No, Momentum is not brainwashing kids
Momentum, the activist group backing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has announced a new initiative: Momentum Kids. It is a network of crèches and childcare facilities for its members, designed to give mothers and single parents more time to get involved in politics.
Communal childcare has long been a demand of the left, but Momentum Kids has been met with harsh criticism. Its promise to provide ‘fun, engaging and child-friendly’ political activity has been branded ‘creepy’ and ‘sinister’ – an attempt at ‘brainwashing’ kids. Ludicrous comparisons have been made between Momentum Kids and the Soviet Union’s Komsomol (and worse). The extent to which Momentum Kids will expose children in its care to Corbynista politics is unclear. According to one article in the Independent, ‘banner-making workshops’ are among the activities – which is hardly anything to get worked up about.
But even if children in Momentum Kids are taught about nationalised industry and the hubris of US foreign policy, who cares? There is a long history of mainstream political parties providing childcare facilities and family initiatives for supporters. Before the First World War, the German Social Democratic Party organised sporting events, choral societies and various other activities for members and their families. In 1925, the UK Conservative Party formed the Young Britons, an organisation open to children between the ages of six and 16.
Yes, those who grow up going to Momentum Kids events might carry on making banners into adulthood. Others might grow out of it. Perhaps they’ll remember their time in Momentum Kids as a mere quirk of their childhood. Either way, it certainly doesn’t do kids any harm to be exposed to political ideas. No child makes it to adulthood without being exposed to the values, political or otherwise, of the adults around them.
What the furore over Momentum Kids really shows is a distrust of parents. Such attacks on parental freedom assume that allowing parents to socialise their children into their worldview is tantamount to abuse. In the mid-2000s, the New Atheist movement regularly called for religious education for young children to be banned on similar grounds. Stopping parents from imbuing their kids with their values would be a victory for no one, except authoritarians.
Tom Bailey is a writer based in London.
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