The Magnificent Seven, not!

The most important news yesterday was the announcement by Honda that they were leaving the UK. I don’t know if this could have been stopped short of revoking Article 50, but that’s 3,500 jobs going in Swindon plus those in the UK supply chain. However the noisiest story was the resignation from the Labour Party of 7 MPs. I am disappointed that its come to this, and sad to see those I know go. The story was made more poignant by the re-admission of Derek Hatton to the Labour Party, much to the excitement and condemnation of the right-wing commentariat. He was expelled, or auto-excluded, 34 years ago.

 

The priority of the Party is to bring on and win, a General Election, to fight poverty and redress the power imbalances that exist in our society. If the seven still want this, then this is not the way to achieve it.

All that’s left is the allegation’s of anti-semitism, and the allegation that Labour is institutionally anti-semitic. Sadly for them all the evidence is that the LP is getting better, and yet only done so as the Left has won leadership of the Party, in the NEC and full time officer cadre. Why was Chakrabarthi’s report not implemented? It was written in 2016 and shelved by McNicol and the Tom Watson manipulated NEC majority. I can’t explain the delay in processing complaints, but Jennie Formby, the General Secretary wrote to the PLP to explain the state of play and the improvements made since the Left took the NEC and she was appointed.

I am not of the view that the Loyalty pledge being circulated helps in anyway, it doesn’t really come from a desire to do ‘kinder, gentler politics’. Much of the complaints about the ‘your mum’ style of social media correspondence is true; I have left a number of forums due to the puerile and hostile comments made by people claiming to be Corbyn supporters; we need to do better but I will not allow the allies of the departed to claim a monopoly of martyrdom. The vitriol placed upon Corbyn supporters from 2015 onwards by very senior members of the party is equally unacceptable, not to mention their unjust exclusion from membership of many good activists.

It’s not a good look, but we should remember that the PLP have already lost seven members, O’Mara, Hopkins, Woodcock, Fields, Onasanya & Lewis. The weaponising of the disciplinary process is a bad thing, and except for Fields, all these people were or are under investigation or found guilty of unacceptable behaviour under Labour’s rules, or in the case of Onasanya breaking the law. Two of these MPs were elected in 2017 where clearly the due diligence placed upon the new candidates was insufficient; it’s another set of lessons to learn, but I am not holding my breath. We should also look and see who was in charge of the candidate selection in 2017.

Woodcock has been an MP for nine years, but of the others, Hopkins & Lewis have served 22 years since 1997, and Frank Field for 40 years. They are not the only MPs to have served for so long, but the Party has changed, several times and has now adopted a new trigger ballot mechanism which will make the decision to hold open selections easier.

History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy the second as farce. … Karl Marx

It’s sort of interesting to look back at the formation of the SDP and its prequel, the struggles around re-selection that occurred in the short period that it was permitted. Dick Taverne was de-selected, resigned from the Labour Party, fought a by-election won it, and won re-election in the first election of 1974, sadly for him there were two general elections in 1974. Eddie Milne was also deselected, and successfully fought to retain his seat in the Feb 74 General Election and also lost it in Oct. Much of what drove the SDP was careerism, a number of MPs were losing the support of their CLPs, the rules were becoming more accepting of reselctions and the deference once offered them was declining but there was some political steel in the SDP, they were mixed economy social democrats who supported membership of the EEC. I am really not sure that the not so magnificent seven have any politics of this scale. Do we really think that like Taverne, they could win their seats against Labour, and it can be of no co-incidence that this has happened only days after Ummuna’s CLP voted to transition to all member’s meetings and both his and Gapes’s CLPs are about to have their AGMs.

Given what they say about Labour, it’s hard to remain merely disappointed and I can’t see them coming back

Those of us who remain need to learn to genuinely undertake a kinder gentler politics and stand by our values of equality and justice. …

Emergencies

Emergencies

More on emergency motions, mainly about the Labour Party’s rules, but may apply to other Labour movement organisations.

An emergency motion can be accepted after the convening notice for a meeting has been published. This means that attendees or potential attendees will not know that a motion is planned, especially if the relevant officers do not formally or informally publicise receipt of a proposed emergency motion. In both AMM and Branch & Delegate (B&D), an emergency motion can be proposed by one member. Emergency motions permit the weakening of the notice rules.

To be deemed an emergency there is a two part test; basically is it late for good reason, and can it wait?

To be deemed an emergency, it must prove that it is relevant to an event that occurred after the convening notice was published otherwise the proposer should/must have given the membership notice of their motion via the Secretary. i.e. the proposer needs to justify why no notice could be given. This is worse in a B&D GC;  an emergency motion can be proposed by a delegate without reference to their nominating organisation and other delegates cannot get mandates for the emergency motion, particularly if no notice has been given.

None of the above addresses the second part of the test which is to qualify as an emergency, the motion must be such that being delayed to a meeting at which notice can be given and mandates issued would nullify the impact of the motion.

This is why organisations need a test as to the bona fide nature of the “emergency” requiring the passage of a motion.

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It should be noted that the very low threshold required to place an emergency motion on the order paper can lead to abuse. Because emergency motions are taken before motions that have been submitted in good time, a small minority can hijack the agenda of meetings by persistently submitting emergency motions. This denies those that have behaved well the opportunity to see their motions and ideas debated. (My local GC has motions that have been waiting for nearly two years, and it took months to discuss abolishing the Mayor and even longer to vote to oppose blacklist and for the council to embargo companies that use them.

A final thought, since motions of no-confidence, be it in an MP or a CLP EC have no effect in the rules, can they ever be considered emergencies? They will always fail the 2nd test. …

Labour’s new Red Lines

Labour’s new Red Lines

Here’s Labour’s new Brexit Red Lines on Brexit, which includes the text, and here is Paul Mason, Stephen Bush and Paul Cotterill.

Mason and Cotterill think it’s a move towards remain or a final say, and this is especially true if the Tories reject the offer. Mason feels that it puts the Tories in a difficult position but if they reject the offer, it puts Labour’s parliamentary Brexiters in very difficult position. Cotterill feels it’s the on ramp to a 2nd referendum and is especially excited by the requirement that the commitments to be made in the political declaration are to be backed by legislation. Bush considers it to be move towards soft brexit which maybe very attractive to the Labour sponsors of Common Market 2.0. He also says, that with the exception of free movement, it is specific and achievable and so, is on the Brexit off-ramp in a way that the six tests were not. He also notes that the new Red Lines are silent on free movement, which he argues is a better position than that previously held.

Is this good or bad?

I think I am with those who think it’s clever and resets the question in Parliament, which needed to be done. It interrupts May’s attempts to run down the clock and offer the Parliament or even the people a choice between her deal and no deal. It increases the odds of a final say between, May’s deal and Remain. In terms of an outcome, it’s nearly acceptable, although it now moves into the pointless end of the spectrum.

My one true fear is that it means Labour accepts the withdrawal agreement which will throws those Brit’s living in the EU under the bus, and the will permit the Tory government to implement another Windrush by placing EU citizens in the UK, having lived here for months or years under the same hostile environment applied to other alien immigrants and subject to uncertainty about their rights to remain. For me this might be a price too high!

There’s more below/overleaf …  …

Sovereignty

While I suspect that Labour’s Democracy Review team changed the sovereignty relationship between CLP ECs and GC/AMMs for good reasons, the number of stories of ECs suppressing the membership’s ability to make policy and run their parties being legion and in some places it seems not to have stopped but making it work will be difficult as the amount of time required to hold the new officers and committee to account is significant. My last EC spent hours discussing the Facebook usage policy 🤔, and since everything is factional, stuff gets discussed at detail twice.

I almost wonder if it was deliberate; the GC/AMMs will spend so long discussing administration that they won’t have time to discuss policy or hold the leadership and the PLP to account. …

Fiscal credibility, ptui!

Yesterday, I went to a meeting on Brexit, Free-movement and immigration; conversation in the bar afterwards segued from, “why did a Corbyn led PLP argue to abstain on the Tories Immigration Act?” via a  post match analysis of Lewisham Deptford’s Brexit/Anti-Brexit meeting to consider the radicalism of Labour’s 2017 Manifesto and the development of macro economic policy since then; it doesn’t do so well when compared with the Corbynomics of 2015. One of the key developments since then has been the development of Labour’s Fiscal Credibility Rule, which promises to only borrow to invest.

To those who think this is smart, I ask why so-called current account spending on education is not seen as “investing” in Human Capital, but this is not it’s main problem.

However, I awoke this morning to see one of Richard Murphy’s tweets where he is contending with Jonathan Portes & Simon Wren Lewis, the rule’s author’s it would seem. It got a little testy. Anyway, here’s Richard, detoxifying, or not the twitter spat, and making the point that the Fiscal Credibility Rule is not based on Modern Monetary Theory. because it acknowledges the monetary constraint, and not the real world one. Murphy refers to his earlier piece, A challenge to Simon Wren-Lewis on modern monetary theory and Labour’s fiscal credibility rule in which he critiques the Fiscal Credibility Rule. My precis of his position is that the rule is based on a neo-classical approach, fundamentally legitimises austerity and fetishises debt reduction. I had a look for the Portes/Wren Lewis original position and assume that “Issues in the design of fiscal policy rules” is it.

My research took me to this, which Bill Mitchell claims to be his last words on the Fiscal Credibility Rule, the article contains the following powerful line,

The problem is that this reinforces the narrative that deficits and public debt are in some way ‘bad’ and as I note below this will not turn out well.

One of the problem’s exposed by Bill Mitchell’s article is that it suggests that the Fiscal Credibility Rule is a bit like Lord Buckethead’s nuclear deterrent policy, it only works if the secret is kept, in this case that Labour does not believe that the Fiscal Credibility Rule is a necessary macro-economic constraint even if the economists that wrote it do so.

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To some extent, this article is just a reading list, there’s not so much of me in it., but I have promised myself a precis of Chapter 7/8 of Fazi and Mitchell’s Reclaiming the State, which is a relatively simple and short exposition of MMT. …

Pivoting

One of the problems with the vitriol issued by Labour’s Lexiters and self declared ultra loyalists  over the issue of a “Final Say” referendum on Brexit, is that it makes it hard for Labour’s Leadership to pivot. If the UK asks for an extension of the Article 50 deadline, or need to fight a general election, we need a better, more flexible position than the PLP front bench’s current cakism. Our Remain supporting voters and activists need more hope than that! …

Rescind

Labour’s rules for Party Unit’s have a three month moratorium on “rescinding” a decision.

Using Google, I find this definition

rescind /rɪˈsɪnd/ verb
revoke, cancel, or repeal (a law, order, or agreement).

This would mean to me that changed circumstances and the review of a position that was not carried or made, would be permitted. …  …

London Labour and the hostile environment

Yesterday, at Lewisham Deptford’s General Committee, we took the decision as to what we should propose as policy for Labour’s London Regional Conference. We passed the following motion on the use of “On-Site Immigration Officers” by local authorities working beside the teams responsible for financially supporting children under the Children’s Act. As the motion states, many local authorities prioritise the safe guarding of funds, and the location of Immigration Officers in the local authority teams was originally proposed by Hostile Environment Working Group.

The words of the motion are presented below and further evidence as to both the iniquity of the policy, and Labour’s collusion is presented. 😆

I would ask any London Labour activists to ask/mandate their conference delegations/clps to support this motion in the priorities ballot.

Download –> LewDept Lab NRPF Motion for London Labour Conference

This has also been reported by the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

The text is also below/overleaf. …

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NRPF in Labour Councils: Reject the Hostile Environment, Support Migrants

NRPF (No Recourse to Public Funds) is a condition applied to most migrants, ensuring exclusion from welfare benefits. However, migrant families may present to their Council seeking help under Section 17 of the Children Act, to protect their children from destitution. This support is provided from Council budgets.

Incentivised by austerity, many London councils are neglecting their legal duty, prioritising gatekeeping over children’s safety, and leaving migrant families with young children street homeless. Antagonistic practices including embedding On-Site Immigration Officers within the council deter migrants from claiming support. This practice of embedding OSIO’s in local councils was designed by the Hostile Environment Working Group to increase Data harvesting opportunities with local authorities.

Eight of the nine councils with OSIO’s are London boroughs with a Labour majority. For decades, Labour has failed to challenge right-wing anti-migrant narratives, allowing a culture of division and scapegoating to pervade UK politics. The appropriate response to brutal Tory cuts is to put a spotlight on the government responsible, not withdraw support from society’s most vulnerable.

We call on Labour-run London councils to:

  • Immediately instigate the removal of any embedded Immigration Officers, and end collusion with Hostile Environment initiatives
  • Where there is evidence of hostile policy, immediately instigate an independent review of the NRPF Department
  • Ensure that any future policies are fair, prioritising the safeguarding of children
  • Campaign to reverse cuts made by central government
  • Lobby for central government to reimburse councils for Section 17 funding, and ultimately end all use of NRPF against migrants.

 

Lewisham Deptford CLP …