Sometimes fate is just

Sometimes fate is just

Just doing some reading to justify my assertion that the current Commission is the second worst, to discover that Nigel Farage had objected to one of the Barroso Commissioners as they had been found guilty of illegally funnelling tax payers money into their political parties, having been pardoned by Jacques Chirac. It’s almost funny because of what happened next? Farage and UKIP accused of similar offences and had to repay it and justice finally caught up with Chirac. In fact, Farage was late, as this was the second Commission to be proposed as the first had included an Italian Christian Democrat whose views on Homosexuality and Women made him unacceptable to the Parliament as the nominee for the Commissioner responsible for Justice and Human Rights. …

An unhappy anniversary

An unhappy anniversary

Someone writes to me, “I’m not sure the UK can pat themselves on the back for intentionally looking after themselves, much like the US. Germany also funded research into the Pfizer vaccine but didn’t secure a 1st order before the EU, taking a more Internationalist approach. They’ve also secured their own orders since, probably because of Germans getting fed up with the slow EU roll out. Without the EU a lot of smaller member states would have struggled to get in the queue that’s the difference. Unfortunately now that UK have received plenty but not exported any to EU it’s getting tense and the rhetoric unhelpful. Macron has been an idiot but Merkel and the EMA have not. Good distraction for UK government from world leading death toll and billions wasted on PPE and test and trace. It’s also a good case for saying that the UK should be part of the leadership of the EU then this drama may not have happened.”

To which I added, that the grandstanding and threats by Macron & Von der Leyden has been exceptionally unhelpful; it’s possible that this Commission is the 2nd worse there’s been and for the record, the German’s like us, only seem to put 2nd rate politicians onto the Commission. We don’t need to defend the Commission but should always remember that for vaccines to work, we need people other than those that paid for it to have it. We should also forcefully make the point that vaccines are not enough, it is necessary to have a well functioning, track, trace and isolate programme which the UK does not, with adequate compensation for loss of income from public health compliance.

By saying it’s a vaccine bounce and there’s nothing we can do, we collude with a policy that has led to the highest death total in Europe and a policy which is trying to get people back to the work place irrespective of safety, again! I hope that there is no reason to slowdown or reverse the unlockdown, but it is not planned as a complete reversal even today. …

On Labour’s Local Govt Selections 2021

I wrote something for Labour Briefing, called Time for a local government clean up, I talk about the history of control and the members charter and the rules committent to provide representation for communities and groups currently under represented. I talk about the smallness of the LCFs and thus the ease of control, and threat of corruption through poor definitions of conflict of interests. I identify the change in rules about AWS and while I don’t mention it, I remember the failure of Lewisham LCF to select enough woman for the candidate panel.  …

Vendor Management and the Labour Party

Vendor Management and the Labour Party

I wrote a blog on linkedin, on what I call Vendor Management. This is based on my experience as an IT Security and Compliance consultant, and leans on ISO 27001. Some of the words in this article, mirror what I say in the linkedin post. This article, see below/overleaf talks about risk classification, risk control super-strategies and risk monitoring. It then looks at the Labour Party, recommends the adoption of quality brands as an employer and as an IT User. It ends by asking some basic questions about the impact of [the lack of IT Governance]. It challenges the secrecy and the commitment of the NEC to get this right and concludes the statement that there is a common body of knowledge that allows the effective management of IT & IT Risk. AS Liverpool Council have discovered, this can’t be made up. …

Labour’s 3 year rule

When considering making rule changes in the Labour Party, designers need to take into account the so-called three year rule, and in 2021, need to consider that the rule defines the embargo in terms of conferences and so 2020 will not count. The rule states,

‘When Party conference has made a decision on a constitutional amendment, no resolution to amend the constitution or rules of the Party having the same or similar primary objective shall appear on the agenda of the three following annual party conferences, except such resolutions to amend the constitution and rules that are in the opinion of the NEC of immediate importance.’

Chapter 3, Clause III, 2.H (page 20 of the 2020 Rule Book)

So, let’s dispose of two pieces of pedantry; motions become resolutions on passing. Therefore proposals for change are motions, the use of the word resolution in this rule is legally illiterate.  It’s referred to as the three-year rule, but in effect it’s a five year rule, only rule changes that failed in 2016, or earlier can be considered, and a lot of rules were changed at the 2017-2019 conferences.

Critically, we have the phrase, “the same or similar primary objective”. This is designed to stop factions behaving like children having a tantrum and nagging until they get what they want, but not to prohibit CLP (or affiliate) proposed rule changes designed to review or improve a rule.

The CAC decision as to whether a proposed rule change contravened Rule C3.III.2.H is taken on the recommendation of staff. The CLPs have two representatives, the Unions and other affiliates have five and one member is elected by Conference which seems to mean that the Unions choose them. The fear is that staff will rule out motions that the leadership don’t want and be backed by a compliant CAC majority. Recently we have seen that the Unions will not vote for a rule change not supported by the NEC, on which they have ⅓ of the members. The CAC and staff may well play fast and loose with ‘primary purpose’ and consider any further changes to a specific rule to be ultra-vires.

Careful study of the text suggests that a revoking motion would be in order, as would an orthogonal amendment. I think I might still try my Nolan Principles rule change proposal which seeks to amend C2.II.7 which was introduced in 2018 to see if primary purpose will be interpreted with textual literacy or with factional intent. The ‘open selection’ motion at 2018 was deemed to have fallen because the NEC rule change was carried. Has conference ‘made a decision on a constitutional amendment’? Sadly probably as it carried the trigger ballot reform motion and the CAC report that deemed open selection to fail but the words ‘made a decision’ require conference to have done so, withdrawal means that a decision has not been taken.

It’s a mess but the same as everywhere else, like the sailing the rules are a weapon, unlike sailing, there’s no real independent judge as to what the rules mean. …

Lessons from the Liverpool inspectors

Lessons from the Liverpool inspectors

There has been an inspection, a so called best value inspection, into the running of Liverpool Council, and they have issued a report. They recommend, surprise, surprise that commissioners, who will look like … er them be appointed for three years to supervise an improvement plan. One of the recommendations, §11.3, I quote below, the Secretary of State should/shall/must,

Direct LCC to prepare and implement an Improvement Plan, to the satisfaction of the Commissioners with, as a minimum, the following components:

  1. In the first 12 months review and implement changes to the Council’s constitution which will
  1. Improve the ethical governance framework to best practice incorporating the LGA model code and a fully functioning Standards Committee.
  2. Constitute the Audit Committee as a stand-alone committee with a direct reporting line to Council and a right to have its recommendations considered by the Executive Mayor and Cabinet, with either an independent Chair or an Independent Technical Advisor.
  3. To re-establish Scrutiny activity in line with Statutory Guidance ensuring that Councillor leadership of the activity is on a cross party basis and with appropriate officer support.
  4. Introduce best practice Standing Orders and Regulations for contracts and property disposals.
  5. Review the scope, content and reporting of all delegated powers.
  6. Establish a specific code of conduct for all Members in connection with dealing with Planning and Licencing matters.
  7. Require mandatory training of members in key activities, including behaviours, before participation in Council activities other than full Council.
  8. Improve the content and updating of declarations of interests and gifts and hospitality, for both Members and Officers.

This is quite comprehensive, I wonder if any other organisations in the news could benefit from such an improvement plan.

I shall write something a bit more political later but I have to troll some Labour Party NEC members now. …

Fair votes at Labour Grassroots

Crispin ran a show on PR, which he invited me to speak at. I was surprised to hear Howard Beckett speak in favour and it was a good speech focusing on what we want our parliament to look and behave like. The full show is behind the preceding hyperlink, I am on towards the end, my contribution can be viewed in the hyperlink/screen below.

I tried to say that this is about great and broad principles, how we choose governments, what sort of parliament we want, and how governments construct their coalitions. I take a pop at those who want a short cut to obtaining untrammelled state power without doing the campaigning and persuading necessary to win power, and those who think that the constituency link as it is worth defending. There wasn’t time to talk about the unhealthy forces that FPTP imposes on the Labour Party, nor on the impact on democracy of the size of the parliament, about which I have a planned blog. …

Privacy Regulation

Privacy Regulation

I wrote a little piece on my linkedin blog on the EU Commission’s proposal to agree a data “adequacy” agreement. I point out the next set of hurdles, although I downplay the likelihood of any intervention by the CJEU but note that not was critical in striking down the original EU/US “Safe Harbour” agreement. I note that one threat to its renewal at the end of its four year live is the desire and plans of the British Govt to depart from the current legal protections which are based on the EU’s GDPR.

Issues of state surveillance, the European Council’s Convention 108 and the Human Rights act are all engaged. We’ll probably get it, but for it to be renewed, we’ll have to remain aligned with the GDPR & C108. The right to seek judicial redress by EU citizens may become important as it is a point of contention between the EU & US over the Privacy Shield.

One indicator of a desire for divergence is the advert for the role of Information Commissioner, which asks for,

The Government’s National Data Strategy sets out its ambition for the UK’s pro-growth and trusted data regime, one that helps innovators and entrepreneurs to use data responsibly and securely, without undue regulatory uncertainty or risk, …

This has been picked up by the Open Rights Group, who are asking people to write to their MPs, we need an independent Privacy Regulator.

The retreat from the promise of the GDPR is not just a UK phenomenon, across Europe pro-business politicians are beginning to say that it’s too onerous. It’s a shame we’re out, our voices no longer count …

It’s demand stupid

It’s demand stupid

Simon Wren Lewis tweets on the Budget, the full thread talks of macro-economic illiteracy, the need to stimulate demand and the fact that this is a budget for austerity. He writes more on his blog, mainly macro where he talks about the need to spend more on those with less savings i.e. the poorer 20% of our society because their multiplier is higher as is their need. He also repeats the Economics 101, that fiscal policy is about growth and monetary policy about inflation. I also link to Paul Mason's comment which reinforces the need to concentrate on demand.

Democracy Threatened

Daniel Blaney wrote a piece on the suspension of the Newham Labour Parties on the Labour Briefing site. The article gives some context, documents the NEC’s hesitance in getting involved in the mayoral reselection last time round, but this quote, may sum up his fears.

…the local Left has very strong reservations, and fears this will lead to a longer term frost in local democracy when we had hoped for a thaw, – there is no doubt that Newham Labour politics needs to be cleaned up, something the wider party apparatus has neglected for a very long time.

Daniel Blaney – Labour Briefing

The last sentence is key, neither the London Regional Office, nor the NEC seem to be safe guardians of democracy and even decency. We need to do better. …