On GMB sponsored councillors

On GMB sponsored councillors

Motion 193 caused some excitement in our branch. It calls for all councillors supported by the GMB to support GMB members and sign up to the implementation of GMB policies. The debate as is all the others, on youtube. It was carried, a signal perhaps of a more transactional relationship between GMB and the Labour Party.

The words of the motion moved by Newcastle City LA Branch are as follows.

193. GMB LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILLORS This Congress calls on all GMB sponsored or supported Councillors to unequivocally support GMB members in Councils, Contracted Services, Schools and Academies. Congress notes that obtaining support from the GMB in political circles, is based on those seeking our support, signing up to the implementation of GMB policies and that includes in Public Services. Congress calls for progress on delivering this motion being reported on an on-going basis to the CEC.

Newcastle City LA Branch, Northern Region

 …

Non-compete clauses

Non-compete clauses

On behalf of our members, I took a motion seeking to criminalise non-compete clauses, I moved the motion, and it was seconded. The CEC asked us to refer, and given the choice between that and opposition we agreed. Overleaf, you'll find the video, words of the motion and notes of my speech. I conclude with the following phrases,

The CEC will ask you to refer this motion as they have not made up their mind on the govt’s proposed options. Only prohibition works for our members.

GMB & the Energy Industry

GMB & the Energy Industry

In terms of developing public policy, one of the most important debates at GMB Congress is the Energy Industry debate.

This, like all the others is on Youtube and focus on two composite motions, one calling for continued investment in Sizewell C and the nuclear industry as the only reliable zero-carbon generator source, and the other calling on an acceleration of the use and creation of Hydrogen. The latter motion makes the point that with Tories globalisation strategy, capability and jobs in the renewable sector are often offshored. It does not call for the reopening of the gas storage facilities closedby the privatised gas industry which it should because electricity cannot be stored at scale, gas can be if you have the storage capacity. Much of what it says in the Gas motion would make more sense in the context of a nationalisation or at least a mandatory national plan. The motions calling for nationalisation were marked existing policy and so not scheduled for debate.

The CEC qualified its support on three of the motions stating that it could not support words that suggested discrimination against migrants, (hooray), could not support policies in breach of the WTO trade rules, although would campaign/lobby to change them and that it considered OFGEM to be a flawed institution and asking for anything from them would be a waste of time and effort.

Earlier in the day, two motions (140 & 141) were debated. M140 calls for an integrated approach to tax and subsidy on generation and transport for low-carbon energy. It was compellingly moved by Adrian Stohr with a brave statement about the limits of incremental change today’s energy infrastructure. M141 calls for a renewables development authority and an economic plan to reduce carbon in steel manufacture. Again, it mentions the import of goods, and the export of jobs and tax spend. …

Rachel Reeves at GMB Congress

Here are my notes from Rachel Reeves speech to GMB Congress. It comes as a surprise to me that she’s a member of GMB, I thought she was in Unite, but possibly like so many MPs , she’s in more than one. The full speech and Q&A session is available online. Some of what she said, I have heard before, but interestingly she promised the biggest programme of in-sourcing in history. Some might call this nationalisation!!!

Another slogan I picked from the speech is having a buy British first policy, admittedly the options are much narrower after Brexit as so many European suppliers now choose not to sell to us because the cost of delivery is so high.

She highlighted the Tories shrinking of the UK’s gas storage capability which is one of the prime causes to the volatility of the level of prices.

Labour will increase SSP, although no targets announced. They will introduce sectoral collective bargaining, starting with social care and prohibit the use of scab agency labour.

She announced that new Infrastructure Bank will only lend on the basis of a jobs/wages contract. She will also ensure that there is a worker director on the board. This was very popular but the jobs contract is the more important promise.

There were a number of questions raised.

London Region asked a question on the WASPI women, while RR condemned the Tories for  letting the problem arise, her promises to put this right were harder to find. Perhaps the question should have covered all the Tory pension theft some of which is much more hidden.

In reply to a question, she announced the end of Tebbit’s Rule, defending people’s right to make a home and the government’s duty to have a comprehensive levelling up programme which brings high pay, high skill jobs to the whole country. It’s a task when one considers that many communities in the UK are the poorest in Europe.

One delegate got the cheer of the week asking why Starmer couldn’t support the rail workers. Reeves did not answer although spoke of her own committent to the Union movement and the labour link. She was very unsure in her reply to this question. She was strong on strikes, less so on Kier on which she was silent.

It’s GMB so I have to report on the question on domestic nukes and hydrogen. We want’em, and she’ll give them to us. …

The Single Market

The Single Market

In the middle of the week, one Tory MP wrote in a House of Commons magazine. He catalogued the decline in trade,  GDP and inward investment. He does not mention the traffic queues in Kent or in European airports. On exports he said,

the fishers who can no longer sell their Scottish salmon, to the farmers undercut by unchecked imports, to Cheshire cheesemakers running into £180 health certificates, even to the City which can no longer sell financial services to Europe, sector after sector is being strangled by the red tape we were supposed to escape from.

Tobias Ellwood MP, Politics Home, The House

He concludes that,

In a nutshell, all these challenges would disappear if we dare to advance our Brexit model by re-joining the EU single market (the Norway model). …

Any model will have benefits and drawbacks. The single market means the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. It would see £7bn of paperwork and checks go, and boost our economy by restoring free trade to sectors demanding change. 

Tobias Ellwood MP, Politics Home, The House

What’s fascinating and brave is that this is a Tory MP!. He makes the obvious point that it’s still outside the EU and needn’t be seen as abandoning Brexit, but many in the parliamentary Tory party disagree. It has attracted the usual idiocy from Lord Frost whose response in a non-linked three tweet thread 🤦 is best seen in this article at the London Economic. It’s as light weight as everything else he does.

He’s right we should re-join the single market, and I think that support for this is growing.

The question I ask is where is Labour on this.

 …

Was there “Remainer Sabotage”?

Launching 2019 General Election campaign

Some in Labour continue to fight over the history of Brexit; the so-called Lexiters seem keen to pin the Tories’ Hard Brexit on Sir Kier Starmer. This latest round was sparked by Eagleton’s “The Starmer Project” with replies by me, Andrew Fisher and now Michael Chessum.

Some are keen to smear Starmer as the architect of “Remainer Sabotage”. He was not! Firstly, the idea of Remainer sabotage is a fantasy and secondly, if such a person exists, it is not Starmer, although I am clear there are some senior Labour parliamentarians who used the issue of Brexit to undermine Corbyn. Fisher, who was there, argues that Corbyn’s shadow cabinet followed Conference 18 policy where Starmer delivered the Shadow Cabinet line from the composite meeting, much to the chagrin of many who wanted an explicit reference to “Remain” in the words of the motion.

The reality is that the saboteurs of Corbyn’s leadership over Brexit were the MPs that like their extra-parliamentary fan club wanted a hard Brexit on any terms, some because of ideological commitment some from careerist motives; they voted against each of the options in the 2nd round of meaningful votes, three of which would have passed if they’d votes yes, including an EEA membership. They wanted a Corbyn led Labour Government which negotiated to leave the EU and rhe single market. Sadly for them neither Corbyn nor the Labour Party wanted to leave on poor terms, which they will not admit, and that is all that was left after they sank the options offered in the meaningful votes.

The Lexiter conspiracists also ignore both the tradition and enduring presence of a right wing labour opposition to Europe, and their Tory and foreign allies, in the seventies Enoch Powell, and in the 21st century Nigel Farage & Vladimir Putin. This attempted distancing of their unpleasant allies and their racism is endemic in the political practice of Lexit.

The fact is, that the Lexiters particularly in Parliament, allied with the European Reform Group and the UKIP entryists and sabotaged the choice of anything between Remain and the Tories’ Hard Brexit; they legitimised the working class vote for Brexit, colluded with the argument that a metropolitan elite were trying to steal it from them rather than ask for confirmation that the Govt had got it right and gave them permission to vote for Johnson. It’s not Remainers who should be apologising. …

Education and Immigration

Education and Immigration

The Govt renewed its list of universities which act as gateways to the High Potential Individual Visa route; graduates from approved top universities can apply to enter the UK. The list is published on the Govt web site; there’s been much comment this time round that there are no African Universities on the list but then there are no Latin American Universities nor Asian Universities apart from the pacific rim.  The Govt claim to have used two other lists to construct their list; I have examined the QS index, partly because it’s easy to find and partly because I have looked at it before albeit nearly 13 years ago.

What’s startling is the number of PacRim countries now in the top 50, in 2007, there were very few, in 2021, there are many more. This should not be a surprise as the purpose of the QS index was to allow the Chinese state to plan its university programmes to support their investment led growth plans. We should also note that the QS index is/was biased towards English speaking universities.

Top 60 Universities by Region according to QS

There are no Latin American Universities in the Top 50, nor any African. The only Asian universities in this list are on the Pacific Rim, so none from the Indian subcontinent. The top Indian university is the Bombay Institute of Technology (177) and the top African university is the University of Capetown (226). The European figures (15) include 8 from the UK, and two from France, Switzerland and the Netherlands and one from Germany; the last figure surprises me, I would have thought they’d have more, but it could be as a result of the index methodology, although Switzerland has two institutes in the top 50. China has more in the top 60, than the UK and the EU. The HMG list includes the Karolinska Institute of Sweden, which I cannot find on the QS Index, but it claims 7th. The HMG List includes two US universities not in the top 60, but they claim to have sourced their list from multiple sources.

I would need to think harder about the impact of this route to entry to the country; the focus on the top 60 is clearly discriminatory as is most of the UK’s immigration law. This has even been confirmed by a leaked Home Office report. I predict someone is going to get into a lot of trouble for letting those words stay in the report!

The big and most important conclusion from examining these lists is that China is catching up, it has nine universities in the top 57, of which four are in Hong Kong. We can also note that the EU’s footprint in the top 50 is far lower than it once was as it was overly reliant on the UK’s universities.

Here’s my spreadsheet which contains my versions of the two tables, and several pivot tables and charts. …

Labour Party rules, women and youth administration autonomy.

Labour Party rules, women and youth administration autonomy.

Another Rule change for Labour Conference; this moves the right of access to the membership list from Appendix 2, to Chapter 2. It clarifies that Women's branch secretaries and secretaries of young labour branches/sections are to be given access to their appropriate membership lists. The guidelines as written state these branch officials should have access to the membership list. These words make it clear that this should be so.

Written for a friend; and the rule text is now below/overleaf ...

More on Corbyn, Starmer and Brexit

More on Corbyn, Starmer and Brexit

In my post, Is there a Starmerproject I criticised both Oliver Eagleton, its author, and Richard Seymour, its reviewer, for their takes on the role of Starmer’s Brexit positioning as part of his planned route to the leadership. I quoted Andrew Fisher on his clarification that Labour’s 2017 manifesto was to support the referendum result, only if the terms were right.

Andrew Fisher, in an article on Labour Hub, lambasts Eagleton for trying to accuse John McDonnel & Dianne Abbot of betraying a 40 year friendship and suggesting that Corbyn was too weak to get the policy he wanted. Fisher shows that Corbyn supported Labour Conference policy; it just wasn’t what Lexiters thought it was, or wanted. It’s an important contribution from someone that was there, reminding some on the Left that the CLPs, the Unions, and the majority of Labour Voters wanted to remain and wanted a second referendum. It was those who put their sterile dogma and personal careers first and voted down the meaningful votes that really killed Corbyn’s leadership. Their alternative reality doesn’t exist where a harsher Brexit line would have won the 2019 election. Corbynism was broken by then.

Fisher in his article, “I was at the heart of Corbynism. Here’s why we lost”, looks at Corbynism,  Brexit, the issue that broke it, and opportunities for progress. Fisher is clear that internal opposition and sabotage were also part of the story. He concluded that most importantly the Left needs to develop a practiced of respect for others on left; if it doesn’t it will fail. But at some time this horrendous factionalism will end as enough of Lebour’s leadership realise that “a bird needs two wings to fly”. …

Gas Prices

The Economist reports  that spot gas prices have fallen but that UK energy prices cannot because the energy companies have already agreed a price; this is known as a forward rate agreement.

Someone is making a shit load of money here because there is a secondary market consisting of options and CFDs. So either the Gas providers or the derivative market makers are making a lot of money beyond the excessive profits of the energy companies. The use of FRAs is, it would seem, is a poor decision. Maybe if OFGEM didn’t nod through the price increases requested by, the so-called energy companies, most are commercial billing entities, they would be more careful.

I recommend you look at the article as it has a chart, and references a further articles on the UK Energy Market and the broken gas market.  …