“Following dozens of meetings of local Momentum groups and campaigning organisations, more than 3,000 of our members voted for a radical, socialist policy platform.”
By Andrew Scattergood & Gaya Sriskanthan, Momentum Co-Chairs
In the face of soaring household bills and corporate profits, pandemics, state racism and climate crisis, our policy offer must be bolder than ever. The Labour leadership’s poundshop Blairism just won’t cut it. That’s why last year Momentum initiated our first ever Policy Primary, to unleash that collective strength – integral to our socialism and the Corbynite wave – by having members and left-wing campaigns democratically decide motions for Momentum to back at Labour Conference.
Following dozens of meetings of local Momentum groups and campaigning organisations, more than 3,000 of our members voted for a radical, socialist policy platform. Several flagship motions- such as a £15-an-hour minimum wage – were passed. This year, we’re repeating – and improving – the process.
On Saturday March 5th, the NCG agreed a recommendation to Momentum members on the policy areas we should focus on at this year’s Labour Conference, in order to pressure the leadership, challenge their drift to the right, and build broad coalitions across the labour movement and civil society for transformative change.
We know from last year that the leadership won’t simply adopt whatever policy Conference passes, despite its democratic mandate. But policy campaigns – at Labour Conference and in the country – remain an important tactic in the left’s arsenal, and if they resonate with the wider public by focusing on livewire issues, they can produce enough pressure to force political leaders into changing course. Marcus Rashford’s campaigning is a case in point, and Labour conference offers a big platform.
Local groups are currently proposing motions, with a full ballot of Momentum members taking place in April. We encourage those taking part to consider this non-binding recommendation when making their decisions.
Challenging the rightward drift on crime, policing and immigration
The Labour leadership has repeatedly parroted and even tried to outflank the Conservative Government on the areas of crime, policing and immigration, with senior Labour figures recently endorsing a policy of ‘shoot-to-kill’ and suggesting the government should publicly shame drug users. We’ve also seen over the past two years a worrying trend of Islamophobia in the Party, alongside a complete disinterest in the struggle of black communities in the UK against racist policing and government policy. Most recently, the Labour leadership has failed to back a visa waiver for Ukrainian refugees, following on from the Party’s weak opposition to the racist Nationality and Borders Bill.
Starmer and his Shadow Cabinet are increasingly echoing the rhetoric of New Labour, which adopted an authoritarian and reactionary approach to asylum seekers, broader ‘social issues’ and civil liberties, with devastating effect. This necessitates a strong response from the left, and we must look to pressure the leadership and draw clear dividing political lines on these issues, acting in solidarity with the vibrant movement for racial justice in the streets.
Public ownership to tackle the rampant cost-of-living crisis
The cost of living crisis continues to deepen, with energy bills skyrocketing and wages stagnant. Labour’s failure to take a strong stance on rampant profiteering by the energy giants, while rejecting the solution of public ownership, provides an opportunity for the left to draw these issues together in a way that links everyday struggle with systemic problems. We can push the case for a socialist Green New Deal as the answer to our economic and climate crises, and as a powerful vision for a better future in this dark moment.
The Labour leadership has shied away from public ownership precisely because it challenges the vested interests of big business and the billionaire class This is why we must push back, building alliances with the many trade unions that have policy commitments to public ownership. Together, we can keep it on the agenda, while rejecting cosmetic solutions that distract from real structural change to our grotesquely unequal economy
Boosting workplace struggle by abolishing all anti-trade union laws
With inflation rising sharply and industrial disputes proliferating, workplace organising is taking on a renewed impetus. Meanwhile, the Bank of England has led ruling class calls for workers to take the hit, rather than corporate profit margins.
Workers are getting organised and fighting back, but they are hamstrung by some of the most restrictive trade unions laws in the world, thanks to the Tories. The Labour leadership, though, has shied away from a strong commitment to repeal these laws, despite some good work from Andy McDonald on workplace rights. It is therefore strategically imperative that the Labour left helps keep repealing the anti-trade union laws on the agenda, and that we use our resources to push for Labour to adopt a policy with the potential to shift the terrain in favour of workers.
Change isn’t just delivered by government from above, it comes from a class conscious working class movement, organised in workplaces and building power from below. Let’s use the tools at our disposal to aid this struggle, and keep up the pressure ahead of the next election manifesto.
You can find more details on the Policy Primary process here. Local groups are currently holding meetings to decide which motions to submit to a ballot of Momentum members, with another movement-wide call scheduled for the evening of Tuesday 22nd March – get involved.