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.

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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. …

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.

  …

It’s been awhile since I have heard of Carter-Ruck

Gabriel Podgrund, a Times Journalist has been shown a letter sent by Carter-Ruck to Sam Matthews, once Labour’s Head of Disputes and acting Director of Legal & Governance who have written to him pointing out his duties of confidentiality and asking him to ‘fess up and tell the Party what he’s said to journalists and what else he has. The rest of this article, below/overleaf, shares the letter and I comment that leaking is not whistle blowing but that maybe the Party should have dismissed him and others who were permitted to leave with compromise agreements and in one case, a peerage. I also remind Wes Streeting and Tom Watson about what whistle blowing is, and how frequently the Labour Party goes to court to defend its rules. … …

And in Brussels

We may get our first Socialist President of the Commission since Delors who left office in 1995. (Actually, if playing trivial pursuit, you might get bonus points for saying that that Manuel Marin of the PSOE was the last socialist President of the Commission since he played this role after the European Parliament sacked the Santer Commission in 1999.) It’s not something that you get to read about at the moment, that the EP confirms Commissioner appointments and can sack them. …

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. …

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.

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