Channel 4’s much anticipated Dispatches documentary, ‘The Battle For The Labour Party’ aired on Monday night, shining a light on the inner workings of the grassroots movement, Momentum, that supports Jeremy Corbyn.
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.
Mountford was expelled from the Labour party in February.
2) Momentum activists tried to conceal their level of involvement with the Labour Party.
Dispatches has put to it to the group that its relationship to the Jeremy for Labour campaign “has been dishonestly concealed”.
Activists are shown telling the undercover reporter not to put “Momentum” on campaign material as “that would be as helpful as a lobotomy”.
The Momentum spokesperson denied the relationship between it 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.
3) Funds meant for Corbyn’s campaign have been misused.
After working for the Corbyn campaign for a while, the reporter manages to secure a paid job.
She asks Adam Klug, national organiser, who is actually paying her wages.
He says: “You’re being paid by the campaign.”
She asks: “So the donations from the campaign?”
Klug replies: “It’s kind of not been clear. The whole thing is completely interlinked, obviously. You’ve been employed by the campaign.
“It’s a temporary campaign. the legality of how the campaign works, I don’t know every bit of detail.”
The Jeremy for Labour finance office later confirms she is paid by them, not Momentum.
Gavin Millar QC, who was interviewed for the programme and asked about whether Momentum had misused campaign funds, said: “Absolutely.
“They shouldn’t be doing that because they know and should know that those resources are not intended for them.
Momentum said any suggestions it has been funded by Corbyn’s leadership campaign were false and claimed that in fact, Momentum has provided loans to Jeremy for Labour.
4) Momentum used a Unite venue meant to be used by the wider Labour campaign.
Klug tells those at a 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.”
The undercover reporter was also told that if a member of the public came to the venue that she was specifically not to say he was working for Momentum.
She asks: “Let’s say Joe Bloggs walks off the street into this office, are we saying: ‘Hey, we’re Jeremy for Leader campaign.’”
An activist replies: “Yes... so Unite don’t support Momentum but they do support Jeremy for Leader.
“So we are here as Jeremy’s campaign. Of course some people are going to be answering Momentum emails but the whole operation of Momentum is the Jeremy for Leader operation.”
5) Momentum is harvesting personal data from Labour members.
Millar says: “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.”
He added 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.
An activist also reveals how emails sent to the public automatically sign up people to Momentum when they click on them.
“And then after the campaign’s finished, this is the same company that has the contract with Momentum, the unincorporated association.”
What we already knew...
Momentum have stuffed conferences with speakers who have a history of opposing the party.
The lineup for a Momentum Labour conference this weekend is full of speakers who have a history of opposing Labour.
The event, which will run at the same time as Labour’s official party conference in Liverpool, includes film maker Ken Loach, who founded Left Unity, a party which stood against Labour.
Mark Serwotka, the General Secretary of PCS union, and a former supporter of Socialist Alliance and the Respect party, is also speaking at the conference. He was denied a vote in the 2015 Labour leadership contest for not sharing the party’s aims.
Jeremy Corbyn, John Mcdonnell, Diane Abbott and Clive Lewis are to make appearances. Organisers have denied it is a rival conference.
As for the response to the claims...
Momentum has accused Channel 4 of exploitation and questioned its impartiality.
Momentum released a video - before the show had even aired - showing the effect the documentary had had on its activists.
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”.
He said: “Lawyers are looking at it and we’re minded to take this to Ofcom.”
They also insisted 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.
“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.”
Channel 4 is standing its ground.
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.”
Owen Smith probably agrees with Channel 4.
Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith accused Momentum of using the Labour party as a “host body” to promote hard-left policies.