment from government to a re-balancing of Britain’s economy away from  emphasis on finance and ‘services’

2) A reduction in the balance of trade deficit with a goal of achieving equilibrium

3) The lessening of Britain’s import dependence

4) Full employment through  the creation of skilled, well paid jobs in resurgent manufacturing industries

5) Re-skilling Britain’s workforce to provide trained employees in resurgent industries

6) The safeguarding and reinforcement  of strategic industries through public ownership, either wholly or in part
7) A reduction in overseas ownership and control of Britain’s industrial sector

8) The creation of  a national investment bank tasked with providing investment capital for industry on terms congruent with the needs and timescale of industry

The organisation set up and charged with implementing  Britain’s industrial strategy should  comprise stakeholders including government, the finance sector, public and private firms, workers’ representatives, local councils, trades unions and  schools, colleges and universities.

A detailed analysis of  the present position would establish the basis for future planning and resource allocation, and include the following;

a)  what firms presently produce and their production capacities

  1. b) what R and D exists and in which fields
  1. c) identifying imports and deciding which, out of these, Britain could produce itself
  1. d) what skills exist in the workforce at present and where
  2. e) what training and courses are currently available, and what  will be needed in order to train the workforce  needed to perform the jobs which will be created
  1. f) what level of financial resources will be required in order to provide the required investment capital for industry, and over what timescales would funding be required

 

To kick start demand for British products the adoption of a holistic public sector procurement procedure which would tend to favour British suppliers. This measure would offer  gains in the short term and  assist longer term growth. Holistic procurement policies are already in place in several other EU member states.

Where British products are no longer  made, policies of import substitution would  form a solution in the short to medium term. These  include  making products under licence from an overseas manufacturer,  while at the same time providing ultimately for  products designed and made here.

A new industrial strategy for Britain is essential  to ensure that the talents and abilities of all our people, regardless of background, are harnessed and  to enable them  to live stable,  prosperous and fulfilling lives.

 

Momentum and the quest for Labour democracy- opinion piece

by Richard Evans

The current debate in Momentum goes to the heart of what our role should be. Is it a shadow party or is it a means of organising those who have been enthused by the election of Corbyn to transform the Labour Party. I am firmly in the camp of the latter. Half a million have joined the LP to support the politics of Corbyn; our job is to mobilise them to make sure Labour becomes the vehicle for change. Does Momentum need a rigid, bureaucratic structure to do this?

If we start from the premise that we are not building a new party but aiming to transform the existing, we have to set ourselves the task of changing the structure of the Labour Party to take power away from the leader’s office and the party bureaucracy. We must recognise the mistakes of the 1980s (and no doubt the 1930s) when the left was in the ascendant, but failed to transform the structure of the party and so, making it easy for the right to regain control.

Blair has built a top-down, very bureaucratic centralised party. In the course of which the members became a mere appendage, expected to play the role of a supporters’ club to the leader, almost destroying the party in the process. Corbyn may have won the leadership but the party apparatus remains firmly in the hands of the Blairites. Labour’s right, having failed to retake the leadership in the summer will now try to maintain their grip on the party machine in order to attempt to retake the leadership after the next general election.

The role of Momentum should be absolutely clear. It is to change the structure of the Labour Party to prevent the undemocratic control of the party by this right wing clique, and to give back control to the ordinary party members; giving the rank and file the power to make policy and to select their MPs, councillors etc. To do this we need the widest possible base and the least sectarian division. We do not have unlimited time in which to do this and we have probably lost a year already in not being sufficiently organised in electing conference delegates and local party officials in the past twelve months.

We need national coordination to ensure the necessary changes in the LP are being progressed. There will always be suspicion about any coordinating group – that they are exceeding their authority or pursuing their own ends, but there has to be a level of trust allied to oversight with a mechanism to change this group, if necessary. For this, we don’t need a rigid bureaucratic structure of national conferences with national and regional committees. In the days of mass participation through the internet, it needs for us only to have the right to remove those who are not acting in the general interest of re-democratising the party.

Alongside national coordination, we need local groups and networks organising to transform their local CLPs and acting as a bridge to encourage participation and offer direction to new members in the party.

The only policy we need is a desire to change the Labour Party. It would be a mistake for Momentum to have positions in all policy areas. Participation in Momentum implies an agreement on the general direction of travel to make the LP more democratic in order to enact change in society; nothing more is required. The debate on detailed policy should take place within a revitalised LP. Otherwise, the danger is that we become split and miss the opportunity to rebuild and re-democratise the party. Amongst us, we may well have differences on Brexit or Aleppo, but does that affect our cooperation on democratising the LP?

The desire for a rigid structure is a conservative one based on 19th century communications. The branches, executives, regional and national committees of the labour movement were born in a world where independent mass communication was none existent. It required physically meeting and necessitated the appointment of delegates to more remote bodies. But in the 21st century, in a democratic country, it is possible for rank and file members to communicate and debate with each other through social media and the internet. Indeed, it’s becoming the natural way to organise – with each member having equal access to the debate and an equal vote in determining any decisions that need to be made.

If socialists have a vision of a more democratically run society, shouldn’t we be trialling that direct democracy within Momentum itself?

The Seinfeld Left

by J.C

Readers of a certain vintage may vaguely recall the popular ‘90s American sitcom Seinfeld.

Readers of this blog might be wondering why on earth I’m opening a piece about Momentum’s political future with a reference to a popular ‘90s American sitcom. Well bear with me friends, as all will become clear.

One of the central conceits of Seinfeld (I was always rather more of a Curb Your Enthusiasm man myself though incidentally) was that all of the main characters never learnt from their mistakes and persisted in doing the same stupid things over….and over….and over……. again.

‘Never remember. Never Learn.’

I’m starting to wonder if some members of Momentum seem to have taken that advice as a guide for action in the way that they see the organisation developing. They’ve looked at everything that has made Momentum a beacon of hope for many of us, decided to dismiss all that and revert to methods that have failed over….and over………and over…..again.

Firstly, a disclaimer. I don’t see myself as a ‘Lansmanite’ by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think Corbyn has got everything right in the last year or so. Far from it in fact. I think some of the moves by the Steering Committee have been cack-handed at best.

But I think I understand what Momentum is for and I understand why I and many others joined. As a rule I have quite consciously not involved myself hugely in the national Momentum situation hitherto as I thought my efforts would be best expended building a strong local group and I assumed that my understanding of Momentum’s raison d’etre would be the view of others so I didn’t need to. But sadly not, so it’s time to say something.

I’ll begin by pointing out that I don’t think it’s cocky to say that South Birmingham Momentum has been one of the brightest developments on the Birmingham left in a very, very long time. And that has been because a group of activists have made a conscious choice to act in a particular way. We’ve accepted the mission statement of Momentum and have attempted to put it into practice as best we can. I feel we have been reasonably successful with that.

My fear is that if the changes proposed by some within Momentum come to fruition a lot of that good work will be undone, locally and nationally, and the lessons that we in MSB and others nationally have learnt over the last twelve months or so completely unlearned. We are in danger of repeating mistakes that have been made countless times before. The words “Einstein”, “definition” and “stupidity” spring to mind, as well as the whole Seinfeld thing.

So what is Momentum?

  • It’s a broad coalition of people from all sorts of different left-wing and Labour traditions (and none) focused on making the Labour Party socialist, democratic and a mass movement capable of winning elections and bringing about radical political change. What that “radical change” looks like is quite difficult to define at the moment.
  • Momentum supports the Labour Party come what may. By necessity in the current climate it has to focus a lot of its energies on internal Labour Party questions because of the glaring democratic deficit that exists, particularly in the West Midlands region.
  • It accepts that we will not all agree on everything. We have members from a variety of political traditions (and none) within MSB. We work on and discuss what we can agree upon, which is a lot. The other stuff we (usually) leave at the door.

It is not:

  • A new party in embryo.
  • An organisation that needs to take a political position on every issue and seeks to actively look for disagreement, which seems to be the governing culture of so much of the organised left in this country. The idea that these debates will be resolved one way or the other by allowing Momentum’s time to be consumed by them locally and nationally is childish in the extreme. History, and reality, suggests that it won’t work.
  • An organisation that requires a detailed policy programme. Instead it is an organisation that needs a strategy for influencing the detailed policy programme of……Labour, the party we support. We can agree the most brilliant series of policies, but without a means for making them Labour policy we are simply talking to ourselves. Rejecting the ‘Trotskyist’ approach that ‘fetishizes’ programme, for want of a better adjective, doesn’t make us a Corbyn fan club. It makes us an organisation focused on the tasks in hand.
  • The latest scene for the never-ending, unresolvable struggle to the death between the various left-wing groups and factions that make up the splintered British left.
  • It is not an organisation that thinks that Corbyn’s big error up until now is that he hasn’t been radical enough.

So it is with interest that I read the AWL’s (conciliatory) statement on the crisis in Momentum.

I don’t buy for a minute the idea that the AWL are the arch-manipulators and dangerous trouble-makers intent on sabotaging Momentum that they are portrayed as in the mainstream media. I think individuals like Paul Mason could probably do with using the platform their profile provides a little more responsibly. I also know crude red-baiting when I see it. Reading the statement I take at face value their desire for the organisation to be democratic and outward-looking.

But what they and their (probably only temporary) allies are proposing will take us in a profoundly mistaken direction.

And it comes down to this:

“At the 3 December meeting we supported a successful motion from Momentum Youth and Students for a campaign to make Labour stand firm on freedom of movement and to fight against the Tories’ post-Brexit plans. Momentum should be uniting to put such policies into action, not using the mass media to stir a storm against the 3 December majority.

Some in the 3 December minority oppose a decision-making conference because they think Momentum should not have policy beyond being generically left-wing and pro-Corbyn. There is a case, and we accept it, for moving quite slowly and gently on many policy issues in a new movement like Momentum. But without policies — on issues like freedom of movement, for example — Momentum cannot campaign coherently in local Labour Parties or on the streets (or, as we found this September, at the Labour Party conference).”

I remain unclear why Momentum itself needs a detailed policy on freedom of movement, for example. There are members in our ranks in MSB who do not agree with the formulation. Many on the wider left do not agree.

I do. I think it is a defining question of our time and I think we should make the moral, political and economic case for open borders. Caving into the narrative of the right only strengthens them.

But others don’t see it that way and Momentum isn’t a democratic centralist organisation last time I checked.  And it is disingenuous nonsense to argue that the lack of detailed programme is the reason why the right largely “won” Labour conference last year. They were better organised than we were, had a clearer idea of what they wanted to change (and to stay the same) and focused their efforts on winning the votes on party structures.

The definition of a “successful” resolution is also quite limited here. Has the passing of this resolution had any actual influence on Labour Party policy? No. Have the Labour MPs who are in favour of shifting further to the right in a fruitless attempt to undercut UKIP et al been stopped in their tracks by the passing of the resolution? No. So in the grand scheme of things has it actually accomplished a great deal? No.

The minority did not oppose a decision-making conference (although I confess I am still not 100% clear what we need a national conference for). They opposed a conference focused on taking detailed policy positions that will accomplish nothing other than prove to ourselves how left-wing we are. They opposed having a structure that seems to take no account of how politics works in the 21st century and the lack of enthusiasm that many Momentum supporters have for long meetings. Should those (often new) people be excluded from our decision-making processes? No. I wish those people would come to the meetings – we try and make MSB’s as welcoming and friendly as possible, but rightly or wrongly they can be put off by that culture. Doubling down on that approach is pretty unlikely to convince them, methinks.

So – what we are likely to have is a conference dominated by the most experienced and hardened activists (I include myself in that by the way despite my boyish good looks). Now, this group of activists are clearly crucial to Momentum. In MSB they have been a constant source of helpful advice, expertise and knowledge of how the Labour Party works. They have in fact been indispensable. But we also need the skills of a generation not brought up in a culture of endless meetings – activists whose primary means of organisation and political engagement is social media. They are the future of socialist politics in the UK.

So – the other thing we have done in MSB, again in my view successfully, is give inexperienced members responsibility immediately and pushed them to the forefront of our activity. We have not allowed the old stagers to make all the decisions. And the old stagers actually seem quite happy with that.

I’m really not sure how an old-school conference structure really pushes the national organisation in that healthy direction.

Having a delegate conference also sends out a problematic message. We aren’t a new party but we are acting suspiciously like a new one. We have a delegate based conference structure, like the Labour Party. We are seemingly focusing our conference on drafting and agreeing policy, like the Labour Party. From the outside looking in it looks like a party conference. I don’t want to be a member of any other party. I joined the Labour Party because I believe that is the vehicle for socialist change. Momentum is the means by which I believe we ensure that aspiration I have for the Labour Party becomes a reality. It is not an end in itself, a position some people seem to be heading inexorably towards. It was conceived, rightly, as a network, a movement, not a proto-party with a set of detailed positions.

I want to spend a conference debating how we make that socialist aspiration a reality inside Labour and how we open up the Party’s structures, in just the same way that Labour First debated how best to achieve their aims at their recent AGM. They didn’t waste their day debating the detailed right-wing policies they want the party to adopt to win over UKIP/Tory voters on those voters own terms. They spent the day reflecting on how they best influence the Labour Party.

We should be taking a leaf out of their book. Of course nobody is against taking decisions. The question is: what decisions should we be taking and how?  Do we agree a word perfect position on immigration and open borders? Or do we agree a strategy for opening up the Labour Party and ensuring that plans are in place to respond to the next move against Corbyn, which is surely coming whether we like it or not? Do any of us think they are likely to make the mistakes they made last time? Do we think that having a word-perfect formulation on open borders is going to be a defence against these people? What exactly is the goal here? Left-wing ideological purity or actually trying to ensure the Labour Party remains led by someone who wants to change things and seizing that opportunity?

And finally, a word on OMOV. Apparently, this is a no-go for decision-making in the organisation. Even though that is precisely how Corbyn has won two leadership elections in twelve months and why the left of the party has a historic opportunity. It trusted ordinary Labour members with the power. I’d suggest the same is good enough for Momentum members. These ‘proud labour movement traditions’ that I keep hearing about us needing to stick to only have a certain amount of guidance to offer us, and a large part of that are things to avoid. I’m only prepared to take so much advice from people, and methods, who in the final analysis have failed again and again.

So, Seinfeld fans and people who have never heard of the show – the choice to me is simple and stark. Programmatic purity or confronting political reality, however distasteful we find it.

I know which one I’m going with.