POLITICS

Momentum Founder Jon Lansman 'Set To Run' For Seat On Labour's National Executive Committee

Further proof pro-Corbyn supporters are here to stay.

09/10/2017 21:55 BST | Updated 10/10/2017 10:24 BST
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The founder of the grassroots movement Momentum is being lined up for a key seat on Labour’s ruling body, HuffPost UK can reveal.

Jon Lansman, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, is expected to run for one of three new places on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), multiple sources said.

All three extra NEC slots will be elected by rank and file party members in local constituency Labour parties (CLPs) and are set to be won by candidates from the Momentum-backed Left of the party.

The new seats will expand the 36-strong body to 39 members and shift its current balance decisively in favour of Corbyn and his supporters.

Momentum, created in 2015 by Lansman to defend and extend Corbyn’s leadership authority, has seen a dramatic expansion of its numbers and influence in recent months.

PA Archive/PA Images
Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally in Parliament Square in 2016.

The organisation revealed this weekend that it now has 31,000 members - more than UKIP’s entire party - across 170 local groups.

Despite decades as an activist, Lansman has long kept a low profile in the traditional media but has in recent weeks been more prepared to speak up as an advocate of the leadership.

Labour’s annual conference in Brighton approved plans to create three new NEC places to hand local parties more power and to reflect the huge increase in party membership under Corbyn.

An extra place was also created for trade unions and shopworkers’ union Usdaw filled the slot to reflect its own growing membership.

Party centrists calculate that Usdaw’s seat meant the NEC was finely balanced with 18 pro-Corbyn members and 18 “Corbyn-sceptic” members.

But the three further CLP seats will ensure that the party leader has control of the party’s most important decision making body.

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John McDonnell and Unite chief Len McCluskey at The World Transformed in 2017.

Momentum supporters helped organise a separate politics festival called The World Transformed at the past two party conferences in Brighton and Liverpool. 

They are also credited with organising ‘ground troops’ and a superior social media campaign in the June general election that helped fuel the ‘Corbyn surge’ that deprived Theresa May of her Commons majority.

Lansman recently appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, accepting that anti-semistism in wider society was now a problem for Labour too.

The veteran leftwinger, who is Jewish, has helped secure a new party rule to ensure that anyone found guilty of anti-semitic abuse is booted out of Labour.

He played a key role in securing the suspension of Ken Livingstone from the party last year over alleged remarks he made about Jews working with Hitler to secure a homeland.

Momentum
The email to Momentum members.

Momentum issued an email to members recently asking for nominations for its NEC ‘slate’ but it is understood that Lansman was the popular choice among many. 

The two other seats are set to go to female party members under the Momentum plan, one insider said.

If Lansman succeeds in getting elected, and the process is set to take several weeks, he would sit on the NEC alongside deputy leader Tom Watson, who famously described Momentum as an ‘entryist’ organisation.

Watson and Unite leader Len McCluskey embarked on a war of words over the issue last year, with the deputy Labour leader saying Unite’s links to Momentum threatened to ‘destroy’ the party.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Momentum sent an email to supporters confirming Lansman was on its list of four nominations for the NEC, which will be narrowed down to three contenders after consultation with the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) next week.

Other nominees are Yasmine Dar, a councillor in Moston, Manchester; Rachel Garnham, a local party secretary in Mid Bedfordshire and member of the National Policy Forum; and Cecile Wright, the vice chair of Momentum.