Fair Votes

I have been in correspondence with “Make Votes Matter”. There’s more to be said, but I think it’s how we need to go; we need a House of Commons based on a proportional “Additional Member System”, like the GLA and the devolved nation assemblies. Their model motion text pasted, and they say, “… below is taken from our website. There’s some strong claims in it, so we also a one-pager of supporting evidence available here.”

Conference notes that the UK is one of only three major developed countries to use a First Past the Post voting system for general elections.

There is consensus among experts that First Past the Post has a strong right wing bias wherever it is used, leading to parliaments and governments that are on average much more right wing than the voters.

This corresponds exactly with the UK’s experience. Most votes went to parties to the left of the Conservatives in 18 of the last 19 general elections, yet the Tories have been in power for 63 per cent of this time. Instead of building a society “for the many”, this has created one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, with some of the most restrictive trade union laws.

Conference believes we need a Labour government to reshape society in the interests of workers and our communities. But it is imperative to realise that the current voting system offers no protection against later Conservative governments tearing up these hard fought gains as they have in the past. The world’s most equal and progressive societies all use forms of Proportional Representation which prevent rule by a right-wing minority and lock in the hard-won victories of their Labour movements.

Conference therefore resolves:

– To adopt a policy of opposing First Past the Post and instead supporting moves to explore, select and introduce a new voting system for the UK.

– To call for the Labour Party to do the same and to commit to including the voting system for general elections in the remit of its planned constitutional convention.

I moved this at my Union branch last night. The meeting decided to drop the second and third paragraph and to weaken the firsts resolves.

The motion will not be sent to Congress due to the 3 motion limit. We decided to send something else. …

Trade Unionists oppose Brexit

YouGov have run a poll, on behalf of the People’s Vote Campaign asking Trade Unionists some questions about their opinions on the EU & Brexit, this was done on 20th-23rd June and it reports on the GMB, Unite & Unison, the top three by size. It makes sobering reading for Labour’s “Lexiters”, as all three samples would vote to Remain by significant margins and that ~35% would be more likely to vote Labour if it supported a 2nd referendum, with Remain on the ballot.

69% stated that they would vote remain in a referendum held tomorrow.

Other articles my focus on the General Election implications but I am glad that the GMB adopted this position at their Conference earlier this month. …  …

GMB on Venezuela

GMB on Venezuela

There was an appalling motion calling for Maduro to be deposed in Venezuela. GMB policy is to support the Venzuelan people through, in the UK, Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign. Things have changed in Venezuela and the CEC took the opportunity to recommend the motion be referred so that they can review the policy and the situation. I spoke against the motion, here is the youtube link to the start of the debate, since I think it worth publicising the speeches in favour, the other motions are then moved and there were two speeches against, I am the last speaker before the CEC. My last line was,

Our solidarity must be with people of Venezuela; regime change is both illegal and wrong, aggressive war is both illegal and wrong.

This motion does not deserve our support in any way.

I was actually quite shocked to see how few delegates supported us outside London, although a lot of people didn’t vote the first time round. I asked for count of the votes, but they asked delegates to show their votes a second time and it was clearly carried, i.e. referred to the CEC. …

Ships, Steel & Gas

Ships, Steel & Gas

I have worked as a London (or Thames Valley) white collar worker for all my working life but the GMB is strong in manufacturing and energy. We had several debates of special interest to Shipbuilding, Steel, and Energy, especially the Gas industry and there was also a motion on fracking. For more see below/overleaf.

Ships

The shipbuilding motions refer to public procurement policy and reference concepts echoed in the “Just Transition” movements, about not leaving communities nor workers behind. While looking for a picture to decorate this article, I came across an article, entitled, “Another RN supplier goes under – the closure of Appledore shipyard”, which documents the impact on the community but critiques Babcock’s commercial strategy. In reading the article, it makes clear that Appledore was part of the Aircraft Carrier supply-chain and so their commissioning prolonged the life of the shipyard. GMB Congress also highlighted the failure of the Government to “Buy British” for the latest generation of Fleet auxiliary ships. I have written several articles mirroring arguments about  what I consider to be the mistakes of renewing Trident and the building of the new Fleet Carriers. I think the Union needs to engage in these arguments i.e. what do we need and can they be built in multiple sites. It’s not just about how many hospitals could have been funded; what defence assets are we missing to fund the subs & carriers. The country needs to also address retraining and skills reuse. Labour’s promise of a National Education Service, with free, life-long learning available to all is an important part of keeping the UK’s skills relevant and renewing them. The debate can be found on youtube.

Steel

The fate of what remains of British Steel was also debated, and I reflected on this earlier this month on this blog. A motion had been submitted to Congress over the winter, again calling for a “Buy British First” policy and this was supplemented by an Emergency Motion calling for the Scunthorpe Steel Works to remain open. [Video of the moving, in several ways, speech]

 

Nothing was mentioned about the Government’s handling of tariffs. (A mistake I would have thought).

Gas

The future of the Gas industry was debated via Composite 15.

While in entering the debate, I assumed that I’d have a problem with the GMB position as too often Unions take a no change position, the composite is well argued and highlights certain critical facts, although not others. (Electricity cannot be stored at scale, Gas can, electricity leaks over the grid. Hydrogen is not a fossil fuel.)  The science of innovation with respect to the use of Hydrogen has not been documented either by the GMB branches nor by Friends of the Earth. (I am trying to chase it down; I have written to SGN who had a stand in the exhibition space.) There’s no question that if Momentum and Friends of the Earth get their motion to Labour Conference, the Just Transition Unions will vote it down, unless they compromise on Gas & Nuclear. The GMB motions states that there is scientific consensus that gas heating in the home is part of a transition to a carbon neutral economy.

I think we need a better understanding of the science.

I read a lot about this in order to write this report, and my notes are on my wiki.

Fracking

A motion on Fracking, basically opposing it, in the light of recently discovered facts and regulatory changes was withdrawn at the request of the CEC.

ooOOOoo

The words of the Gas and Fracking motions are posted on my notes are on my wiki. …

GMB on Brexit

GMB on Brexit

The national committee of the GMB is called the Central Executive Council, and it produced a statement on  the subject of Brexit. The statement opposes a No-deal Brexit and calls for a final say public vote on any Tory deal to,

.. decide whether this is better than our current deal with the EU.

I was called to speak on the statement and my speech is on YouTube, as is the whole debate.

The statement was made available on the morning of the debate; I wish I’d had more time to consult members & colleagues. …