"The left detaches itself still further from everyday experiences of the British working class"by Jon Cruddas / November 10, 2016 / Leave a comment
This summer’s no confidence move on Jeremy Corbyn was the result of post-referendum trauma among his parliamentary colleagues, who feared an early General Election. It was always likely to fail and reinforce resentment between much of the membership and the bulk of MPs. As a result of it, we are in stalemate; a stasis exists that hinders any real understanding of the Corbyn phenomenon and what lies beneath.
For those of us that hold to this view, the Party Conference in Liverpool brought some mild relief. This wasn’t found at the tepid, formal event itself but a mile down the road at “A World Transformed,” a festival put on by Momentum—the Corbyn supporting movement in and around the Labour Party. Here there was new thinking and real debate. Above all, there was a sense of political vitality and indeed fraternity; an antidote to the stale top-down politics offered by Labour’s traditional left and right wings.
A few weeks later and Momentum appears in crisis. Divisions first surfaced over the decision to postpone a meeting of the group’s national committee—which has not met since May—and the decision that at its conference next February, when its future structure will be decided, there will be an online ballot for all of the group’s members. Despite a compromise brokered by John McDonnell, talk still persists of a profound split.
One reading of the situation is simple. Now the question “Will Jeremy Corbyn remain Labour leader?” is resolved, Momentum cannot transition from being a busy, cultish organisation on behalf of Jeremy, into the daily grind of building opposition to the Tories. Intra-Labour struggle is the easy bit—every left variant can unite against assorted “blairites,” “red Tories” and austerity. Now that it has won it doesn’t know what to do next without cracking its synthetic unity.
Another take is to see this not as the start of a long-term split, but as a necessary initial skirmish over what Momentum 2.0 might look like. One could argue turbulence is necessary if the organisation is to transition onto a more democratic, transparent and sustainable political footing. The key fault line is usually identified as being between an older Bennite, hard left constituency and more radical democrats whose focus is on the European anti-austerity movements. This also reflects generational tensions,…