To envision the full potential horror of Momentum - a sophisticated 'ground operation' of decisive effectiveness in the cause of marxist identitarian dictatorship** - is one thing. To figure out how to neutralise it politically is quite another, whatever parliamentary majority the Conservatives now command. By 'it', I don't just mean Momentum with a capital 'M': the left is often fairly amorphous & blob-like, and will readily re-form in a different guise: they're good at that. What's meant here is the determined, disaffacted leftist bedsit 'officer class' we've discussed before which, if Momentum disbanded tomorrow, would still exist as a fully networked 'virtual' revolutionary base. They've trained together; they've 'fought' together; the camaraderie is there.
There are two 'passive' approaches I don't think it prudent to rely upon; one complacent and lazy, the other honourable and much more demanding.
1. The lazy argument is that Corbyn-style marxism is now proven to be terminally unattractive to the British electorate: ergo, the matter can safely be ignored. They'll all drift off to get proper jobs and have families. If they do ever re-surface, they'll be spurned just as surely as they have been this time around - and take down the Labour Party with them (again).
I don't buy either part of that. We might readily accept that some of them will be pretty disillusioned right now, and may well drift away. The attention span of da yoof is notoriously short - indeed, one might fairly contend they've already slipped from their 2017 high-water mark. That's helpful, as far as it goes: some of the weaker brethren are, well, weak. But for a solid core, the grievances are strong, the ideology solid, the narrative compelling. It's easy to stay networked, ready to be re-mobilised at short notice - even if they aren't actually back in action straight away (see footnote).
And next time? Under better generalship in the mainstream Labour Party, the crack Momentum infantry could easily have had far greater impact this time. The Labour campaign, incompetently conducted by first-timers following Corbyn's purge at the time of Party Conference, was strategically flawed, tactically inept (e.g. pouring resources into Uxbridge, a mere vanity project) - and that's before factoring in the oft-remarked observation that facing almost any other leader than Corbyn, the Tories would have been toast (unprovable; but it's certainly what many Tories think). Good troops were squandered by Corbyn's Labour like the Commonwealth forces in the fall of Singapore. Who's to say that the infinitely more political McDonnell couldn't have pulled it off? Complacency about next time isn't good enough.
2. The more strenuous, and altogether honourable 'passive' approach recognises the grievances - the real ones. It attacks them via a 'One Nation Conservative' strategy, as announced by Boris on Friday, of Actually Redressing the Grievances; and who knows, he may mean it. Nothing like draining the swamp to flush out the alligators: and it would be wonderful to be able to rely on this alone, to deal with the disaffection and see off the marxists.
The trouble with this laudable mission is several-fold. (a) Some longstanding problems take an awful lot of turning around: maybe more than one parliament, given the mighty distractions of Brexit, and a probable recession starting soon. (b) Some of the grievances are outright spurious, but the contrived 'hurt' is real enough in the eyes of the beholders. (c) Some problems, notably health and old-age provision get bigger, the more successful you are at dealing with the current manifestations. Demand will always be one step ahead of supply. (d) Some problems are unlikely to be solved by anything I've seen in anyone's manifesto.
All in all, a realistic best case would be that in 2024 Johnson's government gets a decent amount of credit for demonstrably trying hard - hopefully with a few tangible quick wins that haven't simply been banked and forgotten. But everything can always be labelled "too little, too late". It will be a mighty feat of WW2-style Keynsianism - plus supporting propaganda - to leave a large number of people feeling materially and morally better off in a mere five years. The BBC cannot be relied upon to do anything constructive towards that end, nor (e.g.) the teachers' unions, nor Labour councils ... etc etc. That's not even to mention the SNP.
Splendid though it would be to rely on manifest Tory success in addressing the nation's intractable problems for Momentum spontaneously to wither on the vine within five years ... but I wouldn't trust to it myself.
(Part 3 to come)
** In case anyone imagines this is overstating the matter, you don't have to go far to find people writing about preparations to wage the Class War starting on Monday.