Boris Johnson to be target of Momentum campaign

Boris Johnson in Croydon

Momentum is to launch a series of training camps for Labour activists to target 160 marginal constituencies in a campaign aimed at unseating MPs such as the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

The grassroots group of Jeremy Corbyn supporters, which was credited with helping motivate voters before the 8 June general election, will run the one-day workshops across the country in a sign Labour is preparing for the possibility of another snap election.

Activists will be taught a range of campaigning techniques, including how to make viral videos similar to Momentum’s parody of middle-class people sitting around discussing the Labour leader’s policies, which reached nearly 2 million people in less than 24 hours.

Other topics will include “persuasion-style canvassing” and generating local press coverage, as well as understanding how the Labour party works and community organising.

The full list of target seats has not been finalised but it is expected to include Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where Johnson’s majority was halved to 5,000, and Southport, which the Conservatives took off the Liberal Democrats in the election.

It will take in seats Labour has never held, or has not held for a long time, such as two newly marginal Cornish seats: Truro and Falmouth, held by the Conservative minister Sarah Newton; and Camborne and Redruth, held by fellow minister George Eustice. Historically, they have both been Lib Dem seats.

Other new marginals include Milton Keynes North, which has been Conservative since 2001, and Chipping Barnet, the seat of the former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers, which has been held by the Tories since its creation in 1974.
Other obvious target seats include the Hastings and Rye seat of the home secretary, Amber Rudd; Pudsey, the Yorkshire seat of the government whip Stuart Andrew; and Southampton Itchen, which was won by the Conservatives’ Royston Smith from Labour in 2015 and held by just 31 votes this year.

Momentum said the training programme, which will start with sessions in London, Manchester and Birmingham, was part of its “permanent election campaign”.

Beth Foster-Ogg, Momentum’s training coordinator, said:“This election showed what a groundswell of ordinary people, knocking on doors and campaigning for the Labour party can do.

“Now we want to skill up the hundreds of thousands of new Labour party members so they can be better, more effective campaigners when the next election comes, and so they can campaign and organise in their communities outside of election time.

“If we are out talking to people, campaigning and making the Labour party the heart of our communities all year round, we will be ready to beat the Tories when this weak and unstable government inevitably calls another election.”

Momentum is affiliated to Labour and has been growing in force within the party since Corbyn cemented his position as leader after gaining substantial ground at the election.

The move to target marginal seats follows frustration among some Corbyn supporters that the party’s headquarters ran a largely defensive election campaign aimed at retaining rather than gaining seats. Labour did win seats unexpectedly in places such as Peterborough and Canterbury despite few resources going into campaigning there.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason Deputy political editor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 3rd August 2017 13.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010