Council Power

Council Power

I wrote to one of Lewisham’s Councillors on the results of the Democracy Review and pointed them at things I have written and published, on Mayor’s and power in the council.

  1. https://davelevy.info/lewishams-democracy-it-could-be-better/ … what i thought was needed
  2. https://davelevy.info/what-is-to-be-done-with-lewisham-council/ … summarising what I said, i.e. my submission
  3. https://davelevy.info/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Lewisham-Democracy-Review-DFL-V1_1.pdf … my evidence, in which I recommend a series of reforms to improve the accountability and transparency of the Mayor, Council and senior officials including a recall mechanism, term limits and much improved monitoring of personnel, decisions and programmes.
  4. https://davelevy.info/abolishing-executive-mayors/ also hosts the LGIU paper which talks about returning to the Committee System.

And here are my notes about what they said; http://wiki.davelevy.info/lewisham-councils-democracy-review/ which includes comments on power & communication.

For completeness, https://davelevy.info/dictatorship/ my manifesto for abolition of the Mayor. …

What is to be done, with Lewisham Council?

Finally I have submitted my thoughts on Lewishams’ Democracy Review. Lewisham Democracy Review by Dave Levy V1_1. My initial thoughts were published in this article on this blog. Three things,

  1. I am shocked at the true legal position, we elect a dictator, with no recall, & no term limits. Executive Mayor’s are not just a first-amongst-equals “Leaders” with a different mandate, it’s an alien form of government, lifted from the US & France and designed to reduce the accountability of the decisions from voters and their political parties. I am equally shocked at the extent to which the Mayor’s power’s are delegated to full time staff.
  2. I have recommended that they abolish the Mayoral system, and in the expectation that this will be rejected,
  3. I recommend a series of reforms to improve the accountability and transparency of the Mayor, Council and senior officials including a recall mechanism, term limits and much improved monitoring of personnel, decisions and programmes.

The deadline is Sunday.

A URL for the document is http://bit.ly/2DA5aho, a SURL for this article is https://wp.me/p9J8FV-1IN …

Lewisham’s Democracy, it could be better

Lewisham’s Democracy, it could be better

Writing up what I think for Lewisham’s Democracy Review is proving harder than I thought, the source material i.e. Lewisham’s Constitution [www] is very long(483 pages), it’s .pdf, can’t easily be indexed or highlighted, so item No. 1. is to increase the transparency of the rules so citizens can understand how decisions are made.

This is a very Un-British way of doing things and all our instincts are wrong. Every decision is reserved for the Mayor who must present a number of plans to full council. the decisions are then taken in the context of the agreed plans which only require ⅓ voting in favour. The Mayor delegates all their executive functions to the Cabinet as a collective but also to the council’s principal paid officers. The backbench Councillor’s Scrutiny Committees can only delay these decisions. There, apart from criminal sanction, is no way to recall the Mayor. The Mayor does not hold office due to their ability to command a majority, they do not need to get many decisions agreed by Council. This is not just a first-amongst-equals “Leader” with a different mandate, it’s an alien form of government, lifted from the US & France and designed to reduce the accountability of the decisions from people and their political parties.

My first proposal would be that the Council agree to ask the people of Lewisham to abolish the Mayor and return to a collective committee led Council. It might seem to be less democratic but a committee led council has to maintain its mandate throughout it’s term of office, a Mayor led council supported by a just ⅓ of the Councillors can ignore civic society and wait for the next election.

The other ideas I need to develop,  and we’ll see how much detail I can research, would cover Recall, maybe requiring a more than 50% vote of the Council, Term Limits, something about an Ombudsman & Compliance Committee and independence, having the Cabinet appointed by the Council, the move to a Green Paper/White Paper process for decision making, improved citizen communication, the web site is shite, smaller wards and some thing on the need to use the powers in the Localism Act to get the changes in law that some of these things would require. …

I.T. implications

In my many articles on Labour’s Democracy Review, and in a preview I talk about the Information Technology implications of Labour’s coming rule changes. I have extracted the following quote from my article, The denoument, as I’d like it to be easier to find,

In the NEC rule changes as presented to Conference the NEC talks about using IT to maximise participation. All constituency documents, are to be available to all members via a clockwork platform, sorry, I made it up, an electronic platform, “provided by the Party”; I hope that’s the national party as I have thought hard about this and creating a shared disk is not hard, managing the Access Control List (ACL) is, particularly if your membership and volatility is large.

 …

The denoument

The denoument

… of the Democracy Review

This is a report on the debate at the Democracy Review. It is best read in conjunction with Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) Report 1, pages 28 to 55. This article describes the proposals, the debate and how I voted. The packages covered member’s rights, local structures, regional structures, national structures, Leadership elections, the National Constitutional Committee (structure and remit) and Westminster selections. The rest of this blog is below/overleaf …  …

Online Democracy

In Labour’s Democracy Review, they argue for more IT and remote access and online balloting, they say

Carers, disabled members, shift workers, women and young members have argued it is the poor, disadvantaged and already under-represented who are least likely to have the time and resources to attend meetings. These points have been made particularly at the disability events we have had.

Who the fuck do you think are least likely to have internet access?

In the HuffPo article, they argue that Momentum is an example of how digital engagement creates activity and energy. In my book, Momentum has some questions to answer about it’s on-line democracy. (It’s closed source, and its IT Security Controls are not public and its segregation of duties is not published, and probably non-existent. )

In my short essay, https://davelevy.info/e-voting/, I say,

Bruce Schneier, in a 2004 essay, posed four requirements, that voting systems be fast, accurate, scalable and anonymous. To these I add, transparency.

E-voting systems struggle to meet the Schneier’s first four criteria and yet the last is possibly the most important; critically losers must trust that the result is accurate.

I say [much] more in articles on this blog tagged e-voting.

ooOOOoo

The HuffPo article posted the full review and I have mirrored the section on Digital Democracy on this site. The report itself is pretty moderate in its ambitions, restricting itself to improving training, asking all CLPs to have a web site and making the social media officer a specific role. No harm really; although it is important to maintain the collective nature of decision making in the Party, where remote attendance and postal votes isolate and allow non Party voices i.e. the right wing press to have a larger voice than our members then this must be opposed. …

Labour Party, making policy

My submission to Labours Democracy Review on making policy.

CLPs should have an inalienable right to initiate policy, as such CLPs should be allowed to submit motions to Conference on policy as they see fit (i.e. not be constrained by the NPF report and processes).

NEC should publish their minutes so that members know what they are doing.

Appropriate CLP motions should be presented to the NEC and their actions recorded, minutes taken and reported to the authoring CLP.

CLPs should be able to submit a motion + rule change to Conference during the same year and CLP/Affiliate proposed rule changes to conference to should be allowed to be debated at the Conference for which it was proposed.

The NPF to be halved in size, meet more regularly, report to conference, and conference to be extended by a day. This is designed to increase the NPF’s accountability to Conference and provide some form of governance over continuous policy making; Conference should remain sovereign. NPF should be commissioning hearings led by a combination of grassroots activists and members and workers/trade unionists with expertise in specific areas. NPF should function in a more transparent way. This transparency to include its web site.

Conference should be a day longer, it would allow the consideration of more topics.

It should be considered to have a first delegate to conference at 500 members, and additional delegates at 750. More money should be sent to the CLPs and/or the Conference delegates should be funded by HQ. (We are debt free you know). [On drawing the graph/chart, I wonder if it would make much difference, it would make it easier, if it could be afforded, to send a gender balanced conference delegation, which is my purpose, but this would only be so for those CLPs with between 500 & 750 members. It should be noted that larger CLPs are not sending their full delegations because of cost. It should be noted that small and remote CLPs are not sending their delegations at all often because of cost. Perhaps elections at conference should be done as postal votes for non-attendees.]

It has been suggested to me that despite my efforts, many of Labour’s new members lack experience of the motion/debate process. More education is required at branch/member level about the motion process (e.g. what motions should incorporate and the change we hope to bring about). …

Electing Labour’s Leader

My submission to the Democracy Review on Electing the Leader.

Required nominations in the case of a vacancy should be set so that the electorate are given a choice. It should be noted that the higher the threshold required within the PLP, the more likely pressure for reselection will be in cases where MPs no longer represent the views of their membership.

On electing our leader, the Leader should be elected by individual ballot, of individual members, affiliate members and registered supporters.

Registered supporters should be asked to renew their commitment annually (and undergo the same checks that are used for people to become members), charged no more than of the order of £5 per year and be able to attend (but not vote during) branch meetings. If Toby Young seeks to become a registered supporter, we should refer it to the Police for fraud.

Freeze dates for all elections for internal office should be decided according to administrative feasibility. i.e. days or weeks, not the 6 months used in the 2016 leadership elections. …