Some hope from the polls

Some hope from the polls

It would seem the polls are narrowing, with yougov reporting a Labour lead. I held off commenting because sometimes a single poll is rogue. The politco poll tracker reports the Tories on 38% and Labour up to 35%. The Tories have lost 5% (percentage points) since May and Labour are up 2%. Is this real and sustainable. Maybe!

The Tories have adopted three policies that affect their base. Now that age is the key determinant of how people vote, it seems to be on par with hitting yourself in the nuts.

The Tories are planning to introduce their social care death tax and postpone the pension triple lock which means that an expected 8% rise will not be made. Their “Red Wall” working voters will not be happy with funding this through national insurance. The blue wall voters will be unhappy at the £100,000 cap on assets to get social care help and every house owner is going to be unhappy. This issue is subsurface dynamite, I remember that Cameron overtook Brown after opposing a Brown reform on inheritance tax.

The conservative coalition may be fracturing, between the northern MPs and their voters who need to level up, the Brexit libertarian loons who have a strong presence in parliament, and the middle class/pro-business vote in the south for whom tax and house prices are key economic drivers together with business viability. Here’s hoping that Johson’s “Fuck business” will come to haunt him. Furthermore, I am not sure that the Brexit fuckups have landed yet, but it ain’t getting better. If interest rates rise, there will be a mighty noise from the Tory voter base.

This is what the voting intention looks like.

Change in polled voting intention over summer 21,

And this is what the seats would look like according to Electoral Calculus, and because it cheers me up I have included the Electoral Calculus seat predictions from the yougov numbers.

There’s a way to go, but its more than one poll and the political cause is there to see! …

Fit for the Future

Fit for the Future

There’s been a lot of words caused by Labour in Communication’s publishing of their report Fit for the Future. This was covered by Labour List, who majored on Neil Kinnock, who wrote a forward and gave an interview. Much of the press and labour party comment followed this lead and talk about the ongoing purge which Kinnock, surprisingly, suggests is a distraction. The usual culprits are banging on about the unacceptability of legacy Blairite politics and how Kinnock lost the next two elections after he expelled the Militant. This is not helpful and suggest that the report has not been read.

At “All That Is Solid … ” Neil Kinnock’s Timely Warning“, @philbc3 brings some much needed balance, he suggests that Starmer needs to get it right soon, or the rug will be pulled from underneath his feet.

Thing is, those piloting the Keir Starmer’s ship to its inevitable wreck aren’t serious about winning elections doesn’t mean this is true for all the Labour right. …. unease is abroad in the party, and it’s not confined only to a maligned and wilfully misunderstood left. Kinnock is reminding the leadership that things have got to change, or the leadership will, in due course, itself be changed.

Phil BUrTon Cartledge

Having read the document, which is not so much a series of policy promises but more about policy formulation & strategy and while some of it is written in the most appalling marketing speak, some of its headlines such as “Bring back pledge cards” seem inane. With a deeper reading, and once past the spaghetti vocabulary, there’s some interesting stuff that the legacy leadership and those surfing their coat tails aren’t going to like.

This is clearly written by committee, with separate sections on Broadcast & Print & Digital, followed by sections on Brand & Vision. Oddly in the section on Print and Broadcast, they state that purges are not going down well, as it shows a continued obsession with internal affairs.

However, this focus has also led to an unhealthy communications obsession with internal friction, which continues to tell a disinterested public that Labour is not yet ready to govern again

Fit for the Future Broadcast & Print

The section on Brand is the bastardised blue labour narrative nonsense that we have come to expect from people that consider themselves the outriders for the leadership, although I wonder how welcome this ‘help’ is. This argument is put forward by people who subscribe, to New Labour’s “they have no where else to go” theory of coalition building. They were wrong then and wrong now and Labour today is paying the price of that attitude. These policies and strategies/slogans will drive away members of the new coalition away, the young, (and university educated), city dwelling workers.

On Policy they note that Labour has made 200 policy announcements and yet, people don’t know where Labour stands, they add,

Our recommendation to Keir and his team, therefore, is to ensure that policy announcements stemming from the Policy Review possess clear reasoning, and are etched into a blueprint for the future. The titanic issues of climate change, social care reform, unprecedented inequality and the future of the Union are all policy areas that are crying out for Labour to demand change. …..

Fit for the Future POLICY

I add that getting to a position before the Tories might help; see the current furore around National Insurance and last year’s “get the back to school” statements. For a unifying narrative, how about “For the many not the few”, Oops that’s been taken.

Yet even then the four point plan (in the Vision section), equality, climate justice, crime and safety a great place to work and live is one most of Labour could agree with although whether if can win back the Red Wall is another matter, but it is a useful platform to consolidate and possibly expand Labour’s new coalition.

On reflection, maybe pledge cards would be good; if they promised something worth while and central to our offer, the problem with them before was that were a distraction and an attempt to reduce ambition. within the party. There are some who think this is not a bad idea.

This article is based on some thoughts I put on Twitter, which can be found on threadreader.


Software Piracy and supply

Software Piracy and supply

This is interesting. From the Register, an article called, “Software piracy pushes companies to be more competitive, study claims • The Register“, sub-titled, irreverently as ever, “So, do copy that floppy?”

The article is written by, Wendy Bradley, assistant professor of strategy, entrepreneurship, and business economics at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, and Julian Kolev, an economist at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The article describes their methodology, and links to their paper. They define the launching of Bittorent as a shock and examine the intellectual property development of vulnerable companies to that shock.

“When comparing the IP strategies of software firms at risk of piracy (the treatment group) against those of not-at-risk firms (the control group), we find that our treatment group significantly increases its innovative activity after the piracy shock in terms of R&D expenditures and granted copyright, trademark, and patent applications,”

Bradley & Kolev – Software Piracy and IP Management Practices: Strategic Responses to Product-Market Imitation (August 2021)

Interestingly it seems, that Entertainment software companies behave differently. although the academic work done, as quoted in the article does not suggest that piracy reduces the supply of content.

Basically the big software firms use their superior cost structures, achieved by size and source code ownership to increase the rate of innovation to keep their customers coming to them. The entertainment companies don’t. I don’t think they look at the size and cost of investment into regulatory barriers to entry, both buying the laws they want, and pursuing newly created malefactors.

Bradley, Wendy and Kolev, Julian, Software Piracy and IP Management Practices: Strategic Responses to Product-Market Imitation (August 2021). USPTO Economic Working Paper No. 2021-3, Available at SSRN: or …

Competent Business

Competent Business

I hope I get my act together and do the reading or writing for something on ‘shortages’, Citizens take over Europe‘, economics, immigration, union democracy or UK defence policy. But meanwhile here’s a piece on the Labour Party rules and competent business.

I was asked, but not personally, and I paraphrase, “Are motions on the current round of proscriptions and auto-exclusions ‘competent business’ for CLPs?”

I have not read the motions in question and it’s possible to write one that is not competent.

I think that arguing that the proscription process, the criteria defining ‘support’, the members of the list of proscribed organisations, their swapping the disciplinary route from C6/NCC to 2.I.4.B, their prosecution for events that took place before the proscriptions decision, their failure to notify members of the change of rules are wrong, is legitimate business. (You can probably add to this list.)

I think there is an argument that auto-exclusion under Rule 2.I.4.B is not a disciplinary process.

Formby’s ban on discussing disciplinary cases was based the powers in 1.VIII.3.A.iv & 6.I.1.D both of which state that the decisions of the NEC or NCC shall be final but only if the process defined by those rules is engaged. As should be obvious, the decision to auto-exclude means that the NEC & NCC do not take decisions and so these protections for the decisions no longer apply. 2.I.4.B does not provide the “finality” protection to the decision. I would also argue that switching a prosecution track from one route to another is contrary to natural justice as is backdating the date of the events leading to prosecution.

Overall the prohibitions cover individual disciplinary cases, because they belong to other bodies, challenging the EHRC report, challenging legal settlements associated with court supervised apologies, and there’s a form of words stating that CLP leaderships have a duty to “… [create] an open and welcoming environment for people of all communities and backgrounds”. ( I need to find a reference for this last bit, and there is a more explicit guidance as to meaning of this last prohibition but it’s not on the internet nor afaik on the LP’s web site.)

To answer the author’s question, CLP leaderships will get into trouble for ignoring region or GLU advice, or acting in bad faith. If in doubt ask them, but bear in mind your members right to write and move a motion, it’s protected by their rights to freedom of speech and doubly so if the motion is proposed as conference motion.  …


I went to the Tank Museum yesterday and took some pictures.


It was interesting to visit the the week following the fall of Kabul; it makes at least one of the exhibits look a bit vainglorious. It also reminds me that I didn’t finish my story of the future of the Royal Armoured Corps from Boris’ defence review. It all makes me wonder about whether NATO can survive, and yet again, whether in areas of defence policy we see another dimension of the stupidity of Brexit.

There’s more to learn; on one slide they observe how the Army is always preparing for the last war. Reinforcing that I note that Tanks were invented during WWI in a Navy project, that like so many stories, the adoption in this case of the Tank was adopted by odd balls and that their was significant opposition bypowerul conservative (not Tory) factions in the Army, to the extent that during WW2 the Army fired Major General Hobart, and had to bring him back. Hobart, was not born into a military family and was assigned to the Royal Engineers; he became the Deputy Director of Staff Duties (Armoured Fighting Vehicles), he later became Director of Military Training and was the founder of the 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats. There are many more examples of the slow adoption by the Army of the necessary tactics and technology, perhaps I’ll look them up and write something, if its not been done (I am sure it has).

As one walks in, the first exhibit talks about the design trilemma, of armour, firepower and mobility, a theme they revisit in commenting on a number of exhibits but if one recognises that the best tanks of the WWII were the US designed Sherman and Soviet T34, it becomes clear that cost, and manufacturing simplicity were also key. While tank on tank the allied tanks were inferior to their opponents, the allied forces had more than enough because they were simpler to make by design and the allied manufacturing capability was so much greater.  …

Right to a fair trial

Right to a fair trial

For reasons, which to my friends will will be obvious, I feel the need to post the text of Article 6 of European Convention on Human Rights.

ECHR Article Six

  1. a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interest of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
  2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.
  3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
    • a.  to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
    • b.  to have adequate time and the facilities for the preparation of his defence;
    • c.  to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;
    • d.  to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;
    • e.  to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

Not an option today

Own Jones, reflecting on the debate in Parliament, writes in the Guardian, “Even the crisis in Afghanistan can’t break the spell of Britain’s delusional foreign policy“. A crucial quote is, “The former prime minister is a fantasist: Britain has not had a foreign policy independent of the United States since the 1950s“. He then catalogues a series of what will come to be called war crimes by US & British forces. We went there because the USA invoked NATO solidarity and have left because again the US people got tired of foreign wars. The British Govt, was not consulted. The fact is as others have pointed out, the US is no longer a reliable geo-political ally at least for the UK, and possibly not for NATO yet the world remains dangerous, the UK needs Europe and needs the EU. Another reason that Brexit was a mistake.

Very well alone

I have copied the picture from the Guardian, in which it was originally published, they republished it in this article, “Lost empire: it’s a myth …” which looks at the historical revisionism showing the efforts the then Empire and nascent Commonwealth contributed to the UK’s “finest hour”.  …

Afghan Refugees II

I need to watch the Parliamentary debate on Afghanistan yesterday, but I have been busy helping JCWI (Joint Committee for the Welfare of Immigrants) and Another Europe is Possible in developing their responses.  I wrote something on my blog, focused on refugee assistance, although I called for the Govt. to suspend and rethink the Borders Bill. Here, overleaf, are some links and tweets suggesting actions that can be taken, if only retweeting or sharing; also statements from Lewisham Council and Labour Councils ....

Afghanistan, and now?

Afghanistan, and now?

Afghanistan is now dominated and controlled by the Taliban. This has happened a week after the US withdrawal. Joe Biden announces that the mission was never about “state building’;  let’s hope the people of the NATO nations learn that NATO can never act as such a force, and that ‘liberal interventionism’ is recognised as the oxymoron it truly is.

The pictures of those seeking to leave Kabul are heart rending and I for one feel impotent and partly guilty at the same time.

We owe a duty to the people of Afghanistan that want a better life and the first thing to do is consider our national refugee policy and how we welcome them. First we need to let them in, and second to stop sending them back.

We need to welcome them, and ensure that they can live, love and learn. This will involve changing our approach to a number of immigration policy issues.

Priti Patel’s Borders Bill, which arguably breaks international law on the rights of refugees, must be suspended, and the Immigration Act 2014 needs, at the least, major revision. This isn’t a debate on quotas or points and the hostile environment makes it impossible for immigrants to live; we should be proud that refugees want to come here. I’d add that some of my immigrant members are shocked at the injustice they face at work and the lack of remedy. Britain was meant to be famous for fair play.

I’ll leave the foreign policy lessons for another time. …