The first task facing Electoral Commission investigators probing Momentum will be to unravel the organisation’s complex structure. Guido has taken a look…
Momentum is an unincorporated association – it doesn’t own assets and doesn’t employ anyone, but has an estimated 30,000 paying supporters. It raised £580,000 in membership subs last year alone – and that’s not counting other donations. It’s this unincorporated association that was officially registered with the Electoral Commission as a non-party campaigner for the 2017 General Election (in electoral law these are called ‘third parties’). The address registered for Momentum with the Electoral Commission is the TSSA Union building in Euston. Despite having hundreds of thousands in income, this is the ‘Momentum’ that reported a total spend of just £38,742.54 across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during the general election’s restricted spending period. That’s a tight £257.46 below the £39,000 limit for non-party campaigners, meaning an average spend of just £60 per constituency.
Momentum says it uses two limited companies to carry on its operations: Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd (MCS) and Jeremy for Labour Ltd (JFL). JFL is controlled entirely by its sole director, Momentum supremo and founder Jon Lansman, and is registered to his luxury Shad Thames flat. JFL is where the asset value in Momentum really lies: it is the ‘data controller’ which legally owns a huge database of supporter contact details collected during “both of Jeremy’s leadership campaigns, through Momentum’s website and during its campaigns.” It also operates the Momentum website. It must control data used – and collected – during the General Election…
Meanwhile, MCS employs about 15 staff on behalf of the unincorporated association and is registered to yet another office in East London. These must be the paid staff who directly influenced and directed Momentum’s general election campaign activity.
During the election campaign, Momentum boasted about both how much money it was making and how much money it was spending. Check out this fundraising pitch from Paul Mason (“we need money, a lot of it”), attached to a tweet on May 13, claiming Momentum had nearly raised £40,000 in an online crowdfunder:
Today we’re launching our general election crowdfunder. Less than 4 weeks to defeat @theresa_may! Let’s do this 👉
— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) May 13, 2017
Momentum raised £120,000 from the Crowdpac drive alone. Momentum is asking us to believe only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands it raised during the regulated period was spent on general election activities. Either it is lying to supporters about what they were going to do with their donations or it is lying to the Electoral Commission about how the donations were spent…
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