On Corbyn’s whip

On Corbyn’s whip

On Jeremy Corbyn’s whip, which Starmer has withdrawn, somehow, certainly in breach of the standing orders of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Momentum have drafted a letter to Starmer, Angela Rayner and the CLP Reps calling for the whip to be restored which you can send too. I have sent it although I amended the letter to make it clear that I believe it, and the original suspension to be in breach of the party’s rules, in breach of the EHRC recommendations and in breach human rights law, and the whip withdrawl is an act of double jeopardy. I also pointed out that in my experience, some of his supporters are now leaving as they consider the act unfair and unreasonable.

I consider it to be at least one of capricious, perverse, irrational and/or arbitrary.  …

Political Interference

I have now finished reading the EHRC Report into Anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and while doing this, Corbyn has been suspended, reinstated and then had the whip withdrawn, by it seems a small coterie of staff, in the Leader’s Office and General Secretary’s office, specifically the Leader and GS themselves. In looking at my blog article to remind me what I said, and what remains unsaid, I came across this quote, which is a recommendation; some work to do, I think.

Acknowledge, through its leadership, the effect that political interference has had on the handling of antisemitism complaints, and implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P13)
 …

How to fix the Labour Party

How to fix the Labour Party

I am considering getting involved in a so-called debate about Lavery, Tricket and Smith’s recent revision of their No Holding Back report, which has been seized with alacrity by the usual suspects, possibly unfairly; it seems more nuanced than its authors and fans suggest but I may not be reading it sufficiently well. I am reminded of the Data Praxis report, Tory Landslide, Progressives Split, which shows how it might have been worse and blames our FPTP electoral system. I precis them by saying,

“Labour lost because, Leavers in Labour seats, switched to the Tories, but more Labour Remainers from 2017 switched; Corbyn (& the manifesto) were now unpopular and thus too many Tory Remainers stayed with the Tories.

Dave Levy

We should also note that Lavery, Tricket and Smith do not mention Scotland; it’s not their expertise but there’s no answer without the Scots.

While looking at what to say, and for help in understanding the problem, I was concerned to be truthful at the state of the red wall parties’ health, but it seems hard to get the local contact rates, which will all be poor nor to get the member/voter ratio. I looked at Labour Together’s report, again to see if they said anything useful about local Party organisation/structure and campaigning. This is difficult to be honest about because of the back office chicanery in Labour HQ on 2017 & 2019 and the myths and maybe truths about how Momentum’s volunteer organisation saved us in 2017 get in the way. They i.e. Labour Together don’t say anything useful or concrete about CLP organisation. We should also note that the Democracy Review did nothing to improve local campaigning effectiveness either. Perhaps we should be listening to Crispin Flintoff on his campaign to fund CLPs properly.

About the Labour Together report, I found this, at Immigration News, which pulls no punches. I say, using their words,

[the] New Labour Together Report investigates Labour’s 2019 Election Defeat with crushing honesty – but glosses over senior saboteurs behind the Labour Leaks dossier. A 150-page report published this week by research group Labour Together serves up some stone-cold truths and analysis in what may have led to Labour’s downfall in the 2019 General Election. “

Olivia Bridge – Immigration news JUne 2020

I have written about “What happened?”, and created a reading list tagged “ge2019” on my diigo feed, and to remind me and others of what wise people said, I also reproduce the Electoral Calculus chart on where votes came and went.

I have made a sankey chart from this, it would seem that this chart is for England & Wales only, but for other source notes, you’ll need to check out the original article.

The Labour Together report is strong on the need to get the strategy right; I think we may need to end the factionalism first and recognise the members must have the first and last word but we also need to resolve the fault lines in our coalition, because much of the pro-Brexit positions came from Labour politicians on the right of the party whose heritage is the “Control Immigration” mug and future road is that of Blue Labour, “work, family, community”. Adopting this sort of rubbish and its racist sub-text will jeopardise Labour’s city heartlands, apart from just being wrong. …

On the EHRC report

The EHRC have  issued their report into Antisemitism in the Labour Party, they say that Labour needs to rebuild trust & confidence in the antisemitism complaints handling process, reform and provide education & training, most importantly to complaints handling staff, and monitor and evaluate the changes. Everyone has committed to doing this and the proposals are not controversial. They also found that unlawful acts under the Equalities Act had occurred and therefore served an unlawful act notice on the Party. The Labour Party is now legally obliged to draft an action plan by Thursday 10 December 2020 to tackle the unlawful act findings that were made in the report. The action plan should be based on the EHRC recommendations to avoid such acts from happening again. With good will, this should be possible, but with the remaining actions taken that day, we have to question if the Labour Party actually wants to move on.

The report makes clear that the Labour Party’s responsibility/duty to not be antisemitic is broad and certainly covers all persons who could be deemed to speak on its behalf, thus including MPs, NEC members, councillors and other role holders. It also makes clear that the European Convention’s free speech protections (A10) applies to all members. The report states that,

Article 10 will protect Labour Party members who, for example, make legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government, or express their opinions on internal Party matters, such as the scale of antisemitism within the Party, based on their own experience and within the law. It does not protect criticism of Israel that is antisemitic.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P27)

The Commission  was critical of a lack of policy regulating the complaints handling and investigation processes and record keeping in the conduct of investigations into anti-semitism and that there was illegal political interference. These failings taken together are the key facts that have damaged confidence in the complaints process and contributed to their finding that the Labour Party had broken the law.

On record keeping and policy they say it is required to,

Publish a comprehensive policy and procedure, setting out how antisemitism complaints will be handled and how decisions on them will be made. This should include published criteria on what conduct will be subject to investigation and suspension, and what will be considered an appropriate sanction for different types of proven antisemitic conduct.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P13)

On political interferance, they say,

We found that this political interference was not part of the Labour Party’s formal complaints process, so it was not a legitimate approach to determining complaints. We concluded that this was indirectly discriminatory and unlawful, and that the Labour Party was legally responsible for it.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P9)

Their proposed remedy is to,

Acknowledge, through its leadership, the effect that political interference has had on the handling of antisemitism complaints, and implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P13)

However, the latter recommendation seems to be honoured in the breach; the morning of the report Jeremy Corbyn posted his response on Facebook, where among other things welcoming the report, he said,

One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

Jeremey Corbyn, on facebook

This preceded the publication of Keir Starmer’s response, reported here in the Guardian, which included the following

“But I’ve said a moment ago, and I’ll say it again: those who deny there is a problem are part of the problem. Those who pretend it is exaggerated or factional are part of the problem.”

Keir Starmer

Hours later Corbyn is administratively suspended; it is unclear how since the decision to administratively suspend belongs to the NEC not the Leader, nor the GS, although some claim it is a delegated power and has been so delegated, while others argue they can’t delegate this power to the GS.

Chakrabarti’s Report, which is quoted approvingly several times by the EHRC, was clear on the subject of administrative suspension,

Once you understand these basic natural justice principles, you realise that administrative suspension from the Labour Party need not be employed every (or nearly every) time a complaint (however credible) is made against a member.

The Chakrabarti Inquiry (P18)

And Corbyn’s comments are protected, his offence would seem, from the outside, to be embarrassing the Leader.

The Labour Party will not fix the problem of anti-semitism or other appalling behaviour whether it be based on a protected characteristic or just straight forward bullying and cheating, until it recognises the corruption of the disciplinary process caused by factionalism. This diversion i.e. the suspension of Corbyn will make the task of making the Party a welcoming place for all who wish to join much harder. I have signed the petition that he should be reinstated, and the CLPD have published a solidarity motion to put to CLPs and Union Branches.

The EHRC report, whose recommendations I support is an opportunity, it must not be missed and compliance is a legal duty, but then so much of our rules is a legal duty anyway and they haven’t helped.  …

A new Labour Left

A new Labour Left

I have been ill over the summer; I wish I had written this earlier as the wheel tracks of the political debate in the Labour Party are probably too deep for these thoughts to take hold, or maybe not, some of the articles bookmarked here suggest some deeper thinking is going on. This blog article examines the inter left dialogue and what might be done to promote a greater left unity. It notes the number of people who voted for Starmer and Corbyn, it’s a lot, and suggests that these people are key to the future platform pursued by the Labour Party. We need a majority that will build a fair and principled discipline system and a democratic policy development process that allows out membership to lead the party.

Inside the Labour Party, Corbyn’s coalition is broken and is not going to be put back together. The political strategy, vision for Labour and culture of that part of the old left majority now coalescing around #starmerout, and articulating, still, that Starmer lost the election due to his part in pushing the Remainer position, their pandering on the issue of immigration and their disgusting organisational practices creates a pretty insurmountable barrier. It’s a rose-tinted view of the last four years which is neutralised by the facts and arguments in this article, Starmerscepticism: An Unsentimental Approach.

Keir Starmer, like Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader because the membership thought he was the most left wing candidate that could win. Looking at the results of the Leadership election, we can see that the Left lost over 175,000 votes since 2016. This means that 10,000s of people voted for Corbyn in 2015/6 and for Starmer in 2020. Another metric showing the Left’s loss of grip is that only five MP’s lost their reselection battles, and some won them handsomely. Corbyn’s internal voters were no longer following Momentum nor its sectarian and careerist passengers nor the Unite leadership.

A new left majority is not going to be reconstructed without talking and listening to those who voted for Starmer. Many of them will have done so because of his 10 pledges, which promises a significant policy continuity with the Corbyn leadership.

Telling people they’re idiots or just even wrong is not a good start point for convincing them but then there are those who are not interested in building a new majority; it’s the being right that counts for them.

Dave Levy i.e. me

Building a new majority with power has been made harder by the decision to use STV as the electoral system for the CLP division of the NEC. The sectarian nature of this decision is shown by the fact that it is the only division to which this is applied; most egregiously it has not been applied to the Councillor division. It has been done to weaken the power of the Momentum led left, in the hope that Progress/Labour First will benefit from this manoeuvre; they are running a slate under the banner of “Labour to Win” which includes a couple of re-treads who have a poor record in defending member’s rights, unless in the case of Johanna Baxter, that member is Iain McNicol.

What do we do next? Support and/or motivate the CLPD in returning to its primary cause, campaigning for Party democracy and support the Grassroots Voice 6, which is the only broad slate. After the election, we’ll see just how powerful the groups are and how attractive an independent appeal can be made, particularly by Crispin Flintoff.

 While I find much to be attracted to in the Open Labour platform, their political practice, by their divorcing of accountability to the platform by choosing their candidates by all member’s ballots, reinforced by those they chose or confirming support for powerful incumbents in the case of Alice Perry makes building coalitions through supporting their slate difficult. Ann Black & Alice Perry should be unacceptable to those on the left and those who want a Party built on respect for the membership. Ann Black, in particular, has a long track record of voting to exclude and discipline members of the most trivial of reasons and her period as Chair of the Disputes Committee culminated in the 2015/2016 purges. Black also voted for all of McNicol’s gerrymandering proposals for the 2016 Leadership election including the exclusion of 125,000 members. She was joined in both these activities by Johanna Baxter. (I am unclear of Perry’s voting record on these issues but she has voted to sanction or refer to the NCC over 1000 members.)

GV6-slate

I shall thus vote for the Grass Roots Voice slate of six candidates, which remains an alliance and is supported by a broad range of Left caucuses, including Momentum, CLPD, Grass Roots Black Left , Don’t Leave Organise, Jewish Voice for Labour, LRC and Red Labour.

I shall be looking for ways to talk to members of Open Labour who support the 2019 manifesto, want to stand up for human rights and want a disciplinary system complaint with the principles of natural justice applied to all members irrespective of their faction and/or alleged offence. We can only build a united party if we turn our backs on political victimisation, and the tactics of bullying, slander and corruption and implement a member led party where all members are valued and their rights respected.

ooOOOoo

It’s important to express your preference as accurately and completely as possible, i.e to state as many preferences as possible, although your vote will count for very little after a couple of transfers. The last person to be elected, the 9th, is interesting, but if you have voted for a complete six candidate slate (that is winning seats), it is highly likely that two of those slates will be contending for the 9th seat and so your vote will not transfer to another slate/candidate. Despite this, I will pick up Crispin Flintoff, who organises “Stand Up for Labour” and is campaigning for fairer CLP funding and Mark Macdonald who is a lawyer and wrote the opinion/advice that Corbyn had to be on the 2016 leadership ballot paper.

I do not have votes in the Disabled or Youth divisions.

This has taken too long to write and post; arguments about the nature of the post-Corbyn left as been reignited by Newsnight last night where among other things, Dianne Abbott points out the remarkable silence of Starmer on Brexit since he was elected. Much of the conversation about this is not healthy for the Labour Party but those who voted for Starmer need to begin to ask if he is as committed to the 10 Pledges as they want. …

Labour, human rights and the #spycops bill

Labour, human rights and the #spycops bill

I am pretty disappointed with Labour’s decision to abstain on the 3rd Reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill. It’s truly disgraceful and allowing the State’s secret policy to operate with impunity jeopardises important human rights such as the right to a fair trial and the right to organise (freedom of association) not to mention the rights to privacy although the investigatory powers act of 2016 put these on the bonfire. Most of its opponents focus on murder, torture and rape, but the destruction of the rule of law and its application to the police is an on-ramp to these crimes, the principle of an accountable police and prosecutor is the key.

However, Labour is not good on these issues, more recently the PLP led by Burnham & Starmer colluded with the IPA 2016, supported the retention of ‘economic’ security as a lawful purpose of the intelligence service’s activities and when I proposed the supremacy of human rights law as a conference policy, it got 2 votes on the NPF web site and my CLP has always sent other, yet important, motions to conference while CLPD’s support was ineffective as they pursued their doomed attempt to rewrite the Leadership election rules. I posted my moving speech to this blog. I am not sure if this is because many people consider the NPF to be a waste of time, or that support for human rights law is weak in the Labour Party, because you can’t eat or burn human rights.

Please vote up my NPF proposal, if its still open and if you can, the software is, to use a technical phrase, a bit shit. Also you might like to share my motion via social media.

ooOOOoo

Hansard have reworked the way in which they report votes, here is their record of the 3rd reading vote, the page opens on the not recorded page.

The Legislation tracker is here, the Lords Committee stage starts in 24th Nov and the Report stage & 3rd reading are not yet planned. If the Lords amend the Bill then it will return to the Commons for what is called the “Consideration of Amendments” where usually the Commons tell the Lords to “go away” (4,3). …

Reeves on the EU

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, made a speech/webcast about Labour’s current Brexit policy, reviewed in Labour List, with the headline, ‘“We won’t be back in the EU”: Rachel Reeves sets out Labour’s Brexit policy’. It just raises the question, where did she get the mandate? It seems she believes that we have returned to the days when Labour’s policy emerged from the back pockets of the front bench spokespeople. This is not why I joined the Labour Party and to go from remain, to only leave if the terms are acceptable, to saying that the UK would not be back in the European Union under a Labour government, without even stating why the Tories deal and strategy is harmful, is shameful and gives evidence to those on the left who say that the people’s vote was merely a trojan horse to undermine the Corbyn project.

Her statement ignores, of course, freedom of movement, Erasmus, flight regulations, and the European Medical Agency and it all assumes that we get a trade deal. We can see the Tories, are not going to sign a reasonable deal and Labour should be putting our stake in the ground, otherwise any deal will seem a victory and even if shite, people will ask where we were.

This policy position will also test the theory that a pro-brexit promise will win more votes than it gains. It’ll go down like a ton of shit in a fan factory in Scotland and London. It must be remembered that Reeves has form for stretching Labour’s consensus, her time as shadow spokesperson on welfare include some disgraceful speeches and I have previously reported on her channelling of Enoch Powell. Giving her a second chance was a mistake. …

In a democracy, the police must obey the law

Another second reading abstention by Labour, this time on indemnifying police and secret police agents from criminal acts. It, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, has become known as the #spycops Bill. It was eloquently opposed by Zarah Sultana, who failed to mention that the remaining protection is the Human Rights Act, which the Tories have at times committed to repealing, but did include the second fatla flaw in that such otherwise illegal acts are to be authorised by senior officers in the agent's organisation. Much drama has been made of the potential for murder, torture and rape, but the line is that the police must obey the law, all of them. This Bill breaks that principle Here's Zarah (below/overleaf).....

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

While most attention is on the Govt’s response to the pandemic, and while expecting a reimposition of the lockdown, the second part of the the triple whammy is the looming end of the Brexit Transition agreement. What are Labour doing? Certainly not making so much noise. Here’s the FT on Kier Starmer’s response, which it headlines as “Getting Brexit Done!” on the basis of his speech to the TUC. Labour’s front bench spokesperson on Brexit is Rachel Reeves, who now it seems doesn’t really want to speak about it. While Starmer seems keen to ensure a visibly effective performance in Parliament, which seems to be paying off in the polls, as Labour draws even at 40%, it requires the acquiescence of the press to break through and both Reeves and Starmer were outshone by Ed Miliband in opposing the 2nd reading of the Internal Market Bill. Too much of Labour’s parliamentary attack position is based on competence, the failure of the Tories to meet their own goals without even addressing the issues of cronyism and accountability or more importantly of a vision of how things could be better.

But then the Remain campaign has disappeared, (or the Guardian’s view if you prefer), giving some on Labour’s Left, the evidence they always wanted that the Remain campaign was an anti-corbyn trojan horse. Not for me! But Parliament has voted to allow the Govt. to negotiate the trade deals without asking Parliament to agree, and the Govt. refused to ask for a transition extension despite the CV19 pandemic. These are both opportunities missed.

If we get a deal, it’s going to be pretty shit.  …