I am very worried about the state of the Labour Party. Only a few years ago we were a friendly broad church that tolerated differences of opinion. Sure, there were disagreements between Blairites and Brownites or between supporters of Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, but generally we all got along. That changed when Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing for Labour leader and thousands of hard left activists flooded into the Labour Party. The hostility of these Johnny-come-latelys to proper party members is palpable. They should remember they are guests at this party and not be so rude to the hosts.
You cannot even point out how fundamentally misguided these people are without being labelled a “neoliberal”, “Red Tory” or simply “scum”. In order to complete their takeover of the party and crush all dissenting opinion, this gaggle of former SWP members have banded together to form a clandestine party-within-a-party called Momentum.
Anyone with sensible, centre-left opinions views Monument as a dangerous cult. The fact that Momentum is responsible for all the party’s current woes is frequently discussed at Progress meetings. Many proper party members are worried about how this rabble of Trotskyists are dragging that party away from the values of Chuka Umunna and Yvette Cooper.
I wanted to learn more about the hostile force that has invaded my political home. So I went down to a local Momentum meeting to see what these belligerent worshipers of Jeremy Corbyn were like. The experience was harrowing and confirmed all of my suspicions.
The email I received said the meeting would take place on Sunday at Leytonstone High Road Methodist Church. I went down on Sunday morning and the first thing I noticed was that Leytonstone High Road Methodist Church was the sort of Modernist, concrete box that that only a metropolitan, liberal who was completely out of touch with reality could like.
The meeting was well attended (it’s East London, Corbyn Central), but I was surprised to see so many students and young people out of bed early on a Sunday morning. I thought they would all be sleeping off craft beer induced hangovers and telling each other on SnapChat that Taylor Swift's new video was “problematic” before then heading down to Sodo Pizza Cafe for smashed avocado on toast.
It must have been passion for Corbyn that got so many young people up early. Momentum members behave in irrational ways, even for Millennials, who don’t vote and shouldn't be listened to. There were some older members, clearly Trotskyist infiltrators we kicked out of the party in the 1980s, still hell-bent on destroying Labour to prove some point about Communism being the future. They all had the Karl Marx beards and some had leather bound copies of Das Kapital with them.
I slipped in at the back, careful not to draw attention to myself. These people can smell a political activist with a firm understanding of what the electorate want a mile off and they don’t like it. I was ready for some unreconstructed old-school leftyness, but I was surprised that the meeting actually began with the singing of socialist anthems. I half expected Billy Bragg to appear with his guitar to lead everyone in in a chorus of the Red Flag. Instead, it was Jerusalem on an organ (I guess Mr Bragg was too busy at his mansion in Surrey).
Singing this song is clearly virtue-signalling of the highest order. A calling card marking out who is in the group designed to exclude people who aren't red flag waving nutters. They didn't sing Things Can Only Get Better because they secretly know that, under Corbyn, they can only get worse.
When the singing was over we moved on to the main subject of the meeting. I braced myself for a wave of hatred directed at Blairites and Red Tories, but the local chapter leader (I assume that’s what they are called) was a calm and soft-spoken young man who (credit where credit is due) had a real knack for talking to people on their level. At first I listened to him exalt the virtues of Corbyn or (JC as he called him) in his calm and reasonable voice. Then I remembered not to be taken in. Cult leaders don’t look like raving nutters at first. I needed to keep my wits about me during this meeting.
What was most striking about the meeting was that there is was no discussion of policy. At Progress meetings we all read from Policy Review and discuss what opportunities the gig economy presents for the future of work. At Momentum, everyone sits in silence and listens to the chapter leader. There is only one word for this: cult-like. What myself and my friends from the Liz Kendall For Leader campaign thought about Momentum was true.
Momentum members are not interested in listening to other people's views, only how great JC is and how he saved the party from awful Blairites. I heard about how JC died and came back to life - a reference to his poll ratings that have improved recently, but everyone knows this is only temporary, Corbyn has none of the sticking power of politician like Tristram Hunt
I was told how JC is both the son of the party and the party itself, a statement so contradictory and threateningly Orwellian that it could come from Chairman Mao himself. I heard about how JC suffered for our sins (clearly an attack on proper party members who supported Blair or read the fair and balanced debate in the mainstream media). The propaganda was dispensed in a reasonable way by a charming young man and these dulled fools lapped up every word of it, and to think that these closeted Communists have a go at religious people for being gullible.
Then came the most horrifying part. These delusional cultists practiced a ritual where they drank the blood of the Labour Party leader. Not literally. Symbolically using wine as a proxy, but I was still disturbed. The chapter leader poured the wine and invited the Corbnyistas to receive the blood of JC as a token of the suffering he endured (a clear reference to the PLP’s vote of non-confidence in Corbyn last summer).
I was worried what these lunatics might do to a non-believer. The walls of the meeting room were covered in pictures of a man going through some sort of wood and nails based torture, presumably to scare members into obedience. Things looked dark. I was about to be forced to symbolically drink the blood of a man who defied the Labour whip 617 times. This was unthinkable. I turned and ran screaming out of the meeting. I'm sorry to say that I shat myself a bit on the way.
Seeing inside the hard left cult of Momentum was the most disturbing experience of my life. These invaders have only one interest: driving out everyone who won’t take part in their righteous worship of JC. I was left believing that I was right about them all along and shouldn't have bothered to find out first hand.