Now that’s a landslide!

It is not usual for a political party to have a post conference bounce, but not like this; there might be something else going on. :)

The full article has the yougov tweet with a 33% lead for Labour, and an electoral calculus seat forecast with only three tory MPs. It's clearly not all down to Labour. To see the graphics, "Read More" ...

On points of order

On points of order

The platform introduced a new process; points of order need to be justified at the speakers desk, before being allowed to put to conference and the chair. I can understand that; some people are quite irresponsible in the points of order they make, however the rules say,

Point of order – Any delegate may raise a legitimate point of order during a debate. Any such point of order shall be heard at the conclusion of the current speech.

The Chair shall retain the power to rule what is and is not a legitimate point of order, and to instruct a delegate to end an illegitimate point of order.

A point of order will be ruled illegitimate if it does not immediately and directly identify which of these standing orders is in question.

Labour’s Rule Book A9.I.4.C

i.e. the Chair determines if a Point of Order is legitimate not an employee of the party, not even the GS. The power to raise a point of order is an important part of the power relationship between the floor and the platform.

The fact is they aren’t very good; they allowed one point of order on ‘the last speaker was talking rubbish’ and two on ‘the chair is not calling people like me’. They denied me a point of order on the conduct of card vote 13, and they also denied a point of order to a delegate who wanted to remind the chair that delegates have been instructed that they can only indicate they wish to speak if seated and to raising their empty hand. The ‘must be seated rule’ is an accessibility issue and people used to wave the most ridiculous of things, including an inflatable red dragon and in one case their baby. The third point in the rule is in my mind sufficient protection against abuse.

On speaker selection, there is no perfect way, there are more people that want to speak than there are slots and the debate is improved if recognised experts such as TU speakers, or in 2018, Richard Corbett, the leader of the EPLP, and even PPCs. However, in 2018 and I believe 2021, the conference provided accessibility stewards, with uniform tee shirts and great big signs to stand beside disabled speakers who wished to speak. This wasn’t done this year. I have no doubt that more can be done to ensure that, “… speakers are a fair representation of Annual Conference, and that there shall be no discrimination on the grounds of protected personal characteristics.” A9.I.4.E.ii …

Justice Crime and Democracy

Onto Tuesday 26th, the motions on PR, parliamentary sovereignty related to the ministerial code, powers of the electoral commission and prohibiting second jobs, and the abolition of the House of Lords were all carried. The words of the composites are published in CAC 2 Addendum.

The Justice agenda was introduced by Emily – she just doesn’t give a shit, the shortest front bench speech, in which she promised to end criminal impunity and address criminal system failures including the decimation of legal aid.

Steve Reed’s speech was a confirmation of the common speech design, loads of stuff on how awful the Tories are, chuck in an announcement if you have one and finish on everything will be better with a Labour Government, led by Sir Kier Starmer, peppered with the slogan, “Labour: On your side”.

Reed had a side diversion into “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, they i.e. the front bench seem to be considering some form of early action to disrupt social inheritance of criminal behaviour, it all reminded me of the “Precrime” unit from Minority Report, brought to you be the people that developed “Prevent”, by which I mean the spooks and civil servants. I have commented on this, see below. …

Kier in conversation with Gary Neville, of the Couch

Lucy Powell interviewed Gary Neville who is it seems an important footballer and manager, and Kier Starmer who is an aspirant prime minister and Arsenal Fan. The video is here, and here are some noted I made,

“In a football team, we need to align personal goals with those of the team and it’s the same in politics” It’s a shame that the PLP four years ago weren’t able to operate according to that dictum.

My notes say, that Banker’s bonuses were capped at 100% of salary unless approved by shareholders in which case 200% bonus can be paid, taking most of them into the disputed supertax bracket. What I find astonishing is that banks would want to pay more than 200% of salary as a bonus. As others have said, it encourages risk not business building investment.

Starmer says we are the party of fiscal responsibility and aspiration; the Tories don’t talk of aspiration. One thing I would say about Starmer, is that he is one of the few British politicians that understand the anger felt by people who work hard and yet still can’t pay their way. Strangely the only other one I have heard attempt this is Rebecca Long Bailey and neither do anger well. It’s important that that anger and sense of justice is articulated. Starmer’s right, the Tories have walked away from this; it’s something that Thatcher had, but Rees-Mogg’s Party can’t. …

Labour’s Money 2021

Labour’s Money 2021

The Labour Party posted ( mirror ) its 2021 accounts to the Electoral Commission site earlier this week. The papers, the Independent and the Guardian rapidly picked this up. They and Labour List focused on the first deficit in years and the loss of 91,000 members. I look at the numbers and and add the observation that individual donations are very weak, and donations as a whole remain dominated by Trade Union donations. I finsh with a series of questions I think need answering. For more, including charts, 'read more', ...

Energy Prices

Energy Prices

There is a consensus that Energy profiteering is at the centre of the OECD’s inflation crisis. This is exacerbated in the UK due to privatisation and asset stripping of the gas and water companies. Brexit hasn’t helped. This article reviews a number of policy options from left and right. For more, use the 'read more' button ...

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. ...

GMB agrees to “Oppose Refugee deportation to Rwanda”

My branch proposed an Emergency Motion on the Rwanda deportations, here is the debate, sorry about the sound,

and here are the words,

EM2. Oppose Refugee deportation to Rwanda

Congress notes that on the 14th April, Priti Patel announced that the UK and Rwanda would sign a deal allowing the UK government to send unprocessed immigrants to Rwanda. On the 10th April,  the High Court refused an application to stop the Govt’s planned removal of people seeking asylum by offshoring them to Rwanda despite the UN warning the Home Office off the likely illegality. This decision was unsuccessfully appealed on Monday 13th June 2022.

The move to offshore those seeking asylum is racist , breaches human rights and our international duties to welcome refugees which are embedded in  treaty commitments.

We instruct the CEC to raise awareness of the High Court’s decision on 10.6.22 ensuring our members working in detention centres and work ancillary to the detention centres are informed of the justice and rights of those in their care.

Congress agrees to support the actions of any members in the detention centres and other impacted businesses if they choose to refuse to perform work effecting the deportations

Congress calls on GMB sponsored MPs to campaign to reverse this programme, and for the Labour Party to oppose any parliamentary resolutions enabling this programme. They must recognise that many/most of the transportees are unprocessed asylum seekers fleeing threats of death and war.

London Central General

The CEC issued a qualification which is important to understand the position of the Union.  …

The finance debate

The finance debate

One of the key debates, at least as far as the platform was concerned was the debate on whether to freeze the subscriptions again. The CEC had made their task harder by deciding to reduce the branch capitation payments. Until earlier this year, branches by rule, retained 10% of the membership fees paid by their members. The CEC implemented a 25% cut to these payments. They proposed a special report confirming their actions and amending the rule to permit this to occur. The initial agenda had 19 motions critical either of the adjustment, or of the way it had been done and one in favour; it had seven motions calling for alternative subscription fee structures. By the time of the debate, the only survivors were the motion supporting the CEC, one removing regional committee discretion, one postponing it to later in the year and one criticising the way in which the CEC had behaved.

The article overleaf is quite long; the conclusions are that the CEC got their way but to my mind didn't tell the whole story, which they may come to regret.

Restore Legal Aid

Restore Legal Aid

I finished the afternoon guiding two motions through the Congress, one on the ECHR and one on campaigning to restore legal aid. The CEC asked to refer them both although requiring to do due diligence on the Law Centre Network strikes me as a bit presumptions; next year I think I'll try and instruct them to work with the Criminal Bar Association, which I should have contacted this year since two weeks later their industrial action to restore legal aid payments started. The speech words are published overleaf.