NEWS

Dispatches Momentum Investigation On Channel 4 'Shows Supporters Being Told To Flood Into The Labour Party'

'I think we should have some redundancy notices ready for some of these people.'

18/09/2016 15:49 | Updated 19 September 2016

An undercover investigation has revealed how Momentum activists are vying to “take over” Labour, with supporters being urged to “flood” into the Opposition party.

In secret footage recorded as part of Channel 4’s Dispatches programme ‘The Battle For The Labour Party’, due to air on Monday, Momentum activists can be seen trying to conceal their level of involvement with the Labour Party.

The undercover reporter spent six months working with Momentum, the grassroots movement that supports Corbyn.

Channel 4’s undercover reporter also allegedly witnessed how funds meant for Corbyn’s leadership campaign may have been misused.

In a clip released ahead of Monday night’s programme guest speaker, Mark Sandell, tells Momentum supporters that there has to be a “reckoning”.

Sandell was recorded on camera saying: “I think we should have some redundancy notices ready for some of these people, because it seems to me, that if we don’t change... not just the leadership of the party, we want to keep Corbyn obviously, if we don’t change some of those structural problems, we will be fighting with people at our backs, who are just looking for the first opportunity, to sink the knife in.”

The left-wing campaign group has rejected alleged claims it is an “entryist” group secretly plotting to deselect MPs opposed to Corbyn.

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith accused Momentum of using the Labour party as a “host body” to promote hard-left policies, and HuffPost reported in August that a Momentum conference was stuffed with speakers who have a history of opposing the party.

Footage released by the broadcaster shows a Momentum staff meeting being held at the headquarters of Britain’s largest trade union, Unite. 

Adam Klug, national organiser, tells those at the meeting: “We’ve now got this room; this is our room for the campaign for the next month... But one thing on that is that Unite, the union, have given space to the campaign specifically, they haven’t actually donated space to Momentum or The World Transformed, the World Transformed being the festival during the Labour Party fringe in Liverpool.

“I’m sure no one would have an issue with it informally, but obviously officially that’s not the case, so if we can just be discreet when anyone comes in and say ‘we’re here for Jeremy for Labour’ and the Jeremy for Labour campaign.”

Rick Findler/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a Momentum event at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in central London

Gavin Millar QC, who was interviewed for the programme, told Dispatches: “The Labour Party, following this broadcast, should investigate who in the Jeremy for Labour campaign was responsible for overseeing the arrangements for the payment of those staff and their presence in the Unite offices while they were doing Momentum work.

“Somebody is responsible.”

In addition, Dispatches’ undercover reporter hears how Momentum is harvesting personal data from the leadership campaign which could build its own powerbase.

Millar said that if Labour Party members had not been explicitly told that their information was being passed to Momentum in this way it would be a “fundamental breach of the Data Protection Act” on the part of the Corbyn leadership campaign.

Professor Tim Bale told Dispatches: “Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) and other Trotskyite entryist organisations will try and get their members into the Labour party and attempt to take over branches and take constituency labour parties by becoming officers at local level and once they’ve done that they’re in a position to push the labour party as they see it to a more left-wing policy platform.”

Jill Mountford, who sits on the Steering Committee of Momentum was filmed encouraging activists to join the Labour Party and Momentum, while holding up an AWL newspaper with the headline: ‘Flood into the Labour Party’.

“We have to fight to shape the way the Momentum develops and the way the Labour party develops,” Mountford says.

On Saturday a Momentum spokesman told the Huffington Post UK that Channel 4’s investigation had exploited its “enthusiastic and young activists”, and that some allegations are “slurs or matters of opinion”.

A Momentum source said: “Lawyers are looking at it and we’re minded to take this to Ofcom.”

But Channel 4 told HuffPost UK its report was “a vital piece of investigative journalism” on an issue “of critical national importance to everyone in the UK particularly in a period of political flux”.

A Momentum spokesperson said that the group is not campaigning for deselections or mandatory reselection of MPs and “Labour members are free to organise as they see fit for candidate selections”.

It said any suggestions Momentum has been funded by Corbyn’s leadership campaign were false and claimed that in fact, Momentum has provided loans to Jeremy for Labour.

Momentum also complains that the Dispatches programme focuses on the actions of the left-wing Alliance of Workers’ Liberty, which it claims has around 100 members.

The Dispatches reporter volunteered for Momentum before joining Jeremy for Labour as a paid staff member, Momentum told HuffPost UK. She then worked on the ‘volunteer mobilisation team’, often with members of Momentum who she filmed and recorded, it said. 

The Momentum spokesperson denied the relationship between the group and the Jeremy For Labour campaign was not transparent, saying it was a matter of public record. 

It said that the reporter’s actions have “disappointed and hurt a number of people” and “concerns about the impartiality” of Channel 4.

“Dispatches and [the reporter] have exploited two of the strongest attributes of Momentum and the Jeremy for Labour campaign: their enthusiastic and young activists and their open, welcoming approach,” the spokesperson said. “[The reporter] initially volunteered for Momentum before joining Jeremy for Labour as a paid staff member.

“On the campaign, she worked on the volunteer mobilisation team, spending a significant amount of time mobilising Momentum activists on behalf of the campaign. [The reporter’s] work was highly regarded, she was a vital part of a vibrant, close-knit team, and considered a friend by many. Her dishonest actions have disappointed and hurt a number of people, but most especially many of the young volunteers she worked so closely with.

“[The reporter] covertly filmed and recorded people, including young campaigners (under 18) and others who were in the campaign offices or at open meetings over an extended period. Those of the accusations made on the basis of information gained by [the reporter] which are true are freely admitted. Many of them are a matter of public record.

“Others could have been learned by openly attending public meetings, or by simply asking a question, rather than through lying. Other “allegations” are, properly analysed, slurs or matters of opinion which will raise more concerns about the impartiality of the broadcaster than anything else.”

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “Channel 4 has a remit to deliver high quality news and current affairs, and a track record for investigative journalism and holding those in power to account.

“This is a vital piece of investigative journalism, on an issue of critical national importance to everyone in the UK particularly in a period of political flux.”

The Dispatches programme ‘The Battle For The Labour Party’ is scheduled to be broadcast at 7.25pm on Monday 19 September.

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