Are Corbyn supporters now reluctant to pump money into internal party fights?
Divisions within the Labour party continue to fester. Keir Starmer’s decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn led to a tsunami of derision from the left of the party. But how are the factions capitalising on the splits?
News that Starmer had prevented Corbyn from sitting as a Labour MP, despite the former leader being readmitted to the party, created a huge backlash among Corbyn supporters.
As the party teeters on the brink of an internal war, the goals and achievements of the two main political rivals in with Labour – Labour First and Momentum – elucidate a wider sentiment felt within Labour’s increasingly widening division between left and right.
Such statements can be found in the two organisations’ fundraising efforts.
Momentum’s short-term plan
Hailed as a “grassroots, people-powered movement” by its members, Momentum, the campaign group associated with Jeremy Corbyn, is bound by a mission to transform Labour into a “more democratic party.”
Momentum recently set itself a fundraising goal of £7,000. Last week, the organisation published a short-term plan for opposing the attacks on the Labour left. The plan includes everything from using local party democracy to push back against the anti-democratic crackdown of member free speech, to putting direct pressure on the leadership by sending emails directly to Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and the member representatives on the NEC, in the name of creating a socialist future.
In the aftermath of the plan being published, Momentum reported that hundreds and hundreds of small donors “stepped up to the mark” to help build a fighting fund.
Labour First’s ambitious fundraising target
Labour First, the pre-Blairite pressure group that was founded in 1980 and is seen as the voice of Labour’s traditional right, gave itself a significantly more ambitious fundraising target of £100,000. The group claims it is already more than two thirds of the way there in reaching its target – with over £70,000 raised.
In the 2015 Labour leadership election, Labour First supported ABC (anyone But Corbyn). Within its current fundraising manifesto, the group alludes to what is labels as successes in 2020, including helping to secure a “positive change in direction of the party with the leadership election.”
In 2021 Labour First promises to build on its successes by, in its own words, moving away from the “extremism and antisemitism of the Corbyn years.”
It could be argued that the disparity of the two organisations’ fundraising targets, in which the faction on the party’s right is heavily out-fundraising the faction on Labour’s left, speaks volumes in the impetus and energy of their respective fights.
Its significantly more tepid fundraising target could be a sign Momentum – and the wider left – is reeling from a year that saw the Corbyn era buried. As a Labour advisor told Guardian columnist and economics commentator, Aditya Chakrabortty: “It’s astonishing how little there is of any Corbyn legacy… it has simply dissolved away.”
Marginalising the left within Labour
Many to the left of the Labour party saw the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn as being more than because of his response to the EHRC report. They saw it as the latest in a string of factional moves by Labour’s right-wing, aimed at marginalising the left within the party.
The comparatively low fundraising target of Momentum – which the group had to push quite hard to raise, compared to its Labour’s First seemingly smashing its more ambitious target – could be a tangible and sonorous sign that morale is low among the party’s left.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a freelance journalist and columnist for Left Foot Forward.
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