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. …

That’s you that is!

I am beginning to find the debate on Brexit with with local party comrades very frustrating, specifically those who believe that leaving the EU is a path to a better society; my frustration with the triangulators is different.

During the Referendum, everyone who didn’t like the EU voted No, with views from what has become Norway+ to those who want to leave on WTO or no terms. In a very short while, if not already, the terms of leaving become/became specific and they will need to decide whether these terms are suitable. It was fantasy against a reality, or more accurately several fantasies against a reality and the leaver’s fantasy has disappeared.

The choice between a specific exit and remain is different and they will need to make a new choice, they will need to make a judgement as to the specific terms on offer are satisfactory, that is unless you take the view that disruption caused by leaving the EU on any terms will cause a mass rising of “left wing” revolutionary conciousness. This argument is rarely made outside the Socialist Party.

Terms written by the Tories for purposes of party unity are unlikely to or shouldn’t satisfy socialists and yet we still find some of them supporting “Brexit” without stating their terms, strategy or how they’ll make society better or what their better society would look like, except that a Corbyn led government will make things better, irrespective of whether their policy will make this more likley or not. On the other hand, we have a bunch of Labour MPs other than the usual suspects, who are preparing to break the whip, and break Party Conference policy if offered May’s deal or No Deal.

As a left, we should unite to stop the Tory Brexit.

I repeat what I said, without quoting David Baddiel this time, if we leave, it’ll be bad, or very bad and everyone who can be blamed will be.

I ask, “What will they say to those who lose their jobs or suffer other oppressions, including deportation, restriction on medical treatment or restrictions on movement, such as being unable to visit their family, or bring them here, because of Brexit and I do not mean this as how to express empathy; what will you suggest they do to make their lives better through political action and why would they listen to you?”

ooOOOoo

For more, see also, The ground is shifting …

Dark clouds over the sea

Dark clouds over the sea

A friend and Labour Party member writes,

Problem is the next election won’t be fought on our ground or the manifesto it will be all Brexit. More precisely the fall out and ongoing shambles that will be Brexit. It will be a very fluid and febrile political environment. That will make normal politics difficult and in my view setting the campaign agenda will be next to impossible. It will be a relentless buffet at the hands of the wider political winds. All due respect by the Party is kind of shit at reactive PR and messaging.

The economic fall out of what I now about 75% anticipate will be a no deal crash out on 29th March will be crippling. I predict the UK economy shrinking by enough that we drop out of the G7 inside 3-5 years. I also anticipate unemployment in the several millions maybe as high as 5/6 million across roughly the same period. Some of this could be alleviated if Tories used big time stimulus spending by way of PQE type money creation. Although that gets capped to an extent by currency values declining and the overall productive value of the UK economy. But it is more likely the Tories will decide super austerity is the answer and start slashing and burning every aspect of the Public sector. As Parliament is Sovereign and there won’t be an EU there is no limit to what they can do. I predict a labour market that will look a lot like the US one inside a relatively short period. I have worked in the USA, (actually in banking, boo, but I did hate it). You can be fired at will and have no legal recourse.

Now factor in Scotland having Indy Ref 2 (they will) and most likely waving good bye (with 40-50 non Tory MP’s gone). Scotland leaving is another major economic shock and the shift from sterling being valued as a petro currency to being based on the English/Welsh/NI economy will weaken it again. NI is not self sustaining economically and it is very vulnerable to the areas that a hard Brexit will hit hardest. Agri Business is 10% of NI GDP a hard Brexit is going to cripple it. Sheep farming will be wiped out in NI and dairy and beef will be badly hurt. NI won’t be a productive part of the UK economy and it is unlikely Wales will be either. The whole weight will be England and the SE will dominate that at the expense of the North. We will be in an economic position that will be at least as weak as it was in the early 70’s after the oil shocks and probably worse because our economy is now so heavily service and finance based and Brexit is going to hit them very hard.

I could go on but you get the picture. Politically Tory slash and burn may shift public mood to wanting a change and give us a chance. I am not entirely convinced that will be how it plays out. In times of fear and crisis people want leaders who offer the answers and seem strong and certain. In truth that is the worst kind of leadership but it is a natural human reaction to seek it at times of crisis. The prolonged Brexit crisis may push voters towards a strongman type right wing leader rather than Labour so I don’t see unfolding Brexit disaster as necessarily delivering up conditions for a Labour GE win. It might but it might not.

Even if we got a GE win in say 2021/22 the idea we will be in any kind of position to push the big spending priorities in the manifesto is unicorn thinking. If we still have the Fiscal Credibility Rule and apply it then we will more likely be delivering Labour austerity. If we dumped the FCR we might be able to use greater stimulus spending by PQE but without productive growth and an economic base this is a more limited option. No point printing money to build bridges or infrastructure in economic wastelands. It would only push a short term boost. The longer term rebuilding of the economy from Brexit will be very difficult and in my view will be a 3 to 5 decade project. The options will be a slow rebuild and restructure over 30-50 years or the other option that will quite likely arise as a political force will be to re-join the EU. Problem with that is we don’t get the same conditions as now we might have to join the Eurozone. That changes the dynamic and makes re-joining far less attractive. If we could avoid the Euro maybe but unless it is reformed it is not a good economic deal for the UK (what will be left of the UK).

Again sorry to be pessimistic and bum everyone out. This is why I have been so cross about Brexit and the Leadership approach to it. I personally think JC doesn’t get the right info because of the bunch of Stalinist twats around him in LOTO. Whatever the cause it is what it is and most likely the die is now cast for a hard Brexit. How to ride that torrent in the near to medium term is going to be very difficult and sorry to be critical but I don’t have a huge amount of confidence in the Party’s ability to be strategic and nimble enough to cope with it effectively.

 …

A giant juke box

A giant juke box

This (European) Commission and Parliament must be the worst ever. Previous Parliaments have stopped ACTA & TTIP, previous Commissions have sanctioned Microsoft and Intel but it seems that this regime is going to commit two huge mistakes in regulating the new techno-economy.

The European Council has made the proposed Copyright Directive even worse! The link tax and the upload filters are still in place but the protections for authors and researchers have been weakened. The duties on social media sites with respect to licensing material are onerous to the extent of impossibility but then the law was always designed to transfer money from the datenkraken to legacy publishing businesses and turn the internet into a commercial jukebox. It’s so poor that despite,

As the entertainment industry representatives have said repeatedly during this fight, they are after nothing less than a fundamental reshaping of the Internet, where our ability to use networks for employment, family, civics, politics, education, collaboration, romance, and all the other purposes we put them to are subordinated to the use of the Internet as a glorified jukebox and video-on-demand service — where killing every EU competitor to U.S. Big Tech is an acceptable price to pay if it means transferring a few points to Big Content’s balance sheet. corydoctorow @eff

even the music companies now no longer want this law as it is.

The other piece of legislation is the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive in which the Government’s have weaked the principle that public money buys public domain. For more see Glyn Moody on Tech Dirt, EU’s New ‘Open By Default’ Rules For Data Generated By Public Funding Subverted At The Last Minute.

Julia Reda, the Euro Pirate Party MEP writes on how to stop the Copyright Directive and points that the final votes in the Parliament will take place in the run-up to the Parliamentary elections. Not sure if the UK is taking part in them, or if there will be a selection for the candidates in the Labour Party, there wasn’t in 2012, they forgot, but I shall be writing to the Labour MEPs asking them to vote to support freedom of speech and a free internet.

You might want to too! …

Trade & Brexit

Trade & Brexit

A friend posted a link to Larry Elliot’s article, “Ignore the free-trade evangelists. Brexit can create a fairer economy“, suggesting its critique of international trade implied some sunny upland in a post Brexit world. The article is sub titled “Free market economics created a world fit for multinationals. But we need less frictionless trade and more local control”., using a global context argument and yet diminishing the regulatory power which we share with the rest of the EU. The EU have sanctioned Microsoft, Intel, Apple & Google. The EU killed the ACTA & TTIP trade agreements. (Although not CETA, the Canadian version of TTIP). That is local control.

In no post-Brexit world, where we will take years to join the WTO and make new agreements with the 92 countries whose agreements we will have voided, will there be a vibrant British or Sterling economy, Elliot, and his fans are with Prof Minford in permitting if not encouraging the so-called legacy manufacturing industry to off-shore.

We should note that our Balance of Payments has been in deficit for, well forever really but is current running at £100bn p.a. about the same size as the crisis debt/deficit level that the Tories, supported by both the LibDems and rump New Labour used to justify austerity.

The UK will be poorer, and this misery will not be shared evenly and people will get angry. Anyone, with their hand dirty will be blamed. …

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.

ooOOOoo

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. …

Oops

Oops

Carole Cadwalladr discovered and interesting document on the Electoral Commission site, it is the proposal to recognise the lead campaigning organisations for the referendum. Here’s her tweet, she’d like some help in reading it.

and as you will find the document seems to have gone. Fortunately some people got there first. …

  1. https://t.co/19HOe8Oc1Y | The EC site!
  2. http://bit.ly/2N1PUN3 | @sutherlandweb.co.uk
  3. @the wayback machine
  4. on this blog
 …

May to Corbyn: ping pong

I got my blog on Corbyn’s letter to May out just in time, she replied yesterday as I was writing it. Opinion be divided as to what she says, the Guardian commented and published a copy of the letter which I have mirrored on this site and below/overleaf.

The Guardian documents her refusal to countenance a customs union and everything else falls from there on in. She is seen by the BBC as encouraging further talks on the backstop i.e. let’s go back to my plan which parliament has already rejected and waste some more time.

The open letters and the lack of agreement makes it seem like two seals fighting, by which I mean the amount of noise.

I am however surprised at her warm words around the Common European Arrest Warrant, she must know that its corollory is the CJEU & the Charter of Fundamental Rights. … …

Another Red Line

I wrote this as an after thought to my article on Corbyn’s letter to May on Labour’s new Red Lines because it fascinates me; the European Arrest warrant is only available to full members of the EU, and in order to join or use it, it is necessary to comply with the CJEU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights to have access to it. Frankly the Good Friday Agreement needs that too. This would seem to be a trojan horse to put the Court and Charter of Rights back on the table. I wonder if they realise? … …