Unions & Brexit

Unions exist to fight for the rights of their members. Brexit is a calculated move, cooked up by the Tory right, to undermine workers rights and attack migrants and free movement. The whole trade union movement should be united in opposing it. By standing with Labour members, we have an opportunity to unite the party and move on with a clear policy.

NB I am a life long Trade Unionist, currently a member of the GMB. …

Advice to Delegates

My guide for delegates to Labour Conference.

1. Get your card votes at Regional Briefings, the location of these is advertised in the Delegates Guide.
2. Get your voting papers inc. the priorities ballot paper, these will be issued somewhere else
3. Be there for conference start as the CAC report will be voted on by Card Vote
4. If not all delegates have their card vote because Region mucked up, move a point of order before the vote on the CAC report, they reopened the ballot office and extended the voting time last year because a large number of London Delegates did not have their cards
5. You will know what the Unions are going to prioritise, don’t vote for the same subjects, you have 10 options, these will be voting for subject groups
6. Remember your mandates, people and subject matter and priority ballot
7. Take a photo of the ballot papers so you can prove you did what was needed.
8. If absent, leave the card vote books on the floor with someone else
9. Most Votes will be at the end of the session or day.
10. There will be CAC reports each morning by email. These need to be read so leave time for this.
11. Read the CLPD Yellow Pages, it’s full of good advice
12. Composite meetings decide the mover & seconder, rule changes have no seconder
13. If you want to speak from the floor, wear something distinctive but not stupidly so. Red is no good at LP conference.
14. Take some water, any refreshments you need and any medicine you need. Queues in the Conference Centre during breaks will be long.
15. Remember to take enough photos
16. Dress nice for leader’s speech (last day)

You may only speak once now. This cannot be guaranteed but you might want to wait for specific debates.

Thanks to those who helped me with this! …

Democracies don’t have Executive Presidents

The Economist Democracy Index classifies only 10 countries as “Full Democracies”. (This includes the UK, which I question if it’s a full democracy.) Of these the majority are Parliamentary systems with constitutional monarchs. Here’s a chart showing the frequency of regime type by class; I have made the classes myself. I tried to have three, Parliamentary, Presidential Republic and Republican Parliamentary Democracy. The latter being republics with Presidents indirectly elected and mainly concerned with Govt. formation.

In the Constitutional Monarchies and the Republican Parliamentary Democracy systems, the Assembly (or lower house) appoint and hold the Govt. to account.

In the Presidential Systems, the President’s appoint the Cabinet and act as Head of Govt. & Head of State. These consist of Costa Rica and Uruguay. (I currently class Austria as a Presidential System as the President can dismiss the Govt., however the Pres. is Head of State, not Head of Govt. and the latter would seem to require the consent of the Assembly).

The weak presidential systems the President is directly elected but there is a Prime Minister accountable to the Assembly.

The Parliamentary Democracies are as far as I can tell, indirectly elected presidents with Prime Ministerial Govt. accountable to their Assemblies, this includes Germany.

Direct Democracy is Switzerland, which of course is different! They have no President, no King, a collective head of state & a government elected by the Assembly.

The democracies of the world don’t use Presidential systems. …

Proof

There are two ways to construct a theory, one is to observe the facts and draw conclusions, the second is to conceive a theorem and then prove its truth. The reality is that no matter how one builds one’s theory, it needs to be tested against reality. …

but democracy!

but democracy!

As we approach Brexit Ground Zero, Labour’s leavers, at least those too embarrassed to talk about immigration are pinning their hopes on the “but Democracy” argument.

In March 1975 Margaret Thatcher described referendums as “a device of dictators and demagogues” but she got a lot wrong and I ask myself if this is true.

Britain is run as a Parliamentary Democracy but there is no basic law and Parliament can do as it pleases. Many if not most of the checks on the Executive or on Ministers are based on convention not statute. We have an unelected upper chamber in which both hereditary peers and Church of England bishops have votes and we have a hereditary Head of State. I thought and wrote about the UK’s Democracy last year and found it wanting.

A democracy must exist under a rule of law; Britain does not because Parliament, which means the House of Commons can do as it pleases. Our only Human Rights guarantee is two Acts of Parliament, which can both be repealed. We should note that Government impunity is increased as the Coalition Government took away legal aid for judicial review and while this was designed to stop benefit claimants suing the Government when it broke the law, it also makes it much more difficult to defend more political rights.

Political systems must be designed to resolve priorities either by building a consensus or by articulating a majority view when the issues are such that there is a polarisation in society. We have furthermore the need to define and defend basic Human Rights which the world has developed a consensus around the UN Declaration of Human Rights, although in Western Europe we tend to ignore economic rights, such as freedom from poverty.

The problem of a dual mandate is not uncommon. Presidential systems based on the US model have this built in, as does the French system and on a smaller scale our system of Executive Mayors.  It should be necessary for a President to build a wide-ranging coalition to win, which should be a protection against the degeneration of Democracy, but history would suggest this is not the case. Where a society is split on critical social & economic issues, or religious[1] or national identity issues, the “winner takes all” nature of Presidential systems and Plebiscites is a centripetal force on the unity of the polity. (This is powerfully identified in Juan Linz’s paper, Democracy: Presidential or Parliamentary, Does it make a difference?) I say,

Only a Parliament can represent the breadth of interests[2] in a complex society, only a Parliament can negotiate popular compromises based on 2nd choices and changing priorities.

Presidents and plebiscites pose a tyrannical threat to the nuances of the people’s will, only a Parliament has a mandate and capability to resolve & negotiate these complexities and we should note its mandate is comprehensive and current. The issue of developing a compromise may be critical, particularly in the terms of the Brexit debate where a number of advocates of Leave have changed their minds from seeking a deal to opposing one. I was of the view that the advocates of Leave should negotiate the terms of exit and then as Unions do, ask if the deal was acceptable. This allows people to change their mind, and consider their opinion when the detail of the proposal is concrete.

The history of the degeneration of democracies, most recently and obviously in Turkey, is one where a Parliamentary system is transformed by plebiscite into a Presidential one, and then bit-by-bit the checks and balances are removed, starting usually with an attack on the independence[3] of the judiciary.

We are sleep walking along a similar path.

While I cannot find an inexorable proof that plebiscites[4] are the tools of dictator’s and demagogues, their history would strongly suggest that this is the case.

ooOOOoo

[1] For a short period, Bosnia & Herzgovina had a multi-ethnic/faith presidium and the Lebanon had an ethnic/faith power sharing convention sharing the President/Prime Minister/Speaker roles.

[2] This needs small-ish constituencies and fair voting systems, and in the UK the abolition of the House of Lords

[3] Although the only independence that the UK judges has is indefinite tenure; another area we could do better.

[4] I am of the view that Presidential systems based on the US model are also less capable of representing the breadth and nuamce of the politics of the nation and are fundamentally less stable. …

Confusing

While there is not a lot of theory for HR professionals, one piece of good practice is to separate performance management systems from pay assessments in order to encourage employees to admit their weaknesses. I wonder why no-one does this? …

Zero day right to justice

Jeremy Corbyn and Laura Pidcock made speeches to the TUC which covered the Party’s commitment to fairness at work. They commit to a worker’s protection agency to enforce the minimum wage and the necessary ban on zero hour contracts.  To these two critical reforms the need to reduce the employment service qualification for access to Employment Tribunals should be added.

I have made a proposal to Labour’s Policy Forum to this effect, although I might be a bit moderate in that I suggest a 3 month period where others are asking for Day Zero. Absolutely, the 2017 manifesto was to implement Day 1 rights as it should be. You can login and vote it up if you like. …

A week to remember

What a week it’s been for British Politics! Prior to the re-opening of Parliament after its summer recess, Johnson announced he planned to ask for the longest prorogue of Parliament since 1945. On his 2nd day in Parliament as Prime Minister, he lost control of the Parliamentary timetable, the following day he lost his majority after one of the Tory’s crossed the floor to the Lib Dems, he then threatened his Party with expulsion if they supported the cross bench bill to ban a no-deal Brexit, which they did and so did he! This put his working majority at -41. The Bill passed both the Commons and Lords. Johnson asked for an election, which is now in the hands of the House of Commons and they said No! All this within five days, thus proving what I said, that its possible he should not have been appointed as he does not command the confidence of the house. To cap the week, his brother resigned for the Government and announced he would not seek re-election and Amber Rudd, finally found her backbone and resigned from the Government and the Tory whip, with an excoriating letter.

In exchange John Mann, the semi-detached alleged Labour MP has resigned from the Labour Party and agreed to take up the role of “Anti-Semitism Tsar” (sic).

A couple of wits, put Parliament to the words of Monty Python, one of the Romans, the other on self defence from being attacked by  fresh fruit.

A week to remember! …