Everyone now has heard of Momentum, the successful grassroots organisation which many believe (and some fear) is taking over the Labour Party. Momentum was founded in 2015 by a Labour activist, Jon Lansman, who was formerly an aide to Tony Benn. It is currently the vehicle driving – some say fanatically – the left-wing leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
David Blunkett, himself a veteran left-winger, is nevertheless dismayed by the success of Momentum. “The people running Momentum are modern-day Marxists,” he has written. “I’m in despair at this calamitous situation.”
Others have made even more stinging accusations, claiming that Momentum is a Trojan horse to enable Trotskyist movements to dominate Labour. The Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply concerned about the way in which Momentum has sprung up – and, apparently, thrived, attracting thousands of new members.
Those of us who are not party political partisans may watch all this from the sidelines with some bemusement. But perhaps other organisations, including the Church, could ask themselves what can be learned from the success of Momentum. How can a similarly energetic movement be galvanised within our own networks?
An organising leader – such as Mr Lansman seems to be – is probably one requirement. A clever use of social media – Twitter and Facebook – is also an imperative. Conviction, commitment and a bold outreach to ideals appeal to younger people. And lots of merchandising – T-shirts, mugs, books, posters, pamphlets, even collections of poetry – is another tool brilliantly used by Momentum.
The Jesuits have always advocated learning from others, including opponents, and the success of Momentum might well be a masterclass in how to gather enthusiasm for any movement.
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