Summer of 15

From the summer of 2015, through to the summer of 2016, with time off for winter ski trips[1], the Labour Party Head Office ran a purge of the Party’s membership which otherwise grew from about 180,000 to 550,00, a growth of 206%.

This note describes the impact of the purge. These numbers do not include the 125,000 (about 25%) excluded from the leadership election in 2016 by the imposition of a freeze date, nor the tens of thousands rejected as registered supporters.

These numbers have been constructed using Christine Shawcroft’s data (see here on the CLPD site)  and survey techniques[2], [3]. The data values have been normalised[4] between those categories where data is available and those where the values have been derived via survey.

We should bear in mind, that the guilty have been deemed so by the bureaucracy with some oversight from the leadership of the NEC Disputes panel; no hearing, no defence and no appeal.


[1] I dunno, I made it up, I have no idea how many of Labour’s Compliance team ski.

[2] The survey work was conducted by someone else.

[3] The sample was constructed via advertisement and opt-in. It is possible that it under-estimates those whose investigation was terminated or finished with no further action.

[4] My stats professor will be turning in is his grave. …

A long and eventful weekend

A long and eventful weekend

What a week-end. Jeremy Corbyn is elected Leader of the Labour Party and just as the first thing he did after nomination was to go on a demo, he immediately went to speak to the “Refugees Welcome” demo in Parliament Square. The German suspension of its European borders is a sad reaction to those who won’t pull their weight, which includes the British Government acting in our name. Even after the Government’s belated reaction to the popular will of the masses, we are still below the UN recommended quotas and as with nearly everything done by the Cameron Government, they’re tone deaf, in that they announce a five year commitment and plan to fund the refugee programs with the International Aid budget.

These news events have buried Cameron’s acquiescence in using military action to kill two British citizens who were allegedly ISIS fighters. This will come back to bite him, possibly as badly as new Labour’s decision to go to war in Iraq. I have done a storify sharing my views on the (il)legality of the act. Make no mistake, it’s a massive escalation in the militarisation of the state. In Britain, we suffered and fought a terrorism/counter terrorism campaign for over 30 years while maintaining civil primacy and ensuring that the rule of law was paramount and that the police and courts were our primary defence. …

Labour’s next leader, economics, defence and the mandate

Labour’s next leader, economics, defence and the mandate

In the dying days of Labour’s Leadership selection, the key issues remain those of economics & strategy, but also unfortunately now one of mandate.

The debate on economics has come to be between Cooper and Corbyn. Demanding credibility is not an economic policy and so we can ignore Kendall & Burnham. I summarise the other’s two positions below and conclude that Corbyn’s economic manifesto is not just a shopping list of desirable reforms, they are a single set of reinforcing measures to fix and rebuild the economy so it works in the interests of the majority of people.

This was meant to be a short blog, emphasising the economy and virtuously circular, self reinforcing nature of Corbyn’s programme, but I also take the opportunity to look at the defence and foreign policy debate and conclude with some comments on the election process itself and Labour’s future.

I am glad I voted for Jeremy Corbyn, but I am not a Corbynista, I am Real Labour. …

Tom Watson for Deputy

Tom Watson for Deputy

I shall be voting for Tom Watson for Deputy and ask you to do so too. He is a long term campaigner on the side of the good. He has shown he stands up for what he thinks is right and has Government experience having served in the last labour Governments in Defence and the Cabinet Office. In 2010, he took the citizens position and opposed the Digital Economy Act, and during the last Parliament he opposed the Governments repeated attempts to introduce and legalise mass surveillance, most recently 15 months ago when he led the opposition to DRIP, an opposition he took to court and won, with the unique result that the courts have put a judicial sunset clause on the Act. He has also taken the government to court to have their information sharing with the USA declared illegal because of the military use the American make of it. He led the majority on the Culture Media and Sports select committee on phone hacking and media plurality  …

Labour’s new extended family

Labour’s new extended family

Labour’s electoral roll for its 2015 elections has now closed. We took a decision last year to extend the franchise for the election of Leader, Deputy Leader and its candidate for Mayor of London to supporters and over 120,000 people have signed up as well as over 100,000 new full members. I hope that this is a first step for them in helping Labour rebuild and create an effective opposition, although not only do we need them to stay with us, we need to respectfully listen to them.

As one minor elected voluntary official I welcome you to Labour’s movement. …

About Shadow Chancellors

While this looks like a technical spat over issues of macroeconomic monetary policy, with Chris Leslie, Labour’s stand in Shadow Chancellor arguing classical monetarist i.e. Thatcherite economics, its also about who benefits in terms of policy and for three people, about career advancement.

Leslie said: “Printing money and ending Bank of England independence would push up inflation, lending rates, squeeze out money for schools and hospitals and mean spending more on debt servicing. Higher inflation and a higher cost of living would hit those on the lowest incomes, the poorest people who couldn’t afford those goods and services. The very people we should be standing up for would pay the price – the poor and vulnerable.”

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Leslie issued a wake-up call to Labour members to reject what he called a “starry-eyed, hard left” economic strategy, amid growing signs that Mr Corbyn could pull off a shock victory next month. Notice – no model of cause… the huge discovery over the last seven years is that printing money doesn’t cause inflation and with interest rates at an all time historic low, now is the time to borrow long term to invest in the future. Leslie is as on most of his economics very wrong on this.

He got another bite of the cherry in the New Statesman, where he focuses on QE, and it’s consequent interest payments (there aren’t any) and the independence of the Bank of the Bank of England which for some reason he holds up as a great reform. There’s no doubt about it – the Labour Party has reached a fork in the road and on 12 September the fate of the progressive centre-left in Britain will be sealed. There are millions whose living standards and working conditions depend on Labour winning government in 2020 to fight for power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few. The independence of the Bank and the foundation of the Office of Budget Responsibility are both anti-democratic reforms, reducing the power of the elected Chancellor and the House of Commons. The ideology behind these reforms is that these decisions are too important to be taken by politicians, and I’d like to remind Leslie of Mervyn King, the then Governor of the Bank’s behaviour in both 2008 and 2010.

Chris Dillow performs a technical analysis of the proposition, critically pointing out that with the current levels of unemployment and underemployment, it’s highly unlikely that anything would be inflationary. It’s widely agreed that Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity is due in large part to the mediocrity of the alternatives. As if to demonstrate this, Chris Leslie – Shadow Chancellor – claims that Corbynomics would be inflationary. This isn’t wholly unreasonable. A money-financed fiscal expansion – which is all “people’s QE” is – would increase employment and aggregate demand.

Richard Murphy, a Corbyn advisor and author of opposes Leslie in the most robust terms, in this press version of his radio interview, The author of the economic plan set out by Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has defended “Corbynomics” in the face of an attack by the shadow chancellor, Chris Leslie. Richard Murphy, the fair tax expert recruited by Corbyn to draft his economic policy, deepened divisions on the left by saying “Leslie has got this completely wrong.” The article states that when challenged on Leslie’s point about high inflation, Murphy said: “Any system of people’s QE would be turned off if we got to a situation of high wages and full employment, but we are so far from that at the moment that we have to tackle the low-wage economy and the lack of productivity in the UK by creating new investment, which is the foundation for new prosperity.”

I have heard Chris Leslie speak, and these issues are at the crux of the debate, but it still surprises me to find Labour people using the economics of the ’80s to understand today’s problems; this isn’t the first time he’s spoken this way. QE clearly doesn’t cause inflation, because we have one and not the other. He’s another of Harriet Harman’s partisan decisions taken as interim leader, the job’s beyond him, and he’ll be gone if they reintroduce elections to the shadow cabinet.

Finally if the choice of Shadow Chancellor is between Murphy, Leslie and Rachel Reeves, it’s just another reason for voting for Jeremy Corbyn.

Mind you, Murphy is not an MP and so cannot serve as Shadow Chancellor, Chief Commissioner of HMRC anyone?


This was originally published as a storify and reposted in Oct 2018 as this blog article. …

Labour’s Human Rights champion

Labour’s Human Rights champion

Left Foot Forward publishes an article “Who is the ‘human rights candidate’ for Labour’s leadership?”. This is based on a post on the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, who publish the candidates answers in their own words  on their own blog.  One of the LCHR’s questions was on Surveillance, and none of them have consulted me ;), but Cooper and Burnham both support the need for judicial authorisation and probable cause. Kendall and Corbyn both support strengthening the legal framework in favour of civil liberties. Kendall states she opposes the privacy breaches inherent in mass surveillance. Corbyn that he thinks mass surveillance is ineffective (and thus not justified?). …

An abscence of politics

Labour’s Leadership election is hotting up, and we’ve had the bleatings of the Blairite right and now the desperation of the perpetual “Leadership behind closed doors”. Here are four stories, originally posted as a storify, one on Alan Johnson’s appeal to “Stop the madness”, Owen Jones on the right’s demonisation of Corbyn and his ideas,  Peter Preston, an ex-Guardian editor on the press and John Harris on his conversations and experiences of Labour’s grass roots.

This was originally entitled “An abscence of politics” because I thought that the debate had drfited from the politics of the manifesto to that of abuse of either members or Corbyn. As ever with storify mirrors, backdated to the date of original publication.

I particularly like this, ‘John Harris shows more insight than he knows, when he says, “The cacophony of pro-Corbyn noise on Twitter and those packed meetings symbolise something beautifully simple: people refusing to do what they’re told.”’ …

It’s still the economy stupid

It’s still the economy stupid

Is the economics getting lost in Labour’s Leadership debate? I think so. Only Jeremy Corbyn is talking real economics, the others led by Liz Kendall are talking about credibility, which I assume is code for reducing the deficit through fiscal policy i.e. expenditure cuts and tax rises. I am disappointed in Yvette Cooper, yet strangely not surprised by Andy Burnham.

Corbyn is not arguing for a Soviet style economy, the macro-economics is Keynesian, the micro-economics maybe socialist because he argues, in contrast to the Tories and their media shills, that wealth is created by both workers and entrepreneurs.  …