They are a household name now, but it wasn’t always this way. Founded in 2015, the hard-left grassroots setup has taken the political world by storm in very recent years.
It must be given the recognition that it deserves.
The firebrand organisation is a clear victory for political engagement. It has gained 40,000 members in 3 years as of April 2018, around 385 per week, and is now an unmistakable faction in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party with members spanning over most constituencies. There are 170 local groups across the UK.
The movement aims to organise local groups on a national level in order to “encourage mass mobilisation for a more democratic, equal and decent society” and “assist members in making their voices heard”.
They have a broad goal of increasing political participation across the board, according to their website.
This is what every political party has been trying to achieve since its formation.
By June 2017, their Facebook page had reached 23.7 million views, and their videos were watched by a total of 12.7 million unique users in just a week.
In total, since their formation, Momentum spent less than £2,000 on advertising on Facebook as of June last year according to The Independent.
Momentum’s membership numbers increased by 1,500 in the four days after the 2015 General Election and by another 3,000 in the two months after. Their numbers equate to approximately 385 people joining the group every week.
However, their methods are very questionable. In January 2017, Momentum announced that they were now going to force their potential and current members to join Labour by July 2017. This is unquestionably a violation of trust for left-wing, politically-involved members of Momentum who do not want to be associated with the establishment Labour party, most of whose MP’s are still sympathetic to the divisive New Labour era.
Michael Gove, the prominent Conservative MP, has previously admitted that “The Conservative Party can learn a lot from Momentum.”, whilst Tom Watson, Labour’s own Deputy Leader, still has his head buried deep in the sand having previously been quoted as saying “I just don’t think they’re that effective”.
Not for the first time, I completely agree with Michael Gove. The main reason is immediately below.
In the 2017 general election cycle, ‘MyNearestMarginal.com’, a website which allows voters to search for campaigning events in marginal constituencies closest to them, was created.
Why can’t the Conservatives cotton on to these seemingly simple solutions?
Financially, political parties are clearly trying to incentivise young people to get involved in Politics. The Conservatives, despite being slated for not involving young people, have recently re-launched their youth branch, for which I am a local co-ordinator in the marginal constituency of Bury North.
To join the Conservatives, it is just £5 per year for those under the age of 23. That’s the price of a coffee.
To engage people, in particular young people, all we need to do is light the spark. According to the IPPR, if someone votes for the first time, they are much more likely to vote again.
Referendums are the perfect way to engage all people. They are a shining example of Direct Democracy. 60% of 18-24 year-olds voted in the 2016 EU Referendum, whilst there was massive engagement of young people on the part of the #RepealTheEighth movement in the Republic of Ireland.
Leo Varadkar, the Taioseach of Ireland, made a plea following this for young people to stay involved in political debate. I wish him the best of luck with his plea.
We are getting better.
In the 2017 General Election, 64% of 18-24 year-olds cast their vote – the highest since the 67% in 1992 – according to Ipsos Mori.
The foundations are clearly in place.
Let’s promote debate and participation this National Democracy Week. More participation means a healthier, more prosperous democracy.
I encourage all to vote whenever you can. The information is there at your fingertips. It is so easy to join a party, get involved with similar-minded people.
You can change minds, if you choose to want to.