Another review of Labour’s Rulebook

Worker’s Liberty asked me to write a review of the Rules change debates at Labour Conference ’18 and have just published it in their paper. It’s snappily entitled “The Labour Party’s new rules”. The article is pretty comprehensive although some of it is based on my contemporaneous blogs, especially “The Denouement“.

I talk of the reform of the trigger ballot, the half-cacked reform of the Leadership election nominations, importantly about member’s rights and local structures, national structures such as the reform of BAME and Youth representation and the establishment of the disabled member’s representative. I also talk of the failure to abolish the “three year” rules amendment moratorium, which is actually four years. I talk of the sneaky amendments to the disciplinary rules, the failure to mitigate the auto-exclusion rule,

I sort of summarise as follows,

…. In summary, the trigger ballot reform is a tremendous step forward, and so is the rewriting of the CLP rules. The establishment of a charter of members’ rights is also an important gain.

The NEC reforms must be assessed as a score draw, but if they act as a focus for autonomous organisation of BAME, youth and the disabled, these will be victories. We need to review the leadership election rules. As we make democratic advances, we need to balance the transfer of power to individual members with the ability to take collective decisions.

The article also points at CLPD’s calls for action, on the Leadership nomination threshold and other rule changes. The deadline for the rule changes is this Friday. …

Democratising Momentum, that would be nice

Democratising Momentum, that would be nice

You couldn’t make it up but Momentum have consulted (some of) their membership on new rules for the running of Momentum. It seems they don’t plan to change the bits that they can’t keep to, merely bits they find otherwise difficult for reasons I can’t fathom. Perhaps they’re just embarrassed but given what they’ve put up with, I can’t believe that. Simon Hannah describes the changes and the fig leave of a process by which they’ve done it in this article in the Clarion.

The changes relate to the composition, they plan to increase the number of directly elected members and the number of constituencies and term of office of the central committee, aka the NCG.

Simon expresses some cynicism about the pace of these reforms and forecasts the postponement of the next NCG elections. I think it will depend upon how rapidly they want the eight new members. He also points out they have failed to amend the rules pertaining to the embarrassingly absent, digital decision making platform and the strangely abandoned “Member’s Council”.

To be frank, I was waiting for the next elections but wasn’t hoping for much. Time to stop giving them money I think, although I might put in a DSAR asking if their selection for inclusion in the consultation was data based and what facts they hold on me which were relevant to this decision. …

e-voting: transparency and secrecy

e-voting: transparency and secrecy

I have just had a another do-over on the subject of e-voting. It is my view that,

It is not possible to build a single system that offers both a transparency of result and secrecy of the ballot.

Some people argue that our current system fails these tests but this is not so. The UK’s current process involve three systems, one to check that the voter is entitled, one to record the vote, and one that records the intersection between the other two for the purposes of audit. The ballots and their intersections are not indexed. While the systems are designed to be tracked, doing so requires massive privilege and is very expensive. N.B. Expense is an IT security defence. …

PMs and “coronations”

So Theresa May has gone. I had forgotten that this changes the chart I first published in Mandates on this blog. I have revised the chart but I am trapped by my own rules.

My definition of a winning PM is one who fought a General Election and remained Prime Minister, this is what happened to May. However she resigned because she had lost the confidence of the House, the first to do so for a very long time.

While the chart suggests she was successful, in being a winning inheritor, she only ruled for three years, and had to resign. Arguably she failed to win the 2017 GE. The argument that in the modern party age, party primaries strengthen the candidate and the party still seems to hold true. …

There’s a reason we made the UN

There’s a reason we made the UN

This is what happens when I don’t real time blog, I get distracted but its a bad day for news. The usual knob heads are ramping up the acts of piracy in the Persian Gulf and blaming Iran. Earlier in the week, a motion virtually supporting an illegal military intervention in Venezuela was debated at GMB Conference. Some people need to be reminded.

Aggressive war is illegal, “regime change” as a goal of military action is a war crime.

States have a right of self defence, any other action needs the approval of the UN Security Council. The UN and the rule of law are our best hope for a better world.

It’s not good enough to say “it’s broken” and our moral judgement cannot supplant this Law.

I have quoted some bits of the UN Charter, below/overleaf.

ooOOOoo …

GMB on Venezuela

GMB on Venezuela

There was an appalling motion calling for Maduro to be deposed in Venezuela. GMB policy is to support the Venzuelan people through, in the UK, Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign. Things have changed in Venezuela and the CEC took the opportunity to recommend the motion be referred so that they can review the policy and the situation. I spoke against the motion, here is the youtube link to the start of the debate, since I think it worth publicising the speeches in favour, the other motions are then moved and there were two speeches against, I am the last speaker before the CEC. My last line was,

Our solidarity must be with people of Venezuela; regime change is both illegal and wrong, aggressive war is both illegal and wrong.

This motion does not deserve our support in any way.

I was actually quite shocked to see how few delegates supported us outside London, although a lot of people didn’t vote the first time round. I asked for count of the votes, but they asked delegates to show their votes a second time and it was clearly carried, i.e. referred to the CEC. …

Ships, Steel & Gas

Ships, Steel & Gas

I have worked as a London (or Thames Valley) white collar worker for all my working life but the GMB is strong in manufacturing and energy. We had several debates of special interest to Shipbuilding, Steel, and Energy, especially the Gas industry and there was also a motion on fracking. For more see below/overleaf.

Ships

The shipbuilding motions refer to public procurement policy and reference concepts echoed in the “Just Transition” movements, about not leaving communities nor workers behind. While looking for a picture to decorate this article, I came across an article, entitled, “Another RN supplier goes under – the closure of Appledore shipyard”, which documents the impact on the community but critiques Babcock’s commercial strategy. In reading the article, it makes clear that Appledore was part of the Aircraft Carrier supply-chain and so their commissioning prolonged the life of the shipyard. GMB Congress also highlighted the failure of the Government to “Buy British” for the latest generation of Fleet auxiliary ships. I have written several articles mirroring arguments about  what I consider to be the mistakes of renewing Trident and the building of the new Fleet Carriers. I think the Union needs to engage in these arguments i.e. what do we need and can they be built in multiple sites. It’s not just about how many hospitals could have been funded; what defence assets are we missing to fund the subs & carriers. The country needs to also address retraining and skills reuse. Labour’s promise of a National Education Service, with free, life-long learning available to all is an important part of keeping the UK’s skills relevant and renewing them. The debate can be found on youtube.

Steel

The fate of what remains of British Steel was also debated, and I reflected on this earlier this month on this blog. A motion had been submitted to Congress over the winter, again calling for a “Buy British First” policy and this was supplemented by an Emergency Motion calling for the Scunthorpe Steel Works to remain open. [Video of the moving, in several ways, speech]

 

Nothing was mentioned about the Government’s handling of tariffs. (A mistake I would have thought).

Gas

The future of the Gas industry was debated via Composite 15.

While in entering the debate, I assumed that I’d have a problem with the GMB position as too often Unions take a no change position, the composite is well argued and highlights certain critical facts, although not others. (Electricity cannot be stored at scale, Gas can, electricity leaks over the grid. Hydrogen is not a fossil fuel.)  The science of innovation with respect to the use of Hydrogen has not been documented either by the GMB branches nor by Friends of the Earth. (I am trying to chase it down; I have written to SGN who had a stand in the exhibition space.) There’s no question that if Momentum and Friends of the Earth get their motion to Labour Conference, the Just Transition Unions will vote it down, unless they compromise on Gas & Nuclear. The GMB motions states that there is scientific consensus that gas heating in the home is part of a transition to a carbon neutral economy.

I think we need a better understanding of the science.

I read a lot about this in order to write this report, and my notes are on my wiki.

Fracking

A motion on Fracking, basically opposing it, in the light of recently discovered facts and regulatory changes was withdrawn at the request of the CEC.

ooOOOoo

The words of the Gas and Fracking motions are posted on my notes are on my wiki. …