Momentum’s democratic structures have never really ‘worked’. In 2016, Momentum had an elected national committee which provided local groups and regions with representation, but this was mismanaged so badly that it descended into acrimony. In January 2017, a ‘coup’ by the leadership abolished all of the democractic structures and promised an ‘e-democracy’ which simply never happened.
For more than three years, Momentum has been reduced to a top-down mobilising vehicle for campaigning in internal and external elections, in which the only structure has been a ruling body (the National Coordinating Group, or NCG) which is unaccountable between very occasional online elections.
We enter the debate about Momentum’s future with a draft Charter for Momentum Democracy, including specific suggestions for a new constitution that will revitalise Momentum and build up the left in this new political era.
These ideas haven’t come from nowhere, and they aren’t set in stone. Most of them were submitted to the NCG in a motion from Dudley Momentum activists in 2018, and we want to use them as a starting point among supporters in Zoom meetings and Forward Momentum discussions.
- Ensure that a clear majority of the NCG is directly elected by members under a more pluralist voting system. The full NCG should then have full control of all key decisions, which must be made through accountable and transparent processes. To make this happen, the NCG should use online methods to meet more frequently than it currently does in person.
- Significantly increase the size of the NCG. The NCG will then elect the organisation’s day-to-day leadership, which can be recalled and mandated by the wider NCG. Fortnightly minutes of NCG meetings should be published and viewable to members, including details about how individual NCG officers voted on issues.
- Put in place transparent, democratic, and, where possible, localised processes for the selection of left candidates in internal party elections. No more job interview-style panels.
- Empower local Momentum groups, ensuring they get the resources, training and help they need to develop and campaign effectively. This will involve a portion of membership funds going to established local groups that provide campaign and community action plans.
- Allow local group Secretaries to have direct access to their membership database, as CLP Secretaries do.
- Establish regional/national councils with delegates from local groups, trade unions and affiliated campaign groups. These councils should meet quarterly to produce regional reports, coordinate between local groups for more effective region-wide action, build regional training and support events, make decisions (e.g. on backing local candidates), and ensure elected regional NCG reps are kept accountable in the national decision making processes.
- Kick start the process of building and formalising open, democratically-run liberation and youth groups – e.g. BAME Momentum, Women’s Momentum, LGBT+ Momentum, Disability Momentum, and Momentum Youth and Students – and promote candidates from under-represented communities.
- Look at ways of devolving management away from the London office wherever possible (e.g. to the regional councils and liberation groups), to empower members and take advantage of the local knowledge and talent we have in our movement. No more selection impositions. We must also better engage members, making the most of the Momentum Votes system, while also going beyond the existing, insufficient “e-democracy”.
- Crucially, we need to establish a sovereign, decision-making annual national conference, with delegates from local groups, trade unions and affiliated organisations.
If you think these initial proposals would make a positive difference, share them with your local Momentum group or put them on social media.
If you want to be part of the debate about the future of Momentum democracy, you should sign up now to both Momentum Internationalists and Forward Momentum.