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By Telling Its Members to Lobby MPs to Vote Against Military Action In Syria, Momentum Has Turned Its Back on the New Politics

28/11/2015 20:23 GMT | Updated 28/11/2016 10:12 GMT

This weekend, five coachloads of Momentum activists travelled to Oldham West and Royton to campaign on behalf of Labour by-election candidate Jim McMahon.

Despite not being part of Labour, the group wants to enable a Labour victory.

Also this weekend, Momentum supporters have sent 9,000 emails to Labour MPs calling on them to oppose UK bombing of Syria.

Despite not being part of Labour, the group wants to influence Labour MPs.

I'm still a bit confused about the role of Momentum in this age of the 'New Politics'.

Last month, I sat down with James Schneider, one of the organisers of the group launched in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn's sensational leadership election victory.

And it was a sensational victory. It was not just the so-called £3 members who voted for Corbyn, but almost 50% of the full-fat members as well.

Momentum was created to capitalise on that wave of support; to keep those thousands upon thousands of people who had backed Corbyn interested, included, and involved.

Who could say that is a bad thing?

But now you've got the army, what is the plan for battle?

According to Schneider, the battle is most certainly NOT for Labour seats in Parliament.

He was adamant that the group did not have a "hit list" of anti-Corbyn MPs it wanted to see deselected.

Schneider said to me: "It's not a command and control enterprise, I can't pick up the phone to someone in wherever and say: 'Right, I am calling from the centre and you must do this thing', because I don't have to, there's no way, I've got no enforcement mechanism. There's no way I can make them do that and nor should I. As Jeremy has said right the way through, his kind of politics is about open debate, about discussion."

About debate, about discussion.

He went on: "I can't imagine anything less attractive to people you're trying to get involved in politics than saying: 'Right the way you need to get involved in politics is you have to turn up at this place, at this time, you have to go into a room where people shout at each other, and you need to do this thing, it doesn't matter if you don't understand why that's what's happening, that's what's been decided somewhere else'."

He reiterated the point again in the interview, saying: "You get no say in an internal Labour thing by joining Momentum. If you think you do, you've made a mistake. It's as simple as that."

Five and half weeks on from the interview, and things seem to have changed.

The official Twitter account of Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) tweeted a link to a portal which encourages people to lobby their MPs to vote against extending UK military action in Syria.

There is even a pre-prepared letter for you to add your name to, which urges your respective MP "to oppose Tory proposals for the UK to join military action in Syria against Isil/Daesh."

James Schneider also tweeted the link, with the message: "Write to your MP & ask them to not bomb Syria. The case has not been made that it'll improve Syrian or UK security."

And this is where confusion, for me at least, arises.

I thought Momentum was not about getting a "say in an internal Labour thing."

I thought Momentum was about bringing people together who were attracted by the New Politics.

I thought the New Politics was about giving people a genuine opportunity to say what they liked and know it was being listened to.

I thought the New Politics was about "open debate, about discussion."

I thought the New Politics would be "write to your MP to give YOUR view", not "write to your MP to give THIS view".

That sounds a bit like the Old Politics to me.