Virtuality & the Labour Party

Virtuality & the Labour Party

Somewhere inside my head there’s an article on how businesses weren’t planning for a pandemic as a business continuity risk, most plans were about protecting infrastructure. My most recent linkedin article looks at the under-licensing and data leakage risks exposed by the spontaneous adoption of remote desk top technology but the country has had to adopt a much wider “work from home” practice than previously, stressing those parts of the economy that serve it, including home space and furniture supply. This all leaves unanswered how are democratic decisions being taken? Let’s look at the Labour Party; I wouldn’t want to be the Labour Party apparatchik that allowed 7.IV.H.8 (P41) 2019 to expire. It used to say,

The NEC shall invite CLPs to take part in pilots of staggered meetings, electronic attendance, online voting and other methods of maximising participation. The NEC may immediately give effect to these pilots and may incorporate any resultant rules into this rule book, subject to approval at Annual Conference 2019, when this sub-clause shall expire.

It wasn’t extended at Conference 19, and the rule now no-longer exists and virtual meetings are not permitted to take decisions. Someone’s going to be happy.

If deliberate, it’s another example of the bureaucracy just not giving a shit. …

Rachel Reeves on Immigration

While doing some reading while writing the last article I had reason to have a look at Rachel Reeves views on immigration. She made a speech in 2016 which the independent reports, with a headline of “Labour MP Rachel Reeves: Riots could sweep streets of Britain if immigration is not curbed after Brexit”; this is pretty much exactly what Enoch Powell said in his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, which led to his political exile and while I predicted a vicious debate on immigration in the wake of Conference 2016, I didn’t expect anyone in the Labour Party to go this far. If accurate, it’s unacceptable. …

Starmer’s Cabinet and more Brexit failures

Gabriel Pogrund is re-circulating the rumour that Starmer will appoint Rachel Reeves as Shadow Chancellor. My first instinct is that this would be a poor start for a man who claims to want to unify the party, since her record is as a central thinker for those opposing Labour’s turn to the left.

Anyway I have googled her, and she is another ex-Bank of England employee with an impressive education in economics, unless we take the view that it’s academic economist’s lack of heterodoxy that is one of the key causes of the 2008 crash. Obviously this would come lower down the list of causes than the greed of the ultra-rich and the structural contradictions in late twentieth century capitalism. For more see below or oveleaf … …

With a whimper

big brother is watching you

There’s a sinister element to the way governments are acquiring emergency powers to keep us safe during the public health crisis. It’s a fact that nearly all governments do this. A comrade Simon Hannah has listed the problems with the UK Emergency Powers  and the civil liberties concerns have been highlighted by Big Brother watch while the data management and privacy threats have been identified by the EDRi and the open rights group (ORG).

The UK powers give the Police unprecedented powers of arrest, although where they’re going to put them I don’t know;  we should be aware that the Courts are now shut and that Parliament has adjourned for a month without even putting any interim measures in place. We may be about to find out the minimal difference between orders-in-council and decree. Strangely for me, it’s the Tory back benchers who’ll be missed as the self-employed support package has massive holes and will disappoint many; and the change in line of the Tory Party is self-generated. Is this fascism? AS Orwell said,

“When I speak of Fascism in England, I am not necessarily thinking of Mosley and his pimpled followers. English Fascism, when it arrives, is likely to be of a sedate and subtle kind (presumably, at any rate at first, it won’t be called Fascism)”

Who knows? We are a different society but the Tory Governments over the last nine years have attacked the constitution, the judiciary, our legal protections i.e. legal aid and retrospective legislation and suspended parliament twice, while being now led by a buffoon.

More worryingly, in Hungary, Victor Orban, has passed even more restrictive laws and is seeking to extend them without a “sunset” clause. Hungary has already adopted  a series of anti-democratic measures due to various so-called threats which have been criticized by the EU Commission and EU Parliament to the extent that the EU is considering sanctions against Hungary; I wonder if they would do so against the UK where our historic reliance on convention is being stretched beyond breaking point by the 21st Century Tory party with its alt-right entryists, consisting of Cameron’s “fruitcakes, loonies & closet racists”.

The collapse of democracy in Weimar Germany came as a result of the Reichstag Fire, when the Nazis burned down the German Parliament Building and on the passage of two Laws. Wikipedia says,

The Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (“Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”) was an amendment to the Weimar Constitution that gave the German Cabinet — in effect, the Chancellor — the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers and followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which had abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government. The combined effect of the two laws was to transform Hitler’s government into a legal dictatorship.

Is it too far fetched to consider this a realistic precedent? As a final thought I leave you with Elliot’s quote,

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

 …

QE 2020

QE 2020

Goodness, here’s the Bank’s page on Quantitative Easing. The last tranche is £645bn. It’s a shit load of money and I find this an important quote,

Suppose we buy £1 million of government bonds from a pension fund. In place of the bonds, the pension fund now has £1 million in money. Rather than hold on to this money, it might invest it in financial assets, such as shares, that give it a higher return. And when demand for financial assets is high, with more people wanting to buy them, the value of these assets increases. This makes businesses and households holding shares wealthier – making them more likely to spend more, boosting economic activity.

The italics and underlining are mine. This is not a plan, it’s a dream. More likely!

If this is designed to boost aggregate demand, then it does so through the lending market and is mitigated by peoples expectations and animal spirits. Poor people spend more of what comes in and are also more debt adverse or will be excluded from borrowing [more] and there’s more of them. If it’s defending aggregate demand that’s needed then we should be pumping this money out through the benefit system nc. the in-work benefit payments; SSP and Redundancy should be state paid/underwritten benefits, not paid by employers nor underwritten by loans. If it’s about protecting the poor inc. the in work poor and vulnerable, then doubly so.

See below/overleaf for a chart showing its size compared with both the fiscal deficit and balance of trade deficit. …

The Govt. and public health

The Govt. and public health

To deal with the coronavirus crisis, the Govt. wants more powers and it wants them for a long time. I wonder why because they don’t seem to be making any decisions and they pretty much have the powers they need. They have a page on Gov.UK describing what they think they need, and Big Brother Watch have published their take on it, as have Inclusion London. The proposed laws reduce the standards for staff in the NHS, make changes to i.e. reduce duties under the Mental Health Acts and Social Care laws, they make it easier to dispose of the dead, postpone the May elections, take powers to close events and venues, and give the police & immigration officers powers to detain people. It also abolished the three day waiting period for SSP. We should consider their failure to offer security to those in work who may lose their jobs, fall sick or have to stop work to look after children or elderly relatives. This will also highlight the appallingly low levels of statutory sick pay and redundancy payments, not to mention the 2 year employment longevity requirement for redundancy payments. No-one is talking about those living on savings who will be hurt by the reduction in the BoE interest rate to 0.1%, by the collapse in the stock market (the FTSE 250 is down by over 40% in the month), and even their business support programme is based on loans and not grants. (This blog is based on one written yesterday and has been published before I have read today’s announcement offering an income for those not working.) …

Solidarity with the UCU

Solidarity with the UCU

The UCU have just gone back to work after a strike campaign in which they would seem to be in dispute with their management over most things but there is a particular dispute about pensions. However the Twitter commentary offered me the thoughts of an account known as University Wankings, which I felt I had to follow and they pointed me at the @THEworldunirank from the Times Higher Education supplement. I had a look at the ranking systems 10 years ago while I was helping my kids decide which universities to go to and I had been pointed at the best known ranking system of the time by my work on NESSI.

While I consider the measured quality of the UK’s Universities to be based on the fact that they all have English as a first language, the quality of research, innovation and teaching are an important, if not critical part of building an economic future worth living in, that and worker’s control.

Solidarity with the UCU! ✊ …

Ideas, alliances and promises

Ideas, alliances and promises

I was pointed at, “If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars” by Rory McQueen who compares the state of the UK’s Left today with that in 1983, arguably the last time Labour was in this situation; he conducts a balance sheet on the balance of class forces, and then explores the issues of alliances and programme. He takes “The future of the Left”, an anthology written after the 1983 election as his historic benchmark.

I think this is incredibly well written and beyond my ability to summarise. i.e. you should read it. He provokes some thoughts in me, which is why you should read the rest of this. I talk, briefly, about the power of the Left in the country, it’s much weaker today, the need for and paradox of political alliances, and the failure of Labour’s policy & manifesto development programmes. I conclude by repeating the question, what’s the point for socialists in restricting alliances to exclusively to Labour’s right and how can Labour build a policy development process that delivers a realistic, popular and transformational programme for government. For more, see below/overleaf …  …

Card Votes on Demand

The LP platform stitched up Conference over Brexit by refusing a card vote. I think this power needs to be taken away, and so have drafted this rule amendment. It is interesting that the old rule no longer exists and has been transferred to Conference Standing Orders.

C3.III.G

Insert before These standing orders will be presented ……

The Conference Standing orders are to state that voting will be by show of hands except a card vote will be undertaken as decided by the CAC who shall in their report to conference determine which votes must be resolved by a card vote. Card votes may additionally be invoked by the Chair of Conference and shall be so invoked if called for by 30 delegates.

ooOOOoo

One thing to be noted is that Conference still has the last word on the contents of the Programme (C1.V.2). For inclusion, the Programme, it needs to be approved by Conference by a ⅔ majority. Policy cannot be included in the manifesto without this approval, so the Brexit position, free train fares and free broadband would seem to be promises we should not have made. I am equally unclear where the Faith and Culture manifestos came from. (I don’t even know if they were approved by the Clause V meeting.) Policy votes where not overwhelming should be counted by a  card vote to ensure that it is accurately recorded as meeting the necessary thresholds be it ½ or ⅔ majority. …