On GMB sponsored councillors

On GMB sponsored councillors

Motion 193 caused some excitement in our branch. It calls for all councillors supported by the GMB to support GMB members and sign up to the implementation of GMB policies. The debate as is all the others, on youtube. It was carried, a signal perhaps of a more transactional relationship between GMB and the Labour Party.

The words of the motion moved by Newcastle City LA Branch are as follows.

193. GMB LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILLORS This Congress calls on all GMB sponsored or supported Councillors to unequivocally support GMB members in Councils, Contracted Services, Schools and Academies. Congress notes that obtaining support from the GMB in political circles, is based on those seeking our support, signing up to the implementation of GMB policies and that includes in Public Services. Congress calls for progress on delivering this motion being reported on an on-going basis to the CEC.

Newcastle City LA Branch, Northern Region

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Never rains …

Never rains …

A short note on Labour’s cyberbreach. Sienna Rogers at Labour List reports on the 3rd party victim of Labour’s cyber breach. The software is I believe provided by blackbaud, who usually provide this as software-as-service, and have been previously attacked, but Rogers states the system is run by Tangent which I believe to be a trading name for Tangent Marketing Services. This article in the Guardian (HTML/ .PDF ) reports (2007) on Labour’s award of the contract and identify Michael Green as the supplier CEO, although his wikipedia page suggest he’s moved on; he us still registered as a Director at Companies House, although the last set of annual accounts state he has resigned. Labour’s General Secretary at the time was Peter Watt whom wikipedia quote the BBC as saying he resigned “following the revelation that a property developer made donations to the party via three associates”. Tangent also appointed an ex-Party Director of Communications, Paul Simpson (HTML / .PDF) as it’s account manager for the Labour Party in 2009, although he left 4 years later.

This story adds to the questions that need to be answered, one of which is why the software and its run time contract has been in place for so long? Has it it been market tested, are the terms and conditions still appropriate?

When the leak was first reported, I wrote a piece on IT Vendor Management (also on my blog) and posed some question. I also wrote a short piece on Cyber-security and the NIST Cyber-security framework. In the first of these articles I described what a decent vendor management policy looks like, and how the use of international standards on IT security, (ISO 27001), and governance (COBIT) would help, as would having a National Executive Committee properly equipped, trained and interested.  …

Competent Business

Competent Business

I hope I get my act together and do the reading or writing for something on ‘shortages’, Citizens take over Europe‘, economics, immigration, union democracy or UK defence policy. But meanwhile here’s a piece on the Labour Party rules and competent business.

I was asked, but not personally, and I paraphrase, “Are motions on the current round of proscriptions and auto-exclusions ‘competent business’ for CLPs?”

I have not read the motions in question and it’s possible to write one that is not competent.

I think that arguing that the proscription process, the criteria defining ‘support’, the members of the list of proscribed organisations, their swapping the disciplinary route from C6/NCC to 2.I.4.B, their prosecution for events that took place before the proscriptions decision, their failure to notify members of the change of rules are wrong, is legitimate business. (You can probably add to this list.)

I think there is an argument that auto-exclusion under Rule 2.I.4.B is not a disciplinary process.

Formby’s ban on discussing disciplinary cases was based the powers in 1.VIII.3.A.iv & 6.I.1.D both of which state that the decisions of the NEC or NCC shall be final but only if the process defined by those rules is engaged. As should be obvious, the decision to auto-exclude means that the NEC & NCC do not take decisions and so these protections for the decisions no longer apply. 2.I.4.B does not provide the “finality” protection to the decision. I would also argue that switching a prosecution track from one route to another is contrary to natural justice as is backdating the date of the events leading to prosecution.

Overall the prohibitions cover individual disciplinary cases, because they belong to other bodies, challenging the EHRC report, challenging legal settlements associated with court supervised apologies, and there’s a form of words stating that CLP leaderships have a duty to “… [create] an open and welcoming environment for people of all communities and backgrounds”. ( I need to find a reference for this last bit, and there is a more explicit guidance as to meaning of this last prohibition but it’s not on the internet nor afaik on the LP’s web site.)

To answer the author’s question, CLP leaderships will get into trouble for ignoring region or GLU advice, or acting in bad faith. If in doubt ask them, but bear in mind your members right to write and move a motion, it’s protected by their rights to freedom of speech and doubly so if the motion is proposed as conference motion.  …

Labour’s money, where’s it gone?

Labour’s money, where’s it gone?

The Labour Party has launched a redundancy programme which may or may not be linked with plans to consolidate English based staff into three English hubs. It’s doing this because it’s short of money reportedly down to one month’s reserves. In Dec 2019, it had reserves of £16 million. How did it move from the richest party in the country to this? The short answer is that it’s lost a lot of members and lost a lot of “Short” money. The rest of this blog article looks at why it's now short of money.

How to make Labour’s policy and manifesto

How to make Labour’s policy and manifesto

Consultation is currently taking place as part of Labour's review of the way it makes policy.

Below are set out suggested responses to the questions the party is asking in the consultation. They are also attached as a word document here and a PDF file here.

Responses can be made up till 3 February, either on Labour's website here or emailed to here.

These will be more powerful if you could get a party unit to approve a submission, but there is not much time left.

The Labour Party web site offers the ability to upload the document, if you do this do not forget to add the name of your organisation to this document and to the relevant fields on the website. Otherwise, you can paste each response into the relevant question and amend it if you see fit.

The text of the submission is below/overleaf ...

Electing the GS? Not such a good idea!

Electing the GS? Not such a good idea!

So Momentum have decided that unlike in their own internal affairs, that the best answer to the crisis in democracy in the Labour Party is to elect its General Secretary.   I think this is wrong, critically, without a recall, this would be worse because the individual elected would have a mandate to do what they wanted. It would be poor even with a realistic recall mechanism. This article summarises my proposals, and republishes the idea of a member’s ombudsperson.

In my article, Labour Leak – Closing the Stable Door , I look at a series of reforms that Ithink would make things better. I argue that the Party needs better “controls”, segregation of duties, and better record keeping. I also argue for a new disciplinary system that needs a segregation of duties between, investigators, prosecutors, judges and a right of appeal and that it conforms to the principles of natural justice guaranteeing the right to a fair trial, innocence until proven guilty, the proportionality of any sanctions and that our rules respect the rights to privacy and free speech. The powers and inclination of the NEC to hold the GS accountable to policy, rules and law needs to be examined, there may be some changes that can be made but this is a cultural change, without a change of culture most of the rest of the reforms will fail. I also argue for a more professional management of money and financial controls, greater transparency on staff management, recognition of Chakrabarti’s comments on staff recruitment and management and accreditation by “Investors in People” and “A great place to work”.

There are a number of roles that should be examined to ensure they are sufficiently independent of the GS and the NEC and accountable to the law or their professional ethics. In this part of the article, I note, that proposals for an Ombudsperson were made to the Democracy Review but didn’t make it to the final report. I have with help retrieved the Ombudsman proposal as I think that it’s worth reviewing and should be part of a reconfiguring of the compliance function where the Head of Compliance is made independent of the NEC & GS and accountable to the rules and law. Compliance should tell organisations what they can’t do, while they retain the right to legal advice.

What’s needed is a renewal of a culture of decency so that the bureaucracy and the elected NEC members behave properly and fulfil their duties of trust. I have argued to change Labour’s rules to incorporate the Nolan principles as duty on all role holders but especially the NEC members, but unless recent wrong doing is punished, it’ll become just another policy to be ignored and circumvented. …

Icy determination to control

Icy determination to control

I am struggling through Minkin’s “The Blair Supremacy”, and have come across Eric Shaw’s reviews, which I plan to skim through today, but on the first page, Shaw states,

Minkin locates the origins of Blairite managerial thinking in the formative historical experience of its central protagonists, the internal strife that tore the party apart in the early 1980s. Blair, Brown and their allies were resolved to end what they saw as the party’s ‘dangerous proclivity to public exhibitions of internal conflict’ (p.131). Obsessed by what they saw as the party’s ‘lurch into extremism’ ‘New Labour’ was driven, Minkin cites one minister as saying, by ‘an icy determination that it was not going to happen again’ (p.130). Hence the core New Labour principle of party management: an electable party was one that was tightly managed and regulated.

Eric Shaw – The Blair Supremacy: A study in the politics of Labour’s party management

Looking at the disgraceful shenanigans going on at the top of today’s Labour Party, it’s clear we’ve been here before, although the New Labour project persuaded the Party to turn off it’s democracy; it didn’t impose it. Is this another example of “History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce”?

You might look at New Labour and Party Management, on my wiki, where I host and comment on Emmanuelle Avril’s paper …

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)
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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 rest of this blog article looks at the report and selects some quotes, it concludes, with the statenebt that, "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."

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. …