Momentum, the group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn inside the Labour party, is to draw up a code of conduct so that members of other parties will not be allowed to attend its decision-making meetings.
A new code is to be sent to local Momentum groups in the next few days after its leadership recognised it was under threat of being discredited by the interference of hard-left groups such as the Socialist party and Socialist Workers party.
It would mean members of other leftwing parties such as Left Unity and the Communist party would not be allowed to attend its decision-making meetings. Momentum has decided that office holders in the group must all be Labour members and it is urgently preparing plans to develop a more democratic structure.
Momentum has been accused of acting as a vehicle for the far left to infiltrate Labour, but it has insisted that it is an inclusive Labour-oriented campaigning group trying to draw in new people.
Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader, said in a Twitter exchange on Monday night that Momentum had an entryist problem in some of its branches. At the weekend, Caroline Flint, a former Labour cabinet minister, claimed Momentum could destroy the party.
She said: “They seem to be focused on interfering in the organisation of the Labour party. That is exactly what far-left groups like Militant did in the 1980s. They act as a separate party operating within the Labour party but with no real loyalty to the party.”
In a statement issued at lunchtime on Tuesday in the wake of the Guardian report, Momentum said the group had “sprung out of a desire to empower people not previously energised, to encourage those people to engage in debate and to organise on issues which affect them in their communities”.
The statement continued: “So we think it is right for Momentum to be seeking to work with coalitions and campaigning groups outside the Labour party nationally and locally.
“What we will not allow, and we don’t think our supporters will accept, is for our grassroots network to be used by other groups to push their agendas which have for decades been set against the Labour party and those members who have worked hard to get us to this position.”
On its Facebook page, Momentum added: “Alliances are a different thing – as we say, we will work with other groups and campaigns, but we can’t allow Momentum to be used as a vehicle for other parties. So if you are a member of the Socialist party, or the SWP, for instance, you cannot also be involved in decision making within Momentum.”
The decision received a mixed reception within Momentum and the Socialist party, the successor to the Militant Tendency, said: “Unfortunately, the Momentum leadership seems to think the only way we can strengthen Jeremy’s leadership is by mollifying the right and suggesting the Socialist party will no longer be able to participate.
“If they continue with this approach, there is a real danger that the support for Jeremy Corbyn could ebb and the right wing can choose their time to wield the dagger and force him out. The potential for this has been there since Corbyn was elected.”
In practice, the detail of the code, and how it will be policed, remains to be hammered out. The group also faces difficulties with groups such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, a Trotskyist group that has disbanded to recommence work inside the Labour party.
Paul Klug, Momentum’s national organiser, told Sky’s Dermot Murnaghan: “Everybody who has a position within Momentum is a Labour party member. The governance structure is still being established to be completely clear with all the terminology, but absolutely no members of other political parties are welcome at Momentum meetings. If you are not a member of a political party … your voice is welcomed and heard but the Socialist party, for example, are not welcome to be at Momentum meetings.” He said the same applied to the Communist party of Great Britain.
Momentum has insisted it is opposed to calls for the deselection of MPs who voted to back the extension of airstrikes to Syria, but such calls have been made at successive local Momentum events, sometimes by Socialist party members.
A Momentum meeting last week in Lambeth, south London, was leafleted and addressed by members of other leftwing groups calling for the local MP – Streatham’s Chuka Umunna – to be deselected for supporting the airstrikes. Momentum said the Socialist party had not been invited to the meeting.
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