Political editor at The Guardian
This article originally appeared in The Guardian
Momentum, the grassroots group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn, is directing its campaigning muscle into urging Labour to adopt a series of “radical and transformational” pledges in its next manifesto, including a green new deal and the four-day week.
With Westminster politicians deadlocked over Brexit, which has divided Labour activists, Momentum wants to use its 40,000-strong membership to influence the direction of policy on other issues.
It also hopes to act as a bulwark against the influence of MPs from the social democratic wing of the Labour party.
Becky Boumelha, a Momentum spokesperson, said: “Radical and transformational policy can’t only come from the halls of Westminster. It must come from and draw upon the collective wisdom of Labour’s half a million members, who live and work in every community across the country.
“This is especially true when Tom Watson’s new group of MPs are intent upon watering down and blocking Labour’s most transformational policies.”
Watson set up the Future Britain group after a string of Labour MPs broke away from the party and joined with ex-Conservatives to form Change UK.
At the time, Labour’s deputy leader said he was responding to “the need for those from the social democratic and democratic socialist traditions to give ourselves the strongest voice we can”.
Boumelha said: “Momentum defended Corbyn when his leadership was under threat. Now Momentum will defend and extend the most transformational parts of Labour’s programme, supporting members to pass policy at conference and build on Labour’s 2017 manifesto.”
The campaign group would like to see Labour be more radical on climate change, adopting a “green new deal”, which would include massive investment in funding renewable technologies and energy-saving measures, and an ambitious commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Current Labour policy is that Britain should hit net zero “before” 2050 – the government’s target date, which looks highly likely to be missed on the current trajectory.
Toby Barnes, of Labour for a Green New Deal, said: “Our campaign provides an opportunity for Labour members to lead a radical reconstruction of our country from the ground up. With Momentum putting its weight behind these motions, a transformative policy agenda is in sight. It’s now down to Labour party members to make it a reality at conference this year.”