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Anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and while doing this, Corbyn has been suspended, reinstated and then had the whip withdrawn, by it seems a small coterie of staff, in the Leader’s Office and General Secretary’s office, specifically the Leader and GS themselves.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)
 …

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.  …

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. …

STV & the Labour Party

STV & the Labour Party

There’s a sudden revival of interest in STV as the LP adopts it as a means of electing the CLP reps. There are in my mind, three problems with STV for party managers and one for voters. The fact that “order” can be critical in the results is important. When combined with the degree of discipline within Party voting blocs and the propensity to bleed votes from the block, getting the quota early is of advantage to parties. The problem of avoiding having large numbers of your votes trapped in the losing quota is also critically important for party managers particularly if the quota is high.

The Order based nature of STV counting leads to a series of well-known problems with STV in that it is one of the easier systems to game and has a number of design features which encourage manipulative or gaming behaviour. STV is not monotone, participative, consistent nor does it meet the No-Betrayer criteria.

There is no strategy that can compensate for a bloc’s voters not voting for all the candidates in the slate. Even within the activist or membership layer, many are more committed to their faction than to the Party, which may lead people to desert their first choice slate for another as the individual candidates become distasteful to the voter. I am curious if we could model the effect this ‘bleed’. The speed of desertion may well be determined by the slate construction as some on the slate might be exceptionally unacceptable to the otherwise loyal electorate. We should also note that not transferring reduces the quota[1] and so is equivalent to a (part) vote for all remaining candidates and acts as de-facto vote in favour of the highest remaining contender.

Early success militates against having votes lost in the losing quota, particularly as the STV transfers surpluses before eliminating candidates.

If running a complete slate, the offer of a recommendation to support as a second choice is not worth so much.

The disadvantage to voters is that their optimal strategy may not involve voting in a straightforward way as it may be best if someone likely to pick up a lot of transfers is eliminated before the transfers occur. This is more acute in instant run-off elections and depends on whether they want a candidate to win or prefer that others lose.

I can’t see what to do about weak discipline. If we take the example of the UK where we have Labour, the Greens, the Lib Dems and the Tories, we can see how people, who’s first choice might be, say, Labour might switch to the Green list after one or two votes for what ever reason and the Greens might go in both directions to Labour or to the LibDems. The system is designed to have this effect.


[1] This is the failure to meet the Participation Effect. …

On Labour’s Money

On Labour’s Money

I was looking through the LP’s finance report presented to#Lab19, which has the 2018 7 2017 figures in it. I had previously discovered that at the end of 2018, the Labour Party had £20.8m “cash in hand” and so it had become a surprise to me that we had only spent £8m on the General Election, when we had spent £11m in 2017.

But this time round I found some other things that piqued my interest

  1. The Labour Party made a surplus of £1.4m in 2017, the year of a General Election that we lost by 2,500 votes. Why is this?
  2. Income from Affiliations is the third largest source of income, after membership fees, and the front bench “short money” grant.
  3. On the expenditure front, they spent £3m (6%) on “Grants and payments to CLPs”.

For context, total income in 2018 was £46.3m and membership fell by 8.1% (45,914) from 564,433 to 518,519.

There’s a chart of the sources of income oveleaf/below … …

Compromise?

Parliament is putting itself in isolation by not meeting for another month and so yesterday was Jeremy Corbyn’s last PMQs in the House of Commons. He spoke about the corona virus and it started up a spat on twitter which led me to think about Wilson, the Referendum on the EEC (1977) and how he managed the Party. He put the issue to bed in the Party for 39 years.

Was it because the SDP, whose politics on this issue had won left the Labour Party or that the Left in the Party granted loser’s consent? Also on the Left, many of those that could not compromise with the Party consensus left and joined the extra Parliamentary left.

However the divisive nature of referendums and the idea that MPs could campaign against the Party on referendum issues bedded down and  was shown by Labour’s divisions over the Alternative Vote Referendum in 2011.

But Corbyn will be remembered as an almost man; he saw off two Tory Prime Ministers, but we failed to jump the 2017 hurdle. The 2016 coup against his leadership will be seen as an act of treachery against the Party on the same scale as the SDP split and there are some who will see the mismanagement of Labour’s 2017 campaign as an act of sabotage; in my view it’s a charge to be answered.

Meanwhile, Corbyn’s legacy will be a programme that seeks to create an economy that works in the interests of the majority and not just a plutocratic minority and their servile minions, rejecting Britain’s imperial legacy and its role as America’s Gurkhas will take a little longer. …

Reform of Labours Candidate Selection

Reform of Labours Candidate Selection

On Saturday, Labour Conference changed the rules as it pertained to the Local Campaign Forums now named Local Govt. Committees, the Rule changes were published in CAC 1 and I have made a copy that exclusively refers to Chapter 12, LCF Rule Proposal extract from CAC1

The key reforms are,

  1. Voting power on the LGC will be ⅓ for the Council Group, ⅓ for the CLP Reps, and ⅓ for delegates from Trade Unions. This is voting power it is not dependent on the number of delegates.
  2. Councillors may only sit in the Council Group class of delegates
  3. The Leader/Deputy Leader are to sit on the LGC Executive.
  4. There are strong, or maybe weak, but at least some rules to constrain Councillors from impacting seats they are interested in, but obviously not swapping favours.
  5. CLP’s delegate numbers will be representative of the number of wards represented in the LA area.
  6. The authority for the manifesto remains unclear.

This does not increase the accountability of the Labour Group.

Have a look and make a comment if I have missed anything. …

Zero day right to justice

Jeremy Corbyn and Laura Pidcock made speeches to the TUC which covered the Party’s commitment to fairness at work. They commit to a worker’s protection agency to enforce the minimum wage and the necessary ban on zero hour contracts.  To these two critical reforms the need to reduce the employment service qualification for access to Employment Tribunals should be added.

I have made a proposal to Labour’s Policy Forum to this effect, although I might be a bit moderate in that I suggest a 3 month period where others are asking for Day Zero. Absolutely, the 2017 manifesto was to implement Day 1 rights as it should be. You can login and vote it up if you like. …

Vote for me!

There is a vacancy for the position of Secretary of Lewisham Deptford CLP. I have been nominated by my Branch and plan to stand. If you are a delegate to he CLP’s Geneneral Committee, then this is why I think you should vote for me. My speech and a video we made, are below/overleaf … …