Fidel Castro died last week. This re-opened a debate around the world, in the UK and the Labour Party as to the appropriate response; it seems we have to sum up his life and the Cuban society he led in one of two words, goody or baddy!

Others point at Dr Denise Baden’s more balanced defence on the BBC; she makes the point that if the USA were to be measured through the same lens, it would be found wanting. Otherwise it’s the 2nd best health service in the world, massive improvements in life expectancy and literacy and support for the anti-apartheid movement vs. the imprisonment of dissidents and oppositionists and the restoration of the death penalty. Here’s what Amnesty International has to say; its report places Cuba’s response in the context of the USA’s illegal embargo, but at the end of the day it’s no excuse.

Like life, Castro’s legacy will be painted in shades of grey.

However, the event of his death has led to yet more bitching in the Labour Party since Corbyn and the Party’s leadership recognise and applaud the achievements of Cuban revolution while the right want to emphasis Castro’s dictatorial and oppressive behaviour.


I had reason to examine the World Bank’s World Governance Index and following Denise Baden’s example compared the USA and Cuba. As she predicted, the USA doesn’t do so well. I made an error and have temporarily removed the chart. I mis-transcribed the Cuba numbers. Cuba underscores the USA in all 6 categories, although its hard to believe that it does so badly in Govt. Effectiveness (7.7% percentile) given its health and education successes. …


To Airbnb’s chagrin, judge allows San Francisco rental law to stand, which mandates that landlords register with the city council; the law was originally sponsored by AirBnB but they are now liable for fine for contracts where the host is not registered. Hoist by one’s own petard.

Are AirBnB parasites? Or do they create new supply? It’s becoming more obvious that they are cheaper partly because their hosts avoid regulatory costs that other accommodation providers need to comply with. …


I was tidying up my desktop, when I came across a couple of articles by Bruce Schneier on e-voting. In this piece, he argues to tighten up the IT Security around the voting machines in the US, repeating his demand that voting machines have voter authorised paper copies so voters know and agree their ballot papers. He also categorically states that voting over the internet is just asking for trouble. He is concerned about integrity attacks, but ballot organisers should also be worried about impersonation, duplication and coercion, and this is apart from just hacking the results. There are some who feel that the use of e-voting is better than not voting but there remain significant IT Security problems; while I do not necessarily support a return to “show of hands in the car park”, obsessing about internet voting isn’t the answer yet, and may never be.

For more by me, check out my blog articles on e-voting, and for my bookmarks read here…. …

Renewing Party Democracy

Renewing Party Democracy

The LP NEC is having an away day to discuss reforming its rules and internal democracy, mainly in the light of the massive increase in membership to more than half a million members.  Here’s my manifesto for a member led party, I hope to supplement it with some ideas on the use of IT to aid in policy development and expressing the membership voice, but in terms of rules reform …

Labour & Article 50

Labour & Article 50

In my report back from Labour Party Conference, I predicted that the fault lines caused by the Brexit Referendum would become a potential fatal debate for the Labour Party. Today the Independent reported on a speech by John McDonnell, in which he argued that Labour would not oppose an Article 50 bill and would use moral pressure to ensure that the Brexit terms negotiated were acceptable to Labour. Jolyen Maugham argues in the New Statesman that promising not to oppose Article 50, or not to amend it disarms the PLP, it will have no leverage on the Tories who are still putting the interests of their party before that of the country. …


In May, a Research Paper was published by the House of Commons Library, authored by Mark Sandford, who catalogues the law, and its recent changes, including the fact that most referenda introducing directly elected mayors have been lost. On th whole it would seem people don’t want them. There’s an additional piece of research here as to what the common features are for those areas, the majority, that reject elected executive Mayors. This paper also says that since 2012, Councils can return to “committee led” councils on the authority of a Council resolution. It also says that referendums cannot be held more frequently than every 10 years. …

More Rules

Any Labour Party meeting will have a row about rules, and our GM involved one about the gender quotas, and one about the electorate for Women’s Officer and BAME Officer.

Chapter 7.VII.1 states that CLP’s may vary the rules with the permission of the NEC, it also states that such amendments may not contradict the rules set by conference. It does not restrict these changes to Chapter 15, the standing orders.

Chapter 7.VIII.2 states that the six principal officers including the women’s officer must be elected by the AGM.  It also states that additional EC officers may be appointed/elected with the permission of the NEC but that the gender quotas must be adjusted to meet the increased size of the EC. Since the gender theshold must apply to voting members of the Executive Committee, we should gave applied the gender quota to the Liberation Officers, but not necessarily to the Functional Officers who do not have a vote.

So we can have a BAME officer, and with the permission of the NEC elect that person as we choose, although the result would have to meet the gender threshold rules. …


Last night at my local Labour Party didn’t go so well. As I have said previously, it’s becoming hard to be a centrist and the Labour Right in the form of Labour First and their supporters are very well organised. The Left slate lost by about fifteen votes out of 101. What frightens me is the political vacuousness of the right.

Their voter engagement strategy is just based on Labour brand loyalty and hard work. In my second speech of the night, I quoted Einstein,

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

During the last election campaign, we set ourselves the target of 4m conversations and did 5m; obviously a lot of them ended with being told to “Fuck Off”.  We lost!  Their answer seems to me to aim for 8m conversations. There has to be more to them; but I can’t see it.  These people, who have nothing to say about jobs and hope are going to destroy the Labour Party; the only thing that unites them is careerism and some admit it. They declare that, what’s needed is a better more attractive leader. They have no policy and no vision of a winning electoral coalition and are completely unable to do anything other than do the same thing over and over again. Knock on doors, every day!

This is a strategy, it’s not an accident; it started in the middle of the 90’s based on the assumption that the working class have nowhere else to go. It’s executed by the last of the new Labour foot soldiers, located in the revolving doors between parliament, the unions, (well paid) charities and corporate public policy jobs. The Brexit vote and now the US Presidential election show that they do (have somewhere else to go).

Robert Reich talks here about the how the current US Democrat party followed New Labour and walked from its working class base who have returned the favour, he is also quite clear that the Democrat machine supported Clinton vs. Sanders for reasons of careerism and probably lost the Presidency because of this.

It’s happening here too. What is worse is that they’re teaching their young supporters the same thing.

PASOK (and maybe Scottish Labour) shows us how a Socialist Party that walks away from its base dies.