Quality of Capital

I just found my copy of David Warsh’s “Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations”. I have promised myself that I would review it but on studying the dust cover, I find it says that the long term paradox of falling costs, is explained by internalising i.e. to the growth process, technological change. Such a simple insight, which from today’s view point seems so obvious. It may have impacted the capitalist economists more than the Marxians. …

Nice class of person

I have been reminded this week, of Robert Townsend’s book “Up the Organisation”; one gem goes something like this,

Don’t have reserved car parking spaces for senior managers, you should be in early enough to get the space you want and meet a nice class of person in the staff car park!


Who got there first?

A friend has been quoting to me, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. It’s why I used part of the phrase 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 and its best iteration maybe from Aldous Huxley,

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


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.


[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.



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. …