Ideas, alliances and promises

Ideas, alliances and promises

I was pointed at, “If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars” by Rory McQueen who compares the state of the UK’s Left today with that in 1983, arguably the last time Labour was in this situation; he conducts a balance sheet on the balance of class forces, and then explores the issues of alliances and programme. He takes “The future of the Left”, an anthology written after the 1983 election as his historic benchmark.

I think this is incredibly well written and beyond my ability to summarise. i.e. you should read it. He provokes some thoughts in me, which is why you should read the rest of this. I talk, briefly, about the power of the Left in the country, it’s much weaker today, the need for and paradox of political alliances, and the failure of Labour’s policy & manifesto development programmes. I conclude by repeating the question, what’s the point for socialists in restricting alliances to exclusively to Labour’s right and how can Labour build a policy development process that delivers a realistic, popular and transformational programme for government. For more, see below/overleaf …  …

Card Votes on Demand

The LP platform stitched up Conference over Brexit by refusing a card vote. I think this power needs to be taken away, and so have drafted this rule amendment. It is interesting that the old rule no longer exists and has been transferred to Conference Standing Orders.

C3.III.G

Insert before These standing orders will be presented ……

The Conference Standing orders are to state that voting will be by show of hands except a card vote will be undertaken as decided by the CAC who shall in their report to conference determine which votes must be resolved by a card vote. Card votes may additionally be invoked by the Chair of Conference and shall be so invoked if called for by 30 delegates.

ooOOOoo

One thing to be noted is that Conference still has the last word on the contents of the Programme (C1.V.2). For inclusion, the Programme, it needs to be approved by Conference by a ⅔ majority. Policy cannot be included in the manifesto without this approval, so the Brexit position, free train fares and free broadband would seem to be promises we should not have made. I am equally unclear where the Faith and Culture manifestos came from. (I don’t even know if they were approved by the Clause V meeting.) Policy votes where not overwhelming should be counted by a  card vote to ensure that it is accurately recorded as meeting the necessary thresholds be it ½ or ⅔ majority. …

Cash in Hand

Amongst my discoveries while reading Labour’s 2018 Financial Report was the cash in hand figure which led me to post this!

Doesn’t seem to have caught, so I have reposted it here. …

Fair shares

Fair shares

Crispin Flintoff has started a campaign to ensure that CLPs are properly funded. This is an issue that I looked at during the democracy review but CLPs get something like 5% of the membership fees and its paid as a capitation fee. From this, and by observing the effort that goes into fund rasing, I concluded that the CLPs should get more of the membership fees and am happy to help Crispin.

CLPs spend their money on administration, campaigning and conference. Administration varies from basic member communication, inc. printing via room rentals to in some cases wages and property costs. There are usually three conferences per annum, with annual conference being a significant cost often beyond a CLP, many of whom fail to send delegates. Elections vary but some need to be funded by the CLP, some require a tax to be payed to the district or regional party. Some have to fund an election every year, some only three out of every five years. Some get financial help from the Labour Group, if there is one, and others from Party HQ, but the biggest and safest and the weakest CLPs get little help.

We could describe the current capitation as 5% of the membership fees. In my article “Brass“,  I proposed raising it to 50%, I have changed my mind and today

  1. I propose doubling it (to 5%) and revising the rules around a floor so that small parties get what they need.
  2. and I would transfer the costs of Annual Conference to HQ

When thinking about the minimum grant, maybe there should be an investment fund where CLPs bid for the money to support projects aimed at growing the membership, building infrastructure (at the lower end, web sites/services, at the higher end, property maintenance) or growing internal fundraising efforts.

If so, I need to check out Crispin’s proposed motion and offer amendments.

There are some de-facto footnotes below/overleaf. …

RLB at the Rivoli

I went to Rebecca Long-Bailey’s meeting in Brockley, earlier tonight. I made some notes which I have polished and reproduced here. Her speaking style is not that of Ian Hodson, nor of Matt Wrack who was her warm up act as were two local Momentum supporting councillors. Maybe we’ve had enough of ranty demagogues and interestingly even when I drifted off, she regained my attention; much of her content is good. Her words were reported elsewhere but this is based on the notes I took and two videos taken by a friend and posted on my Youtube channel.

 

She spoke of groups, unity and competence. She spoke about winning those who are “just managing”, educational access and with some new ideas on constitutional reform inc. solid promises on devolution. She also spoke about a her views on a member led party and I conclude by looking at the theory that she is setting up some of her supporters and maybe even Unite for a reality check. I conclude the blog by looking at two of the questions asked, one on state racism and the other on the promise for a second referendum. For more, see overleaf/below. … …

What Labour said in 2001

I have been researching an as yet unpublished blog article on New Labour’s governments and looked for and found Labour’s 2001 Manifesto, which was published and given a mandate between Blair’s first and second terms. I used diigo to capture my notes, but a single entry cannot be linked to (or I don’t know how to do it). So this, below/overleaf is what I captured. …   …

Still arguing about the manifesto

How should Labour’s Manifesto be decided? This is what the rules say!

The NPF propose policy to Conference via their Report. Policy can also be created by passing motions at Conference and there are now 20 motion topics debated at each conference. This is a significant advance, so watch to see if any new leadership seeks to reduce this number. There is a party programme, did you know, and if Conference decides on a ⅔ majority recorded by a card vote then the policy item is included in the Programme.

The election manifesto for all national elections must come from the programme. This is another set of rules not read so often it would seem, because what happens is that an appointee of the Leader writes a draft and the Clause V meeting does what the fuckit wants! (The rules are all detailed in Chapter 1, Clause V.)

To this insight we should also add the contempt with which the NPF is held. I may regret this last statement as I think I might explore a run for one of the positions in London. …

Some thought on Labour’s Leadership campaign

Some thought on Labour’s Leadership campaign

The Labour Leadership elections seem to be less inspiring than 2015. We should all remember and recognise that Corbyn’s victory in the 2015 Leadership election was the result of revolutionary change in British Politics, he surfed a wave; it was not created by the minuscule and impotent Labour Left. At the time, I was shocked by Ed Miliband’s defeat (at least its scale) and began to question my own sense of strategy. I engaged with several parts of Labour Left which I had not been associated with and found an entrenched sense of entitlement, that “it was their turn”. This has survived to today.

With respect to the current election, for Leader at least, I am concerned that should Lisa Nandy win, she’ll end up trapped like Ed Miliband, (and arguably Corbyn), in an office without the ability to win her policy agenda in the Party, either at Conference or in the PLP. It is my view that the faction around Ed Balls organised and blew Miliband of course and his genuine supporters were insufficiently powerful or skilful to defend his policy agenda. I sort of agree with her and Phillips that 40 second replies to “moderated” questions are not the best way to allow candidates to speak to the members, although Nandy has shown how well she can use even less time on the Andrew Neil interview. I also question the judgement behind her voting record over the autumn. She seems shocked that the Tories are reneging on promises they made to win Labour votes for both Brexit and the election and while her statements on Workers’ & Migrants’ Rights are welcome, her role in ending the Parliament and thus stymieing a “final say” referendum is not, in my opinion good.

For those that place the worst possible interpretation on Nandy’s comments on Catalonia and Scottish independence, you are wrong, she clearly did not mean to support the aggressive police or judicial response; suggesting she did  puts you in the same category as the anti-Catholicism surrounding Rebecca Long-Bailey. It infantilises our politics and buries much more important questions. Scotland and its relationship with the UK deserves a better debate than this.

Last night RLB made herself the first of the Leader candidates to commit to Open Selection. I suspect that I am in a minority amongst Labour’s Left in that I don’t consider that we failed to win re-selection ballots because of the rules, or the constraints/rules of the debate. It is clear that the argument, “we deserve a choice” didn’t have the resonance that one would have hoped, but, we lost the re-selections because on the whole people didn’t turn up, and they didn’t turn up because the Left don’t know who they are and many of them have given up on us as leaders of the Corbyn project. We must recognise that, we i.e. the Left have driven people away through our sectarian and indecent behaviour.

Another problem I have with Open Selection is that it is based on an elitist model of power. If we had a democratic policy making process which the leadership and the PLP would follow, then who the MPs are would matter less but that’s not how the Labour Party does and it’s looking as if the new Leadership nomination rules will end up restricting choice and not enhancing it.

I plan to look at my proposals over the last two years and see which one’s need to be resurrected, but we need to recognise that many of the democratic reforms stemming from the democracy review have not introduced member power, they have reinforced the power of the Party’s bureaucracy. We need a stronger Conference and stronger CLPs, but achieving these things will take a change of culture, the Party needs to become an instrument of collective endeavour not a battlefield of power.

In her speech last night Long-Bailey said,

This means open and democratic policy making at every level, properly resourced political education and a professional and accountable party operation. These are the basics.

Sadly Party Democracy is a critical issue, I’d prefer that policy and electoral strategy were at the centre but what the candidates say in response to my question will be critical in how I cast my vote and speak at the nomination meeting. …