Democracy in the EU and the Trilemma

While writing up the last article, I also looked at “Labour’s Brexit trilemma: in search of the least bad outcome” on the Open Democracy web site. It refers to Rodrik’s trilemma., which was designed to examine the Bretton Woods currency regulations and the international trade regime it spawned.  I have marked up the first of these article with what I think are the interesting bits on diigo which can be viewed here. The OD article adopts the trilemma and sees a Lexit option as maximising (national) democracy and national control of economic policy and poses it against a “remain and reform” position which it argues maximises economic integration.

My biggest problem with the trilemma, which was designed to describe the Bretton Woods global currency regime is that it seems to believe that the UK’s democracy is superior to that of the EU. Within the EU, British Citizens are protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and EU’s Court, which as I an others have mentioned is chock full of the children of the opponents of fascism and Stalinism. It is also a republican construct without a House of Lords, without First Past the Post and without a hereditary Head of State. The people elect the European Parliament, the biggest party in the Parliament nominates the President of the Commission, the members of the Council and Commission are nominated by member state governments and the latter are confirmed and can be removed by the Parliament.

The Open Democracy article, also asks some tough questions of the Lexiters, not the least important being what makes you think that a more independent UK can manage Capital and the economy more effectively; it is clear that the Bexiters in the Tory Party don’t believe this. It also points the impossibility of being independent; the WTO places constraints on Trade Policy and if we want to sign a Trade Agreement with the EU, most of their same red lines will exist. …

What is to be done by Labour on Brexit

Back to Brexit, I had reason to write this somewhere else, and decided to share it here.

There is not a consensus within the Labour Party on remain because some who seem to want to leave on any terms will not accept that within the party they are in a tiny minority. The agreed position of the Labour Party is Composite 5/18, which says we reject any deal that does not meet the 6 tests. We seek to bring down the government and win a general election and otherwise all options including a public vote which offers remain are on the table. Despite the attempts of some to smear the supporters of a 2nd mandate as rump new Labour, there were over 100 motions at conference calling for a people’s vote. That is the popular will of the masses, not the result of a tiny caucus’s manipulation.

It would be easily possible to argue as an election manifesto promise that we would seek to negotiate a better deal and then put that to the people i.e. repeat Harold Wilson strategy. This would unite us all except those who want to leave on any terms and hide behind a bogus loyalty to the leadership; most of whom seem unwilling to use a 2nd mandate as a means of escaping the shitstorm we’re in. They are going to look pretty stupid when the Party finally decides that remain is better than the deal on the table.

It is unacceptable that a tiny minority of the party, many of whom have no elected mandate seek to capture it and hold it hostage to a so-called Lexit position and collude with the Tory Government in running the clock down.

There is no principle in arguing that we should remain ambiguous on this issue for reasons of electoral strategy, examined here at statsforlefties; I’d have thought that we have all learnt that we need to take a principled stand by Labour’s actions on the 2014 immigration act where most of the PLP followed a whip to abstain FFS. 😣

ooOOOoo …

Politics as a Platform. Not!

In an article on Open Democracy, entitled “Digital parties on the rise: a mass politics for the era of platforms”, Paulo Gerbaudo writes of the growth of Politics as a Platform based on ideas from his new book Digital Parties: Political Organisation and Online Democracy The article’s subtitle is,

The old party system appears in serious distress, faced with challengers using digital technology as a means to achieve the utopian goal of a more democratic society.

I suggest that if you read it, read it carefully, the call outs/subtitles are very suggestive that the adoption of digital populism is the inexorable reason for the new parties’ success and it is a service to identify this as a trend but it misses the structural politics and other reasons for the decline in historic parties is glossed over, and he ends with criticism of Politics as a Platform with which I agree. He concludes,

It is true that these parties offer a new model of mass participation that is very effective and could be geared towards progressive ends. However, their digital democracy has so far mostly proven a sham, with participatory platforms being used more a site where the leadership constantly checks and verifies its consensus, rather than a space for authentic decision-making and pluralism.

 …

Reinforcing Monopoly

Hereby are two stories about how software acts as a barrier to entry to a market and reinforces the monopoly power of its provider.

The first is shown by the fact that industrial content are getting cold feet over the EU copyright directive as the service providers have switched to supporting Article 13 since they already have the so-called “upload filters”. Only the big boys will be able to remain in the game of hosting user authored content. As predicted, the new regulations will inhibit both startups and SMEs.

The second story is closer to home. The UK have decided to mandate age verification functionality for porn sites. Who do you think is going to build that? Alec Muffet and the Open Rights Group have been tracking this and even if you think it’s a good idea, they way it’s being done is disastrous. The BBFC is the regulator and this is a massive piece of scope creep, it looks like they will licence a third party to act as the software provider and again the favourites to win this business is an interested party. Alec’s latest blog post is on Medium and is critical of the regulator’s stance and IT Security expertise and he previously wrote about the competitive dynamics and opportunities created by the new laws. Muffet is also concerned about the profiling use of such a database of porn users. It’s almost back to the days of the Roman Empire where monopolies were licensed. …

CLP Governance 2018

This is long, it’s a rule by rule analysis of the rule changes made to CLP rules by the Democracy Review and #lab18. It deals with GC sovereignty, Executive Committee membership, Branch & Delegate vs. All Member Meeting (AMM), equalities representation and organisation, meeting frequency, job shares and IT & participation. For completeness, I also mention Special Measures & Multi Constituency CLPs. The original text is held in Conference 18 CAC Report 1, which is on member’s net and mirrored here on my wiki. It should be noted that Conference determined these rules came into force on September 27. 2018. I reported on the debate in an article, on this blog, called The Denoument. For more see below/overleaf …  …

Freedom from Want!

I went to the internal relaunch/kickoff of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights last night. I am a member and wish them well. Long term fans will know I have been struggling for a while in getting the Party, with a few honourable exceptions, and its MPs interested in Digital Liberty and its Human Rights dimension; I sum up their attitude as “You can’t eat Human Rights”. I spoke to Matt Turner, the new Chair of their Committee and considered their next campaigns but our conversation moved on to Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report on the UK. I had missed the fact that this was a Human Rights report, reported on briefly by the Guardian and at more length there too,  and that Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the following:

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

The UNDHR was agreed as the Cold War descended to its depths but for each important individual liberty written in by the UK & US, the Soviet Union insisted (possibly with Roosevelt’s support) for the establishment of collective rights of solidarity which still remain today reflected in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as I discovered last week. Article 25 is a pretty comprehensive underwriting of the Social Democratic agenda which exercised hegemony in Northern Europe from 1945 to 1979.

We should note the appalling Tory reaction to the report, in the light of the fact that one of their Brexit Red Lines is the exclusion of the CJEU in Human Rights cases, and their disdain for the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

Perhaps we should take this into the Labour Party and destroy the image possibly more settled in my generation, that Human Rights are a bourgeois/middle class diversion. …

Brexit and Labour’s 2017 Manifesto II

In my article “Brexit and Labour’s 2017 manifesto“, and on my wiki article, “Stability & Growth Pact”, I talk about the reasons supporters of Labour’s 2017 manifesto might believe that they need to leave the EU to run fiscal deficits, nationalise critical businesses and offer state aid. I had come to the conclusion that our current terms of membership allowed the UK to pursue whatever macro-economic policies it chose and to be able to pursue its nationalisations. There would seem to be some questions on state aid and some people have raised the issue of the Railway Directive and its possible impact on the single market and nationalisation. A campaigning comrade of mine, from Southampton Itchen CLP has researched these issues and produced the following report, overleaf,  which he also published on Facebook wall.

He concludes, the notion that all EU activity is driven solely by Neo-Liberal ideology is in my opinion a mistaken assumption. In many instances there are additional rationales underpinning the EU rules that go beyond mere market obsession. The EU has pressed for more open networks in telecoms and energy but open access across national energy networks is critical for renewable energy production being made viable on a grand scale. Whereas in the water sector, where it is not feasible to create overlaying pan-European services, the EU has never shown any interest in legislating for open networks.

I would not go so far as to suggest the EU does not have an over optimistic view of the market system or tend to assumptions about private sector performance vs public sector that are not sustained by the economic models relied upon and it is possible to have a good discussion about Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage.

On the other hand, free market supremacy is a pretty widespread assumption in the modern western world. The victory of the Neo-Liberal ideology has been to shift public perceptions to accept the ‘private good, pubic bad’ mantra as a gospel truth. That human beings in the EU broadly accept the same mantra is not really a surprise. The challenge to us as socialists is not just to reshape the UK economy to provide for greater equality and justice but to begin to reshape the underlying assumptions about human and market behaviour that underpin much of the capitalist economic system. …