On Friday, I reported on the launch meeting of the Lambeth branch of Momentum, the Corbynite grassroots movement. What I found was troubling – there was evidence of entryism by the Trotskyite Socialist Party (formerly known as Militant), pressure to purge councillors and MPs deemed ideologically impure, and what seemed to be a nudge-wink toleration of that direction by John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor.
The piece was read widely – after only a few days online it is already one of the most-read ConHome articles of the whole year – and it understandably attracted the attention of various Labour MPs who are concerned about what Momentum is up to, including Caroline Flint, Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk.
Further investigation reveals that the problems in Lambeth Momentum extend beyond the presence of just one entryist far left group. In addition to the Socialist Party, the organisation appears to be targeted by members of two other such organisations.
In my original account, I reported the first panel speaker as she was officially introduced:
‘…Ruth Cashman of UNISON discussed Lambeth Council’s plan for library closures…’
Cashman is indeed a union rep involved in the Lambeth library campaign, but the organisers failed to mention that she is also an activist in the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. The AWL, like the Socialist Party, is a long-standing Trotskyist organisation, and its forerunner, Socialist Organiser, was banned by the Labour Party in 1990, just as the SP’s forerunner, Militant, was forced out.
After years spent putting up candidates against the Labour Party, it seems the AWL now sees an opportunity for entryism in the rise of Jeremy Corbyn: it deregistered as a political party in September of this year specifically in order to allow its members to join Labour. Despite that history, Cashman addressed the meeting from the official panel organised by Momentum without any mention of her more troubling affiliations.
But why have two far left sects in your organisation when you can have three? Yesterday, the Lambeth Momentum Facebook page featured the following post:
Yes, those stalwarts of the Socialist Workers Party had now cropped up.
A member of Lambeth Momentum had raised concerns about the presence of the SWP in the organisation, presumably due to the Comrade Delta scandal (in which the Party faced allegations that it had held a ‘kangaroo court’ to internally investigate rape allegations against a senior activist, and had subjected the victim to ‘inappropriate’ and ‘offensive’ questioning). The post expressing those concerns had been deleted, and its author had received ‘an intimating [sic] private message from an SWP member’:
Momentum supporters, troubled by the apparent censorship of criticism of the SWP, soon got answers:
The rights and wrongs of the dispute are still under discussion, and inevitably that discussion resembles the Judean People’s Front versus the People’s Front of Judea, but it serves to illustrate that the noxious SWP is apparently present within Lambeth Momentum – as well as the Socialist Party/Militant and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.
The problems with Momentum are evidently even greater than was evident last Thursday night - frankly I’m starting to wonder how many people in the audience I sat with weren’t entryists from one group or another. These serious issues are now widely reported, a variety of senior Labour figures have expressed concerns, and the topic was even mentioned at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. When will the Labour Party leadership act to either clean Momentum up or shut it down?