History today

Last night, the House of Commons voted to reject the Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement by a historic margin. The press reaction is summarised in the Guardian.

Labour have tabled a motion of No-Confidence in the Government, which the Tory/DUP are likely to win but if it weren’t for the Fixed Term Parliament Act, May would be gone. I may still happen, but the so-called “Men in Grey Suits” seem to be scarce and taking to ground however, I think that she’ll resign as Prime Minister.

The debate on Brexit now moves to No Deal, New Deal or Revoke Article 50 notice. The first is unacceptable and catastrophic, the second requires a new Prime Minister and time i.e. an extension of the Article 50 time period and the latter needs to be genuine. It may be past the time for a referendum. …

The ground is shifting

This is doing the rounds, “In a hole and still digging: the left and Brexit“, it’s quite long and I summarise it as follows,

The extra Parliamentary Left, unlike in the 70’s is now not strong enough to be relevant; Brexit is a right wing project and the Left cannot sustain the space to make Lexit any different from the right’s project. The long look at the psephology proves that Leave’s ideology is not hegemonic amongst the proletariat/working class and that the Leave vote is not part of the downtrodden masses waiting for the lightening bolt of revolutionary consciousness to strike. Opposition to Brexit is growing, and by sticking with the Lexit position, Lexiters isolate themselves from this growing population. A no deal, or May’s Deal, Brexit will be shit, all who eased its path are going to be blamed including the leadership of the Labour Party if that’s where it is seen to stay.

 …

Newly in the public domain

Today is a great day; in the USA, works written/created in 1922 become available under the public domain as the 1970’s extension laws durations expire. This is recorded by Ars Technica, in an article entitled, Mickey Mouse and Batman will soon be public domain—here’s what that means. This headline is misleading since these properties won’t become PD until the 2030s. Don’t quite get the maths myself since the international treaties talk of 70 year durations and this looks like 95 years but we do know that this was an exercise in corrupt lobbying power but it would seem that “I’ve got you Babe”, written by the Congressional sponsor of the second extension law, yup, they did it twice, expires in 2060; don’t think I’ll be around to enjoy it for free. What a greedy twat!

 …

In Canada, on copyright

Torrentfreak, always worth a read, highlights a debate in Canada where they propose to lengthen copyright duration to the Berne treaty maximum. Bryan Adams, for those of us who remember him argues that long copyright duration benefits intermediaries and distributors, not creators. TF notes that the Canadian law proposes that the creator’s estate can revoke a copyright grant at 25 years after the death of the author and suggests that this should be at 25 years after the initial grant. Sadly unlikely to happen. Very similar to my proposal to Top of the Manifestos at #lab13.

What brought him to my attention! …

Democracy in the EU and the Trilemma

While writing up the last article, I also looked at “Labour’s Brexit trilemma: in search of the least bad outcome” on the Open Democracy web site. It refers to Rodrik’s trilemma., which was designed to examine the Bretton Woods currency regulations and the international trade regime it spawned.  I have marked up the first of these article with what I think are the interesting bits on diigo which can be viewed here. The OD article adopts the trilemma and sees a Lexit option as maximising (national) democracy and national control of economic policy and poses it against a “remain and reform” position which it argues maximises economic integration.

My biggest problem with the trilemma, which was designed to describe the Bretton Woods global currency regime is that it seems to believe that the UK’s democracy is superior to that of the EU. Within the EU, British Citizens are protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and EU’s Court, which as I an others have mentioned is chock full of the children of the opponents of fascism and Stalinism. It is also a republican construct without a House of Lords, without First Past the Post and without a hereditary Head of State. The people elect the European Parliament, the biggest party in the Parliament nominates the President of the Commission, the members of the Council and Commission are nominated by member state governments and the latter are confirmed and can be removed by the Parliament.

The Open Democracy article, also asks some tough questions of the Lexiters, not the least important being what makes you think that a more independent UK can manage Capital and the economy more effectively; it is clear that the Bexiters in the Tory Party don’t believe this. It also points the impossibility of being independent; the WTO places constraints on Trade Policy and if we want to sign a Trade Agreement with the EU, most of their same red lines will exist. …

What is to be done by Labour on Brexit

Back to Brexit, I had reason to write this somewhere else, and decided to share it here.

There is not a consensus within the Labour Party on remain because some who seem to want to leave on any terms will not accept that within the party they are in a tiny minority. The agreed position of the Labour Party is Composite 5/18, which says we reject any deal that does not meet the 6 tests. We seek to bring down the government and win a general election and otherwise all options including a public vote which offers remain are on the table. Despite the attempts of some to smear the supporters of a 2nd mandate as rump new Labour, there were over 100 motions at conference calling for a people’s vote. That is the popular will of the masses, not the result of a tiny caucus’s manipulation.

It would be easily possible to argue as an election manifesto promise that we would seek to negotiate a better deal and then put that to the people i.e. repeat Harold Wilson strategy. This would unite us all except those who want to leave on any terms and hide behind a bogus loyalty to the leadership; most of whom seem unwilling to use a 2nd mandate as a means of escaping the shitstorm we’re in. They are going to look pretty stupid when the Party finally decides that remain is better than the deal on the table.

It is unacceptable that a tiny minority of the party, many of whom have no elected mandate seek to capture it and hold it hostage to a so-called Lexit position and collude with the Tory Government in running the clock down.

There is no principle in arguing that we should remain ambiguous on this issue for reasons of electoral strategy, examined here at statsforlefties; I’d have thought that we have all learnt that we need to take a principled stand by Labour’s actions on the 2014 immigration act where most of the PLP followed a whip to abstain FFS. 😣

ooOOOoo …

CLP Governance 2018

This is long, it’s a rule by rule analysis of the rule changes made to CLP rules by the Democracy Review and #lab18. It deals with GC sovereignty, Executive Committee membership, Branch & Delegate vs. All Member Meeting (AMM), equalities representation and organisation, meeting frequency, job shares and IT & participation. For completeness, I also mention Special Measures & Multi Constituency CLPs. The original text is held in Conference 18 CAC Report 1, which is on member’s net and mirrored here on my wiki. It should be noted that Conference determined these rules came into force on September 27. 2018. I reported on the debate in an article, on this blog, called The Denoument. For more see below/overleaf …  …

Freedom from Want!

I went to the internal relaunch/kickoff of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights last night. I am a member and wish them well. Long term fans will know I have been struggling for a while in getting the Party, with a few honourable exceptions, and its MPs interested in Digital Liberty and its Human Rights dimension; I sum up their attitude as “You can’t eat Human Rights”. I spoke to Matt Turner, the new Chair of their Committee and considered their next campaigns but our conversation moved on to Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report on the UK. I had missed the fact that this was a Human Rights report, reported on briefly by the Guardian and at more length there too,  and that Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the following:

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

The UNDHR was agreed as the Cold War descended to its depths but for each important individual liberty written in by the UK & US, the Soviet Union insisted (possibly with Roosevelt’s support) for the establishment of collective rights of solidarity which still remain today reflected in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as I discovered last week. Article 25 is a pretty comprehensive underwriting of the Social Democratic agenda which exercised hegemony in Northern Europe from 1945 to 1979.

We should note the appalling Tory reaction to the report, in the light of the fact that one of their Brexit Red Lines is the exclusion of the CJEU in Human Rights cases, and their disdain for the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

Perhaps we should take this into the Labour Party and destroy the image possibly more settled in my generation, that Human Rights are a bourgeois/middle class diversion. …

Brexit and Labour’s 2017 Manifesto II

In my article “Brexit and Labour’s 2017 manifesto“, and on my wiki article, “Stability & Growth Pact”, I talk about the reasons supporters of Labour’s 2017 manifesto might believe that they need to leave the EU to run fiscal deficits, nationalise critical businesses and offer state aid. I had come to the conclusion that our current terms of membership allowed the UK to pursue whatever macro-economic policies it chose and to be able to pursue its nationalisations. There would seem to be some questions on state aid and some people have raised the issue of the Railway Directive and its possible impact on the single market and nationalisation. A campaigning comrade of mine, from Southampton Itchen CLP has researched these issues and produced the following report, overleaf,  which he also published on Facebook wall.

He concludes, the notion that all EU activity is driven solely by Neo-Liberal ideology is in my opinion a mistaken assumption. In many instances there are additional rationales underpinning the EU rules that go beyond mere market obsession. The EU has pressed for more open networks in telecoms and energy but open access across national energy networks is critical for renewable energy production being made viable on a grand scale. Whereas in the water sector, where it is not feasible to create overlaying pan-European services, the EU has never shown any interest in legislating for open networks.

I would not go so far as to suggest the EU does not have an over optimistic view of the market system or tend to assumptions about private sector performance vs public sector that are not sustained by the economic models relied upon and it is possible to have a good discussion about Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage.

On the other hand, free market supremacy is a pretty widespread assumption in the modern western world. The victory of the Neo-Liberal ideology has been to shift public perceptions to accept the ‘private good, pubic bad’ mantra as a gospel truth. That human beings in the EU broadly accept the same mantra is not really a surprise. The challenge to us as socialists is not just to reshape the UK economy to provide for greater equality and justice but to begin to reshape the underlying assumptions about human and market behaviour that underpin much of the capitalist economic system. …