Labour MP says Momentum 'not needed to win election' amid constituency visit row
A Labour MP has said the party does not need Momentum to win elections after a row broke out about a colleague helping to set up a branch for her seat.
Critics argued Chris Williamson should not have been launching a Momentum group for Redcar and visiting the area without informing the MP Anna Turley.
But Mr Williamson insisted he launched the branch in a neighbouring constituency – although he made clear to PoliticsHome he did not care for parliamentary protocol on visiting others' seats.
On Sunday Mr Williamson, who is an ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted that he was heading to Redcar to launch the group.
But Ms Turley revealed she was not informed prior to the visit, and said: “I'm not bothered. But courtesy would be nice.”
She added: “Labour can campaign with grassroots activity and win without Momentum.”
Fellow MP and former frontbencher Lucy Powell also piled in on Twitter, telling Mr Williamson his behaviour “does not help us unite and fight the Tories”.
But Mr Williamson insisted he was visiting the neighbouring Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency.
Ms Turley refused to back down, saying it would have been “courtesy” to let her know if he was launching a group that would be active in her area, even if he did not visit it himself.
Parliamentary convention says an MP should “be informed” if another member intends to visit their constituency – regardless of the reason.
But Derby North MP Mr Williamson told PoliticsHome in response to the protocol: “I don’t live in a Westminster bubble.”
LABOUR AND MOMENTUM 'INDIVISIBLE'
On Ms Turley’s comments about Momentum, he said: “The more Labour activists the better.
“But Momentum were absolutely pivotal in this election and it’s fantastic. And they are one and the same. Momentum activists are Labour activists. They are indivisible, really.
“Some people may not associate directly with or become members of Momentum but Momentum activists are Labour party members – so there’s not really an issue.”
A Momentum spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “Labour pulled off an extraordinary comeback in the general election in June when members across the party came together to knock on doors and talk to voters about our vision for transforming the country.
“We hope going forward we can continue in that spirit to help deliver a Labour government when the next election is called.”