Which Union

Which Union

A number of people are becoming active in politics and are asking which Union should they join because if a LP member, you must join a Union if eligible and must pay the political levy if the Union has a political fund. Anyway, if at work, it’s a good thing to do, for yourself and for others.

People join Unions because of where they work and who they work for; the principle is that as socialists and trade union militants, we should/must defend industrial unionism. In much of Europe, the Unions are even closer adjuncts of the political parties than in the UK and this is not a good thing.

I describe my rules and offer a web site URL below/overleaf. …

Can’t hear you

Hard to say how I got there, but I was considering the usefulness and representative nature of the student movement and Youth Parliament and segued onto Lewisham’s Young Mayor, which seems to be a bit shit due to its narrow focus. I know that in other boroughs they have a young council and so more than one person can get engaged with the politics of change but I recognise that part of the value is the election, engaging people through voting although there needs to be some accountability otherwise the lesson is that politicians don’t listen. …

More from Meadway

More from Meadway

I went to one of the local labour political education workshops at which James Meadway was speaking. Odd, since I had been reading of his views, in particular with respect to his contention with MMT; I wrote them up on this blog. but it was good to hear him in person.

I have written about MMT and its contention with the Labour front bench a couple of times and summarised my understanding of the MMT position on International Trade. A couple of years ago I wrote on their views on Monetary vs. Fiscal policy, this latter article also summarises and links to articles critical of MMT.

Meadway emphasised two things, “Not all Currencies are equal”, the dollar is still the international trade denominator. The second point is that making debt default the policy tool to deal with private sector foreign exchange debt is not wise as the biggest FX debt holders are probably HSBC and Barclays. While the UK public sector FX debt is tiny, this private sector debt is not and it’s questionable if we could bail the banks out a second time which since the ring fencing of retail and investment banks is mired in the swamp would jeopardise the people’s savings.

He also emphasised the importance of ownership, investment and universal services as socialist agenda items and thus the creation of an irreversible shift in power; not so sure my memories of Thatcher selling off the Mutuals is evidence that this will work but it will be a powerful manifesto. …

And back home

And back home

I have been told of resignations over this in my own CLP. Our delegation voted in accordance with the mandate issued, in favour of the NEC statement, against the Remain & Transform (C13) motion and for the Stop Tory Brexit (C14) motion. I accept that this is a reasonable interpretation of the mandate as those of us arguing for Remain & Transform lost the vote by 4 votes at a barely quorate General Committee meeting. I am sure that the timing of the meeting, i.e. a week before we undertook our trigger ballot meetings and the state of exhaustion from the faction fighting were part of the problem.

If you are a member of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party and not a member of the General Committee, ask your delegates why they weren’t there and let them know what you think, attend your branch AGMs coming in Oct. and elect pro-remain delegates who will turn up. This is critically important as should we win the coming General Election, Labour will call a special conference to determine its position between its new deal and a remain position. I will be seeking, with allies to establish a remain position and nsure we elect a delegation that will support the mandate.

My experience from canvassing is that many Labour voters are deeply concerned about, by which I mean vehemently opposed to, Labour’s ambiguous position despite our local MP‘s vigorous & courageous pursuit of a remain.

 …

An amazing coincidence

An amazing coincidence

I sat down to watch Conference, this morning and in practising my friendship skills spoke to the woman in the seat beside me and when we exchanged names, I discovered that she was Emmanuelle Avril, whose paper, “The (Unintended) Consequences of New Labour: Party Leadership vs Party Management in the British Labour Party” had caught my eye several years ago. (See below/overleaf for cross references to the paper and to my previous articles.)

So we had a coffee and talked about the coincidence that in a room of 3,500 people that we should sit together as she observed, the number of people who will have read the paper is very limited, which is a shame.

We talked about the answer as to why the stupidity of the previous afternoon had occurred.

The leadership is at the least bi-polar, as in it has two poles. One is Jeremy Corbyn and the other is the staff and dominant politics in the Leader of the Opposition’s office (LOTO). Their shared politics was formed in the 1980’s prior to Blair’s ascendancy but throughout the whole of the history of the Labour Party, the Unions have got what they wanted. The question now is what do they want and to what extent are they united in that vision?

There are three political currents in Labour’s Brexit Policy majority. The first, made of mainly rump Bennites or exiles from the Communist Party wish to leave the European Union, either because they think that defeating British capitalism is easier than defeating European Capitalism or because they believe that the EU treaties will inhibit a Corbyn Government pursuing its manifesto. The second consists of psephological illiterates who think that we can’t win back the seats lost north of Watford if we argue to remain, ignoring the fact that even in the north of England the majority of Labour’s voters, our baseline, voted to remain. The third consists of Leader ultra-loyalists, who seem not to have noticed that Corbyn has been moving towards remain albeit at a glacial pace since last year. We can assume that Corbyn is in third group and that much of LOTO, and the left’s leadership, whose politics were forged in the late 70’s and 80’s remain in the first.

And that’s the problem, too many of the current left’s leadership cut their teeth at a time when the left was strong and in particular strong in the Unions; too many of them just think, “it’s our turn now” and ignore the political revolution brought about by the 2008 economic crisis. The Unions voted with the left over this period and then they stopped but many of the Left’s leaders still think that the old tactics and old politics work.

In contrast to this, it delights me when working with Labour for a Socialist Europe that the average age of their activists is so obviously young.

In my article, the Death Agony of Social Democracy, I select some quotes that reinforce the paradox of control, that closing down debate kills innovation and renewal and in fact toxified the party and drove activists away.

… the way the newly created policy forums functioned, where minority opinions struggled to even be recorded. Vladimir Derer, founder of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, expressed the view, echoed by many party members, that only political debate can keep activists, whom the leadership relies on to run the local parties and campaigns, interested. Participation to the political debate, which “wine and cheese evenings” could never replace, is an essential motivation for partisan engagement …

When they, i.e. Blair and Brown moved on, they had no platform and no ideas to renew themselves or the Party. Labour selects the most left wing candidate that it thinks can win, and in 2015 there was no confidence that any of the candidates could do that! The ideas of the “three wise monkeys” were weak and so Corbyn won, but he can’t build the party he needs reusing the Party control tactics of Blair. …

Not yet decided!

Not yet decided!

Labour Conference failed yesterday to take the opportunity to declare itself a remain party. I am of course deeply disappointed. I am told of resignations already.

The debate was conducted in the best traditions of the Labour Party which means lots of games were played. The quality of the debate was not good but one or two speeches shone out.

The Party Leadership, which does not want to declare for remain, at least not for now had been so frightened of the result that it sought to agree a statement; this would and did allow them to insert new words onto the Agenda, although the fear that they would repeat the 2016 trick of ensuring that an NEC statement supplanted member’s motions was not repeated. Otherwise only the words proposed by member organisations can be debated. They had great difficulty getting their statement carried, convening two meetings, cancelling one and eventually agreeing by email.

Jon Lansman documented his dissatisfaction with the means, at least, if not the content of the decision but strangely Momentum changed their mind, and I believe asked their supporters with “listen & decide” mandates to oppose the Remain position (Composite 13) Composite 13 Brexit lab19 and support the NEC Statement NEC Statement Brexit( basically the Harold Wilson position) and Composite 14 Composite 14 Brexit lab19 which is basically, No Tory Brexit. This advice was obviously not meant to be taken by CLPs with strong mandates although I am not sure everyone that got the memo understood that!

The Composite meeting was long, although not as long as the meeting on the Green New Deal; the Leadership firstly tried their tactic from last year arguing the only one motion should be put and that the Composite should be agreed by consensus, which since they were in a minority again, wasn’t going to happen this time. The huge problem the platform had is that the large majority of the members of the composite meeting had mandates to support the words that ended up in the “Remain Now” motion. The other problem that Remainers have is that much of the Leader loyalists are actually Lexiters influenced by the Communist Party and economistic Trotskyists, places from which their leadership came. WRT to the composite meeting, the lesson from 2018 had been learnt,

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

The debate can be seen on Youtube; the Party have published the whole afternoon session.

It was not a high quality debate as there is little meeting of minds, but to give you a taste, here’s Simon Hannah moving Composite 13.

The bulk of the pro-leadership arguments were straight forward personal loyalism; there was a bit about losing our already lost heartlands, but not so much and some arguing we are the party of the 99% we need to bring the country together. To my mind the argument that we have more remain votes to lose was not made powerfully enough but there is more than sufficient idealism in Urte Mackene’s speech.

There can be “no socialism in one country;I wonder when that became true?

Kier Starmer summed up the debate, you can see his speech here and then in the best traditions of the Labour movement the vote was stitched up and a card vote denied! It interests me that Jennie Formby arrived on the platform 10 minutes before the end of the debate and played a critical role in guiding the Chair, who first called Composite 13 carried, on advice seemed to change her mind, and then denied a Card Vote.

Card votes are more accurate than one person’s judgement, and a show of hands overestimates the power of small CLPs and underestimates the power of the Unions. It was wrong  to deny it to conference and the membership and reminds me of the bad old days of 2016. In my mind this was done to demoralise those who had campaigned to see Composite 13 carried, to prove that they’re in charge but as others have said, the effort exhausted them.

But we’ve come so far … is it one more push. …

More on Points of Order

More on Points of Order

I missed most of Saturday but bumped into a friend and we discussed the culture around points of order, it seems there had been a few. I wrote about this last year and in that article I observed that “Point of Order: You haven’t called me, or people like me” isn’t a point of order. While talking to my friend, I remembered my transition from CPSA to SCPS; in the former, there were points of order all the time, and in the latter not, in fact, I still remember the strange faces I got when I moved my first point of order at SCPS. In some places it’s done, in others not.

I sort of wonder if the proximity of the average member to the student movement is a factor and the very high number of first time & young delegates. At GMB Congress, this year, there was only one point of order over 5 days, and they gave notice to the President and were called to the rostrum as an emergency agenda item. Also, I was asked if we i.e. London Region should move one on the CEC position on Venezuela. I demurred as the disruption makes one unpopular.

It’s sort of clear that conferences have a high or low point of order rate. It would seem in Parliament, the rate has gone up, much of them nonsense and in Parliament, they have a culture of allowing interruptions, so you don’t need a point of order to make your point. In fact, and it’s very rude to everyone else in the room, it is at times, or even mostly, used to jump the queue to make a point rather than wait to be called to speak.

I should also say, that, “Point of Order: the last speaker is talking bollocks” is unlikely to get you anywhere, as this little clip shows!


In fact, the Labour Party’s rules, at Conference, now make it clear that a point of order must start with a citation as to the rule that has been broken; eventually, they required people that want to make one, to quote their rule to the speaker desk before the point of order would be accepted. Good! People should consider, that all that can happen is that the Chair agrees with you, unlikely, or says that you are wrong and tells you to sit down, at whch point you can challenge the chair’s ruling for which you need a ⅔ majority. 🤔 Wonder if that would force a card vote!

I finish this little note with the observation that the acronym for Point of Order is POO!

Image Credit: Lenin: Right outside the Finland station (Finlyandsky vokzal), sits this statue of Lenin, looking out over the river. He might be raising his hand to catch the Chair’s eye to make a point of order. From flickr CC 2008 Stephen D Strowes BY-SA …

Unions & Brexit

Unions exist to fight for the rights of their members. Brexit is a calculated move, cooked up by the Tory right, to undermine workers rights and attack migrants and free movement. The whole trade union movement should be united in opposing it. By standing with Labour members, we have an opportunity to unite the party and move on with a clear policy.

NB I am a life long Trade Unionist, currently a member of the GMB. …

Reform of Labours Candidate Selection

Reform of Labours Candidate Selection

On Saturday, Labour Conference changed the rules as it pertained to the Local Campaign Forums now named Local Govt. Committees, the Rule changes were published in CAC 1 and I have made a copy that exclusively refers to Chapter 12, LCF Rule Proposal extract from CAC1

The key reforms are,

  1. Voting power on the LGC will be ⅓ for the Council Group, ⅓ for the CLP Reps, and ⅓ for delegates from Trade Unions. This is voting power it is not dependent on the number of delegates.
  2. Councillors may only sit in the Council Group class of delegates
  3. The Leader/Deputy Leader are to sit on the LGC Executive.
  4. There are strong, or maybe weak, but at least some rules to constrain Councillors from impacting seats they are interested in, but obviously not swapping favours.
  5. CLP’s delegate numbers will be representative of the number of wards represented in the LA area.
  6. The authority for the manifesto remains unclear.

This does not increase the accountability of the Labour Group.

Have a look and make a comment if I have missed anything. …