The Fabians canvass for policy

The Fabians canvass for policy

Momentum have run a policy primary to decide what topics and motions to push for Labour Conference 2021. The Fabians seem to have decided that this is a good idea and issued a shorter, more guided questionnaire to the world at large. They ask five questions, ... a new policy Labour should back that could transform the country, one thing Labour should do to reconnect with voters who rejected the party in 2019, one commitment from the 2019 Labour manifesto that the party should abandon, one idea for creating more unity and harmony in the Labour movement, and name one Labour MP the party should make more use of. The last is just asking for trolling, my answers are overleaf/below and feel that I have a right to offer my advice as I only left the Fabians last year having joined it to help me rethink my ideas about policy and strategy. ...

Voting in May

Voting in May

America has Super Tuesday, and in the UK this year we have Terrific Thursday. In London we are running the elections due last year, the Mayor and Assembly and in New Cross, there is a by-election in New Cross Ward. In order to vote you need to be on the electoral roll. This post advises how to get on the roll, how to get a postal vote, and how to help the campaign in London and Lewisham.

Red towns, blue suburbs

Red towns, blue suburbs

Arguments on why we lost the last election, and how to win the next continue apace. There is much talk of the Red Wall and how to win it back, unfortunately everyone is focussed on the man who used to “keep whippets in the [outdoor] latrine”, this article by Danny Dorling, précised in his blog, and reinforced by this article in the Economist written by someone else, suggest the problem is elsewhere, that it’s not the towns but their suburbs together with the growing inequality in our society. There is also plenty of evidence that age is also a factor. One commentator suggests it’s a surprise these seats didn’t turn Tory a while ago. …

Cowardice

Cowardice

Just a quick note, a comment on ‘desperate from Hartlepool’, and a longer comment from the Irish Times on Britain, the EU, and the creation of compulsive narratives.

Starmer’s rejection of rejoining, is a slap in the face for those members and voters who want to do so, and that number is growing. Starmer’s strategy would seem to be based on that of an Ostrich and following Corbyn’s, “what unites Hull and Hackney is social justice, we shall not be divided by Brexit” whcih worked so well. This issue cannot be avoided and the post brexit trade deal is poor. It’s killing SME importers and exporters and is exacerbating tensions in Northern Ireland and fuelling racism in Britian. Starmer’s positioning reminds me of some of the games I have played where one positions your party according to one metric, usually tax to ‘win’ the game; it’s also a return to focus group led policy making.

You can’t make Brexit work without engaging with the failings of the current situation and policy. In my mind this requires reentry to the customs union and single market.

The Irish Times article is a damning indictment of Labour’s silence in the knowledge that, that silence concedes space to poor policy and xenophobia and its hard to turn an oil tanker round, once the big lie is established, its opponents will always be on the backfoot.

Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay …

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. …

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. I argue that rule one is to have a policy which must deal with how to apply a risk based approach to the supply chain. This means segmenting suppliers into value or risk classes, using a classic risk matrix of estimating probability of failure vs. the impact. This will help one understand how important any supplier is to the business. The policy should also have authorisation limits and policies to counter the threat of corruption and life-cycle policies inc. sunset clauses to ensure it remains relevant. The policy must define the monitoring requirements, which may create liabilities on both sides and also the need for terms to exit the contract, and remediation where the supplier unilaterally exits the market.

All IT supply must be under contract which must be appropriately authorised financially, legally and technically, i.e. someone must have signed of on the risks of confidentiality, availability and integrity. The nature of the contract and risk analysis will depend on the importance of the supplier to the enterprise. Contracts need to establish the right to use, rights to software updates, the rights to bug fixes and engineering effort under a service level agreement, the right to request enhancements, contingency in the case of the vendor’s market exit such as code escrow, functional future proofing (most importantly compliance functionality), intellectual property transfer and its exclusions, termination conditions and data protection commitments and controls. Contracts must be monitored and compensation agreed for failure to meet service levels which may exist on both sides, for example, the buyer will need to ensure it meets the agreed licensing rules and payments, and the supplier that any availability guarantees are met.

The Party must consider getting its software portfolio and IT Organisation ‘branded’ as of a suitable and professional quality. The GDPR defines a 3rd party certification as proof of that an organisation’s controls are adequate and the Party must for many reasons also register its HR systems with, possibly both, “Investors in People” and “A great place to work” , as it’s clear that professional advice and goals are needed to fix the problems obvious in the behaviour of several Regional Directors and first identified by the Chakrabarthi Report.

Do the Labour Party have a robust vendor management policy? The critical software product for compliance is probably the financial system, and to drive this, the membership system is required to record facts required for selection and to record if members are in good standing. Also do the Labour Party own a data centre (or two) or do they use a cloud provider? It’s obvious that some software is SaaS. Has due diligence been done, has a risk register been created for the portfolio? Not everyone will remember but Nationbuilder, no longer used by the party, which was the volunteer management product failed during the 2015 general election. This is important to get right and with questions raised by Unite’s evidence to the Forde Enquiry the audit and authorisation functionality of our financial systems must be questioned as must recent portfolio acquisitions such as Anonyvoter.

This is all kept secret, and it would seem that many NEC members have little interest in this part of the job.

The important thing here is that these problems have been solved before, and there is agreement on the right way to do things. The Labour Party can’t make this stuff up, as the whole of local government have just discovered with the imposition of Commissioners in Liverpool.  …

Labour’s 3 year rule

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. …