Lewisham Momentum

I have not written up my view as to what happened at the Lewisham Momentum AGM, but Rebecca & Jon have written to the officers elected by those who left and went down the pub.

 

Dear comrades,

Following your departure from the Lewisham Momentum AGM and the holding of a meeting to set up a new group at the Amersham Arms on 23 April, we are continuing to advocate a rescheduled, democratic AGM and for it to elect a broad, pluralist, united committee.

The split into two rival groups is weakening the left, in terms of wasted energy, duplication of efforts and most of all the bad blood it has caused on the Lewisham left. We should try to get unity. There is no good reason the two sides cannot be part of a united Labour left/Momentum in Lewisham.

We want to ensure that a united Momentum continues to provide an open, democratic, regularly meeting forum in which members can put forward and where necessary vote on proposals and policy, and decide the direction of the organisation.

We also want to deal with the slanders against us and our activists that have been made on social media and elsewhere in the course of all this, and re-establish normal, comradely labour movement standards of debate.

Some of you may disagree with some of these points. You may have your own issues you want to raise. That is all the more reason to open a dialogue, sit down and discuss.

Moreover this split, while it lasts, should not prevent us from finding ways to work together in the movement and in struggles.

There are lots of things on which can and should cooperate, even as separate groups: the Lewisham East by election; support for the Lewisham Southwark College pay strike and other struggles; opposing Trump’s visit; building stronger left caucuses in the three CLPs…

We therefore invite you to send representatives to sit down with ours (three officers from each side, say) to discuss things. If we can find ways to discuss moving towards unification, that’s good; but we should start by discussing cooperation in the struggle and how we can work together to build the movement. We owe it to the left and labour movement in Lewisham and beyond.

In addition to the immediate need to strengthen struggles and campaigning, no doubt both sides have things to learn from each other. Discussion can also help to dissipate some of the hostility and factionalism generated on the Lewisham left over recent months.

Get in touch and let us know what you think. We are, naturally, happy to discuss the specifics of how to move forward on this.

* Rebecca Lawrence and Jon Johnson, for Lewisham for Corbyn (Momentum) *

Belonging to Momentum

A personal piece of unfinished business from the CLPD National Committee. People’s Momentum’s membership rules,

Momentum’s Rules 5.1

Membership is open to anyone who either was a financial subscriber of Momentum on 10 January 2017, or
(i) Is 14 or over;
(ii) Is a member of the Labour Party and no other political party nor an organisation disallowed by the NCG;
(iii) Agrees to be bound by the rules of Momentum, including its code of ethics and equal opportunities policy; and
(iv) Is accepted for membership by the NCG.

The “is 14 or over” is a tautology as you can’t join the Labour Party until you’re 14. Interesting that they have adopted powers to proscribe organisations not necessarily proscribed by the Labour Party. Most interestingly, if a member before 10 Jan 2017, then you remain a member.

Brexit and Labour’s 2017 manifesto

Some Lexiters claim that the EU treaties will inhibit a Labour Government if it tried to implement its 2017 manifesto. It is argued that the single market would inhibit industrial policy and the stability and growth pact would inhibit macro-economic policy. I don’t think this is so and have written up my notes on my wiki.

The single market does not inhibit an industrial policy, and the stability and growth pact has no enforcement mechanism for the UK. (Another opt-out which we will lose if we leave and seek to rejoin).

On Mayors, again

The March meeting of Lewisham Deptford’s General Committee passed the following motion about the Mayoralty.

This CLP Notes:

1. That Lewisham is one of a small number of Local Authorities to have a directly
elected Mayor.
2. From conception the directly elected mayor model has never been endorsed by a
majority of the Lewisham electorate. Indeed, at the original referendum to move to
the model only 6% of the actual electorate voted positively for the change to a
directly elected mayor. Yet the system was imposed.
3. Dissatisfaction with the mayor and cabinet model has continued to grow with popular
unrest against the model being magnified by the perceived lack of local councilor
influence over recent Mayor and Cabinet decisions especially in relation to Forest Hill
School and The Millwall fiasco.
4. The forth coming local elections will again be found under this filing model

This CLP resolves:

1. To campaign for a labour victory in the forthcoming local elections.
2. To adopt as this CLP’s position; opposition to Lewisham local government elections
being run under the current model post 2018.
3. To lobby for the inclusion in the 2018 Lewisham local government election manifesto a
commitment to return to the traditional model for local government for future elections.

It’s supporters on the whole want to see a more collective leadership, it’s opponents argue that democracy is better served by allowing the electorate (and the Party) to choose the council’s leader. My problem with this argument is that short of imprisonment a Mayor cannot be removed,

Subsequent Session

Over the last couple of weeks, the House of Lords voted to remain in the EU’s Customs Union. Can the Commons overrule the House of Lords? Yes! It takes a vote in the Commons in the subsequent parliamentary session. The Tories, for fear of losing a vote on the Queen’s speech last year, have determined that the current session, lasts for two years i.e. until after the Brexit date.

Local Elections

I  usually comment on the elections I campaign in. The Lewisham results are in, or at least called by the BBC, we have a new Labour Mayor, Damien Egan, and every single councillor is also Labour. Now we need to learn how to listen beyond the Party, and how to scrutinise ourselves. It’s an honour and a responsibility. I hope we live up to it.

I campaigned in Deptford, Mottingham (Bromley) and Bromley North, which surprised me by being in Tower Hamlets. The Labour vote has gone up in London. I found little interest in politics, it’s become very tribal. The only exception is the issue of Housing. We’ve done well in Deptford, missed by 21 votes in Mottingham and I am still waiting for the Bromley North results.

Innocent until proved guilty: Revoked

I have been considering the Windrush story. Basically, the British Government asked citizens form the West Indies to come to the UK to help rebuild the country after the war. They arrived to a sickening racist welcome, they brought their children, settled, married and started families. In 1972, the then Tory Government removed the right of Commonwealth citizens to arrive and stay with “indefinite right to remain”. In 2010, Theresa May became Home Secretary with the target of reducing net migration to 10,000’s, and passed two immigration acts, the 2nd of which legitimised a hostile environment including the racist “go home” vans. In addition, it made employers, landlords and horrendously teachers and hospital workers adjuncts of the immigration service. It also produced a duty to prove status i.e. they abolished innocent until proven guilty. In late 2010, the Home Office in a building move destroyed the immigration records of the Commonwealth Citizens which left many of their children in an undocumented state. They became unable to prove their rights of residency and in some cases have lost their jobs and access to benefits. Some have been illegally deported; Under Amber Rudd, May’s successor, the Home Office also set targets for deportations; Parliament is now rowing about the facts.

People that have lived here all their lives are being denied benefits, medical treatment, being fired and deported. It’s just not right.

I have, with comrades being campaigning to ensure that my local council does not support the hostile environment and not work with 3rd sector organisations that co-operate with the Home Office in this area of enforcement. Lewisham Labour’s Council Manifesto states,

Lewisham will become a Sanctuary Borough, protecting the rights of all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

There is a problem for Labour though, only 6 MPs voted against the Immigration Act 2014 which introduced the “hostile environment” and revoked innocent until proved guilty for the purposes of immigration law. It’s an example where the clock has turned, and I followed the whip is no longer a good enough excuse. Public officials must always consider what’s right, not the line, nor electoral success.

My final comment is about the new Data Protection Act. They are proposing that immigration record processing is exempted from the DPA. This means that proving a right to remain will become almost impossible as the organisation responsible for keeping records does not have to issue subject matter access requests and an effective defence, a proof of rights becomes impossible. We should also note that the Tory’s abolished legal aid for immigration cases and if we leave the EU, we may increase the numbers of those vulnerable to this appalling treatment by two factors of magnitude.

Many of the fact quoted above come from this article at freemovement.org.

Wadsworth’s Out

It’s not been a good week for Labour, in Lewisham, the Momentum branch split, my local Labour Party’s consideration of the antisemitism issues have been smeared in the Times, and today, it has been announced that Marc Wadsworth, one of Britain’s leading black activists, with a life time history of fighting racism has been expelled for conduct “prejudicial or grossly detrimental”. We’ll have to see what people including Marc’s lawyers say, but yet again, the case of antisemitism has not been made and the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth is a disgrace, a vengeful last throw of the dice by the New Labour rump.