Purge? Corbyn’s Momentum group to exclude socialists

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. © Andrew Yates
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum group and senior MPs are trying to block the influence of leftist groups, such as the Socialist Party of England & Wales, citing fears of entryist hijacking.

A central part of the effort will involve drawing up of a new code of conduct that will block socialists and communists from being elected to leadership roles and attending debates.

The move is partially driven by fears that leftist organizations could discredit the movement, which was set up to continue the spirit and energy developed during Corbyn’s leadership election campaign.

Many grassroots activists and far-left groups have called for the deselection of unpopular Labour MPs, including those who voted for bombing Syria last Wednesday.

One of the chief supporters of purging Momentum is Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who took to Twitter on Tuesday to argue Momentum had a problem with entryism and that without discipline it could damage Labour.

Labour’s Caroline Flint echoed Watson’s view, telling the Guardian: “They seem to be focused on interfering in the organization of the Labour Party.

That is exactly what far-left groups like Militant did in the 1980s. They act as a separate party operating within the Labour Party, but with no real loyalty to the party.

Momentum organizer Adam Klug hinted at some of the new parameters in an interview with Sky News on Sunday.

Everybody who has a position within Momentum is a Labour Party member,” he said.

The governance structure is still being established to be completely clear with all the terminology, but absolutely no members of other political parties are welcome at Momentum meetings.

If you are not a member of a political party … your voice is welcomed and heard, but the Socialist Party, for example, are not welcome at Momentum meetings,” he said.

A Momentum spokesman spoke to the Guardian on Tuesday, further refining rules of membership.

We have had to take this decision pragmatically,” the spokesman said.

Anyone will be able to attend Momentum public meetings, but at decision-taking meetings it is likely only non-party and Labour members will be able to attend and take decisions.

It is ridiculous that the Socialist Party [is] calling for Labour MPs to be deselected,” the spokesman added.