Despite increasingly desperate moves by the right of the Labour party to exclude them, they are the exemplar grass roots organisation for the digital age. As a (relatively) new member of both the Labour Party and Momentum and I can assure you Momentum is streets ahead in organisational terms.
Joining Labour in 2015 felt like infiltrating MI5. I kept my Twitter feed clear of any criticisms that might get me expelled. In fact I didn’t tweet at all. When my local MP emailed to say she was taking part in the vote of no confidence I didn’t reply. You didn’t know who you could trust.
Like many who joined at that time I ended up having to pay another £25 to vote in the 2016 leadership election but I’m glad I did. I argued with Tory friends and those on the right of the party about Corbyn’s alleged “unelectibility”. Their dislike of him seemed to be visceral.
Yet it was Momentum, not Labour who texted to ask if I was willing to campaign in my nearest marginal. When I texted back to explain that I was recovering from an operation so couldn’t walk, they immediately texted wishing me a speedy recovery; real people not bots!
Ever since Corbyn originally stood for the leadership of the Labour Party and Momentum formed in order to support him they have been vilified as Trotskyites, Leninists and entryists and that’s by the Labour party, never mind the Tories. The attacks would be enough to put me off politics completely of there wasn’t so much at stake.
There were moves to ban them as a party within a party, like Militant and Labour in the 1980’s. But they have electrified politics on the left. If politics is the art of the possible, they have redefined what is possible.
I attended my first Momentum meeting in Manchester yesterday at the Frog and Bucket Comedy Club. I’ve been there many times and the atmosphere was as great as the best comedy night.
I knew no-one but the ice breakers from the genial Councillor Leigh Drennan got us mingling in no time. Jon Trickett and Rebecca Long-Bailey were great speakers but Laura Smith the newly elected MP for Crewe and Nantwich was the stand out speaker for me.
Like me, she seemed so new and wide eyed and astonished at how Momentum were able to mobilize canvassers to help her scrape through with a wafer thin 48 vote majority. Were it not for the Momentum canvassers on the ground she would not have made it.
Labour ran a defensive campaign she said, concentrating resources on defending safe seats (and those of MP’s on the right) but had they gone on the offensive and allocated resources (and they have lots of money since people like me joined in our thousands in the last two years) in more marginals we could now be in government.
Her feelings mirrored my own, that dawning realisation that we can do it and we don’t have to betray our principles in the process. I’m not the most outgoing person but I felt comfortable talking to people in the breaks. I don’t share the views of all the people present, I am a socialist not a communist but I felt welcome. I’m looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck in.