Momentum must not be divided by sectarian splits, warns Camden campaigner

Laura Murray says Corbyn-supporting campaigners must not get lost in arguments over who is most 'ideologically pure'

Saturday, 10th December 2016 — By Richard Osley

Laura Murray

Laura Murray

ONE of the key organisers behind Camden’s branch of Momentum – the group supporting Jeremy Corbyn – has warned that the Labour Party leader’s “new generation” of young activists are at risk of being failed by left-wing infighting,

In a searing blogpost, Laura Murray warned that Momentum, on a national level, had been hit by sectarian divisions which undermined a common desire to get Mr Corbyn elected as prime minister at the next general election.

The 3,400-word article – a report of a meeting of Momentum’s national committee – triggered complaints from Far Left group Alliance for Workers’ Liberty that it had been misrepresented.

Ms Murray, who was elected as Momentum’s women’s officer, in return said she was fed up being cast as being on “the Right” of the group in other blogposts discussing the purpose and future of Momentum.

She said she hadn’t realised there were “sides” within the group. Members in Camden had worked hard behind Mr Corbyn but at a national level she felt “Trotskyists” were attempting a takeover, she added.

“Some people take offence at this term [Trotskyists] being used — understandably, as it is Tom Watson’s and the Labour right’s insult of choice for us,” said Ms Murray, from Kentish Town. “But we would be engaging in collective self-denial if we were to downplay its prevalence in Momentum.

“Dyed-in-the-wool Trot­skyists are not the majority in Momentum. But they are a vocal, disruptive and overbearing minority who have won themselves key position in the regional committees, national committee and even the steering committee.”

She added: “To be clear, I am not anti-Trotskyist per se, and I recognise the enormous contributions that some Trotskyist thinkers and groups have made to political discourse, but the sectarian attitude taken by Trotskyist groups within Momentum is destructive to our movement.”

Ms Murray reported that there were strategic disagreements over how to use the internet and social media to broaden the group, and a dispute over the method used to elect members to roles within Momentum,

She said potential members were not properly welcomed, and warned that “inwardly-focused and off-putting meetings” were hampering its progress.

“Throughout British history, left-wing group after left-wing group has split  –  often several times over –  or disintegrated, often over some relatively minor disagreement about which is the most ideologically pure political position to take,” she added.

She said there were attempts to undermine Momentum’s founder, Jon Lansman, an advisor to the shadow cabinet.

He had been “demonised, vilified and dehumanised” by criticism from within. She warned that Momentum could one day be so fragmented that it put up its own candidates against Labour.

“Jeremy Corbyn will inevitably make one compromise or concession that isn’t ideologically pure enough for them and they will abandon him and Labour altogether to turn Momentum into a rival left-wing party,” she said.

“The alternative to this doom-and-gloom scenario is the hopeful option of compromise and unity, something which I believe the majority of Momentum members support.

“Local groups are mainly blissfully aware of the horrible proceedings which take place at regional and national level. Most of these hard-working activists are still dedicated and committed to our common cause: opening up politics, re-energising the Labour Party and getting a Labour government elected.”

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