Grassroots movement Momentum pledged to make “hundreds of thousands of calls” to Labour members in support of Rebecca Long-Bailey after backing the MP for Salford and Eccles in a ballot yesterday.
The shadow business secretary – a frontrunner in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn – won their overwhelming endorsement even though only 7,000 of the roughly 40,000 paid-up members took part.
The campaign group said 70.42 per cent of respondents voted in the ballot to approve Ms Long-Bailey, while 52.15 per cent were in favour of supporting Angela Rayner as deputy.
Although the result looks convincing from the outset questions have been raised over the validity of the ballot and whether Momentum still has the clout it once did.
As Paul Waugh wrote in the Huffington Post today, in the December election they sent “hundreds of young idealists to doorsteps where they were confronted with the reality of just how loathed Corbyn and Corbynism was”.
Their decision to support a continuity candidate in this election could be seen as being rather blinkered given the circumstances.
As I wrote here, “anyone who woke up on 13th December and thought ‘I want a bit more of this’ should rescind their membership”. Let’s not get lost in the heady heights of 2017 when we have a different battle on our hands today.
But Tory lite isn’t the answer either.
Voters need a genuine alternative to Boris Johnson’s government, one that promotes the same radical solutions to the biggest problems facing the nation which are unlikely to abate in the next five years.
By 2025, with the Brexit debate settled, those issues could be defining factors in winning the next election, much as they were in 1945 when Labour was seen as the party to rebuild the country.
In this way Momentum could still prove to be a force to be reckoned with.
Their slick, direct videos have “revolutionised how we campaign”, as Long-Bailey said, and could still resonate with the electorate.
Putting their eggs in one basket
Yet by putting all their eggs in one basket they could have shot themselves in the foot ahead of the election.
Make no mistake, this is crucial for them.
If Long-Bailey loses then it will be seen as proof that the wheels have really come off for Momentum.
Surely a wider field would have been more appropriate given that the relevancy of their entire movement is at stake.