Momentum’s grassroots democracy can make Labour an unstoppable force
From The Guardian: Credited with mobilising the youth vote, Momentum’s snappy social media campaigns gleaned millions of shares. The group also sent scores of campaigners – some of them first-time canvassers – into the country’s most marginal constituencies, helping to drive up support for Labour, house by house and street by street.
Using an online map of marginal seats as well as WhatsApp and phone banks to enlist and direct activists, the group transformed Labour’s canvassing game, helping to turn seats such as Canterbury, Sheffield Hallam, Derby North and Croydon Central into Labour wins. MPs who may once have criticised the group are now more enthusiastic, while Momentum organisers say that, since members and constituency campaigners worked so closely in the past six weeks, relations are more cordial. Those who were divided over past splits in the Labour party got to know each other – and found that they got along.
Now, Momentum wants to build on the – oh, let’s just go with it – momentum to militate against any complacency over Labour’s dramatic increase in voter share, now at 40%, or disillusion that the party nonetheless lost the election. Since the general election, the Labour party has gained 35,000 new members, while 1,500 have joined Momentum. With greater numbers, capacity and credibility, the task now is ensuring more activists join in and are election-ready – because who knows how soon we’re going to have to do it all again.
But elections aren’t the only focus. For a start, Momentum wants to move away from the idea that political campaigning only takes place when votes are needed. It plans to engage in community action, whether that’s voter registration campaigns or support for local causes, so that the group and, by extension, the Labour party, is organically active at grassroots level.