Who got there first?

A friend has been quoting to me

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance

It’s why I used it in the last article, but who said it first, whom are we quoting?

This article provides a surprising answer, i.e. it’s not Thomas Jefferson but its best quote maybe from Aldous Huxley,

“The price of liberty, and even of common humanity, is eternal vigilance.”

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Modelling power

I have finally posted my long planned piece, on the way Bioware adopted a permissive licence for their AD&D games at the turn of the century. In doing so they enabled a fan community to create content which increased the value of the game to all its customers and also the demand in volume for the game binaries, and the period over which it was used.

I had planned a Part II having come across Ludovico Prattico’s academic paper, Governance of Open Source Software Foundations: Who Holds the Power? which in the abstract he states,

The research reported in this article attempts to discover who holds the power in open source software foundations through the analysis of governance documents. Artificial neural network analysis is used to analyse the content of the bylaws of six open source foundations (Apache, Eclipse, GNOME, Plone, Python, and SPI) for the purpose of identifying power structures.

I was interested if his techniques could be applied to the Bioware licence and see what one might learn, by comparing the output with Prattico’s findings. He had looked at six open source licences so it would be interesting to see how the formal outputs compared. Prattico used additional documents beyond the licence and used the tool Catpac II, which sadly is not free. (I wonder of Carat II will do instead; I hope not because I was/am looking for something better than a bag of words.)

I also wondered if it could be used for analysing, describing other power relationships, such as national constitutions, or the Labour Party’s rules. The latter would be needed in text form which is not easy to find. …

Labour Party, Affiliates

I welcome CLP affiliations from Trade Unions where it is based on a genuine co-campaigning commitment.

The Labour Party without Unions would be just a bunch of Oxbridge PPEs looking for [parliamentary] seats!

Dianne Abbott MP

I note that only branches of Unions or their national committee may affiliate to a CLP although these affiliations are usually funded from regionally managed political funds. The NEC must agree with the affiliated Unions that they will not subvert the purpose of the branch affiliation rule by exercising decisions given by rule to the affiliating entity i.e. the branch, at another level within the union.

Union branches should be prohibited from affiliating to CLPs unless they conform to the rules and provide the contact details of the branch secretary and nominate 1 or more delegates. (My own union branch has adopted such a policy.)

The discount for Union members joining the LP should be maintained.

TULOs should be executive officers in All Member Managed CLPs. (Affiliate Unions have delegates that vote at branch & delegate CLPs and so the requirement is not so acute.).

I welcome Socialist Societies as affiliates, at their best, they provide sources of expertise, experience and energy. They also allow in some cases non-members to participate in Labour’s policy development and campaigning.

I do not believe that those socialist societies that mirror forum party structures should remain as affiliates (e.g. Labour women’s network, BAME labour, LGBT Labour, Disability Labour), these members should be organised and represented through the Labour Party’s forum structures; this is particularly so for Labour Women’s network as the Party has now established a Woman’s Conference.

[I did not say that maybe we should consider requiring Socialist Societies to be open to all members of the Labour Party, even when their focus may be sectional, obviously not for the forums (or their mirrors).]

Socialist societies and unions should respect and follow all Labour Party rules and processes. The story about some Socialist Societies is worrying, where they allegedly planned to affiliate to multiple CLPs without proving the existence of branches. Only Socialist Society branches may affiliate to CLPs. Socialist Societies should be subject to a democratic audit by the Labour Party; the case of BAME Labour, which would seem to be in breach of both the Party’s rules on size,[1], and the rules on female representation is a case in point, as is the case of the alleged phantom Fabian Society branch in Newham during the Mayoral trigger ballots.

The current socialist societies should be audited to ensure they exist and still meet the terms of the original affiliation agreement, i.e. size and governance.  [ I didn’t say in my submission that this audit should test if the organisation genuinely exists beyond its national committee, is open to membership, keeps to its rules of governance (i.e. regular elections to its national committee), has a minimum level membership activity and that critically branches genuinely exist].

Having two classes of Socialist Society, one with conference representation rights and one with both conference representation rights and CLP affiliation rights might be sensible. The latter would require a branch structure and need to be of sufficient size to realistically have them. Such a scheme might encourage the affiliation of organisations like the Labour Campaign for Human Rights which would allow Labour Conference the benefit of its expertise.

ooOOOoo

[1] BAME Labour only get NEC representation rights when above a certain size; it would seem that partly due to its arcane membership application process, which may have been the inspiration for the Home Office’s citizenship/settled status process, and partly due to its invisibility, it does not have sufficient members to qualify. Why Keith Vaz is still allowed to sit on the NEC, I have no idea? It should also be noted that Labour Party party units if only sending one delegate to a body must send a woman at least every other term of office. …

Marx in Lee

In Britain Elect’s pen picture of Lewisham East, they state that Karl Marx lived in Lee, one of the constituent parts of the parliamentary constituency although there seems little record of that fact, other than a plaque in a local pub and this video.

 

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Labour’s rules & PR Lists

As far as I know, we already have proportional voting systems in the UK, in Scotland & Wales for the their Assemblies, in London for the GLA and for the Members of the European Parliament. I have experience of standing for and/or selecting/triggering Labour candidates in the latter positions.

While much focus of late has been on selecting/re-selecting MPs in the House of Commons these positions represent a special case.

Labour’s re-selection processes for “list” based seats in local government in England, currently only the GLA, unless we remain in the EU requires that incumbents are confirmed or otherwise as candidates (via a trigger ballot), and that new candidates are found and approved by panel. All the candidates are then ordered by a member’s vote, with the incumbents guaranteed the highest places.

This protection i.e. the guarantee that incumbents must get the highest ranking places on the list should be removed; the member’s votes should determine the order that incumbents and challengers are placed on the list, subject to the gender quota rules. The members should be offered an additional two candidates, who then become available for call up in the case that any of the selected candidates are unable to run. …

Lewisham Momentum has been split

All Momentum groups and activists should be very concerned.

This was distributed today to a meeting of Momentum activists.

Summary

On 23 April, a group trying to remove the entire Lewisham Momentum committee, on the basis of a secretive campaign of lies and slander, led a walkout from the group’s AGM and held a bizarre pseudo-meeting, with no democratic standards, in the front bar of a pub. This meeting has nonetheless been recognised by the Momentum office. This should be a cause of serious alarm for anyone concerned about democracy and members’ rights in Momentum, and its political direction.

What happened in Lewisham?

On 23 April, so many people turned up to the Lewisham Momentum AGM that the venue organisers claimed it was not possible for more to enter safely. In addition to the hundred-plus inside, another 30 or 40 could not get in. There was a fierce argument about what to do, with the committee arguing to reschedule to a new date. Some of those who wanted to continue claimed to have found another venue, the large back room of the nearby Amersham Arms pub. By this time it was about 8.15pm. There was a vote, held in conditions of chaos – the figures are not clear, and many people did not vote, but it looked most of those who did voted to move to the “new venue”.

“New venue” because when those who left got to the Amersham Arms, about 8.30pm, they found that the back room, which the AGM had been told was available, had a gig going on it! A “meeting” was held in the front bar of the pub (much smaller than the original venue), with no proper procedures and no registration checks, at which anyone present in the space could vote, whether they were random pub-goers or had just come in off the street. A committee was “elected”, every position unopposed, by a single vote.

The organisers of the Amersham meeting claim about 75 at this meeting; others who were present and asked to count carefully and honestly counted significantly less (see statements linked below). Meanwhile about 60 remained at the original venue, and this number grew as people returned from the Amersham.

Why did it happen?

By themselves these facts seem bizarre and inexplicable. What was going on?

In the weeks running up to the AGM it gradually emerged that a secret slate was being put together to remove the entire existing committee. This despite the fact that it had already been agreed, before any of this controversy was even guessed at, to expand the size of the committee from about ten to about twenty to involve more people.

The driving force of this slate was people who have never had any involvement in Lewisham Momentum. At its core were people grouped around ‘Red London’, a Facebook page which turns out Stalinist memes and has engaged in numerous online (and not just online) campaigns of bullying and harassment. These people moved to Lewisham very recently – in fact there is strong circumstantial evidence that some of them do not live in Lewisham at all. They linked up with people long angry at Lewisham Momentum because in late 2016 they raised the issue of Jackie Walker’s removal as Vice Chair of Momentum’s Steering Committee but heavily lost the vote on this. That argument resulted in the most fractious meeting the group had ever had until the 23 April AGM, and the disappearance of a number of people who only reappeared on 23 April. The purgers also seemed to have mobilised people on the basis of social networks – fair enough and not necessarily bad, except that it was done for the purpose of deranged factionalism.

All this was done secretively, and they refused to sit down and talk about possible ways of compromising and working together, despite repeated offers to do so. Some of what they were telling people nonetheless emerged – and more has emerged since the AGM. It was a tissue of all kinds of lies, from the shocking – in particular accusations of support for child abuse, a mainstay of ‘Red London’ with which they are now trying to infect sections of the Lewisham left – to the absurd – e.g. claiming Lewisham Momentum has not supported a campaign against academisation, at Childeric primary school, which our comrades have in fact been central to but the accusers have had no involvement in!

No doubt many well-intention people were convinced, at least temporarily, by this campaign of slander or elements of it.

At the sharp end of the attack were comrades who are members of Workers’ Liberty, but the campaign targeted the entire committee and anyone who stood opposed to the Stalinist-led purge drive. Both sides mobilised hard – hence the big turnout for the AGM.

The role of national Momentum: be alarmed

Most of the leadership of Lewisham Momentum are pretty cynical about the national Momentum office and leadership, but we were genuinely a bit surprised by the decision of a Momentum staff member to recognise the Amersham Arms group as “Lewisham Momentum”.

One reason the AGM was so slow to get going is that Momentum staff members insisted on double-checking everyone’s registration. Yet for the Amersham meeting all and any standards went out of the window, with no checks and anyone able to come and vote – this was apparently no problem.

The Momentum leadership has long regarded Lewisham Momentum as an irritating left-wing, critical thorn in its side. That is why, in the conditions of tight top-down control and witch-hunting of left-wing critics that have got worse since 2016, the ‘Red London’ people chose to target Lewisham. It is not just a matter of whether you agree with Lewisham’s political stance. It is a matter of whether Momentum’s bureaucracy can get away with supporting political thugs to attack and beat down anyone they regard as dissident.

Momentum groups should protest to the NCG and back our call for a rescheduled, democratic AGM.

More facts and background

Our open letter to the split group calling for reunification and meanwhile united campaigning (so far no reply – no reply also to a specific email calling for cooperation on a local strike) See davelevy.info/lewisham-momentum and davelevy.info/stitched/ which includes two videos taken at the Amersham Arms and eyewitness reports of the meeting.

Here is an article on the culture of lies and slander engendered by ‘Red London’ published on the AWL web site: bit.ly/2kGD0Xw …

Thoughts

When I felt the need to start shouting on Facebook, I needed a somewhere else to put my less well formed thoughts and diary-like notes. Firstly I experimented with ello, but I later transferred my ello to a wordpress blog site, ello.davelevy.info in July 2016, to make it easier to share and integrate. I moved these posts to this site in March 2018. I categorised my entries in that blog as “thoughts” and category thoughts remains in place. I occasionally still use it. I documented the ello blog as page on this site, and with a carousel entry on the home page.

I continued to use ello for sillyness and stuff and there is a link to it at the bottom of all pages, in the black panel.

Comments are now auto closed after 14 days, there is be a social login plugin to allow you to comment using your own social network logins.

Articles on the thoughts blog are more likely to be unfinished, often representing work in progress, or ideas with insufficient time invested.

Today, I transferred this content from a page to this post. …