Anticapitalist Platform responses to Momentum Anti-Racism Questions

A group of Momentum activists have posed five questions on anti-racism and racial liberation to NCG candidates via their Twitter account @Mom_Antiracism. Here are their questions and our replies.

As members of the Momentum NCG, you will be deciding who Momentum will endorse for the National Executive Committee elections. How will you ensure the Momentum-endorsed NEC candidates do not have a record of being racist or condoning racism in any form?

To ensure our leaders’ anti-racism is more than just words, we need to refound Momentum with a political strategy that puts Momentum on the front lines of anti-racist struggles, for example, campaigning for an end to stop and search or actively organising and participating in the BLM protests and other anti-racist mobilisations.

NEC candidates should represent the membership and their strategy for the Labour left and therefore must be selected by the membership through a democratic process. Endorsements should be made based on the candidates’ commitment and leadership in fighting for policies decided by the membership.

If we have an organisation which has clearly defined anti-racist politics alongside full members’ democracy, anyone hoping for an endorsement from Momentum members will be held to account on their anti-racist record.

The selection process should include hustings and other opportunities for members to scrutinise candidates’ records and challenge their views.

Do you support a Momentum BAME Section? If no, how come? If yes, how will you ensure the section is given sufficient funding, support, and attention?

Yes; although we believe that anti-racist campaigning is the responsibility of the organisation as a whole, a BAME section can help to develop special areas of work. We further believe that all oppressed groups should have a right to caucus, i.e. to meet privately, discuss and then speak with collective authority. In this way, any institutional prejudice or discrimination, and any issues with the way Momentum handles complaints can be raised by the caucus in a way that amplifies the voices of the oppressed group and holds the leadership accountable.

All members of an oppressed group should be invited to participate in its caucus, so Momentum will need to collect data about which oppressed groups members are part of and give control of that data to liberation caucuses.

All reasonable expenses of the BAME section – including the costs of committee meetings or an annual event for its members – should be funded by Momentum. The right to self-organisation by the BAME section should be written into a new Momentum constitution, which should be debated and voted on at a sovereign members’ policy and constitutional conference to be convened as soon as possible. 

How will you ensure Momentum engages with ethnic minority communities around the country?

We think the best way Momentum can make itself relevant to ethnic minority communities is by showing political leadership on anti-racist issues, drawing them into anti-racist campaigning, and using its organisational infrastructure to connect local campaigns with a national anti-racist movement.

Through new, democratic structures, members could decide Momentum’s strategy with guidance from its caucuses so that we participate in POC-led campaigns and campaign together against racism, for example against the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and coming recession on BAME people, against the local authority cuts which have disproportionately impacted BAME communities, and for a black-led working class inquiry into police murders.

If Momentum is actively engaged in these struggles, then Black people will also be more engaged in Momentum and their interests reflected in Momentum’s priorities. 

Will you support campaigns organised by various anti-racist organisations outside of Labour, such as Black Lives Matter UK, Inquest, and United Families and Friends Campaign? Have you got a track record of supporting and working on (PoC-led) anti-racist campaigns?

Absolutely. The first thing Momentum can do to show its support for these campaigns is to raise the political arguments within Labour demanding justice for police terror, including:

  • End stop and search
  • Automatic prosecution for police murders
  • Disband the IOPC and replace it with independent inquiries including victims’ families

It is shameful that in recent years Momentum has failed so completely to organise any anti-racist campaigning, and has fallen into the trap of supporting increased police numbers in the name of law and order, a betrayal of BAME communities who suffer daily injustices the the hands of the police.

The Black Lives Matter protests in recent weeks show the power of international action against a global oppressive system. They should be a wake-up call for the entire left to raise our horizons beyond internal elections and organise ourselves to act.

We need to mobilise our political and industrial strength in support of the new anti-racist revolts. Momentum should be using its resources to support people organising #BlackLivesMatter protests in their area, providing an infrastructure for the disparate organising groups across the country to discuss a common political strategy, and proposing its own political demands aimed at cohering and sustaining a nation-wide anti-racist movement. We believe Momentum should argue for the right of black and working-class communities to self-defence against police violence.

All of our candidates have participated in the Black Lives Matter protests. Our platform held an online event with a speaker from North Carolina to learn about the uprising in the US, discuss how we can support that movement and the campaigns here in the UK against police violence and for justice for the families of those who have been murdered, against racist Stop and Scan and Stop and Search powers and  for an end to the whitewashing of Britain’s colonial past.

Urte Macikene (standing in the London) first got involved in politics through the anti-cuts movement at university, where she campaigned against Prevent and for the rights of student asylum-seekers, winning a commitment from the university that asylum seekers would not be charged fees and would be provided with additional support funding. In 2019 she was involved in setting up Labour Against Racism and Fascism and coordinating grassroots Labour Party mobilisations against the far right. She also helped lead the fight to shift Labour’s position on Brexit and freedom of movement through Labour for a Socialist Europe and Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

Marcel Golten (standing in London) is a committed international solidarity activist, who has organised within Labour and on university campuses in solidarity with Palestinian and Kashmiri liberation movements and fought to strengthen Labour’s position on these issues. Marcel has also been involved in campaigning against the scrapping of free movement and for extending those rights to people from outside the EU and ending “fortress Europe”.

Andy Young (standing in Yorkshire & the North) has been involved in anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns since the 1990s. In 1995 he was involved in the campaign for justice for Brian Douglas after he was killed by police in London. As a socialist and trade unionist he has organised and participated in mobilisations to stop the BNP and EDL marching through our towns and cities.

How will you ensure Momentum is an anti-racist organisation and does not tolerate any forms of racism either in rhetoric or policy? Please expand on how you would tackle antisemitism, anti-blackness, and Islamophobia and all forms of racism both within Labour and within policy.

Having a BAME caucus will help to build an anti-racist culture within Momentum.  All oppressed groups should have the right to caucus locally as well as nationally, and therefore have the right to meet and discuss any issues or incidents of oppression in local groups as well as national Momentum and report back to their local group to the NCG. We should also campaign for the establishment of these caucuses in the Labour and support rule changes to that effect.

But we also believe that anti-racism is the responsibility of all members and should be a central part of Momentum’s political programme. Anti-racist campaigning can break down prejudice and provide opportunities for education and discussion in local groups.

As the party of the working class, Labour should represent the whole of the working class and therefore champion the oppressed. Rather than triangulate towards racist ideas, we should challenge them and win the arguments for freedom of movement, shutting down the detention centres, ending “no recourse to public funds”, justice for the Grenfell victims and survivors, demanding black-led working class inquiries into police murders and an inquiry into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME people. We need to recognise the racialised impact of Tory austerity and build a movement to resist and reverse local authority cuts.  

Momentum also needs to go beyond the Labour Party’s traditional support for Britain’s imperialist foreign policy and commit to tearing up all forms of racism at their roots, which means adopting a systemic analysis of the institutional racism built into our social system through colonialism and imperialism. This means renewing the fight to turn Labour into an internationalist party by standing with oppressed peoples and minorities fighting against imperialist exploitation, including in Palestine, Kashmir, Syria, Uyghuristan and elsewhere.

Question endorsed by the 1987 Caucus: Forward Momentum and Momentum Renewal’s initial slates had 2 Black candidates each. If either slate won all the seats, the NCG would have less Black members than it currently has (this is alongside the NCG increasing in size). In the last NEC by-election, Momentum endorsed 2 white people to replace a Black woman and an Asian Man. Groups such as the 1987 Caucus have been set up to increase the representation of Black socialists within the Labour party. Will you ensure Momentum and Labour represents and amplify the views of Black socialists, and how?

As we’ve described in previous answers, the growth of local groups, BAME caucuses and anti-racist campaigning would increase the numbers of BAME activists in Momentum as well as create a network to support BAME members to take up leading positions in our movement.This work should be properly resourced and prioritised.