All change

It’s been a week in politics; the UK has a new Prime Minister, the once London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. This rather eclipses the LibDem’s announcement that they too have a new Leader, one Jo Swinson. This will make for interesting times.

So Corbyn has outlasted two Tory Premier’s, although, one tweeter, probably not a fan, said it was like saying she had outlasted two of Brad Pitt’s wives. …

Not enough to go round

Not enough to go round

What’s happening in the Gulf is both exceeding dangerous, and in terms of a Brexit government’s request for European Union’s military help quite amusing. Britain was set up by Trump’s Govt and then let down when asked for military help, but the military reason we need to ask for help is that the UK only has 19 surface ships and one of the reasons for this dramatic reduction is the decision to build the two aircraft carriers and four ICBM carrying submarines. I have written about the Aircraft Carriers and the Missile subs before. The former are the results of New Labour’s pork barrel politics and the subs are also useless and will be more so in the future. … …

Crown Jewel Sports

It’s been a fabulous month for English sport; England’s Women get to the World Cup semi-finals and England’s men win the Cricket World Cup.

Many will have been following these exciting victories on TV but for the cricket, Sky had exclusive rights, although it seems the final was shared with Channel 4 meaning that the World Cup cricket was seen on “free to air” TV for the first time in 14 years.

It may surprise some that the Law is such that the licensors of certain events must share certain content with free to air broadcasters, but the Women’s Football and Cricket are not considered such “Crown Jewels”.

The value of these sports to the content companies is created by fans and the monopolist control of supply creates overpricing and denies fans access i.e. chokes demand.

The House of Commons have produced a briefing, Listed Sporting Events which both list those events that must be shared in totality and those for which highlight shows must be shared. It also has an appalling statement by the Tory ministers responsible arguing that the market and the content creators should be allowed to control the distribution. The list is controlled by the Govt., and Tom Watson Shadow Secretary of State for Culture announced that Labour would broaden the list to include the Women’s World Cup and the Paraolympics.

Helen Weeks in her academic paper, “TV WARS: EXCLUSIVE CONTENT AND PLATFORM COMPETITION IN PAY TV” first identified to me, the need to protect these sports events from monopolistic behaviour and their otherwise enclosure behind proprietary paywalls as competitive weapons.

ooOOOoo

To me, the existence of this list is a critical statement that for some creative events, not all the value should be accrued by the creators, some of te value belongs to the fans and consumers and they should be able to keep the value they create. It’s an example of where the public interest opposes all rights reserved. …

Democracy for the many

The CLPD has considered for several years the vulnerability to the Left should there be another Leadership election in which the incumbent, Jeremy Corbyn was not able to stand.

The Democracy Review proposed changing the nomination threshold for Leader/Deputy Leader by  reducing the number of PLP/EPLP nominations and introducing effective nominations for affiliates and CLPs. The NEC in its pre-conference meetings rejected the Democracy Review proposal and reduced the PLP threshold to 10% while introducing  additional effective nominations from CLPs and affiliates. Many on the Left think the 10% threshold is too high for a true believer to be on the ballot paper.

Given that the Rule on Leadership nominations, Chapter 4, Clause II.2.B.i.  was changed at Conference 2018, Rule changes to this rule proposed by CLPs and affiliates may not be debated at the next three conferences. R3.III.1.H.

Some people in the CLPD came up with a cunning plan, since the number of motions was to be increased, the Left should use one of its motions to mandate the NEC to bring a rule change to the leadership nomination threshold to Conference 2020. See here.

Max Shanley, partly motivated by the anger felt at Tom Watson has proposed another motion in a similar vein. It is printed in full at the Skwawkbox.

The difference between the two motions are that Shanley’s motion removes the MPs from the nomination process altogether and brings forward the mandate to produce a rule change to this year from the CLPD’s 2020 time-line.

Both these will probably mean that the Unions will vote against it or stitch it up; the work to win the Unions to this has not been done. This was shown last year where the Unions via their reps on the NEC and their votes on Conference floor voted against open selection, against repeal of the three-year rule, and for the current Leadership nomination threshold. i.e. it was the Union votes on the NEC that voted to keep the MPs at 10% of the nomination qualification.

If these two motions are submitted to Conference and if they get through the Union dominated CAC, they may be grouped as a single topic and then subject to a composite meeting. Getting it through the CAC will not be simple as the NEC (or the Office) have been working mightily to keep organisational motions off the Women’s Conference agenda.

I suppose my fear is that the proposal to eliminate MPs from the nomination process will attract the notice and opposition of the Unions who will use their majority on the CAC to bury both.

I would think very carefully before supporting Shanley’s proposal.

Whatever you do on this issue though, you should seek mandates to support the abolition of the 3 year rule which to my knowledge will be on the order paper; you should seek to mandate your Union delegations as well as this will require Union votes to win. …

The role of chairpersons

I have been considering the role of Labour Party committee/Party Unit chairpersons.

In the Labour Party, the role of Branch or other Party Unit Chairs is to chair meetings. While doing so they have certain powers, in the Labour Party they may make rulings on the meaning of the rules and standing orders, as they relate to the conduct of the meeting, they have the duty to determine if motions are emergencies or not, subject to confirmation and challenge. They have the sole power to propose to exclude someone which needs to be confirmed by ⅔rds of the meeting. They have these powers at meetings of an Executive Committee also.

What powers do they have when outside a meeting of which they are chair? None!

Actually, they have the powers of an ordinary member so they can make complaints, they can propose items of business to meetings of which they are members. CLP Chairs are also Deputy Treasurers.

The Chair is not the CEO of a CLP or branch, nor are they the Secretary’s supervisor. It would be wise for them to work together and Secretaries might be grateful for witnesses to their good faith. …

Byte-ing the ballot

I went to one of the breakout rooms where there was a debate on E-voting and Democracy.

It was chaired by Michela Palese of the Electoral Reform Society who introduced a panel consisting of Areeq Chowdhury from Webroots Democracy & Prof Mark Ryan of Birmingham University, who supported the motion that E-Voting was good and Louise Ferguson of the ORG and Ross Anderson from the Foundation for Information Policy Research who were more sceptical.

Chowdhury’s argument is based on convenience and accessibility.

Ryan was more nuanced and firstly posed the question of time scales, I am unclear if he believes its possible to solve the issue, or that it might become so, that a single system can be built that offers transparency of a result and secrecy of ballot, but he did raise the question of if we can do banking why not elections and answered it in that remediating banking errors is easy compared with remediating a flawed and broken election. The latter is an issue we should all understand because of the Brexit referendum but we should recognise that IT errors caused the failure of Greenwich Nat. West and nearly brought down Knight Capital, so some banking errors are not so easy to remediate.

Ryan quoted Australia, Estonia and the US as places where e-voting is used, but there are problems in all three countries, some of it reported in this blog and much of it catalogued in Chapter 23, “The Bleeding Edge” pages 759-763 of Prof. Ross Anderson’s book, “Security Engineering”.

Ferguson argued that IT does not solve the access problems but did not mention the digital divide. She also addressed the issue of the anti-democratic nature of the adtech industry due to its opaque bidding structures. She argued to ban adverts during elections; it’s a reflection of the arguments made in the TU and Labour movements that postal balloting puts the power in the hands of the press, in particular the Murdoch press. She was also the first person to raise the issue of the unlimited use of postal votes and the extension of the vote to ex-pats. Both these initiatives can be seen to have been done for partisan reasons, but the ex-pat thing has blown up in the Tory’s faces as they seek to regain their votes in the referendum and British citizens in Pakistan claim the same rights as those living on the Costa-del-Sol.

These motivations led me to note that no-one is talking about coercion and personation.

Ross Anderson also opposing started his speech with the statement that elections and democracy have a long kill chain. I am not sure if that’s the right use of the term, but I need to read a bit more before I get into an argument with him. He identified determining who can vote, issues of impersonation, vote capture and counting all as areas where as I.T. is introduced, more vulnerabilities come with it.  He is adamant that there must be a paper trail to ensure the count is verifiable. Much of what he thinks he has put into his book, “Security Engineering” and elections are covered in Chapter 23, pages 759-763. Anderson also attacked the political parties for opening their leadership franchises to their memberships and is particularity hostile to Ed Miliband in letting people vote for £3.

In summing up, the Chair and Ferguson stated that the real answer is political culture, involving both voting to elect governments, but that governments should distribute decision making to local authorities and citizen assemblies and juries.

Someone spoke of the Trade Unions using e-voting systems, in fact they don’t and for many of their ballots, it is prohibited, so I set them right.

So that I didn’t feel to far away from home, someone raised a Point of Order on the vote about the time scales at which benefits to e-voting might accrue, probably a LibDem but the motion was crushed. People that understand don’t like it. …

Nobody move or …

Labour announced, not sure how it decided, that it would call for a confirmatory vote on any Tory deal and campaign for Remain. There are some who still argue that preparing for a no-deal is the only way to get a better one. This is wrong but reminds me of this scene from Blazing Saddles.

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Reasons to Remain (again)

Reasons to Remain (again)

I am arguing again with comrades in the Labour Party about Brexit and have looked at two pieces of evidence calling for Labour to become a full on Remain Party. Paul Mason has written another piece, this time in the New Statesman, “Without a transformation on Brexit, Labour’s election chances are dead”, and on statsforlefties, who writes a blog mainly on psephology. They have both changed their mind and argue that Labour must now  support Remain. Mason deals with the politics of Remain and Party unity, calls out the fractures in the Labour Parties internal coalition and the short and long-term electoral issues. statsforlefties argues about short term electoral issues. (I might write a review on Mason’s article, but it’s not long, so I suggest you read it in full; I have mirrored it here.)

I present my argument below, it was in reply to someone who had used deaths in refugee camps and the proposed appointment of Von der Leyden as President of Commission as reasons for sticking with a Leave position. I attempt as I have usually done to distinguish between true believers and those who just think ambiguity is electorally expedient.

We all accept that the EU is not perfect; if we’d done better last month, it’s possible that Timmermans would be candidate for President of the Commission and not Von der Leyen. For those for whom triangulation and winning towns in the North is key, it is getting to the position where neither Leave nor Constructive Ambiguity can enable Labour to win and that pursuing Leave seriously jeopardises our ability to be single largest party. The Party has a choice of pissing off Leavers or Remainers, and we can’t win without the Remainers, in fact it would seem that we can’t be the largest party without the Remainers.

I assume you will vote to Leave in the next referendum dreaming for the ability to build socialism in one country, thus leaving the refugees in Libya and Lesbos to the mercy of an organisation you despise and will no longer be able to influence.

I can think of nothing more I might say that will persuade you of the overwhelming justice and solidarity in the case for Remain. Leaving is a right wing project, there’s no socialism at the end of Johnson & Farage’s project and being seen to support leave looks like it will kill us before the 31st Oct, but if we are seen to facilitate it, it will kill the Labour Party and the Left in this country for a generation.

I am so tired of it, as a Party we must unite to build a better world; I am tired of the dishonesty and fantasy of true believer Lexiters. (I distinguish between those and the triangulators, but they need to make their mind up too.)

There is no economic benefit to leaving, the EU’s democracy and rule of law is superior to ours and citizenship rights inc. freedom of movement are better within the EU and this is all before we talk of building a peaceful and democratic ever closer union of peoples. But whenever we discuss this with you, you counter democracy with economics, you counter the economics with allegations of being anti-refugee, you ignore freedom of movement and migrants’ rights or even argue that migration is not in the interests of the British working class and you ignore the allegation that you are supporting the worst of the right in our country. (I have never accused you or any Lexiters of being Putin’s fools & puppets, but it’s beginning to look that way.) This is not the behaviour of comrades.

Von der Leyden is not appointed the President yet, but if she gets it, it’ll because the racists and enemies of democracy in Eastern Europe & Italy got their revenge on the man and movement that called out their racism and autocracy. He and they/we stood by the first rule of the EU, to belong you must be a democracy, with an independent rule of law. This is a fight that everyone who ignored and subverted our appeal in the European Elections (and I would include those whose behaviour corrupted the selection process) is on the wrong side of history.

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