GMB on Brexit

GMB on Brexit

The national committee of the GMB is called the Central Executive Council, and it produced a statement on  the subject of Brexit. The statement opposes a No-deal Brexit and calls for a final say public vote on any Tory deal to,

.. decide whether this is better than our current deal with the EU.

I was called to speak on the statement and my speech is on YouTube, as is the whole debate.

The statement was made available on the morning of the debate; I wish I’d had more time to consult members & colleagues. …

You can’t say that!

GMB Congress 2019 is a rules revision conference and one important rule change passed earlier in the week was to restrict the number of motions and rule amendments that a single branch can propose to three motions and two rule amendments.

One of our delegation spoke against the rule change arguing that restricting the number of motions would diminish Congress because branches would be choosing not to send motions, the difficulty that large branches with multiple employers in representing all their members was mentioned. A video of the debate is here.

On reflection, the idea that 2500 motions would be proposed is foolish, there were 435 motions on the order paper when there was no restriction. (I understand that one branch put in a shed load, but they obviously thought it important.)

I would add that, since the CEC, through its power to recommend “support with qualification” can uniquely move amendments to every motion, this change (of restricting a branch’s voice) will increase the CEC’s power over the agenda and the results. Also the CEC can table non emergency business, as special reports after the closing date for motions and so amending these is procedurally difficult. No system is perfect, but I agree that this is a retrograde rule change. …

British Steel

Our minds have been distracted or mine has anyway, but British Steel became insolvent last week. Of course a huge blame game is started. Have the Chinese been ‘dumping’ steel on the rest of the world? Could the Govt. or the EU have protected it? Did the single market aid rules stop the Govt doing so?

Is China dumping? This article at the Conversation says “Yes”, big time!

This article at fullfact.org, “Is the UK calling for EU duties for Chinese steel?” deals with next three questions. The EU have raised duties but for many years the UK Government has been resisting more; they wished to avoid retaliation and for ideological reasons. There’s probably some “don’t give a shit” there too. It would seem that this is another policy area where New Labour failed to support its natural people.

The calls for renationalisation are now, rightly growing …

Vote Labour again

Welcome to the Brexit merry-go-round!

I have been reading the news as have you all. Labour’s promised vote seems to be plummeting, in London in 2017, we got 61% and in the Mayoral election, Sadiq Kahn got 41% of first preferences. Polls are suggesting that Labour is on about 24% in London, although they could be wrong.

Labour supporters should vote Labour.

If you are a Remainer, and we win, these MEPs will sit for 5 years holding a Commission accountable.

Labour’s MEPs will be the Party of European Socialists and will pursue the objects of the PES Manifesto, which is largely influenced by Labour’s agenda of anti-austerity economics and social solidarity. Labour MEPs will vote for the Socialist candidate for the position of President of the Commission.

In London our candidates are good people. Claude Moraes has an exemplary record as European Legislator acting as Rapporteur (i.e. author) for the GDPR which redefined the right of Privacy in Europe. He has been Chair of the Civil Liberties committee, Seb Dance is probably best know for the he’s lying stunt but has been campaigning on environmental rights, Katy Clark used to be an MP and was a strong civil rights campaigner and Laura Parker is an articulate socialist who would strengthen Labour’s parliamentary team; she has been part of the team that has led Momentum to its “remain” supporting decision.

We talk of beating Farage; this is not just important in the UK for our own political health but the number of MEPs in the European Parliament matters. Historically Farage has sat independently with allies but apart from the Fascist parties from France & Hungary. These far-right parties are likely to be joined by the Alternative for Deutschland and the Italian hard right. The idea of an alliance of the political right of such size is frightening and all democrats should do their best to oppose these people. i.e. coming first or second matters in the UK.

The alternative for many seems to be the LibDems. If elected, they will sit with the ALDE group led by Guy Verhofstadt, who has been the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator; he has given up partly because he feels that ALDE will be more powerful without a strong Labour delegation. The British LibDems are no longer part of a British progressive alliance and ALDE cannot be trusted to fight the far-right.

  …

Labour and the Surveillance State

I am planning to get a motion on the Justice and the Surveillance State to LP Conference, I asked for help in this article on this blog, and I believe the final words for CLPD are very similar to my version 2. Here they are,

Investigatory Powers to be subject to Human Rights Law

Conference notes the absence from the NPF Report 2018 of the surveillance society.

Conference notes the continual use of surveillance powers in the private and public sectors authorised by law, or government programme including:

  • Investigatory Powers Act 2016,
  • Immigration Act 2014
  • Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015
  • Digital Economy Acts 2017/2010,
  • Data Protection Act 2018

Conference notes that the IPA 2016 and DEA 2010 were both interdicted by the CJEU as contrary to Human Rights Law and/or the EU acquis.

The intrusive programmes include Prevent and ‘get it right from a genuine site’.

Conference believes that freedom of expression and the right to privacy are universal human rights, that the current surveillance and investigatory powers regime is in breach of these rights.

Conference resolves that a Labour Government will ensure that private and public surveillance technologies and systems will conform to laws that meet the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, including a need to prove reasonable suspicion before collecting evidence and the right to a fair trial with the principle of innocent until proved guilty.

Conference calls on the Labour Party to draw up a Human Rights based policy for the regulation of British Law Enforcement authorities and their investigatory powers. This to include the abolition of Prevent, the repeal of the 2014 Immigration Act and the repeal of the immigration data exception established by the DPA 2018.

Conference instructs the relevant Policy Commission to launch a consultation on Surveillance and Justice to report to Conference 2020.

If you can get it to Conference that would be very helpful.

I have put the words in a word document,  Motion on Investigatory Powers for Lab19., or in a .pdf if you prefer, Motion on Investigatory Powers for Lab19. …

A first domino?

Carol Cadwalladr and others are speculating that the US Federal Trade Commission plan to fine Facebook $5bn for its privacy law breaches. This is reported today in the New York Times, in an article, Facebook Expects to Be Fined Up to $5 Billion by F.T.C. Over Privacy Issues. This documents the breaches which focus on Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit time span and the laws. $5bn is a lot, the EU only fined Google €1.5bn. I posted the NYT article on Facebook with the following comment.

But he still won’t come to the UK to testify to the DCMS select committee, although I have sympathy with the argument that if we aren’t investigating our citizens who have broken the law, why should he put himself at the front of the queue.

 …

War & Schools

In this article in the Guardian, Richard Norton Taylor looks at the UK defence budget, quotes its critical parliamentary scrutiny, the NAO and defence select committee through the prism of an examination of value for money; It costs too much, the nuclear subs and aircraft carriers are of questionable value and as suggested by Conan’s “Riddle of Steel”, weapons need to be wielded by people, we don’t have enough and they are not well enough educated.

It’s almost as if the ruling class and their educational policy makers have forgotten that the greatest educational reform acts were passed in response to the challenge to the nation of then recent wars. …