Momentum hit back at Unite coup claims: 'We can't even cough without being accused of sinister plotting'

Jon Lansman has been planning a formal alliance with Unite and its leader Len McCluskey

The Guardian published comments from Momentum head Jon Lansman outlining plans for a formal partnership with the Unite union and its leader, Len McCluskey (pictured right, with Jeremy Corbyn)

Monday, March 20, 2017

A leading Momentum organiser has hit back at claims the pro-Corbyn movement is planning to seize control of the Labour party, saying "we can't even cough" without being accused of organising a coup.

Rachel Godfrey Wood also told talkRADIO that Jon Lansman's well-publicised comments came from a public meeting, rather than anything furtive or underhand, and Tom Watson's criticism of his remarks was "laughable."

A recording of Lansman's comments was published by the Guardian this weekend, outlining plans for a formal partnership with the Unite union if its current leader, Len McCluskey, is re-elected.

Lansman also said it was "absolutely crucial" that Labour rules be changed to ensure Momentum can put forward candidates for future leadership contests, and the grassroots movement continues to exert control when Jeremy Corbyn steps down.

However Godfrey Wood said the press portrayal of the comments was far removed from reality, telling us plans for the Unite alliance are "pretty straightforward. We’re a left-wing organisation, we want to work with trade unions for a fairer society. They’re a trade union.

"Obviously you’ll get people talking in an aspirational way but it’s not a cover-up plot of anything, it was a public meeting.

"It's pretty bad from the Guardian to imply some kind of sinister plotting behind this."

Godfrey Wood continued by saying that Momentum's primary aim is about "rebalancing the party, after a long period in which the influence has been taken away from the members.

"We think the members have great insight, and those are the people who are delivering the leaflets, knocking on the doors. They should be listened to."

Turning to Watson, who blasted Lansman over the claims, Godfrey Wood said: "It’s laughable. This is someone who regularly gives speeches to Labour First, which is an unbelievably factional organisation. That’s perceived to be a normal thing. 

"[The the Labour party's current in-fighting] is not because of us, it’s because of people on other sides. You’re seeing a lot of people in the Labour hierarchy engaging in pretty unsavoury tactics to shut out the membership. They’re preventing new members from getting involved. That’s a real problem, it’s essential to engage all of these people.

"But we can’t even cough without being accused of something sinister."