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. … …

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.

 …

Trade Unionists oppose Brexit

YouGov have run a poll, on behalf of the People’s Vote Campaign asking Trade Unionists some questions about their opinions on the EU & Brexit, this was done on 20th-23rd June and it reports on the GMB, Unite & Unison, the top three by size. It makes sobering reading for Labour’s “Lexiters”, as all three samples would vote to Remain by significant margins and that ~35% would be more likely to vote Labour if it supported a 2nd referendum, with Remain on the ballot.

69% stated that they would vote remain in a referendum held tomorrow.

Other articles my focus on the General Election implications but I am glad that the GMB adopted this position at their Conference earlier this month. …  …

Another review of Labour’s Rulebook

Worker’s Liberty asked me to write a review of the Rules change debates at Labour Conference ’18 and have just published it in their paper. It’s snappily entitled “The Labour Party’s new rules”. The article is pretty comprehensive although some of it is based on my contemporaneous blogs, especially “The Denouement“.

I talk of the reform of the trigger ballot, the half-cacked reform of the Leadership election nominations, importantly about member’s rights and local structures, national structures such as the reform of BAME and Youth representation and the establishment of the disabled member’s representative. I also talk of the failure to abolish the “three year” rules amendment moratorium, which is actually four years. I talk of the sneaky amendments to the disciplinary rules, the failure to mitigate the auto-exclusion rule,

I sort of summarise as follows,

…. In summary, the trigger ballot reform is a tremendous step forward, and so is the rewriting of the CLP rules. The establishment of a charter of members’ rights is also an important gain.

The NEC reforms must be assessed as a score draw, but if they act as a focus for autonomous organisation of BAME, youth and the disabled, these will be victories. We need to review the leadership election rules. As we make democratic advances, we need to balance the transfer of power to individual members with the ability to take collective decisions.

The article also points at CLPD’s calls for action, on the Leadership nomination threshold and other rule changes. The deadline for the rule changes is this Friday. …

Democratising Momentum, that would be nice

Democratising Momentum, that would be nice

You couldn’t make it up but Momentum have consulted (some of) their membership on new rules for the running of Momentum. It seems they don’t plan to change the bits that they can’t keep to, merely bits they find otherwise difficult for reasons I can’t fathom. Perhaps they’re just embarrassed but given what they’ve put up with, I can’t believe that. Simon Hannah describes the changes and the fig leave of a process by which they’ve done it in this article in the Clarion.

The changes relate to the composition, they plan to increase the number of directly elected members and the number of constituencies and term of office of the central committee, aka the NCG.

Simon expresses some cynicism about the pace of these reforms and forecasts the postponement of the next NCG elections. I think it will depend upon how rapidly they want the eight new members. He also points out they have failed to amend the rules pertaining to the embarrassingly absent, digital decision making platform and the strangely abandoned “Member’s Council”.

To be frank, I was waiting for the next elections but wasn’t hoping for much. Time to stop giving them money I think, although I might put in a DSAR asking if their selection for inclusion in the consultation was data based and what facts they hold on me which were relevant to this decision. …

PMs and “coronations”

So Theresa May has gone. I had forgotten that this changes the chart I first published in Mandates on this blog. I have revised the chart but I am trapped by my own rules.

My definition of a winning PM is one who fought a General Election and remained Prime Minister, this is what happened to May. However she resigned because she had lost the confidence of the House, the first to do so for a very long time.

While the chart suggests she was successful, in being a winning inheritor, she only ruled for three years, and had to resign. Arguably she failed to win the 2017 GE. The argument that in the modern party age, party primaries strengthen the candidate and the party still seems to hold true. …

There’s a reason we made the UN

There’s a reason we made the UN

This is what happens when I don’t real time blog, I get distracted but its a bad day for news. The usual knob heads are ramping up the acts of piracy in the Persian Gulf and blaming Iran. Earlier in the week, a motion virtually supporting an illegal military intervention in Venezuela was debated at GMB Conference. Some people need to be reminded.

Aggressive war is illegal, “regime change” as a goal of military action is a war crime.

States have a right of self defence, any other action needs the approval of the UN Security Council. The UN and the rule of law are our best hope for a better world.

It’s not good enough to say “it’s broken” and our moral judgement cannot supplant this Law.

I have quoted some bits of the UN Charter, below/overleaf.

ooOOOoo …