The creation of Corbynist organization Momentum was the way in which the wave of socialist revival in the UK tried to take an organizational form and work toward the transformation of the Labour party. The first-past-the-post system meant that the only realistic option for socialists was working within the existing mainstream left party, while at the same time developing a parallel structure to mobilize youth supporters suspicious of bureaucratic structures. However, as I argue in this article, ultimately the stubbornness of the Labour party bureaucracy used as a defensive redoubt by party centrists managed to successfully fend off attempts for deep party reforms, and once Corbyn resigned it was easy for centrists to undo the change in the internal balance of forces. The failure of the Corbyn movement in overcoming these difficulties highlights how party organization constitutes a strategic bottleneck for all transformative movements, and that the only way to reclaim existing parties is to radically reshape them as a matter of priority.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.

References

Dennis, James.
2020
. “
A Party Within a Party Posing as a Movement? Momentum as a Movement Faction
.”
Journal of Information Technology and Politics
17
, no.
2
:
97
113
. .
Errejón, Íñigo; Mouffe, Chantal; Jones, Owen.
2016
.
Podemos: In the Name of the People
.
London
:
Lawrence and Wishart
.
Gerbaudo, Paolo.
2019
.
The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy
.
London
:
Pluto Press
.
Gerbaudo, Paolo.
2019
. “
Are Digital Parties More Democratic Than Traditional Parties? Evaluating Podemos and Movimento 5 Stelle’s Online Decision-Making Platforms
.”
Party Politics
..
Gramsci, Antonio.
1971
.
Selections from the Prison Notebooks
, edited by Hoare, Quintin; Smith, Geoffrey Nowell,
206
75
.
London
:
Lawrence and Wishart
.
Jones, Owen.
2020
. “
‘It’s Gonna Be Brutal’: The War Within
.” In
This Land: The Story of a Movement
,
62
90
.
London
:
Allen Lane
.
Katz, Richard S.; Mair, Peter.
1995
.
Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party
.
Party Politics
1
, no.
1
:
5
28
. .
Klug, Adam; Rees, Emma; Schneider, James.
2016
. “
Momentum: A New Kind of Politics
.”
Renewal: A Journal of Labour Politics
24
, no.
2
:
36
44
.
Momentum
.
2019
. “
Constitution
.”
People’s Momentum
(website) .
Nunns, Alex.
2018
. “
Getting on the Ballot
.” In
The Candidate: Jeremy Corbyn’s Improbable Path to Power
,
77
103
.
London
:
OR Books
.
Rhodes, Abi.
2019
. “
Movement-Led Electoral Campaigning: Momentum in the 2017 General Election
.” In
Political Communication in Britain
, edited by Wring, Dominic; Mortimore, Roger; Atkinson, Simon,
171
86
.
Basingstoke
:
Palgrave Macmillan
.
Seymour, Richard.
2016
. “
How ‘Project Fear’ Failed
.” In
Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
,
13
57
.
London
:
Verso
.
Walker, Peter.
2020
. “
Jeremy Corbyn Accuses Labour Officials of Sabotaging Election Campagn
.”
Guardian
,
August
7
. .