Do Some Momentum Members Really Understand Democratic Process?

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I would like to believe that Jon Lansman and his small group of supporters at the head of Momentum are genuine when they say, that under the new Momentum constitution, there will be political education offered to all members. But having experienced Lansman’s style of politics over the last couple of days, I have to think that any political education offered under the new regime should be politely refused.

Nevertheless, having read the ‘pleased’ and even ecstatic responses of some Momentum members to the coup carried out by Lansman, I have to say that they definitely need to read up on their politics.

Lansman sent out a survey to Momentum members around Christmas time. It contained questions on how members thought the movement should be run. Those questions were in the form of two statements (really a ‘for’ and an ‘against’) for each question. There was also a box below for an alternative comment. One of those questions concerned OMOV (one member one vote) as opposed to a delegate system. There was no question for ‘why can’t we have both?’.

As with all questionaires of this type, the questions were limited and thus were designed to elicit limited answers. The analysis of the responses to those questions also appears to me to demonstrate that the alternative answer boxes were largely ignored, unless they could be fitted conveniently into the ‘for’ or ‘against’ section.

Lansman and a small mumber from the Momentum Steering Committee then carried out their fait accompli – they said that the results of the responses allowed them to radically change Momentum’s constitution.

Not only this, but they then added a couple of things that hadn’t been asked in the ‘survey’. One of these was, that from now on all Momentum members should also be Labour Party members and all new applicants to join Momentum would be refused if they were not members of the Labour Party, or had been suspended or expelled (existing members who were suspended, but not expelled, could remain, pending the result of suspension hearings).

This has effectively struck off all non Labour Party members from Momentum from July 2017 and prevents anyone refused membership of the Labour Party (particularly the hundreds who tried to join last summer but were refused) from joining Momentum at all.

What it has also done is remove some Momentum members who actually completed the survey and agreed with Lansman’s OMOV structure!

Many of those members who feel they have got their way over the OMOV issue (and will be able to remain) are pleased, but what doesn’t seem to sink in with them is that this new constitution or way of voting was not decided under OMOV, but by a small group of people at the helm of Momentum. And from a survey!

Nowhere in that survey were Momentum members told that the outcome would be to change to the constitution without further debate at conference.

This has left many more astute members who wanted OMOV to argue that none of this was carried out democratically and that, despite getting the changes they wanted, they couldn’t condone them because of the way they were obtained.

But others celebrate Lansman’s coup by arguing that ‘something needed to be done’ because ‘discussion at the top’ had delayed movement.

It is true that setting up the constitution had been delayed by competing and sometimes heated discussions at the NC, but this doesn’t mean that a way to solve this was for a small group of people to effectively ‘seize power’ and set up a structure and constitution without consultation and voting.
After all, wasn’t this what OMOV was designed for…?

Then you find those who say that ‘something had to be done’ because ‘many activists just argue and do nothing else’, while totally ignoring all those activists who had been out canvassing, protesting and organising on everything that Momentum set them to do, and much more besides.
And let’s not forget that hundreds, if not thousands, of them were  out canvassing for Sadiq Khan as called for by the Momentum leadership. (That worked out well, didn’t it…?).

There are many theories online about why Lansman acted the way he did, but I won’t go into those here.

Because what I find the most disappointing is the naivety of so many Momentum members – young and old.

Do they really understand the democratic process? Haven’t they read any political history? Do they not understand when a coup really is a coup?

Jeremy Corbyn needs a strong movement behind him to watch his back as well as to promote him.

But I’m not sure, that for all the planning behind this coup, Lansman’s new Momentum is going to provide that for him.

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The NHS Needs Politicians Who Truly Fight For It

We have only one political hope to save our NHS over the coming months and that is that all opposition parties constantly bombard this government with facts, figures, staff and patient testimonials, and whatever else they can find to make it clear that the British public want to keep their Free NHS and do not want it run down, broken up, and sold off to private financiers (well, I say ‘all’ opposition parties, but that would be except for UKIP, whose leader has declared that he wants to see a privatised NHS).

I say this because Theresa May refuses to listen to us, the tax and insurance-paying general public, when we express our fears about OUR public health service.

She brushes off statements from a well-respected charity, the Red Cross, and accuses them of overstating their case. That is, the case that is based on the experience of Red Cross volunteers all over the country.

 

This meme, posted on Twitter by Rachel Swindon, sums up the sheer audacity of May and her Tory government in their refusal to listen, and it speaks of the fear many of us have that she just will not listen…ever…

We can march; we can protest; we can hold street theatres; we can buy downloadable NHS singles; we can write to our MPs, write to our councillors, share our experiences of and fears for our NHS all over the internet and in letters to our local papers…
There are many things we can do to let our fears for our NHS be known, and we should.

But we need help from our politicians – those with a social conscience anyway (so hopefully that includes Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens, Independent…). We need them fighting to save our NHS in ways that the general public are unable to do.

And we need those MPs to keep on with that fight until May and her Government open their eyes and unblock their ears and acknowledge that their way of treating the NHS is not the correct way; that they must change track and put more money into the NHS – loads more, and that they need to bring in legislation which halts the sell off of the NHS to private companies who are bleeding us dry.

And if that fight for opposition MPs seems a little hard to achieve and any of them appear to waver, maybe they should realise that saving the NHS is a vote winner. In other words, unless they work hard on behalf of our NHS, in ways which save and enrich it, rather than deliberately disband it, we will know and we will respond accordingly at the ballot box.

Considering that a General Election could be on the cards in the near future I am hoping that most of those opposition MPs will realise that they need our appreciation.

What about Hope and Aspirations?

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When talking to friends and relatives about Jeremy Corbyn and particularly his miss-reported statements yesterday, one theme kept on appearing. People were saying things like “I know that we are living in an unfair world and I know that most of the wealth is held by very few people and that this is wrong…. But I think that Jeremy Corbyn’s idea of wage caps will kill all the hope and aspirations left.”

I then got the rhetoric that ‘perhaps their child would be a footballer, or a rock star, or best selling author, or ‘something big in the city’, or….’

The vast majority of children will not end up in these mega-high-earning careers, but it seems that the tiny ‘hope’ that they might (and perhaps give some of their wealth to mum and dad?) still prevents the average left-leaning person from committing support to a policy which would actually be much fairer for them and for their families.

So it seems that the idea generated in the Thatcher era, that we all ‘have the chance to achieve’ (and now being pushed again under May’s ‘sharing society’ where everyone can achieve if they have a vision and determination….) has penetrated and stuck inside the brains of most of the population, even those who say they are ‘unaffected by media hype’.

This is still in some ways the selfish ‘me’ society – one where we are encouraged to look down on those worse off than ourselves, because ‘they obviously didn’t work hard enough, have the right vision, have the talent, etc, etc…’.

But tell anyone that their world view has been affected by the times they have lived through or grown up in and they will accuse you of insulting them and saying they do not have free will and free thoughts when they most obviously do.

So how the hell do you get it through to people, that even though we definitely need hope, we don’t have to be ‘achieving’ in line with some neoliberal model in order to fulfil our hopes and needs?

‘Aspiration’. What exactly does it mean? To what should we aspire to?

What about ‘aspiring’ to creating a fairer world?

Aspiring doesn’t have to be all about earning lots of money. But the problem is that living in a capitalist society requires us to spend money and therefore to earn it. Therefore it insists that we aspire to earn more of it…

So, an easier way would be not to deconstruct the term ‘aspirations’, but to ditch it altogether and start thinking about what society and the people who live within it, really need.

That’ll take some work to ‘achieve’ too…

Getting through the media spin to understand Jeremy Corbyn

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Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn outlined Labour’s policies and was also interviewed on the BBC.

One of Corbyn’s policies is about wage ratios – so that everyone working within a company gets adequate and fair remuneration for their work. This was immediately perceived by the BBC and the media in general as a complete threat on all we hold dear.

Why? Because, in simple terms, Corbyn wants workers to receive a fairer wage from the company they are working for and that bosses and financiers of businesses do not take an unfair proportion of the profits made. This would, if carried out correctly, affect the amount that bankers and financiers (and yes, footballers) could take as ‘wages’. To my mind, this could lead to investment back into companies and to workers feeling that their work was actually of value, rather than just something which paid for a new house or car for their boss. But of course, where those bosses are concerned this wouldn’t be good news.

Corbyn was attacked on all sides. You would expect the highly-paid and powerful to object, but not those whose policies are left-of-centre. But sadly this is what happened.

The media had turned Corbyn’s comments into a précis of well-edited soundbites, which made them appear as throw-away remarks. So his replies were deemed to be ‘muddled’ and ‘ill-thought out’.

Then there were those, some sadly on the left, who, without ackowledging that the media is bound to ‘edit’ Corbyn, leaped onto the bandwagon to say that he ‘had got things badly wrong’, or to despair at his way of responding to questioning.

Add to that, despite many strong and very relevant references to the crisis in the NHS, and that Corbyn had been the one to call Theresa May into account over the NHS long before any other political leader, Corbyn’s statements were seen as ‘lacking emphasis on the NHS’.
This was despite: 1st, reporters were not interested in talking to Corbyn over vote-winning policies, so played down the NHS in their questions; and 2nd, his statements were cut to omit several references to the NHS.

I watch as my relatives and friends living permanently in England live in fear of losing their NHS but rely on the mass media to provide their information about it and about what politicians are saying about it.

Over the last few hours I have spoken to three different relatives who would describe themselves as ‘left leaning’, but who are bemoaning the ‘fact’ that Corbyn isn’t saying enough about the NHS and that ‘he was very muddled in his interview’. And I say to them, “read between the lines. What are the media hiding from you?” And I ask them to read online news like The Canary and tell them that their so-called ‘left wing news’ – the Guardian, The Mirror, etc – is not on their side but on the side of the establishment.
But they think I’m just a conspiracy theorist!

What will it take for the vast majority of people in the UK to sit up and realise that they are being lied to on a grand scale? Many of them are intelligent, thinking people, but they spurn looking at anything outside the world view they have been fed. Perhaps because it’s just easier and less painful to contemplate that way?

Whatever the reason, something has to change, and quick!

Why what will it take?

All over the World I see cruelty and greed of all kinds. From terrible treatment of the poor in countries where the rich own the majority of the wealth, to the growth of racism and ethnocentricsm, to cruel sports and horrific treatment of animals. And then there’s the treatment of our planet and the widespread disregard for our children’s futures.

So that’s what this blog is about. Let’s see what it does take to get people thinking of taking a more humane reaction to events (and that includes politicians and capitalists in general). And also, what can we do to persuade people that we can change and that life for the majority doesn’t have to be cruel.