Momentum co-founder: we’ll have more members than the Tories ‘on current trend’

The Labour grass roots movement now boasts over 31,000 members and 250,000 supporters and it's only two years old.

Momentum celebrated its second birthday on Sunday, announcing its membership had grown to 31,000, with more than 1,500 joining in the last two weeks alone.

The grassroots movement aligned to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party began life in 2015 as a small volunteer-run operation out of borrowed office space in east London.

The organisation now boasts 15 staff members, offices in Manchester and London and over 30,000 members in 170 different local groups.

Millions watch Momentum videos on Facebook and Twitter and the organisation has proved itself an effective campaigning body through recent general election canvassing and organising rallies supporting Corbyn during the leadership challenge last year.

We spoke to Adam Krug, co-founder of Momentum, about the startling growth of the campaign movement.

“We saw for so long that politics didn’t speak to the vast majority of people in society, especially young people. People felt disillusioned and disaffected and didn’t see a sufficient difference between what the main parties offered.”

“Jeremy Corbyn sparked something very different. He sparked mass activity. Momentum sought to build on that and make it more accessible to people. “

“Jeremy is an effective way to tap into disillusionment with politics. It’s because politics for so long has been inaccessible and disempowering. It’s been people in Westminster in suits making decisions, which other people can’t understand and can’t relate to.”

“Whereas this whole new way of doing politics is about making people active in their local communities on issues that affect them and getting Labour elected in these communities.”

“There’s been a need for this. Politics was so stale and there have been increasing levels of inequality and Tory austerity. There’s been growing disillusionment.”

A Momentum press release on Sunday boasted that the group is almost a third as large as the entire Tory Party membership. We asked if it would the group could become larger than the Tory party.

Will Momentum surpass the Tories in terms of membership numbers? “On the current trend, that’s probably likely, yes.”

Momentum’s chief aim though, says Krug, is not getting more members for the sake of it: “our aim is to transform the Labour party and to bring lots of people into politics to get Labour elected. It’s not our fundamental aim just to get members. But obviously membership is what funds Momentum.”

“We’re running training events for members throughout the UK. Bringing first time canvassers into participatory sessions to role play canvassing and how to go about talking to people on doorsteps.”

“And now, having done a general election, Momentum has become seasoned, has learnt how to conduct itself effectively in campaigns and mobilise large numbers of people. So we’re ready for the next election campaign when that comes.”

The political enemies of Momentum are clearly rattled by its success. A leading Tory think tank last week urged that the Conservative party must “urgently follow” Labour and Momentum if it wishes to remain a serious electoral force.

The think tank called for a “revolution at Tory conference”, arguing the Tory Party must transform itself from “centrist” politics into a “genuinely popular movement”. There’s probably not been a more ringing endorsement of Momentum yet.

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