History today

Last night, the House of Commons voted to reject the Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement by a historic margin. The press reaction is summarised in the Guardian.

Labour have tabled a motion of No-Confidence in the Government, which the Tory/DUP are likely to win but if it weren’t for the Fixed Term Parliament Act, May would be gone. I may still happen, but the so-called “Men in Grey Suits” seem to be scarce and taking to ground however, I think that she’ll resign as Prime Minister.

The debate on Brexit now moves to No Deal, New Deal or Revoke Article 50 notice. The first is unacceptable and catastrophic, the second requires a new Prime Minister and time i.e. an extension of the Article 50 time period and the latter needs to be genuine. It may be past the time for a referendum. …

Lewisham’s Democracy, it could be better

Lewisham’s Democracy, it could be better

Writing up what I think for Lewisham’s Democracy Review is proving harder than I thought, the source material i.e. Lewisham’s Constitution is very long(483 pages), it’s .pdf, can’t easily be indexed or highlighted, so item No. 1. is to increase the transparency of the rules so citizens can understand how decisions are made.

This is a very Un-British way of doing things and all our instincts are wrong. Every decision is reserved for the Mayor who must present a number of plans to full council. the decisions are then taken in the context of the agreed plans which only require ⅓ voting in favour. The Mayor delegates all their executive functions to the Cabinet as a collective but also to the council’s principal paid officers. The backbench Councillor’s Scrutiny Committees can only delay these decisions. There, apart from criminal sanction, is no way to recall the Mayor. The Mayor does not hold office due to their ability to command a majority, they do not need to get many decisions agreed by Council. This is not just a first-amongst-equals “Leader” with a different mandate, it’s an alien form of government, lifted from the US & France and designed to reduce the accountability of the decisions from people and their political parties.

My first proposal would be that the Council agree to ask the people of Lewisham to abolish the Mayor and return to a collective committee led Council. It might seem to be less democratic but a committee led council has to maintain its mandate throughout it’s term of office, a Mayor led council supported by a just ⅓ of the Councillors can ignore civic society and wait for the next election.

The other ideas I need to develop,  and we’ll see how much detail I can research, would cover Recall, maybe requiring a more than 50% vote of the Council, Term Limits, something about an Ombudsman & Compliance Committee and independence, having the Cabinet appointed by the Council, the move to a Green Paper/White Paper process for decision making, improved citizen communication, the web site is shite, smaller wards and some thing on the need to use the powers in the Localism Act to get the changes in law that some of these things would require. …

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. …

ooOOOoo

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 …

One Man Rule

While talking to a friend, about Lewisham Council’s Democracy Review, I came to the conclusion that while I have opposed Executive Mayors because I feel the Labour Party is incapable of holding them i.e. Labour Mayors to account to their manifesto promises, actually the Council can’t do that either; it doesn’t have the tools; Scrutiny can only delay a decision and every decision except planning and licensing is taken by the Mayor. 💩

I need to look into the law and see if this can be changed/improved within the context of a Mayoral system, but as you may know my preference is a return to committee led councils. …

Do what we like!

I can’t believe I didn’t write this up during the Lewisham East by-election. I am looking at Chapter 5 Selections, rights and responsibilities of candidates for elected public office, the rules say,

Chapter 5.I.2

Party units shall act in accordance with guidance that shall be issued by the NEC in the application of these rules. The NEC has the authority to modify these rules and any procedural rules and guidelines as required to meet particular circumstances or to further the stated objectives and principles of these rules. Further the NEC has the power to impose candidates where it deems this is required by the circumstances.

Seems clear, although it conflicts with C1.X Scope. Also the preamble to the rule, states that it is equivalent in authority to the appendices i.e. they are to be read in conjunction with selection procedures set out in the appendices to these rules.

ooOOOoo

So Scope C1.X says they can’t vary selection rules, & C5 says they can, what would a judge say? …

How long does Labour’s candidate panels last?

Some times I wish I hadn’t started this, but I was looking up teh Labour Party’s rules for someone else and came across this gem in Appendix 4 NEC Procedures for the selection of local government Candidates, which as I discuss at length cannot be varied by the NEC, although maybe it can!

Rule Appendix 4.A.iv

The panel remains in existence following an election until a new panel is nominated and endorsed. The panel is therefore available for any by-elections in this period. This later date (iii.g above) is so that LCFs can plan for a period without new endorsements whilst high priority selections are taking place. The panel cannot be closed as such so all nominations must be dealt with at an appropriate time.

This is about the panel list and its existence. It is created in the run up to an authority election and those not selected remain on the panel until the list is dissolved. …