And back home

And back home

I have been told of resignations over this in my own CLP. Our delegation voted in accordance with the mandate issued, in favour of the NEC statement, against the Remain & Transform (C13) motion and for the Stop Tory Brexit (C14) motion. I accept that this is a reasonable interpretation of the mandate as those of us arguing for Remain & Transform lost the vote by 4 votes at a barely quorate General Committee meeting. I am sure that the timing of the meeting, i.e. a week before we undertook our trigger ballot meetings and the state of exhaustion from the faction fighting were part of the problem.

If you are a member of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party and not a member of the General Committee, ask your delegates why they weren’t there and let them know what you think, attend your branch AGMs coming in Oct. and elect pro-remain delegates who will turn up. This is critically important as should we win the coming General Election, Labour will call a special conference to determine its position between its new deal and a remain position. I will be seeking, with allies to establish a remain position and nsure we elect a delegation that will support the mandate.

My experience from canvassing is that many Labour voters are deeply concerned about, by which I mean vehemently opposed to, Labour’s ambiguous position despite our local MP‘s vigorous & courageous pursuit of a remain.

 …

What I said on the surveillance state

What I said on the surveillance state

I took my “surveillance society/human rights law” motion to my CLP GC last week. This is the speech I intended to give, it runs for about 2 mins; I had to cut it down.

In 2013, Edward Snowden, a contractor at the US’s National Security Agency blew the whistle on the NSA, and it’s five-eyes’ allies attempt to bug the whole of the internet, exposing the lengths that the intelligence services were prepared to go in building a surveillance society.

A debate exploded about the legality of their activities and we came to see the importance of their failed attempts under both Labour & Coalition Governments to legalise their activities with the Communications Data Bill versions 1 & 2.

In 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union struck down the Data Retention Directive as in violation of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights; in the UK a law was rapidly passed to leave the rights of the intelligence services in place.

Over time these surveillance powers have been extended by via both Legislation such as the Immigration Act, the Counter Terrorism and Security act which authorises Prevent and by “voluntary” agreement such as the #getitrightfromagenuine site programme.

This has been capped of by Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Act, which has since been declared in contravention of the Charter of Fundamental Rights because the captured information can be retrieved for reasons other than serious crime and these retrievals are not reviewed by a Judge.

To this list we should add the Data Protection Act’s immigration exception, which means that immigration data is not subject to the GDPR rights of accessibility and correction.

At the centre of this is the intelligence service’s desire to treat everyone as suspects and to infringe their privacy without proving “reasonable suspicion”.

This is also about political power and how to exercise it; these measures are designed to take power away from us, from citizens and our neighbours.

If you look at the laws that underwrite the surveillance society, Immigration, Counter Terrorism and the DPA Immigration exception, you can see that the first victims of the surveillance society are migrants and ethnic minorities.

We should say and conference must state that freedom of expression and the right to privacy are universal human rights, that the current surveillance and investigatory powers regime is in breach of these rights.

It’s time for Labour to get on the right side of this debate, for too long the portfolio has been in the hands of fans of, or those that fear the securocrats.

250 words is too short to make the whole argument which is why I propose a commission to develop the policy further.

This motion is unlikely to be passed elsewhere so it’d be great if you voted for it and agreed to send it to conference.

The motion carried but we decided to send a great motion on social care. Does anyone have time to put it to conference? …

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.

I stand for a member-led party, a party where all are welcome and speak without fear, where the rules are applied fairly and with justice and where all who agree not to campaign against us in elections can join.

I believe in the 2017 Manifesto, but recognise it could be improved.

I believe that in a member led party, members have the right to criticise its leadership when they believe them to be wrong.

I believe that Brexit is a right-wing project, that there were never any good terms to leave on and that now the Labour Party needs to unite to oppose the Tory’s Brexit, whether by a General Election, Final Say referendum, or by Parliamentary vote to revoke. I believe that many of those who still say GE first actually want to leave. Labour must declare itself a Remain party, anything else jeopardises its future as the EU Parliamentary elections prove.

I believe that we are going to have to work hard to win voters back from the EU Parliamentary elections, but this can be done be being relevant which means improving the council’s performance, continuous campaigning and emphasising the investment and tax policy focuses of the 2017 manifesto

I voted for Diane in 2010 and Jeremy in 2015 & 2016.

I’ll seek to establish means of accountability between the Council Group and the Party’s  membership.

I have fought in 10 general elections and have appetite and energy to fight more. I have been in Deptford for nine years, I have been secretary of two branches and am a previous secretary of the CLP, I have held other positions on the EC. I am an active Trade Unionist, a branch official and accompanying rep. This EC lacks a memory which is why we are continuously repeating debates we have had previously; I can help to provide that memory.

I have often spoken at the GC, and my views are known across the constituency.

I’ll try to meet and balance the needs to develop policy, educate ourselves, campaign for change in our community and to win elections.

When I stood last year, I made this Video with Rebecca, while the political situation has changed, my views on organisation and culture have not.

 …

London Labour and the hostile environment

Yesterday, at Lewisham Deptford’s General Committee, we took the decision as to what we should propose as policy for Labour’s London Regional Conference. We passed the following motion on the use of “On-Site Immigration Officers” by local authorities working beside the teams responsible for financially supporting children under the Children’s Act. As the motion states, many local authorities prioritise the safe guarding of funds, and the location of Immigration Officers in the local authority teams was originally proposed by Hostile Environment Working Group.

The words of the motion are presented below and further evidence as to both the iniquity of the policy, and Labour’s collusion is presented. 😆

I would ask any London Labour activists to ask/mandate their conference delegations/clps to support this motion in the priorities ballot.

Download –> LewDept Lab NRPF Motion for London Labour Conference

This has also been reported by the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

The text is also below/overleaf. …

ooOOOoo

NRPF in Labour Councils: Reject the Hostile Environment, Support Migrants

NRPF (No Recourse to Public Funds) is a condition applied to most migrants, ensuring exclusion from welfare benefits. However, migrant families may present to their Council seeking help under Section 17 of the Children Act, to protect their children from destitution. This support is provided from Council budgets.

Incentivised by austerity, many London councils are neglecting their legal duty, prioritising gatekeeping over children’s safety, and leaving migrant families with young children street homeless. Antagonistic practices including embedding On-Site Immigration Officers within the council deter migrants from claiming support. This practice of embedding OSIO’s in local councils was designed by the Hostile Environment Working Group to increase Data harvesting opportunities with local authorities.

Eight of the nine councils with OSIO’s are London boroughs with a Labour majority. For decades, Labour has failed to challenge right-wing anti-migrant narratives, allowing a culture of division and scapegoating to pervade UK politics. The appropriate response to brutal Tory cuts is to put a spotlight on the government responsible, not withdraw support from society’s most vulnerable.

We call on Labour-run London councils to:

  • Immediately instigate the removal of any embedded Immigration Officers, and end collusion with Hostile Environment initiatives
  • Where there is evidence of hostile policy, immediately instigate an independent review of the NRPF Department
  • Ensure that any future policies are fair, prioritising the safeguarding of children
  • Campaign to reverse cuts made by central government
  • Lobby for central government to reimburse councils for Section 17 funding, and ultimately end all use of NRPF against migrants.

 

Lewisham Deptford CLP …

On Mayors, again

The March meeting of Lewisham Deptford’s General Committee passed the following motion about the Mayoralty.

This CLP Notes:

1. That Lewisham is one of a small number of Local Authorities to have a directly
elected Mayor.
2. From conception the directly elected mayor model has never been endorsed by a
majority of the Lewisham electorate. Indeed, at the original referendum to move to
the model only 6% of the actual electorate voted positively for the change to a
directly elected mayor. Yet the system was imposed.
3. Dissatisfaction with the mayor and cabinet model has continued to grow with popular
unrest against the model being magnified by the perceived lack of local councilor
influence over recent Mayor and Cabinet decisions especially in relation to Forest Hill
School and The Millwall fiasco.
4. The forth coming local elections will again be found under this filing model

This CLP resolves:

1. To campaign for a labour victory in the forthcoming local elections.
2. To adopt as this CLP’s position; opposition to Lewisham local government elections
being run under the current model post 2018.
3. To lobby for the inclusion in the 2018 Lewisham local government election manifesto a
commitment to return to the traditional model for local government for future elections.

It’s supporters on the whole want to see a more collective leadership, it’s opponents argue that democracy is better served by allowing the electorate (and the Party) to choose the council’s leader. My problem with this argument is that short of imprisonment a Mayor cannot be removed, …

At the GC again

Reporting on the Lewisham Deptford General Committee is still not happening so here is a report from me, about what happened yesterday.

The Executive Committee had agreed to hear a guest speaker, Natasha Kennedy who came to speak about Trans-rights. If you’ve missed it, this is a debate centred on self-id occurring within the country as the Tory Government had proposed to change the law to permit a form of self-id, allowing trans-sexuals to choose their own gender identity as opposed to the current law which requires the agreement of a Doctor. The Tories, I believe, have changed their mind, but the Labour Party has agreed, as we do with membership of our BAME forums, to allow self-identifying trans-women to benefit from the positive discrimination measures that exist within the party. This is not without some controversy. Anyway, Natasha presented one side of the argument and shared her experiences.

Another thing you might have heard about is Labour’s Democracy Review. This is being conducted in three phases and the current phase is about local parties. Ammar, our Chair, summarised the problems as follows,

  1. How can the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) better reflect the local community?
  2. What changes (if any) are needed to the way we work at Constituency level?
  3. How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party?
  4. How do we get more people into the Party?

He then asked people to call our their answers, with between a 15 sec and 30 sec comment? While not “in the traditions of the movement”, this worked very well. Many more people were able to speak and to comment on what they wanted. In retrospect, it worked well. Because of Ammar’s framing questions, we did not speak about the Socialist Societies, but I have documented on this blog, what I think and submitted my ideas to the Democracy Review.

Here is my complete matrix

Question solution 1 solution 2 solution 3
How can the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) better reflect the local community? Reduce the membership fees Listen to the membership & engage with community organisations.
What changes (if any) are needed to the way we work at Constituency level? Adopt the Nolan Principles[1] Increase the share of membership fees remitted to CLPs Develop forums for Disability and LGBT
How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party? Listen to them & share power i.e. show how their ideas can change Labour Do more Politics Stop shaming people about doorstep work
How do we get more people into the Party? Make our public officials accountable, i.e. make member’s voices count inside the Labour Party Stop Expelling them and refusing membership to people with campaigning history

I managed to get the Nolan Principles into the CLP submission, and when someone else raised a criticism of the Stakhanovite doorstep warriors, they were politely cheered. The CLP also agreed to ask for much more money from the subs and to reduce the membership fees.

We then turned to the motions, many of which are still left from last year.

We passed emergency motions supporting the UCU strike, and calling on the London Region rule changes to be implemented for this year’s conference.

[1] Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty & Leadership

ooOOOoo

These are personal notes taken from the meeting and not to be taken as a formal record. i.e. all opinions are my own etc …

Shortlisting

New Cross Labour held its Councillor short listing meeting yesterday. This was at noon in the Albany and we were expecting a low turnout from those who work and those with a social life. The meeting was enlivened by being leafleted by supporters of Old Tidemill Gardens and the Save Achilles St campaign.

Because it’s a Labour Party meeting, it started with two points of order, moved by me.

The first was about New Cross’s position in the schedule, the rules, Appendix A.iii.f states that the LCF shall ensure,

the agreed order for selection meetings (i.e. first priority to Labour seats, second to winnable seats and last to other seats)

New Cross should not be in the middle of the schedule, and Brockley which was first is not our safest seat, in fact it should have been last because it has the Green Party Councillor. Ian McKenzie came up with some old bollocks about how they’d considered it properly and the LCF had the right to do what it wanted … I said it didn’t have the right to break the rules, McKenzie denied that the rules mandate the order. (See above).

I then sought to discover whether the Branch Secretary had withheld the start time from the membership.  Notice of the day of the meeting had been available for about a month, but the time and place were only notified 7½ days in advance. Being on a Saturday, many people were not present, due to either work commitments, reasons of religious observance,  or other social commitments. It is almost certain that Ian McKenzie will have proposed the time in his initial circular, so I want to know why Redmond Garvey refused to ask the member that asked him for the start time, and whether he told others. i.e. did he or Ian McKenzie act in a partisan way by releasing the start time to some and not to others.

The candidate applications were distributed and this apart from 30 sec. moving speeches, and in this case the campaigning literature is all members get to go on. The candidate statements in some cases are not written as campaign statements and Ian McKenzie, the Procedures Secretary has prohibited the circulation of alternatives, another cause for complaint.

At this point, one of the attendees walked out. She felt that with the level of information available made any decision was insufficient. I hope she had a good a lunch.

Vicky Foxcroft, the MP and New Cross Ward member then moved that the meeting consider the three incumbents … I moved a point of order that the consideration of the incumbents was mandatory, and that Vicky was just using the opportunity to weaken the challenger’s presence, as to be considered they needed to be moved and their supporters get the chance to speak for them. By moving their candidacy, she with the MPs reputation took the opportunity to neutralise or reduce the impact of challenger’s speeches, and also establish an alibi for what was about to happen to Paul Maslin. Ian Mackenzie, usurping the Chair, stated that incumbent councillors needed to be moved at this stage of the meeting. (I don’t agree!)

I moved that Matt Hanson, an environmental campaigner and housing/planning expert be considered. I then moved that Rebecca Lawrence, an NHS, anti-cuts and tireless Labour campaigner be considered. Rebecca has also seconded motions supporting Forest Hill school at the CLP GC. I pointed out that unless we agreed to re-elect one (or more) of the incumbents then these candidates could not be considered. Ian Taylor nominated Jack Lavery, the CLP’s LGBT Officer and coincidentally, not!, a guest at our last branch meeting.

There are others I might have considered nominating, but they had been asked by Brenda Dacres not to come to New Cross and despite developments have chosen not to go back on their commitments.

So knowing who the alternatives are we then move to the confirmation/trigger ballots for the incumbent councillors. The votes were as follows

Candidate Yes No
Joe Dromey 30 12
Brenda Dacres 34 8
Paul Maslin 20 22

This needs to be studied by those who wish to suggest Maslin has been purged by the Left in the branch. We can assume 10 people who voted to confirm Joe Dromey, switched to vote No for Paul Maslin.

This meant that the meeting now had to construct a short list for Paul Maslin’s place, although he had to be on the list. The Labour Party’s rules state that the short list must consist of 50% women, rounded down, in this case, so much for the absolutism required by the CLP Secretary of Brockley branch. Since Rebecca was the only women nominated, the maximum short list size was three, and Maslin got one place as an incumbent and Rebecca Lawrence got one place as the only woman.

The meeting then had to choose between Matt Hanson and Jack Lavery, and chose Jack Lavery 28 – 12. (1 person had left the room, and one ballot was not returned.)

This means that the short list for one vacancy at the next meeting will be Lavery, Lawrence and Maslin.

We finished the meeting with little spat on how time limits for speech and questions would work. It started with asking where the rule that each candidate got the same questions and segued to where Ian McKenzie got the authority to say that all candidates have to be asked the same questions. He claimed it was on page 72, but opinion be divided. …