Digital Democracy

Digital Democracy

One of the motions proposed but not debated at the CLPD AGM was called “Digital Democracy & the need for greater voter participation”. It’s quite long at over 550 words and I planned to speak against it, by saying something like,

This motion, despite its length, says only two things: that we’ve read Corbyn/Barbrook’s Digital Democracy Manifesto and that we approve of a digital identity card as part of a system of access to e-voting in public elections.

I have read the manifesto and believe it is flawed, most importantly in it postpones the consideration of what human rights looks like in an age of the ultimate surveillance machine until after the election of a Labour Government, when it proposes a consultation. It proposes a People’s Charter of Digital Liberties but makes no mention of the work other campaigners for digital liberty have done in defining new Human Rights needs in a connected world and old Rights that need defending. These campaigning bodies include Liberty, the Open Rights Group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Labour’s members on the European Parliament’s LIBE committee.

But we can’t talk about e-voting without talking about Estonia, the poster child of e-voting, and its failed audits, and its proof that e-voting does not increase turnout, and its alleged failure to meet European data protection standards.

We can’t talk about e-voting without talking about the Surveillance State and its private corporate arm. It’s bad enough that the datenkraken can use our phones to spy on us, but I suppose the fact that the US government has access via them to all they know perhaps should reassure us that there is no risk to making a short cut to British Intelligence of our internet usage records, they already have it.

We can’t talk about e-voting without talking about the digital divide.

We can’t talk about e-voting without looking at whether the ERS removed votes from the 2015 Labour Leadership elections, a fact if true showing the vulnerability of the “transparency of the result” to insider attack.

We can’t talk about e-voting without talking about Russia’s interference in the US, British elections and the Brexit referendum through their advanced hacking capability.

We can’t talk about e-voting without noting that Verify, the current Government identity portal has been criticised as a failure by the Public Accounts Committee and now looks likely to be privatised.

We can’t talk about e-voting without looking at the fundamental criticisms of such systems, that they are hard to build, and it may be impossible to resolve the conflict between having a transparent result and a secret ballot; this is before we address the issues of coercion,  impersonation and 2nd party verification i.e. how to implement polling/counting agents in a proprietary software system.

In the US, engineers and electoral administrators are developing the systems to make this easier, requiring physical receipts of the cast vote, which are then electronically counted with statistical control samples manually counted.

This motion is technically premature at best and otherwise dangerous populist nonsense.

Please remit or oppose.

ooOOOoo

Interestingly, DARPA have announced an e-voting proof of concept, I am pointed at it by Bruce Schneier. …

A deal, pining for the Fjords

This [Brexit] deal is not pining for the fjords, it is deceased. “‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!”

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Rules

I have from time to time argued that Labour’s Rule book should not be used as weapon, so unlike sailing. Here’s an America’s Cup start where the boats plot for space and position as much to disadvantage their opponents as to be in the right position for the course they want to steer,

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Is this the 2nd step to remain?

Carole Cadwalladr reports that the so-called “Bad Boys of Brexit” have been lobbying the Italian Government to veto an extension to the A50 notice period. If they succeed, our only response can be to call for a revoking of the Article 50 notice.

If you look at the thread, she also points at “Putin’s party signs deal with Italy’s far-right Lega Nord” in the FT which documents the Lega Nord’s relationship with Putin’s “United Russia”, which let’s face it has a pretty cool logo but their politics cannot be considered to be for the betterment of the British or other European peoples. …

Three things about TIG

A couple of thoughts on the new “The INdependent Group of England” (TINGE).

The word Independent has a specific meaning under electoral law and there are no barriers to its use; if they seek to use such a name in a general election they will find the space crowded and there will be restrictions on what they can do.

Much has been made of the argument, “they stood on Labour’s manifesto”, it’s unlikely that the Labour defectors did; there was an ‘shadow’ election address which despite it being blessed by Southside, didn’t mention the manifesto or even the Labour Party.

“The Independent Group” doesn’t say the same as “Social Democratic Party”, Owen Jones looks at the political foundations of the latter and compares it, unfavourably, to today. The vacancy of their ideology and policy portfolio is illustrated in Chris Leslie’s interview in the New Statesman. The arrogance and the politics make it hard to remain disappointed. …

History, tragedy & farce

History, tragedy & farce

The splitters have been joined by one more Labour MP, and three Tories. Paul Mason comments with sense on the New Statesman, “To save his project, Jeremy Corbyn must bring Labour’s old guard on side“; it would seem that he agrees with me, it’s important to minimise the split, and constrain it to careerist malcontents. In a video, Tom Watson argues correctly that this is not a time for anger or glee and that we need to remember our, or Jeremy’s, promise of a kinder gentler politics. We must convince other doubters that only Labour can make the changes in society that are needed. This article looks at these responses and also examines the history and electoral impact of the foundation of the SDP last time, and its predecessors, specifically in the light of Dick Taverne’s decision to resign immediately and defend his seat. …

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. …