Summary of Momentum’s submission to the Labour Leaks Inquiry
August 6, 2020
Momentum made a comprehensive submission to the Forde Inquiry into the leaked report, The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014-2019, the contents of which were heartbreaking for our members, who worked tirelessly for a Labour government.
The allegations in the report that parts of the party’s machinery were undermining our chances for a Labour victory is a scandal which raises extremely serious concerns, not just for the Labour Party, but for British democracy itself.
In 2017, Labour was less than 2,500 votes in key seats away from forming government, with 40% of the popular vote in the biggest swing to any UK political party since 1945. The 2017 General Election proved that transformative socialist policies are incredibly popular in our country.
If our party had been united, we could have won that election and Labour could be in government now. A Labour government could have saved tens of thousands of lives through a far swifter and more robust response to the pandemic, through reviving crucial public services, building a more resilient economy and giving our NHS the resources it needs to face challenges like coronavirus. A Labour government would be creating green jobs and working towards zero carbon emissions by 2030 as part of a Green New Deal to protect the future of our planet.
The report contains allegations about purges of pro-Corbyn members and attempts to marginalise and exclude them. There is also evidence which, on the face of it, appears to show irregularities in internal party elections and selections, which could constitute breaches of the party’s rule book.
The party’s bureaucracy must uphold, implement and protect the party’s rule book. And the party machinery – which is largely funded by members and trade unions – must be used to serve the people the party was founded to represent, and respect the will of the membership, not advance the interests of one faction and not to marginalise and exclude members because of their political views.
The report also makes serious allegations about failures to deal with horrific cases of abhorrent antisemitism and islamophobia, and about racism, sexism, ableism and abuse towards Labour MPs and pro-Corbyn staff and party members.
Momentum’s submission addresses all of these issues and makes strong representations about the contents of the report and the experiences of many of our members.
Labour is a broad church. Within our party, friendly debate between opposing political views and constructive criticism are healthy and important, and members have the right to form or join groups representing these different perspectives and to advocate policy positions or party reform and to contest internal elections. Momentum is an organisation which represents socialists within the Labour Party and advocates socialist policies and reforms to democratise the party.
This type of debate and organising within the party is very different from the kind of destructive factionalism which undermines the party as a whole in order to serve the narrow interests of a particular faction.
Momentum as an organisation has always worked for Labour victories, including in Parliamentary by-elections where the candidates were from the Labour right, and we continue to do so under Keir Starmer’s leadership. We’ve used online tools to mobilise masses of people to campaign in marginal seats, many for the first time, with 170,000 people using Momentum’s My Campaign Map in the last election, and we created viral persuasive videos in support of Labour, seen by millions of people. We want to work with Keir Starmer on socialist policies to transform our society and to continue to build a people-powered movement to elect progressive Labour governments.
But we cannot achieve this if there is any return to the purges, stitch ups and sabotage of the past. We cannot do this if socialist members are barred from meaningful participation in the party.
All members of our party, from across our broad church, have a right to participate. No eligible member should be purged from the party or blocked from standing to become a council candidate because they are socialists, or have a Parliamentary selection process rigged against them.
We hope this Inquiry will make concrete and comprehensive recommendations to ensure that what is alleged to have happened in the leaked report can never happen again; to enable all members to participate; and to transform party machinery so that it works to serve all members, and above all works to achieve Labour victories, not to serve the interests of a faction.
Members deserve answers and justice. We hope the Forde Inquiry will deliver this. Doing so is essential not only to rebuilding trust and confidence in our party, but also to ending the division that holds us back from electing a Labour government to transform our society.