EXCL Jeremy Corbyn wades into Momentum row with unity plea

Posted On: 
21st December 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has waded into row over the future of Momentum by urging its members to end the "internal debate" which threatens to tear it apart.

Jeremy Corbyn has urged Momentum's warring factions to settle their differences.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader sent an email to the left-wing campaign group's members warning them that "this moment in our history is too important for us not to seize it".

His comments follow claims that Trotskyist factions are trying to seize control of Momentum from its founder and Corbyn ally Jon Lansman.

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In an extraordinary blog post last month, the group's women’s officer Laura Murray accused members of the hard-left Alliance for Workers’ Liberty of trying to mount a coup by opposing moves to give every Momentum member a vote on its policies.

She said: "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.

"The 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 positions in the regional committees, national committee and even the steering committee."

Mr Lansman hit back by insisting he had no intention of "walking away" from the organisation.

He said: "I do take the disenfranchisement of most of our 21,000 members very seriously. I don’t want to control Momentum. I want a pluralist organisation that supports Jeremy Corbyn, democratises the Labour party and helps us win the next general election."

In his email, in which he urged Momentum members to complete a survey on the group's future direction, Mr Corbyn appeared to come down on the side of Mr Lansman by saying it must not try to copy "failed models of the past".

That risks a backlash from his allies who are also members of the AWL.

He said: "This moment in our history is too important for us not to seize it. We must not let internal debate distract from our work that has to be done to help Labour win elections.

"Momentum needs to be an organisation fit for purpose - not copying the failed models of the past but bringing fresh ideas to campaigning and organising in communities, helping members be active in the Labour party and helping secure a Labour government to transform and rebuild Britain."

Richard Angell, director of the moderate campaign group Progress, said: "Jon Lansman – fearing a loss of control of the private company Momentum he set up to support Jeremy Corbyn – has deployed the Labour leader in his attempts to crush internal dissent. Considering the hard-left reluctance to go nuclear this is an extraordinary step."