What happened?

What happened?

So what happened? Where does it leave me and my allies? I have been doing a lot of reading much of which I have bookmarked on my diigo feed, tagged GE2019. I wanted to write something deep, insightful and original, but others got there first. The result has two highlights, the loss of seats in the East Midands, North East, East Coast, primarily leave seats, primarily seats that have voted Labour forever but secondly an overall loss of votes to “Remain” parties. Labour’s so-called Lexiters were quick out the gate blaming Labour’s promise for a second referendum as the core cause of the loss of these seats. Reality requires a deeper look; it also requires the recognition that some of those seats will have been lost because remain supporting labour voters chose to vote elsewhere. Would the result have been better or worse if we had not promised the second referendum? How many of these seats did we lose by less than the Green/LibDem vote? How many of the seats in the Leave voting majorities that we held, might we have lost if remain supporters had been less committed to us? It could have been worse! For a more detailed insight I need to wait for the Electoral Commission spreadsheet.

Labour had been losing presumably Remain support since May 2019 when the NEC decided to campaign in the European elections on, an “I don’t know what” position. It’s the problem with the leadership position, it was clearly anti-Tory deal but too many surrounding the Leadership either wanted to leave on any undefined terms and were not prepared to offer a “final say” choice to the people who issued the mandate. In the European elections, Labour lost four times more votes to remain parties than to the Lexit parties a vote share we never recovered. The chart below shows Labour’s loss of poll share over the year.

 

Labour’s move to where they were, was too slow and too grudging; its opponents legitimised voting Tory by making the issue existential. It certainly doesn’t make the idea of an eection rather than a referendum look too smart and Labour’s Lexiters need to say what terms of departure were acceptable or unacceptable. (We now need to address the aftermath of agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement’s citizenship clauses which we must oppose.)

The facts suggest it wasn’t just Brexit that caused these losses. DataPraxis published their analysis in a report called Tory Landslide, Progressives split and present evidence that the key causes were Jeremy Corbyn, although this can be difficult to unwind from Brexit, that this time the manifesto didn’t cut through, there remain those for whom Brexit was the key issue and these sit on both sides of the remain/leave debate. Labour fell into the trap that “soft brexit” satisfied neither side of a split society. Corbyn and Labour were no longer the insurgent.

It should be noted, often around the other two issues, that Tory remainers stayed with the Tories despite the extreme terms of departure being offered by the Tories.

The loss of the Leaver’s loyalty has been a long time coming and is documented by Phil Burton Cartledge, in his blog article “The working class politics of Brexit“, and by much of Paul Mason’s writings, but most recently in “AFTER CORBYNISM, WHERE NEXT FOR LABOUR?“. The working class fantasised of by the Labour Party no longer exists, and much of what it’s become is no longer loyal to Labour, nor can be won via an economic offering. In 2017, the manifesto was key in winning votes to Labour; this time it was not believed. Too much was added as an afterthought, if rectifying WASPI injustice, free railway travel and free broadband were so important, why weren’t they in the initial launch. For too many, it became seen to be unaffordable, the message against anti-austerity was lost as were other crucial parts of the promise although Mason argues, much of the “traditional working class” are no longer listening to these i.e. economic promises.

These three factors suggest to me that 2017 was the anomaly.

Another factor to be considered was Labour’s organisation and campaigning. The seat prioritisation was plainly wrong, polling data was ignored, the data in many of these seats/constituencies was dreadful because they hadn’t been worked and their membership as a proportion of vote is also low; Labour’s famed ½ million members didn’t and don’t reach to these places. We have been losing members since 2017 yet ignoring this. We must recognise that one of the reasons that people are leaving and those that stay have stopped listening to the “Left” is because the Left’s political culture is so unattractive.

In summary,

  1. The second referendum promise did not lose this election for Labour; without it, we’d have done worse in the North as well as in the Cities.
  2. The collapse of Labour’s votes has been decades in the making; 2017 was the anomaly.
  3. Labour lost more votes to remain parties than they did to the Tories
  4. The manifesto’s vote winning power was dissipated by late promises and failed to cut through; it was a disincentive this time.
  5. Corbyn lost us votes, much of it due to his personal history and some of it a failure to take sides on the Brexit debate.
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Workers rights for Maternity and the EU

Workers rights for Maternity and the EU

This article is a quote from the TUC’s “UK employment rights and the EU“, it relates to maternity rights and the EU acquis.

The EU Pregnant Workers Directive 1992 led to substantial improvements in the health and safety protections for expectant and new mothers in the workplace. It gave women paid time off for ante-natal appointments and placed duties on employers to assess risks and to adjust working conditions, transfer a pregnant or breastfeeding worker to alternative work or suspend them on paid leave where harm is identified.

While the maternity leave entitlement in the UK already exceeded the EU minimum of 14 weeks when the Directive was implemented, case law from the ECJ has had a positive impact in tackling the disadvantage and discrimination that many women face in the workplace when they become mothers. For example, it made clear that treating a women unfavourably because of pregnancy or maternity leave was direct sex discrimination and that it was not necessary to identify a non-pregnant comparator in similar circumstances to prove discrimination. This ended years of women potentially being defeated in discrimination claims because the employer argued that they would have treated a man who had to take a substantial period out of the workplace in a similar way.

Sex discrimination law in the UK was amended to create a separate category of pregnancy discrimination, which is now defined as unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy or maternity leave in the Equality Act 2010 with no need for any comparison with a non-pregnant employee. This change in UK law was achieved following a case taken against the UK government by the old Equal Opportunities Commission relying on EU law.

ECJ case law has also extended protection from dismissal on grounds of pregnancy or maternity leave to fixed-term workers. And, since 2008, women on additional maternity leave have had access to the same contractual rights as women on ordinary maternity leave as a result of ECJ case law. This means, for example, that employers are obliged to make contributions into occupational pension schemes for longer than the first 26 weeks of leave.

ooOOOoo …

Brexit and workers rights

Brexit and workers rights

Is EU employment protection laws better than the UK’s? Here’s the TUC, and here’s the Institute of employment rights.

The IER says,

Brexit is forever, and an honest appreciation of history should alert us to the dangers, just as optimism about a Labour government should temper our concerns. It is worth noting that UK labour standards tend to be more robust – and more or less on a par with European standards – in those areas presided by EU labour law instruments (e.g. working time, equality law, business restructuring). Whereas they tend to fall below European standards in areas such as unfair dismissal where, as noted in 2011 by the Beecroft report ‘[t]here is no EU concept of “unfair” non-discriminatory dismissal, so there are no other EU constraints on what the UK can do in this area’

i.e. so much for the power of the organised working class, and interested in what they say about unfair dismissal as it’s underwritten by an article in the Charter of Fundamental Rights yet protection seems weaker, primarily because the UK requires workers to have two years longevity but this is important evidence that the employee rights are stronger where there’s EU Law as is the case for working hours, equalities and health & safety.

They conclude,

… we provide an account of the constitutional foundations of European labour rights in the United Kingdom, as well as the extent to which British labour law is informed by mandatory European standards. It is unquestionably the case that without the EU influence, British labour law textbooks would be very much thinner, lighter and cheaper.

The IER concludes by pointing out that the Govt. proposals now avoid the commitment to keep a level playing field on worker’s rights and that the need to sign an FTA with the USA will be a driving force to weakening these rights.

The TUC document says,

“There has been some recent concern that the European Commission’s social policy agenda has become increasingly restricted. For example, recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) cases have limited the ability of unions to organise industrial action in cross-border disputes, and in some Eurozone countries the Commission has actively undermined sector-wide collective bargaining agreements.

However, set against these concerns are the significant employment rights gains that continue to accrue to UK workers as a result of our EU membership. These are wide ranging in scope, including access to paid annual holidays, improved health and safety protection, rights to unpaid parental leave, rights to time off work for urgent family reasons, equal treatment rights for part-time, fixed-term and agency workers, rights for outsourced workers, and rights for workers’ representatives to receive information and be consulted, particularly in the context of restructuring.

They conclude

“While recent EU-led improvements in employment protection have been more limited than in the past, and some EU activities have served to reduce the existing settlement, the overall contribution of EU employment rights to the UK workforce is substantial. The gains UK workers achieve as a result of our membership of the EU include improved access to paid annual holidays, improved health and safety provision, rights to unpaid parental leave, rights to time off work for urgent family reasons, equal treatment rights for part-time, fixed-term and agency workers, rights for outsourced workers, information and consultation and significant health and safety protection. Given these benefits we conclude that EU membership continues to deliver wide-ranging protections to UK workers. Furthermore, evidence also suggests that in the years ahead, remaining in the European Union may provide significant opportunities to extend employment protections for working people.

The conclusion is obvious. …

Final say!

Yesterday, I went up to London to take part in the March for a people’s vote.

 

Just down the road, Parliament, at it’s extraordinary meeting decided not to approve Johnson’s new deal with its customs border in the Irish Sea and it’s adverse aspirations for partial single market compliance. i.e. we get to keep the restrictions on state aid but not the benefits of free movement and workers rights. This was done by an alliance of views, perhaps most importantly those who felt the deal needed parliamentary scrutiny. As noted by others, he has achieved the rare feat of uniting all forces in Northern Ireland. This meant that Johnson had to send a letter to the European Union asking for an extension, an act he had promised the Scottish Courts that he would do. He said he wouldn’t but then he did, unsigned with a covering letter and a second (or third letter) saying he didn’t want one. I say,

It’s like making a promise with your fingers crossed behind your back.

The government say, they’ll bring the deal back for a vote on Monday, but Parliament can’t vote on the same thing twice in a session; looks like they prorogued too early. Classic Dom. …

Employment protection & Johnson’s deal

On Johnson’s deal with respect to workers rights, the current withdrawal agreement unlike previous one’s makes no commitment to maintain those rights, i.e. those commitments have been removed. The TUC opposes the agreement, particularly on Worker’s Rights but also on its general crapness.

The current fear from some, is that Johnson will get his deal approved by parliament, thus negating/satisfying the Benn Act and then fail to bring the implementation legislation, written but secret, as are the legal text and impact analyses to Parliament and thus crash out on 31st with no deal. Much of the social protection legislation is implemented by SI and would be jeopardised by this manoeuvre i.e. the Law that mandates these rights is EU law.

Lexiters should also note that the withdrawal agreement maintains the state aid restrictions and there will be no Article 50 escape clause. Even Costas Lapavitsas is pointing at these flaws. Any agreement will be a treaty which to exit, would be under WTO treaty terms or the Treaty of Vienna. So much for bringing back control and freeing the country to pursue a socialist programme. …

Where’d the votes go?

Where’d the votes go?

Within the Labour Party, there is a debate about the position to be taken with respect to Brexit due to electoral considerations.

Here is a chart showing the polling results; what interests me is the change of fortune on the 9th May. On the 1st of May, Labour’s NEC refused to change it’s policy of an election before a referendum on remain. At the time, Labour were first in the Polls, two months later, we lost half our MEPs and slipped to 2nd losing between 10 – 15% of our predicted vote share.

 

How accurate are the polls?

Here are three links which talk about the methodologies used by the polling companies, the “House Effects” even tries to quantify the statistical bias in these methods. Fact is some polls favour Labour, some favour the Tories, but non have recently said that Labour is ahead. Sadly my favourite seat predictor at flavible is currently offline, but provided we stay above 25% and the Brexig Party & LibDems overperform, the most liklely result is a Labour minority govenment.

Others have argued that the methodology biases put the polling houses into two classes, neither are owned by the Tories but the bias is clear. Lets hope that those who say that we can still out campaign the Tories are right, but they won’t be as shit as May and we won’t take them by surprise on social media.

We need to remember how most polls got it wrong in 2017 and ‘House Effects’ examines that.

It’s going to be hard.

ooOOOoo

  1. ‘House effects’ and how to read the polling tea leaves…, at Southampton Politics
  2. Latest voting intention and the difference between the polls, at UK Polling Report
  3. A Journalist’s Guide To Opinion Polls at the British Polling Council.

  …

Brexit Ground Rush

Brexit Ground Rush

It’s an exciting day about Brexit, Johnson’s announced a deal, and thumbscrews are out in the House of Commons. Jüncker has declared that if the deal is accepted by the UK Parliament, then we move to a transition on 1st Nov. Farage has kicked off, since it’s not Jüncker, nor the Commission’s call. The EU Council, who’s call it is starts meeting today.

We’re on a demo on Saturday to show that we the people still support remaining in the EU, although we need a government to write the next referendum rules to include all citizens impacted inc. those between 16-18. I also have to repeat that while much heat and noise has been focused on the Irish border, the Citizenship clauses of the withdrawal agreement are unacceptable and have not changed. …

And back home

And back home

I have been told of resignations over this in my own CLP. Our delegation voted in accordance with the mandate issued, in favour of the NEC statement, against the Remain & Transform (C13) motion and for the Stop Tory Brexit (C14) motion. I accept that this is a reasonable interpretation of the mandate as those of us arguing for Remain & Transform lost the vote by 4 votes at a barely quorate General Committee meeting. I am sure that the timing of the meeting, i.e. a week before we undertook our trigger ballot meetings and the state of exhaustion from the faction fighting were part of the problem.

If you are a member of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party and not a member of the General Committee, ask your delegates why they weren’t there and let them know what you think, attend your branch AGMs coming in Oct. and elect pro-remain delegates who will turn up. This is critically important as should we win the coming General Election, Labour will call a special conference to determine its position between its new deal and a remain position. I will be seeking, with allies to establish a remain position and nsure we elect a delegation that will support the mandate.

My experience from canvassing is that many Labour voters are deeply concerned about, by which I mean vehemently opposed to, Labour’s ambiguous position despite our local MP‘s vigorous & courageous pursuit of a remain.

 …