Promises from Rachel Reeves

Promises from Rachel Reeves

Conference was addressed then by Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor. ( video | text ). I have used diigo to mark out the exciting quotes from the text. The rest of this post is from my contemporaneous notes.

She started by promising to be Britain’s first green chancellor and promises net zero carbon for electricity by 2030. She promises a real living minimum wage, resurrecting NEDC, where Govt, business and the unions can talk about the economy. She promises that business subsidies will be training focused, business rates are to be abolished to allow the high street to compete with their online competitors, although I wonder where local authority income will come from.

She promised a new sovereign wealth fund, forty years too late, but that’s not her fault.

She spoke of responsible finance, and I add that while I wasn’t so concerned last week, a stricter approach may be needed now that the debt to GDP is nearing 150%. We all need to remember that only growth can reduce debt, but she did promise “No return to austerity”.

She finished the speech with a full and comprehensive promise to invest in NHS jobs, to which I say good, but ask who’s going to do them; many of the vacancies are Brexit related as nurses, cleaners, doctors and research scientists have gone home to Europe and won’t return until the hostile environment is repealed.

She briefly mentioned the plan to ‘Fix Brexit’, which gives me the excuse to repeat or preview that on immigration and labour supply, they have a cakeist view, but left hanging is that she recognised our loss of competitive advantage in science and bioscience, underling the urgency with which we have to rejoin Horizon Europe.

She was silent on currency, and some may consider the plan a version of autarky. It’s a bit hard to judge from a 35 minute speech. …

On the Economy

On the Economy

The bulk of motions on the economy were tabled by Unions, and focused on wages, infrastructure and working rights. Several of the Union motions call for renationalisation of the basic utilities, mail and rail, but not gas or water. I wrote a speech but wasn’t called. This is sort of what I planned to say.

“We are in an economic crisis, a crisis of living standards and possibly the first one caused by a government since the discovery of … Keynesianism.

Reinforced by Brexit, we have declining inward investment, the highest inflation in a decade, imports are up, exports catastrophically down, we have a possibly unsustainable balance of payments deficit again, it’s been in deficit for decades and a labour shortage impacting agriculture, social care, and the NHS and also stagnating wages.

The currency is taking a fall due to confidence, this increases the price of energy and food.

My dad, once said to me, that, “governments take thousands of decisions every day and under the Tories everyone is wrong”. it is not enough to seek to get only some of these decisions right, to compete with this ERG government on the basis of competence allied to debt fetishism. We need to offer hope and then deliver on that promise.

One thing that Kier Starmer has right is the growing anger that hard work is not enough to allow an even reasonable standard of living. it is a struggle to pay for rent or a mortgage and heat one’s home and even, although I hate the phrase put food on the table. We must offer people hope of a better economy and society.

I finish by saying this is a crisis caused by this Brexit government and planning to fix it neither offers hope nor is truthful.

Flirting with monetarism and offering little hope on even trade friction with the European Union jeopardises the loyalty of many of those who voted for us in 2017 & 2019.

Dave Levy, from my notes

Apart from the attempt to fix Brexit, I think we’ll offer more than I had feared. …

Benefits and Pensions

Benefits and Pensions

Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow spokesperson for the DWP spoke, his words are here. He promised that, “we’ll reform, overhaul and replace the Tory Universal Credit system. We’ll treat people with dignity, not burden them with impossible debts, support children not punish them and we’ll reinstate a principle Labour has championed since the days of Barbara Castle but ditched by the Tories, the financial independence of women should be protected in our social security system too.”

He finished with,

So, friends, this is our mission: 

Full employment and decent pay; 

Security in retirement; 

A better world for our children; 

Because as Nelson Mandela said:  

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity but an act of justice.” 

Let us rise to that cause and build a future of opportunity, fairness and justice for all. 

Jonathan ashworth MP at Labour Conference 22

Energy and Ed

Energy and Ed

Ed Miliband introduced the Economy debate, speaking on his shadow portfolio, Energy. This was an excellent speech, it made me sad we couldn’t get him in, it reminded me of what we may have lost. ( video | text ). He called for a windfall tax, and the adoption of renewables. He claimed, now, “It’s cheaper to save the planet than destroy it”.

The speech listed a list of opportunities, detailed Labour’s opposition to fracking and called out the appointment of Jacob Ress Mogg, a climate change denier as Business Secretary. …

The Rules Debate

The Rules Debate

Each year at Labour Conference, there is a rules debate and despite the bleats from supporters of the NEC, that we should be talking to voters and not about ourself, they always bring up rule changes, published the day before conference, thus only available in the first Conference Arrangement Committee report, it comes with a series of recommendations and this year the NEC recommended we passed theirs and rejected everyone else’s.

The debate became one of CLP rights. Last year Conference mandated that where time permitted, selection longlisting committees should be 50% from the CLP; this was ignored by the NEC who came back with a rewrite to allow them to continue to pursue their two donkeys and a lion strategy while in a number of cases, denying popular local left-wing councillors a position on either the long or short lists. The NEC came to conference with a rewrite of this rule, as did the CLP moving the original change. The CLP amendment fell, the result is presented in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Result of Card Vote 7, Parliamentary Selection Procedures from CAC2

There was a well supported rule change to permit members of the Party who were currently suspended from the whip to stand in trigger ballots and also a motion banning lobbyists from standing as MPs. The former was designed to allow Jeremy Corbyn to participate in a trigger ballot; as the rules stand, the Chief Whip can ensure that this does not happen. There was an interesting but I think ill-informed contribution from the delegate to Sheffield Hallam who raised the question as to what would have happened to Jared O’Mara if this rule had been in place, she implied that he might have been considered for the 2019 election. He wouldn’t, he resigned and his initial appointment by the NEC shows the danger of not consulting the local party.

My pet amendment, of inserting the ECHR into Labour’s rules was opposed and the NEC asked for remission, which the moving CLP agreed to; unfortunately, the Chair permitted this to be voted upon despite telling conference it had been withdrawn. I sought to move a point of order but they have invented a procedure where one has to justify the point of order to the speakers desk who told me that it was under-control. It wasn’t the point, delegates were being wrongly advised. While I consider a point of order that the speaker is talking rubbish is not a valid point of order, the point that the Chair is talking rubbish and has misguided conference is a valid point of order. It should have been allowed.

The NEC amendments which were carried included placing a 1 year waiting period on affiliate and CLP rule changes, whereas it seems the NEC can make them with under 24 hours notice. This is a disgusting piece of factionalism and control. One consequence of this is that the so-called three year rule is effectively a five year ban on reconsidering rule changes.

Another change is to cap CLP delegation sizes. I wouldn’t mind this if the floor could call a card vote but it can’t. (I need to redo my delegate power chart). Giving the floor the power to call a card vote was one of the changes proposed by CLPD.  I don’t know of any large CLP that sends its full entitlement as they get very large very quickly. CLPs are entitled to one delegate/250 members.

In my notes for a speech, I was not called, I included the slogan, adopted from the open source movement, “clever people with good ideas and work elsewhere”.  Making rule changes harder for CLPs and affiliates fails to recognise this.

This was post dated to the time of occurrence, it was finished on 4th Oct.  …

The Finance Report

I attended Labour Conference as a delegate and I got to ask some finance questions, I only had a minute, so couldn’t ask them all and they took a while to answer, so the video is longer than necessary and the answers from the platform were not particularly comprehensive, but I was able to speak to Dianna, the outgoing Treasurer who gave me better answers in a personal (corridor) meeting.

The deficit, if not the size, was known when they set a budget. They report regularly to the business board which meets at least six times each year and as when necessary, they report to the NEC on current plans twice/year.

I was told in the Hall that the £6m political publishing was print bills for local elections incurred on behalf of local parties or campaign forums; later it was suggested that there is a corresponding income item, which I need to find. My initial scepticism is based on the fact that I&E statement has an election expense line and that is where I would expect election expenses to be reported.

The increase in the Senior Management Team cost is based on the fact that there are now 10 members of the SMT, up from 6. I wonder what this does to gender parity in the staffing budget.

I managed to ask my three questions within the allotted minute, but there are no supplementary questions permitted and one of the essential points made by Diana was the theory that membership is synchronised with the electoral cycle. I don’t believe this to be true! It would seem to be true of donations but not membership income. This seems to be aligned with leadership, and if so, will be exacerbated by the OMOV elections for the Leadership.

Labour’s membership by leader

The NEC still have to either fix the decline in membership or find new but legal sources of income and as I have argued, the rich donors weren’t there for Blair, why would they be there for Starmer, although I can think of several very good reasons that became clear as the conference proceeded. …

Labour and the EU

Labour and the EU

I have written an emergency motion for Labour Party Conference, I have ’till noon on Thursday to get it submitted, so better get a move on, unfortunately doing this from a CLP is a bit tricky . I need to check if it’s on the Agenda but that’s a bit tricky, I am not sure they have published all the motions to hoi-polloi like me yet.

Conference notes the announcement by Liz Truss on 19th September that there will be no post Brexit trade deal with the USA, and that the Govt is once again postponing (16th Sept) the imposition of the agreed customs checks between Great Britain and Northern a bit tricky, made worse by the direction not fo

Conference further notes that 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,  jobs are being offshored to western Europe and sterling is at its worse exchange rate ever with both the dollar and the euro. The labour shortages are compounded by the xenophobia released by the referendum and the Tory’s “hostile environment”.  

Conference believes that these negative economic consequences of Tory policy are significant contributors to the cost of living crisis.

Conference believes that 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. …

Coming soon, at #Lab22

Coming soon, at #Lab22

Two Labour Party comrades have managed to submit rule changes to LP Conference; one is an attempt to ensure that the LP takes decisions conformant with the European Convention on Human Rights, the second is an attempt to constrain the NEC's powers to make the rules up when conducting selections. The text can be found in this CLPD doc for the first (or below/overleaf), and in this document for the second, (or below/overleaf).

Please get mandates to support these rule changes. ...

CLPD & #lab22

CLPD & #lab22

Labour Hub have publicised the Left Slates for Labour’s internal elections, together with their recommended rule changes, available as word or .pdf. They include mine, the complete list is as follows, although some of the titles need to be changed as I think there is a 10 word limit. The deadline for CLPs to submit a rule change to Annual Labour Conference is 12 noon Friday 17th June.

  1. The Labour Party should be able to decide which Labour MPs can seek re-selection – not the PLP
  2. Calls for card votes from Annual Conference; delegates should not ignored
  3. Members need a Party Ombudsperson
  4. Ban lobbyists and property developers from being selected as local government or Parliamentary candidates
  5. Selection of Westminster parliamentary candidates – longlisting should to return to CLPs
  6. CLPs and affiliates should be allowed to submit a motion and a constitutional amendment to Party Conference
  7. CLPs and affiliates should be allowed to submit motions on organisational issues to Party Conference
  8. Popular rule change proposals should not have to wait three years to be discussed at Conference
  9. Full involvement by party branches and branches of affiliated organisations in the selection of Westminster candidates
  10. The NEC must decide on the powers to be granted to the General Secretary, and Conference take the final decision
  11. Member’s Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights
  12. Labour members should be required to be members of a trade union
  13. Member’s rights to free speech should be restored
  14. The NEC should stop publishing its proposed rule changes at the last minute – members need time to consider such proposals
  15. NEC final decisions and good faith