Momentum banner on a demonstration

The prerequisite to building left power within the Labour Party is building a fighting socialist movement outside of it. Protecting the internal power the left currently possesses is important. However, without giving due focus to expanding and nurturing the activist base upon which any serious attempt to take control of the party would rely, the left will not only forfeit what we have today, but future opportunities too.

That is why I am standing for the Momentum National Coordinating Group (NCG) on the Your Momentum slate. Any coherent plan for the organised left in the Labour party must recognise that internally we are in retreat. Externally, however, the scale of our crises necessitates not just change but organisation. Polling shows popular support for strike action, thousands joined RMT picket lines last week and swathes of young people continue to be politicised by the climate emergency. This is the terrain which Starmer’s leadership has forfeited, and thus the terrain which socialists in the Labour Party are obligated to occupy, and – given our present material conditions – it’s ripe for organising.

The Labour Party, of course, remains the only vehicle we have to gain state power and we have no choice but to work with what we have. The way we convince activists working in non-party political environments, like the climate movement, to join our cause and give their time for the advancement of socialism within the party is not by neglecting the broader movement, but by rolling our sleeves up and doing the work alongside them.

Reduced to its very fundamentals, Momentum’s purpose must be to build an active, engaged base of socialist Labour Party members who can select principled candidates and pound the streets to get them elected. These prospective members need a reason to join our cause. If Momentum members can fight, and lead, the struggle for socialist change in communities across this country, we provide them with that reason.

This is how we grow our influence within the Party again. To win internally, the left must grow its ranks once more. With an insurgent leadership campaign like that of 2015 an unlikely – but not impossible – prospect, we must find an alternative. If grassroots left power
exists anywhere in this country just now, it is in our trade unions.

Look no further than Mick Lynch and the RMT’s innate ability to clearly communicate class politics, winning the public over even when faced with the hostilest of media. Their narrative is clear. It’s about us, and them. Those who create the wealth, and those who profit from
that wealth creation. Over the last week, Marx’s theory of surplus labour has been communicated countless times on TV screens and it’s garnered popular support.

The next task though is to mobilise that popular support to join the picket line. This can only be achieved at a grassroots level through community organising and, with close to 20,000 members and active local groups, Momentum is well placed to do this. Supporting the
development of the UK’s emergent class struggle trade unionism in the ways that we can is crucial to combatting the multiple crises facing workers in our country, to building a movement that can change the political weather, and to strengthening the position of the left within the Labour Party. Momentum’s current NCG has begun the work of creating a trade unionists network to help with this task. If elected this will be a priority for Your Momentum.

The fight within the Labour Party is a fruitless one if it is not accompanied by concrete socialist organisation and attempts to advance the class struggle in our communities. Internal Labour elections must be fought, and fought determinedly, because the power we have within the Labour Party currently is a foundation upon which we can build. But, we can only build if the energy of the class struggle is propelled inside the Labour Party and that means Momentum must build those links. It is not a question of one or the other and Your Momentum gets that.

Momentum is too important to fail. As the largest organisation of socialists in the UK, it should play a leading role in advancing the cause of the working class in our age of crisis. Your Momentum has a plan to build left power but ultimately, only with patient and steady work in the manner outlined above can we turn the tide in UK politics.

Coll McCail is a candidate for the Momentum NCG elections standing on the Your Momentum slate for Scotland

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Image credit: FunkDooby – Creative Commons