Keir Starmer has been urged to thaw ties with the new generation of Labour’s leftwing to increase the party’s vote share and avoid a hung parliament at the next election.
Senior Labor MPs fear the party risks alienating its core vote as it seeks to attract more anti-Tory votes and continue to bridge the Brexit gap.
It comes as Momentum makes a “strategic” retreat from local government, focusing less on the PLP and more on feeding a “growing appetite for change and ambition” within the local community.
A Momentum source said: “There is a hunger for something more than New Labor reruns, a sense that the status quo cannot continue, and a recognition that the major crises facing Britain require real ambition.”
The grassroots group says they want to show the change that has been delivered locally, with policies that include democratic ownership and building council housing, which have proven to be winners in door vote – as demonstrated by local election wins in Worthing and Preston.
Momentum’s move comes months after the Guardian reported its future was at risk, with senior insiders urging the group to change its approach and put in place “a coherent plan with a strategy”, though what is the future of Corbyn.
In an apparent bid to act as a bridge to “unity”, Momentum insiders believe many inside and outside Labor are hoping to achieve a bold leftwing policy programme, and close the gap between the policies proposed by the Labor party in the UK and those proposed by the mayors and Welsh Labor parties.
An insider said: “We have two main goals: building our grassroots base, and building coalitions across the labor movement for transformative policies. This is about the long game.”
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted Starmer needed to maximize the party’s vote and ensure Labor is a broad church, “where there is respect for a broad view across the political spectrum.” within the Labor party”.
Some frontbenchers reiterated criticism of the party’s heavy use of focus groups, with one claiming: “There is more to Labor than the ‘red wall’.”
“We need a united party that appeals to the radical future generation,” McDonnell told the Guardian. “What I’m worried about is that if Rishi Sunak keeps the ship going and some of the Tory vote goes back to the Conservative party, how do we maximize our vote?
“We need to use every resource we can and if you look at the young radical left MPs, they have appeal across the board, but they appeal more to young people , particularly appealing to members of the BAME community, because they are members of that community.
“And if we don’t use that resource, we’re going to miss an opportunity to mobilize some important votes.”
Rising leftwing stars in the PLP’s 2019 intake include Nadia Whittome, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Olivia Blake and Zarah Sultana all of whom McDonnell hopes will provide experience on the frontbench, otherwise the party risks wasting their talents as “electoral resources”.
“Starmer’s weakness is that he can bring into government with him a new generation of talent who speak for many communities across the country, not to mention the experience of the likes of Rebecca Long-Bailey. He needs to recognize that as a resource.”
Momentum is focused on the long game, working to change a broader alliance of the left and soft left within Labor on economic change and democratic reform.
A Momentum source said: “We can plant the seeds of this alliance here and now, whether it’s to campaign together on policy and democratic reform, or push a transformative political agenda in local government. .”
The shift to Momentum comes after Starmer admitted his project to transform the party after the Corbyn era needed to go further and deeper than Tony Blair’s government.
In a speech on Saturday, he said the reforms were necessary because a future Labor government would have a bigger task than Blair faced, given the serious challenges facing the country, over 13 years of Conservative rule.
Hilary Schan, co-chair of Momentum, said: “In Worthing, we overturned the Tory majority with a bold manifesto and united local party – this is Labor at its best. People are fed up with the status quo quo, and when we talk about building the council house or building community wealth, it seems like common sense to voters.
Before Labour’s National Policy Forum meets in July to decide what Labor conference will put forward, leftwing activists will continue to call for public ownership of water and other key industries, pushing for free school meals adopted by Labor in the country and for rent control to be introduced.
Rachel Godfrey Wood, 38, assumes direction of the organization’s staff team, under the direction of the elected co-chairs of Momentum, Schan and Kate Dove, and the National Coordinating Group. Godfrey Wood is a long-time Momentum activist who has led the group’s organizing efforts within the Labor party since 2017, helping to elect a range of current members of the Socialist Campaign Group, and gaining in the widespread respect of the entire labor movement.
Godfrey Wood has been appointed head of political strategy at Momentum after the group successfully completed a major fundraiser, securing 1,000 more pledges of ongoing financial support from members and supporters.