A new Labour Left

A new Labour Left

I have been ill over the summer; I wish I had written this earlier as the wheel tracks of the political debate in the Labour Party are probably too deep for these thoughts to take hold, or maybe not, some of the articles bookmarked here suggest some deeper thinking is going on. This blog article examines the inter left dialogue and what might be done to promote a greater left unity. It notes the number of people who voted for Starmer and Corbyn, it’s a lot, and suggests that these people are key to the future platform pursued by the Labour Party. We need a majority that will build a fair and principled discipline system and a democratic policy development process that allows out membership to lead the party.

Inside the Labour Party, Corbyn’s coalition is broken and is not going to be put back together. The political strategy, vision for Labour and culture of that part of the old left majority now coalescing around #starmerout, and articulating, still, that Starmer lost the election due to his part in pushing the Remainer position, their pandering on the issue of immigration and their disgusting organisational practices creates a pretty insurmountable barrier. It’s a rose-tinted view of the last four years which is neutralised by the facts and arguments in this article, Starmerscepticism: An Unsentimental Approach.

Keir Starmer, like Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader because the membership thought he was the most left wing candidate that could win. Looking at the results of the Leadership election, we can see that the Left lost over 175,000 votes since 2016. This means that 10,000s of people voted for Corbyn in 2015/6 and for Starmer in 2020. Another metric showing the Left’s loss of grip is that only five MP’s lost their reselection battles, and some won them handsomely. Corbyn’s internal voters were no longer following Momentum nor its sectarian and careerist passengers nor the Unite leadership.

A new left majority is not going to be reconstructed without talking and listening to those who voted for Starmer. Many of them will have done so because of his 10 pledges, which promises a significant policy continuity with the Corbyn leadership.

Telling people they’re idiots or just even wrong is not a good start point for convincing them but then there are those who are not interested in building a new majority; it’s the being right that counts for them.

Dave Levy i.e. me

Building a new majority with power has been made harder by the decision to use STV as the electoral system for the CLP division of the NEC. The sectarian nature of this decision is shown by the fact that it is the only division to which this is applied; most egregiously it has not been applied to the Councillor division. It has been done to weaken the power of the Momentum led left, in the hope that Progress/Labour First will benefit from this manoeuvre; they are running a slate under the banner of “Labour to Win” which includes a couple of re-treads who have a poor record in defending member’s rights, unless in the case of Johanna Baxter, that member is Iain McNicol.

What do we do next? Support and/or motivate the CLPD in returning to its primary cause, campaigning for Party democracy and support the Grassroots Voice 6, which is the only broad slate. After the election, we’ll see just how powerful the groups are and how attractive an independent appeal can be made, particularly by Crispin Flintoff.

 While I find much to be attracted to in the Open Labour platform, their political practice, by their divorcing of accountability to the platform by choosing their candidates by all member’s ballots, reinforced by those they chose or confirming support for powerful incumbents in the case of Alice Perry makes building coalitions through supporting their slate difficult. Ann Black & Alice Perry should be unacceptable to those on the left and those who want a Party built on respect for the membership. Ann Black, in particular, has a long track record of voting to exclude and discipline members of the most trivial of reasons and her period as Chair of the Disputes Committee culminated in the 2015/2016 purges. Black also voted for all of McNicol’s gerrymandering proposals for the 2016 Leadership election including the exclusion of 125,000 members. She was joined in both these activities by Johanna Baxter. (I am unclear of Perry’s voting record on these issues but she has voted to sanction or refer to the NCC over 1000 members.)

GV6-slate

I shall thus vote for the Grass Roots Voice slate of six candidates, which remains an alliance and is supported by a broad range of Left caucuses, including Momentum, CLPD, Grass Roots Black Left , Don’t Leave Organise, Jewish Voice for Labour, LRC and Red Labour.

I shall be looking for ways to talk to members of Open Labour who support the 2019 manifesto, want to stand up for human rights and want a disciplinary system complaint with the principles of natural justice applied to all members irrespective of their faction and/or alleged offence. We can only build a united party if we turn our backs on political victimisation, and the tactics of bullying, slander and corruption and implement a member led party where all members are valued and their rights respected.

ooOOOoo

It’s important to express your preference as accurately and completely as possible, i.e to state as many preferences as possible, although your vote will count for very little after a couple of transfers. The last person to be elected, the 9th, is interesting, but if you have voted for a complete six candidate slate (that is winning seats), it is highly likely that two of those slates will be contending for the 9th seat and so your vote will not transfer to another slate/candidate. Despite this, I will pick up Crispin Flintoff, who organises “Stand Up for Labour” and is campaigning for fairer CLP funding and Mark Macdonald who is a lawyer and wrote the opinion/advice that Corbyn had to be on the 2016 leadership ballot paper.

I do not have votes in the Disabled or Youth divisions.

This has taken too long to write and post; arguments about the nature of the post-Corbyn left as been reignited by Newsnight last night where among other things, Dianne Abbott points out the remarkable silence of Starmer on Brexit since he was elected. Much of the conversation about this is not healthy for the Labour Party but those who voted for Starmer need to begin to ask if he is as committed to the 10 Pledges as they want. …

Labour, human rights and the #spycops bill

Labour, human rights and the #spycops bill

I am pretty disappointed with Labour’s decision to abstain on the 3rd Reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill. It’s truly disgraceful and allowing the State’s secret policy to operate with impunity jeopardises important human rights such as the right to a fair trial and the right to organise (freedom of association) not to mention the rights to privacy although the investigatory powers act of 2016 put these on the bonfire. Most of its opponents focus on murder, torture and rape, but the destruction of the rule of law and its application to the police is an on-ramp to these crimes, the principle of an accountable police and prosecutor is the key.

However, Labour is not good on these issues, more recently the PLP led by Burnham & Starmer colluded with the IPA 2016, supported the retention of ‘economic’ security as a lawful purpose of the intelligence service’s activities and when I proposed the supremacy of human rights law as a conference policy, it got 2 votes on the NPF web site and my CLP has always sent other, yet important, motions to conference while CLPD’s support was ineffective as they pursued their doomed attempt to rewrite the Leadership election rules. I posted my moving speech to this blog. I am not sure if this is because many people consider the NPF to be a waste of time, or that support for human rights law is weak in the Labour Party, because you can’t eat or burn human rights.

Please vote up my NPF proposal, if its still open and if you can, the software is, to use a technical phrase, a bit shit. Also you might like to share my motion via social media. …

Reeves on the EU

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, made a speech/webcast about Labour’s current Brexit policy, reviewed in Labour List, with the headline, ‘“We won’t be back in the EU”: Rachel Reeves sets out Labour’s Brexit policy’. It just raises the question, where did she get the mandate? It seems she believes that we have returned to the days when Labour’s policy emerged from the back pockets of the front bench spokespeople. This is not why I joined the Labour Party and to go from remain, to only leave if the terms are acceptable, to saying that the UK would not be back in the European Union under a Labour government, without even stating why the Tories deal and strategy is harmful, is shameful and gives evidence to those on the left who say that the people’s vote was merely a trojan horse to undermine the Corbyn project.

Her statement ignores, of course, freedom of movement, Erasmus, flight regulations, and the European Medical Agency and it all assumes that we get a trade deal. We can see the Tories, are not going to sign a reasonable deal and Labour should be putting our stake in the ground, otherwise any deal will seem a victory and even if shite, people will ask where we were.

This policy position will also test the theory that a pro-brexit promise will win more votes than it gains. It’ll go down like a ton of shit in a fan factory in Scotland and London. It must be remembered that Reeves has form for stretching Labour’s consensus, her time as shadow spokesperson on welfare include some disgraceful speeches and I have previously reported on her channelling of Enoch Powell. Giving her a second chance was a mistake. …

Lightening never strikes twice

Lightening never strikes twice

In my blogs on the Track & Trace failure [blog | linkedin], I make the throwaway comment that Govt. IT often fails repeatedly because no-one is accountable, nor punished and thus they fail to learn but in this case it’s not true; Dido Harding the CEO of the Track & Trace was CEO of Talk Talk when it was fined £ ½m for another data protection breach caused by another failure to in this case close down an application running on an out of date & unpatched version of MySQL, making it vulnerable to a SQL injection attack, one of the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities.  How unlucky can you get? …

Excel and Track & Trace

Excel and Track & Trace

The UK’s world class “Track & Trace” application “lost” 16,000 cases for over a week, as reported in the Register. Plenty of people have decided to comment and so I thought I’d join in and posted my thoughts in a linkedin blog, although I start this post with a quote from the Register.

The howls of disbelieving, horrified laughter caused by the news of the latest pandemic data cock-up yesterday were well deserved.

16,000 cases lost – purportedly in a blunder involving CSV data, row limits, and an out-of-date Excel file format? In a multibillion-pound, “world-beating” contact-tracing system? Unnoticed for a week of rising infection? In a system known to be broken for months but still not fixed?

Ridicule and despair, those shagged-out nags of our Johnsonian apocalypse, once again trudged exhaustedly across the plaguelands of England.

Rupeet Goodwins, The Register – 6th Oct 2020

Much has been made of the fact that the “dashboard” seems to have been implemented in an old version of Excel which has significant element array limitations and as pointed out to me by the Register, significant calculation errors which may lead to error program logic processing. This article talks a bit about why such decisions might be made and also how to perform good architectural practice and good program deployment and thus what might have been missing. It’s unlikely that such a mistake won’t be repeated, the people at the top, have not been through the painful process of failing in this way and paid a price, unlike many businesses. Once again, we know how to do this properly, not doing so is a choice based on ignorance or greed.

Any organisation of size needs an IT architecture plan. This maximises the opportunity for systems interoperability, compliance measurement within the supply chain, future scalability and cost control of both acquisition and support. Most architectural plans will include a spreadsheet as a desktop/user tool. Excel is the obvious and most popular tool, but reasons for worry, are expressed in their usual robust style, in this article, “Excel Hell: It’s not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets”, from the Register, who also argue that Excel has no role in regulatory compliance software. However, at times Excel Basic has been the most popular development language in the world, and today, it still encourages a [structured] data driven analysis  but it is poor for many to many relationships, graph semantics and list handling and MS are rebundling the tools, to charge more, for instance by issuing advanced functionality and new languages in Power BI. Using Excel is ubiquitous, and it fascinated me that this week, an article in efinacialcareers, bemoaned the lack of KDB & Q skills, identifying a lack of industry training as the cause because Universities won’t touch it because of the licencing costs, to be followed by a TES scoop about the end of the Union Learning Fund as the Govt. withdraws support, but just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you should use it.

Apart from architectural governance, the final piece of the jigsaw is the software development life cycle. A lot of effort has gone into understanding how to do this well with much written about requirements management of functional and non-functional qualities, testing of functional and non-functional qualities and release management. The processes of vendor and vulnerability management are also important parts of ensuring software does what’s needed safely.

Again, we, i.e. the industry know how to do this well, and even then there will be bugs. …

In a democracy, the police must obey the law

Another second reading abstention by Labour, this time on indemnifying police and secret police agents from criminal acts. It, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, has become known as the #spycops Bill. It was eloquently opposed by Zarah Sultana, who failed to mention that the remaining protection is the Human Rights Act, which the Tories have at times committed to repealing, but did include the second fatla flaw in that such otherwise illegal acts are to be authorised by senior officers in the agent's organisation. Much drama has been made of the potential for murder, torture and rape, but the line is that the police must obey the law, all of them. This Bill breaks that principle Here's Zarah (below/overleaf).....

The UK & War Crimes

The UK & War Crimes

The Socialist Campaign Group broke Labour's whip on the 2nd reading of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill 2019-21; the instruction was to abstain. The highlight reason for voting against the bill is that it decriminalises or more accurately makes it more difficult for prosecutions for criminal events undertaken by members of the armed forces while on active service overseas including allegations of torture, although not sexual assaults. Notoriously, three members of Labour's front bench were dismissed from these positions for voting against it. It would seem pretty black and white, but the decision is complicated by the 2nd Reading/3rd Reading issue, although with a Tory majority of 80, hoping for amendments in Committee is a long shot, but perhaps not in the Lords. This is further complicated by disagreements over the impact of text of the Bill and the intersection of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. This article looks as the Bill, the International Laws it seeks to amend, the problems it seeks to solve, and the decision to insert the AG into any prosecution decisions. ...

Saving Jobs

Yesterday Rishi Sunak announced the next stage of support for the economy to see us through a coronavirus winter and mitigate some of the job destruction inherent within Brexit. It seems to be a short term working subsidy. It is described in the Guardian in an article entitled, “Covid scheme: UK government to cover 22% of worker pay for six months”. It requires employers to pay workers 55% wages for 33% hours. Below/overleaf, I also look at Richard Seymour and Rebecca Long Bailey's comments. ... ...

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

While most attention is on the Govt’s response to the pandemic, and while expecting a reimposition of the lockdown, the second part of the the triple whammy is the looming end of the Brexit Transition agreement. What are Labour doing? Certainly not making so much noise. Here’s the FT on Kier Starmer’s response, which it headlines as “Getting Brexit Done!” on the basis of his speech to the TUC. Labour’s front bench spokesperson on Brexit is Rachel Reeves, who now it seems doesn’t really want to speak about it. While Starmer seems keen to ensure a visibly effective performance in Parliament, which seems to be paying off in the polls, as Labour draws even at 40%, it requires the acquiescence of the press to break through and both Reeves and Starmer were outshone by Ed Miliband in opposing the 2nd reading of the Internal Market Bill. Too much of Labour’s parliamentary attack position is based on competence, the failure of the Tories to meet their own goals without even addressing the issues of cronyism and accountability or more importantly of a vision of how things could be better.

But then the Remain campaign has disappeared, (or the Guardian’s view if you prefer), giving some on Labour’s Left, the evidence they always wanted that the Remain campaign was an anti-corbyn trojan horse. Not for me! But Parliament has voted to allow the Govt. to negotiate the trade deals without asking Parliament to agree, and the Govt. refused to ask for a transition extension despite the CV19 pandemic. These are both opportunities missed.

If we get a deal, it’s going to be pretty shit.  …