Saving Jobs

Yesterday Rishi Sunak announced the next stage of support for the economy to see us through a coronavirus winter and mitigate some of the job destruction inherent within Brexit. It seems to be a short term working subsidy. It is described in the Guardian in an article entitled, “Covid scheme: UK government to cover 22% of worker pay for six months”. It requires employers to pay workers 55% wages for 33% hours. Below/overleaf, I also look at Richard Seymour and Rebecca Long Bailey's comments. ... ...

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

While most attention is on the Govt’s response to the pandemic, and while expecting a reimposition of the lockdown, the second part of the the triple whammy is the looming end of the Brexit Transition agreement. What are Labour doing? Certainly not making so much noise. Here’s the FT on Kier Starmer’s response, which it headlines as “Getting Brexit Done!” on the basis of his speech to the TUC. Labour’s front bench spokesperson on Brexit is Rachel Reeves, who now it seems doesn’t really want to speak about it. While Starmer seems keen to ensure a visibly effective performance in Parliament, which seems to be paying off in the polls, as Labour draws even at 40%, it requires the acquiescence of the press to break through and both Reeves and Starmer were outshone by Ed Miliband in opposing the 2nd reading of the Internal Market Bill. Too much of Labour’s parliamentary attack position is based on competence, the failure of the Tories to meet their own goals without even addressing the issues of cronyism and accountability or more importantly of a vision of how things could be better.

But then the Remain campaign has disappeared, (or the Guardian’s view if you prefer), giving some on Labour’s Left, the evidence they always wanted that the Remain campaign was an anti-corbyn trojan horse. Not for me! But Parliament has voted to allow the Govt. to negotiate the trade deals without asking Parliament to agree, and the Govt. refused to ask for a transition extension despite the CV19 pandemic. These are both opportunities missed.

If we get a deal, it’s going to be pretty shit.  …

10 Point Plans for Labour

10 Point Plans for Labour

In running for election as Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer published a 10 point plan, which I have noted & mirrored on this web site. A couple of months later, Richard Burgon, writing in Tribune produced his own 10 point plan as a focus for left unity within the Labour Party. I produce them below/overleaf in a table of titles. Provided we 'don't try and read the tea leaves in the order, there's not a lot of difference! For those of us who didn't vote for him, this should give us hope that Labour's opposition and manifesto will be worthwhile, but those that voted for him because of his 10 pledges need to be articulate in reminding him of them. ... ...

A collective voice

A collective voice

Things to be considered about Labour Party Policy making. Many people join because they have good ideas, and certainly have unique experiences and it’s not enough to just take their money and ask them to knock on doors. In “Ideas, alliances and promises”, I examined the long term failure of the Labour Party to develop long term effective and democratic policy making processes and the electoral consequences of this.

It’s possible that the most important reforms contemporary to the democracy review was the dropping of the need for motions to Conference to be “contemporary”, increasing the number of motions to be discussed from eight to twenty, which had the effect of ensuring that important topics with lower levels of support got to conference floor and the introduction of “reference back” on the NPF report. Let’s see how long these last. …

Labour and the 4 Day Week

Labour and the 4 Day Week

This is the text of the Working Hours resolution at #Lab19, calling for a 4 day week with no loss of pay.

Composite 8 -Working Hours

Working time is a major industrial and political issue in the UK. This conference is seriously concerned that compared to other countries in Europe, we have some of the worst public and statutory holiday entitlements; full-time workers have amongst the longest hours of any country; UK workers work unpaid overtime worth billions of pounds; and with the forthcoming increase in the state pension age, we will have the longest working lives.

But this has not delivered benefits to workers: average pay is lower than before the financial crash; productivity lags significantly behind other countries; and in-work stress is at record levels. The recent report from Autonomy and the 4 Day Week Campaign outlines the health and wellbeing costs of overwork. Work-related anxiety, stress or depression accounts for half of all working days lost to ill health.

Instead of building a country that works for everyone the Tories are building a country in which you work until you drop –and with the current imbalance of power in the economy, new technology and automation risk exacerbating this by continuing to intensify work, polarise terms and conditions and replace jobs entirely.

Conference believes there is a growing consensus around reductions in working time, including support from the TUC, STUC, Labour Party frontbenchers, individual unions and 63% of the population and that reducing the standard working week, with no loss of pay, must be a central pledge in the manifesto and a key aim of a Labour government.

In particular, Conference believes this should be part of the strategy to address under-employment, build a more sustainable economy, boost productivity and ensure workers benefit from the 4th industrial revolution and leads to opportunities for parents and a decrease in gender inequality.

Conference believes Labour should support the aims of Labour for a 4 day week campaign, go beyond the pledge to introduce four new public holidays and commit in the next manifesto to set out a plan to achieve a standard four day or 32 hour gross week with no loss of pay within a decade through sectoral collective bargaining and a new ‘UK Shorter Working Time Directive.’

Mover: CWU
Seconder: Perth and Kinross CLP
 …

STV & the Labour Party

STV & the Labour Party

There’s a sudden revival of interest in STV as the LP adopts it as a means of electing the CLP reps. There are in my mind, three problems with STV for party managers and one for voters. The fact that “order” can be critical in the results is important. When combined with the degree of discipline within Party voting blocs and the propensity to bleed votes from the block, getting the quota early is of advantage to parties. The problem of avoiding having large numbers of your votes trapped in the losing quota is also critically important for party managers particularly if the quota is high.

The Order based nature of STV counting leads to a series of well-known problems with STV in that it is one of the easier systems to game and has a number of design features which encourage manipulative or gaming behaviour. STV is not monotone, participative, consistent nor does it meet the No-Betrayer criteria.

There is no strategy that can compensate for a bloc’s voters not voting for all the candidates in the slate. Even within the activist or membership layer, many are more committed to their faction than to the Party, which may lead people to desert their first choice slate for another as the individual candidates become distasteful to the voter. I am curious if we could model the effect this ‘bleed’. The speed of desertion may well be determined by the slate construction as some on the slate might be exceptionally unacceptable to the otherwise loyal electorate. We should also note that not transferring reduces the quota[1] and so is equivalent to a (part) vote for all remaining candidates and acts as de-facto vote in favour of the highest remaining contender.

Early success militates against having votes lost in the losing quota, particularly as the STV transfers surpluses before eliminating candidates.

If running a complete slate, the offer of a recommendation to support as a second choice is not worth so much.

The disadvantage to voters is that their optimal strategy may not involve voting in a straightforward way as it may be best if someone likely to pick up a lot of transfers is eliminated before the transfers occur. This is more acute in instant run-off elections and depends on whether they want a candidate to win or prefer that others lose.

I can’t see what to do about weak discipline. If we take the example of the UK where we have Labour, the Greens, the Lib Dems and the Tories, we can see how people, who’s first choice might be, say, Labour might switch to the Green list after one or two votes for what ever reason and the Greens might go in both directions to Labour or to the LibDems. The system is designed to have this effect.


[1] This is the failure to meet the Participation Effect. …

Labour’s leak, rights of privacy and the public interest

This is the first part of my three part article on the Labour leak of a management report into the activities of Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) in its handling of anti-semitism complaints. This part looks at the act of the leak, the legal (or lack of) immunities, the rights of the employees and those of the management and the anti-corruption laws, basically the legal position outside the rules of the Party. For more, see overleaf ...

Voting Systems Theory and STV

Voting Systems Theory and STV

It is important to understand that a bunch of clever people have thought hard about voting systems; we don’t have to invent this. I remember that our management in Sun Professional Services tried to imbue us with the mantra, “Innovate, Don’t Reinvent” and others have declared that the process of innovation is standing on the shoulders of giants. Voting system qualities known as criteria have been defined. There may be some as yet undiscovered criteria, but it would be best if we debate the pro’s and con’s using an agreed categorisation and science.

One has to be brilliant to be both in a minority and right, and most of us are not that brilliant.

Wikipedia, on their article, Comparison of Electoral Systems, says this,

Attitudes towards systems are highly influenced by the systems’ impact on groups that one supports or opposes, which can make the objective comparison of electoral systems difficult. … To compare methods fairly and independently of political ideologies, voting theorists use voting method criteria, which define potentially desirable properties of voting methods mathematically.

Wikipedia – Comparison of Electoral Systems

One thing we should note is that not all criteria can be applied to all systems, the key differences are between single winner systems, and multiple winner systems and then between list based and non-list based systems.

While some consider and seek to judge instant run off elections, sometimes referred to as the Alternate Vote as a special case of STV i.e. an STV with only one winner, the fact that there is only one winner makes it a separate and quite different system. This is shown by the fact that it passes and fails different voting criteria. Also, in AV elections, there is no transfer of a surplus votes and the minority i.e. the wasted voted can be as high as 50% – 1. This is better than simple plurality systems where the losing proportion can easily be quite high majorities. It seems to me that one critical goal of democratic voting systems should be to ensure that the “wasted” or losing votes are as small as possible.

Some criteria only apply to singe winner elections, and while it’s hard to game an STV election, it is not impossible. Games can be played by candidate/parties or by voters. STV’s problems come from the fact that surpluses and eliminations occur in an order and thus transfers are impacted by this ordering.

The Wikipedia article tests STV against 7 voting systems criteria and fails it on five. Some of the criteria seem to be remarkably similar and, it seems to me, all relate to honesty and motivation in voting behaviour and how the voting system reflects this honesty. STV fails the Monotonicity Criterion as there are cases where you can support your preferred candidate by down ranking them. It fails the Consistency criterion, probably by design and I am not sure it’s all that desirable, but this is about sub-set aggregation which can’t be done in STV. It also fails the Participation criterioan, that your voice is always stronger if you vote, and “No favourite betrayal”, where you have no incentive to vote for anyone other than your favourite.

It’s certainly not perfect but we should learn from thinkers that have gone before us.  …

Fatal Weaknesses

Fatal Weaknesses

This is part II of my commentary on the Labour Leak, it looks at the missteps and failures to control the bureaucracy from 2015 to 2019 and looks at the structural faults, the need for a robust segregation of duties, how Labour has changed its rules to make expulsion of alleged antisemites or troublemaker’s easier and how McNicol’s eventual departure allowed both damage to be continued and a cover-up to become deeply embedded within the Party.

Labour’s policy consultation

Labour’s policy consultation

The Labour Party has extended its national policy consultation and so policy proposals, comments and votes can be made at https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/. In order to vote you must have a “my labour” login and login to the policy site. If not a member, you need to register at the site itself.

I have written proposals on the economy, a post-Brexit trade & co-operation deal, employee protection, and the surveillance society & police powers. I have supported proposals on free  movement/immigration, and anti-union laws, It’d be great if if you could vote them up,

I would be grateful to be pointed at great proposals on social care, social security and education.

Other’s may find this & this on a Post-Brexit deal, inspired by Labour Movement for Europe worth voting up. …