We should welcome the creation of campaign groups like Momentum, not fear their potentially disruptive effect
When the last meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party descended into an acrimonious shouting match audible to journalists listening outside, it was partly due to widespread suspicion of Momentum, the rebranded “Corbyn for Leader” campaign group which intends to continue agitating within Labour for left-wing policies as a kind of anti-Progress organisation.
Yes, there were other reasons why restive Labour MPs vented their frustrations at the PLP meeting, not least the fact that their Shadow Chancellor seems to have the political intelligence of a ten year old. But the incompetence and hard left-wingery could all be forgiven if only the bulk of centrist MPs were not terrified that Momentum might serve as a vehicle for Jeremy Corbyn to conduct a purge of the moderates, sweeping them aside in order to make room for more of his ideological soulmates.
The Telegraph’s Kate McCann reported at the time:
Senior Labour MPs have warned a new campaign group, set up by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, is a “threat to sitting MPs” and will “undermine” the party.
Momentum, a collective set up with the backing of the Labour leader and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, aims to influence party policy but MPs are worried it is the beginning of a purge of moderate members who don’t support the leader.
One Shadow Cabinet Minister said: “They are setting up a party within a party and I fear that they will use it to take control of conference, policy-making and mount a purge.”
Much of the reporting of Momentum has thus been framed in terms of the threat the organisation might pose to centrist Labour MPs and other enemies of Jeremy Corbyn, which is interesting enough, but overlooks the more important question of whether new political campaign groups like Momentum are a good or bad thing for our democracy in the first place.