Manchester and Trafford Momentum AGM discussed and agreed this motion from Greater Manchester Momentum BAME Caucus on 16 November
Momentum Democracy, Jackie Walker and Support of BAME Activists
This Momentum Caucus notes that:
- Jackie Walker, Malia Bouattia, Shami Chakrabarti and Dianne Abbott are three women of colour with long histories of standing against all kinds of racism. Not only have they not been supported in recent times by Momentum against vicious, racist attacks in the media and by politicians; in the case of Jacqueline Walker she was removed as Vice-Chair of the Momentum Steering committee – a decision made by a mainly white panel with no consultation of its BAME membership.
- The Momentum Steering Committee have accepted that Jackie Walker, a Jewish and Black woman, had not been anti-Semitic but judged her critical remarks on Holocaust Memorial Day and her interview to Channel 4 News to be offensive. This was despite the many Jewish voices stating her comments were neither anti-Semitic nor offensive. However, during this trial by media Momentum had not contradicted the misquotations in a number of media sources
- There are many Black Activists and Jewish Socialist Activists across the country who have commented that the national Momentum Steering Committee had a knee-jerk and undemocratic response to the pressure from the right of the Labour Party, pro-Zionist lobbies and the Media.
This Momentum Caucus believes that:
- In recent months people of colour, notably the women named above, have been targeted by groups hostile to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and Palestine solidarity activists.
- The rapid decisions and knee-jerk reaction of the Momentum Steering Committee in removing Jackie Walker, a lifelong anti-racism campaigner from her post in such circumstances has left BAME Momentum members wondering who is representing them within the leadership.
- Momentum should commend these women for their courage to stand for these just causes no matter how much they are attacked for doing so Many BAME members in recent months have felt disenfranchised and are losing faith in the movement due to Momentum and the Left’s capitulation on issues such as the Anti-Semitism row
- Momentum a less safe space for BAME members, who feel marginalised by the failure of the national Steering Committee to engage positively with BAME members or gauge their views in deciding upon the outcome of Jackie Walker’s position. This Caucus further believes that: BAME Members must have the safe space necessary to advocate for issues such as Palestine and Black Lives Matter even if that means countering prevailing views. Apartheid in South Africa was supported by the Thatcher government and many in the establishment but figures such as Jeremy Corbyn fought against such views even if that resulted in arrest; Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter movement have also taken courageous stands against the oppression of Palestinian people despite very similar pressure and attacks
- Our concerns now are that the Momentum leadership will continue to capitulate and leave its membership susceptible to outside pressure when they take a meaningful stance
- The fight against racism and anti-Semitism cannot be selective and Greater Manchester BAME Caucus abhors any act of anti-Semitism or racism and extends the hand of solidarity to any comrade who has suffered such abuse. There can also be no justification for any form of latent or unconscious racism and therefore we remain perplexed at the actions of the Committee over this matter.
- If Momentum is truly a People’s movement committed to transforming Britain for the better under a future Labour government, then Momentum needs to learn from its mistakes and listen to its members if it is to have any role in delivering this change.
This Caucus therefore calls on Manchester and Trafford Momentum to:
- Engage in positive and constructive dialogue with BAME groups within Momentum with the assistance of BAME allies within the Labour and Trade Union movement
- Apply pressure on the national Steering Committee to produce a clear and fair disciplinary policy that is agreed by members including the right that Liberation groups be consulted and involved in any potential disciplinary action of members of their groups
- Apply pressure on the national Steering Committee to take on board the findings of the Chakrabarti report in terms of how disciplinary cases are to be handled
- Take a much stronger stand to support prominent BAME activists who support Jeremy Corbyn and apply pressure on the national Steering Committee to do so also
- Apply pressure on the national Steering Committee to apologise to Jackie Walker for her treatment in regards to the disciplinary procedures used against her
- Make a statement that outlines Manchester & Trafford Momentum support for Palestinian rights, opposing Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, the denial of the right of return home for Palestinian refugees and equality of Palestinian Citizens of Israel.
- Support our regional and national Momentum liberation groups to actively engage in decision making within Momentum but also respect the different viewpoints that may bring
- To create an educational event addressing the current antisemitism row and how it connects to Zionism and the history of Palestine