The time has come …

The time has come …

If you follow this blog, you’ll see that I am concerned with the line that Labour is taking on Brexit and the post-Brexit deal. I have written this motion which I believe will get some broad support; it might not be insufficiently assertive on rejoining the single market, I think its clear but others may want some stronger words.


The Tories’ ‘Hard Brexit’ has intensified the cost of living crisis.

Conference notes:

  • The Tory ‘Hard Brexit’ has led to reduced foreign inward investment, a worsening balance of trade deficit, reduced employment, a labour shortage in many industries, most obviously in agriculture, hospitality and in the NHS and jobs are being offshored to western Europe. The withdrawal from the common energy market, has contributed to the UK’s increase in energy prices. These negative economic consequences of Tory policy are significant contributors to the cost of living crisis.
  • The labour shortages are compounded by the xenophobia released by the referendum and the Tory’s “hostile environment”.
  • Northern Ireland’s post-brexit economic performance is outperforming all other parts of the UK, except London.
  • It was a mistake for Keir Starmer to whip Labour MPs to vote in favour of the Tory ‘Hard Brexit’ trade deal.
  • To start reversing the damage inflicted by the Tory ‘Hard Brexit’ Britain needs to significantly reduce the trade frictions it has imposed on its imports of goods, services and labour from its biggest trading partner, the EU.

Conference resolves that Labour will call for a closer relationship with the EU in order to alleviate the trade frictions the Tories have introduced, that we will seek to rejoin Horizon Europe and Erasmus+, and that we will repeal the cruel and intrusive hostile environment.


This is 223 words so there’s another 27. If you like it but want the last paragraph to call for rejoining the single market, and include freedom of movement for Labour that would be great. I am putting this to my GC as a conference motion but with Deptford, who knows, it might get trapped between the remaining Lexiter’s and Starmer loyalists.  …

What does ‘system update required’ say about Labour’s IT?

What does ‘system update required’ say about Labour’s IT?

As part of the ‘drains up’ undertaken after the 2019 General Election, a coalition calling itself Labour Together undertook a review of what went wrong and as part of that review commissioned an organisation called the "common knowledge co-op" to look at Labour’s IT and its management. They produced a report called “System update required”. (original | mirror ) What did it say? I think this is important, but like so many learning opportunities that challenge power and the bad behaviour of the powerful it seems to me to be dramatically under-valued.

When I first read it, I was outraged. I hoped to summarise it in a sensationalist fashion to see if I could interest someone who might pick it and make things better. What I have written is not that exciting and I suspect little will change because the Party doesn’t have the knowledge and experience and today is led by people who care more about their control and position within the Party than they do in winning an election and becoming a government. I mean they’d be happy to be in Government but it’s more important to them that they control the Party.

In summary, the report says, portfolio management was unacceptably poor and not accountable to the highest levels of management although they too didn’t have clue. There weren’t enough IT staff and the more numerous IT management layer wasn’t good enough. The report makes no mention of ‘requirements management’, nor of any benefits analysis tools to allow an understanding the effectiveness of the software applications provided. Labour’s voter ID/GOTV software is no longer the best. Local adoption of the IT tools is low, partly because of poor commitment to training, partly due to a high turnover of local activists and partly because the Labour machine didn’t care.

In the rest of the article, overleaf, these failings are explored in more detail. ...

On Labour’s disciplinary rules

On Labour’s disciplinary rules

As part of the ‘drains up’ undertaken after the 2019 General Election, a coalition calling itself Labour Together undertook a review of what went wrong and as part of that review commissioned an organisation called the "common knowledge co-op" to look at Labour’s IT and its management. They produced a report called “System update required”. (original | mirror ) What did it say? I think this is important, but like so many learning opportunities that challenge power and the bad behaviour of the powerful it seems to me to be dramatically under-valued.

Flow Chart of the LP Complaints process

For more, see overleaf ...

Crime and Punishment (in the Labour Party)

Crime and Punishment (in the Labour Party)

I have not studied all the new rules as passed at 2021 conference, but this is a note on proscribed acts and prohibited acts and how they are dealt with. It notes the powers of the NEC to define prohibited acts in the support of proscribed organisations. It notes the remaining role of the NCC and concludes with a quote from the Forde report expressing concern of the use of admin suspension and the concern that expulsions may be used for factional purposes. For more, use the 'read more' button ...

Labour’s macro-economics, “Back to the Future”

Labour’s macro-economics, “Back to the Future”

Starmer made another speech on economics on Monday 25th July. It is reported in the Guardian.

Starmer has been trying to pitch Labour as the party of fiscal prudence and will say: “With me and with Rachel Reeves [the shadow chancellor], you will always get sound finances; careful spending; strong, secure and fair growth. There will be no magic-money-tree economics with us.”

From the Guardian,

This article looks at growth and debt, Starmer and Reeves flirtation with Osbornomics and Reeves' rejection of nationalisation on the grounds of cost, I note countervailing views from Murray and Long Bailey and note that Reeves places herself in the sad queue of shadow chancellors undermining Labour's election chances by 'telling the truth'. There's more overleaf ...

More consequences of Labour’s cyberbreach

More consequences of Labour’s cyberbreach

The Labour Party can’t issue the ballots for their internal elections; they claim it’s a consequence of the cyber-breach last October.

The Party seems to have attempted to create a replacement membership database by updating its mail manager system and presumably adjusting the feeds although much of the functionality previously offered is no longer available and the feed from the financial system is now days or weeks out of date. We should note that the membership self administration tool is also now not available. The mail manager is obviously from observation slowly dying. It is known to be inaccurate; there are errors in terms of who it considers to be a member, their addresses, and their payment status.

The Party plans to replace this recovered system with an off the shelf package[1] from Microsoft. At the moment we are advised that it is unlikely that local party role holders will get access to this until next year.

Until then we have to use a known to be inaccurate database. From observing, presumably NEC authorised actions, it seems to be considered accurate enough to select councillor candidates and run trigger ballots. Procedure Secretaries have been told that they may not override the membership system even when variances are well known and provable. I question that this is legal in it breaches the duty to be accurate and not to automatically profile people.

What seems to be forgotten that is data protection rests on seven principles, Lawfulness, fairness and transparency · Purpose limitation · Data minimisation · Accuracy · Storage limitation · Integrity and confidentiality. Often too much or too little attention is paid to integrity and confidentiality and issues such as lawfulness, fairness, transparency and accuracy are forgotten.

They are running selections and triggers on data known to be inaccurate. This isn’t right.

This has taken 9 months to get here. While culpability for the breach may be questionable, not having a recovery plan and or not funding it is the fault of the Labour Party and thus its NEC. CEO’s have been fired for less.

Why was there no recovery plan? Did they do vendor due diligence on the member centre hosting provider, did they keep it up to date? Is there a risk register? Has the NEC or the risk committee approved the mitigations? In fact, what is the NEC doing about IT Risk? Is there a DPIA on reusing the mail system? Is there a DPIA on reusing the SAR Tool? Is there a DPIA on using the social media scanners they use? When will we get a data protection capability that protects members data from bad actors rather than from themselves?

Nine months failing to recover is shameful and unprofessional. NEC members should be asking why it has come to this and determine if they, through their inaction, are in fact culpable.


[1] This I consider to be wise, although they will need additional software modules to support Labour’s unique processes, such as donation monitoring. Although it seems they plan to customise the UI 🙁 …

A noble individual

A noble individual

Over the last 24 hours, possibly longer after I actually publish this piece, Sean Jones QC, has published two longish twitter threads on Labour and Brexit. He was inspired or provoked by an interview on Cambell & Stewart’s “The Rest is Politics” of Kier Starmer.

Jones’s 1st thread asks how ‘leaning into’ the Tories Hard Brexit can possibly be a policy success when it’s clear that it’s failed and asks how it can be an electoral success given that so many Remainers have not changed their mind. There are few, if any words wasted in the thread, so have a look yourself, but I am particularly taken with this tweet,

The 2nd thread, addresses the pro-Starmer argument that this is a long game. Jones argues that Starmer’s Brexit line is a foolish thing to say because it fails to differentiate him and Labour from the Tories, Starmer’s assuming that remainers/rejoiners who seem to be growing in number will put up with it. Starmer’s policy needs to be effective politically before the election and the basis for effective policy after. The first proposition is questionable, and the second wrong.

I’ll finish with a quote from Rory Stewart from the podcast, they were talking about the loss of trust that people have with politicians, and Stewart argues, that it’s not about virtue.

Overleaf, I include some quotes from the thread and the show and examine Starmer's record as such a man of virtue.

Labour, me and the Forde Report I

Labour, me and the Forde Report I

The Forde Report commissioned by Labour’s NEC has been published. I have not read it all yet but have discovered the first quote, on the dangers of continued factionalism as it related to the new proscription rules and had the second on the need to conform to A6 of the ECHR pointed out to me.

§A We are also concerned that the provisions which allow for individuals to have membership removed or denied on the grounds they have committed prohibited acts could be exploited for factional purposes.

§F 3.1 We note the new arrangements, approved by the Party at its Conference in 2021, which make provision for various reforms, including the establishment of an IRB in cases involving accusations of discrimination. The Party will need to be vigilant that those new procedures, when combined with the further reforms we recommend in this report, deliver a system which, as far as is practicable, enshrines the core principles of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, ….

The Forde Report

Three things: I’d have preferred a stronger mandate than concern and a need for vigilance, and for me A6 is so last year. I have moved on to A7 “No punishment without law”, which states “ No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed.” Obviously, the scope needs to be changed to be prohibited under rule or law, but the principal is obvious and the NEC is in flagrant breach of this principle.

Finally, the report seems exclusively focused on discriminatory behaviour, it seems to fail to address bullying and cover-ups whether undertaken by staff or senior role holders. …

Can ‘boring’ win elections and deliver good policy?

Can ‘boring’ win elections and deliver good policy?

I am provoked by Chris Grey’s article, “Making Brexit Boring”; it’s long and covers a number of dimensions of the consequences of Starmer’s speech on Labour’s new approach to the EU. Much of his Brexit blog I agree with and find informative, but I have a couple of things to say on this article.

He writes,

Yet that answer [i.e. Labour’s differences with the Government]  is a disappointing one, and in some key respects an ambiguous one. It could hardly have given less to erstwhile remainers without being indistinguishable from the government’s policy. It offered the bare minimum of an alternative, and no one could call it an inspiring vision for Britain’s future. But it wasn’t altogether empty, and its critics should be careful not to fall into the age-old political trap of ‘making the perfect the enemy of the good’.

Chris Grey – Brexit & Beyond

This I feel summarises what Grey thinks of Labour’s position but I hope I don’t fall into the trap he identifies. He also disagrees with those who describe Starmer’s position as cakeism,

It’s also misguided to suggest, as some claimed following the speech, that Starmer’s proposals are ‘cakeist’ (i.e. calling for the benefits of EU membership without belonging).

Chris Grey – Brexit & Beyond

I had not realised that Peston had described the trade barrier proposals as cakeism and I comment on his article below. I believe that arguing for enhanced business visas, mutual recognition of professional qualifications while rejecting free movement of presumably unqualified labour is ‘cakeist’ , unlikely to be agreed by the EU and fails to recognise the UK economy’s labour shortage crisis. It’s pandering to the racism inherent in the objection to free movement and the only way to put this right is to agree to the EU’s freedom of labour and reverse the hostile environment. Many of those who’ve left the UK have done so because they feel unwelcome due to the racism enabled and encouraged by the referendum result.

While Grey welcomes Starmer’s embrace of a Security deal, both he and Stramer fail to recognise that this will entail agreeing to CJEU supervision/jurisdiction of wide areas of our administration of justice. While I have no problem with this, if he is prepared to have the CJEU rule on civil liberties, what’s the problem with having them adjudicate trade issues. Starmer’s line on security co-operation is thus also arguably ‘cakeist’, although the number of people on top of this seems very limited. Although yesterday, the government published its plans for the Data Reform Bill which ORG describes as gutting the GDPR and if so may jeopardise the UK’s ‘adequacy agreement which was another point in Starmer’s plan to retain regulatory alignment with he EU on data and financial services.

Peston in his article also accuses Starmer of cakeism, albeit before I did. His article focuses on the trade aspects of Starmer’s five point plan, I take the alleviation of trade friction as a given in any policy, although I am less sanguine that easing trade friction between NI and Great Britain will have any benefit in calming the political friction in Northern Ireland and Starmer’s plan focuses on that specific trade flow and not cross-channel trade.

Peston avoids looking at how Labour’s remainers/rejoiners will react to the brutal policy outlined by Starmer and Lammy. As I note elsewhere, the tide is flowing against them. …