LISTEN: Jon Lansman says early election would 'disrupt' Momentum's plans for Labour shake-up
Momentum boss Jon Lansman fears an early general election would "disrupt" his plans to dramatically increase its influence on the Labour party, a recording leaked to PoliticsHome reveals.
The veteran left-winger - a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn - told supporters that he wants to "change the nature of the party" to make it better reflect the views of its members.
A section of the recording, published by The Observer on Sunday, showed Mr Lansman claiming that Unite would affiliate to Momentum if Len McCluskey is re-elected its general secretary. The union today denied the claim, insisting the pair had never held any talks about that or anything else.
PoliticsHome has now been passed a recording of his full speech to the meeting in Richmond, west London, earlier this month.
It sheds more light on Mr Lansman's plans for Momentum - which sprung from Jeremy Corbyn's first leadership election campaign - to have more of a say in how Labour is organised.
Talking about speculation that Theresa May could hold an early election, he said: "So we may well face an election this year and that will disrupt some of our plans, but we've still got to plan what we need to do next.
"And what we need to do next is a number of things to change the nature of the Labour party. We need to fight the battles out there in the real world about the issues affecting people but we also need to transform the Labour party so the Labour party can be in a position to transform the country."
Mr Lansman said Momentum has "got to win control of the party at a regional level" to prevent left-wing activists being kicked out.
He added: "There are disciplinary functions that are operated by members of the regional board - it’s really important we have [those] in order to stop the wave of expulsions and suspensions from the party."
Listen to the full speech here:
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said the tape proved Momentum were engaged in "entryism" and challenged Mr Lansman directly on Twitter.
@jonlansman You've revealed your plan. If you succeed you will destroy the Labour Party as an electoral force. So you have to be stopped.
Speaking this morning, Mr Watson said: "I regard this as a battle for the future existence of the Labour party. This is high stakes, and I hope my fellow members are going to understand that and our leader."
Former Labour minister Caroline Flint told the BBC’s Daily Politics: “There is an absolute entryism through Momentum into our party to influence, from far left Trotskyist groups who couldn’t get elected on their own platforms but are seeking to come into the Labour party.
“And I think this goes against everything that was promised to the leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn by Jon Lansman.”
But Christine Shawcroft, a director of Momentum and member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, said Mr Lansman had said nothing “that was at all controversial”.
“We’ve seen over the last few hours a quite shocking attack on the leader by leading lights of organisations like Members First, Progress and so on,” she said.
“So obviously there is a need for Momentum to be supporting Jeremy. And I think this whole non-story – Jon said nothing that was at all controversial.
"I think this is a concerted attempt to interfere in the internal election in Unite for general secretary, which is really shocking.”