In an explosive resignation letter Laura Rogers Chair of Truro & Falmouth Momemtum, has accused Momentum HQ of ignoring the wishes of local activists and using dirty tactics to install their preferred candidate.
Laura resigned after a meeting on Friday in which Anna Gillett was chosen as the Momentum candidate in the upcoming selection to choose a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Turo and Falmouth seat.
She told them: “I cannot preside over a group in which democratic processes have been so insidiously undermined”.
Rogers sent her resignation letter to all members of Truro & Falmouth Momentum and then published it on The Clarion, a popular Labour supporting website.
When Cornish Stuff contacted Ms Rogers for a copy she told us no, she’d prefer that we didn’t publish the letter as it wasn’t newsworthy! Don’t worry, the publicity shy Ms Rogers had published it for everybody to read on the internet. We had got a copy anyway from a friend and you can read it below.
In the resignation letter, Rogers claimed that Gillett had been selected by Momentum HQ “behind closed doors” and “without any vote or discussion within the local Momentum group”.
She alleged that senior organisers at Momentum, which was created by millionaire Jon Lansman as a grassroots movement to reclaim the Labour party on behalf of its activists, “told outright lies about alternative candidates”. Gillett was endorsed on Friday as Momentum’s choice for the selection process that starts in February for a parliamentary candidate for the Truro & Falmouth seat. Rogers claims that members were told HQ backed Gillett was the only candidate. Several local members abstained.
Rogers accused national Momentum bosses of wanting an authoritative top down control structure that overrides local dissent. Rogers says the organisation is betraying ideals and hit out at them for failing to allow members to make their own decisions.
She wrote: “In November 2016, Momentum conducted a referendum as to whether we wanted a delegate based structure or “one member one vote” (meaning a system of online votes). Since that time, no member has had a vote on anything of any substance and local groups have no power at all – we are not even allowed to send out our own emails.
Rogers alleged that Momentum HQ is now closing down debate, refusing to give members autonomy and exercising such a tight degree of control that it is even preventing local branches from sending out their own messages”. Her resignation letter says: “In parts of Momentum, bureaucratic maneuvering, scaremongering and slander have replaced rigorous open and honest discussion and debate”.
In a damning indictment of the tactics employed by the hard-left group, which is widely-regarded as Jeremy Corbin’s praetorian guard, Rogers ends her letter by saying: “The Corbyn surge has been an exciting time of hope and opportunity for socialist politics. As someone who has been active in the socialist movement for over a decade and very active in the “Corbyn movement” ever since 2015, I feel deeply disappointed that we have not held ourselves to a higher standard here in Truro and Falmouth. Democracy is the oxygen of our movement and without it we are sure to flounder”.
Momentum dispute Rogers’ claims, telling us that the local party had a meeting to decide which candidate to back, and voted 16-4 in favour of Anna Gillett.
With permission from https://www.theredroar.com
With additional reporting by Milo Perrin
The selection process for the parliamentary seat for Truro & Falmouth is not going to be pretty. Labour has already selected one Momentum parliamentary candidate in Cornwall – Paul Farmer in Camborne/Redruth. Whoever wins the battle for the selection committee within the local constituency party will win the war. Momentum have a tactic of loading these committees with their organised supporters and therefore are able to select a Momentum candidate for the general election. However they have been accused of using bullying tactics to oust long serving party members in the process. Momentum denies bullying and says it’s just using the rules to best advantage.
The selection committee for Truro & Falmouth will be voted in at a meeting in the first week of February. Local members are encouraged to attend the meeting as the committee is selected on the night, with only the votes of people in attendance will count and not by any postal ballot of members or anything.
After that there is a seven to nine week process when the candidate is chosen. Jayne Kirkham reduced the Tory majority to around 3,000 last May but she is currently deciding whether or not to stand again and she won’t make a decision until after the selection committee is chosen.
Jayne beat Anna Gillett in a vote of members to choose the candidate for Candy Atherton’s old Cornwall Council seat in Falmouth Smithwick.
Read Cornish Stuff interview with Anna Gillett
Resignation Statement By Laura Rogers
Following Friday’s meeting, I have decided to resign as Chair of Momentum Truro. I cannot preside over a group in which democratic processes have been so insidiously undermined.
In the autumn I became aware that Momentum Head Office had already decided that Anna Gilllet would be the Momentum-backed candidate in the forthcoming Truro and Falmouth CLP selection for its Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. This decision was made without any vote or discussion within the local Momentum group.
As chair, I was keen that local Momentum members had a say in who should be their candidate. We agreed as a group that we would wait to see who came forward once the selection process had begun. At that point Momentum could choose to endorse a candidate, making an informed decision about who was the best candidate available. If this led to a disagreement with head office then so be it. To be clear, there are other left-wing potential candidates.
I advertised Friday’s meeting and put a discussion of the selection process as one of several points on the agenda. I proposed that we organise and advertise a further meeting in which members could question potential candidates with a view to giving a local Momentum endorsement regardless of the decisions made behind closed doors at Momentum HQ.
Supporters of Anna made a counter-proposal to move to an immediate vote to endorse a candidate and argued against any further discussion. This foreclosed the opportunity for members to find out more about the politics of all the candidates that may have wanted a Momentum endorsement. It was argued that the decision of the local group was irrelevant anyway as Momentum HQ had already decided: the main argument against discussion of alternative candidates was deference to the unaccountable leadership of Momentum.
Senior organisers of Momentum told outright lies about alternative candidates and the majority of those present were happy to go along with a process that denied them and all other members the right to make up their own minds through basic democratic practice. With no other options presented, Anna was endorsed unopposed but with several abstentions.
In November 2016, Momentum conducted a referendum as to whether we wanted a delegate based structure or “one member one vote” (meaning a system of online votes). Since that time, no member has had a vote on anything of any substance and local groups have no power at all – we are not even allowed to send out our own emails. “OMOV” was a lie and a power grab by a bureaucratic, in many cases unelected, clique afraid of rank and file organising.
I feel these anti-democratic practices of head office have miseducated some enthusiastic but inexperienced left-wing activists. In parts of Momentum, bureaucratic manoeuvring, scaremongering and slander have replaced rigorous open and honest discussion and debate.
The Corbyn surge has been an exciting time of hope and opportunity for socialist politics. As someone who has been active in the socialist movement for over a decade and very active in the “Corbyn movement” ever since 2015, I feel deeply disappointed that we have not held ourselves to a higher standard here in Truro and Falmouth.
Democracy is the oxygen of our movement and without it we are sure to flounder. I hope people will reflect on what’s happened and that we can do better in the future. Meanwhile, I will continue to organise as a socialist activist in the Labour Party and as a rank-and-file member of Momentum.