Jess Barnard on the NEC Away day

Jess Barnard on the NEC Away day

Jess Barnard, one of the Left NEC reps reports on the away day meeting via twitter

The complete thread is available on a threadreader page.

I have made this article and hope to do more which can be followed at …

Oi! Boundary Commission, “No!”

Oi! Boundary Commission, “No!”

I have today made a submission to the Boundary Commission to rename the Constituency as “Deptford” and not “Lewisham North and Deptford”. I said, “Deptford has a proud maritime history to be remembered by the Convoy’s Wharf heritage projects. The recent and planned house building, moves the population centre of gravity towards Deptford as does the proposed loss of Hither Green and Crofton Park. Transport links within the constituency are predominately East/West to the West End, City and Kent. No one uses the name Lewisham North to describe the area, or any area.” I suggested that my second choice would be Deptford and Brockley. …

You have one wish

You have one wish

Terry Reintke MEP, posted to twitter, asking what one change would her correspondents make to the EU. Terry is a co-president of the Green/EFA European Parliamentary group and a loud advocate for welcoming the UK back into the EU. She’s looking after our “Star”. She is also part of the Parliament’s delegation to the EU-UK Parliamentary Assembly, which provides parliamentary oversight over the implementation of the Trade and Co-operation agreement. I wonder if it’s met? She says,

I have replied, here’s my draft, the tweet is different, as I sought to break what I wanted to say into 248 byte chunks.

There are many great proposals in the #CoFoE final report. If having to choose one, I’d choose 11.3, including the goals of greening the economy and social justice within the EU’s economic governance system; I’d make the Semester a Regulation, not embedded in treaty. Economic Policy goals must be accountable to the demos, not embedded in unchangeable treaties.

CoFoE 11.3 Reviewing the EU’s economic governance and the European Semester in order to ensure that the green and digital transitions, social justice and social progress go hand-in-hand with economic competitiveness, without ignoring the economic and fiscal nature of the European Semester. In addition, there is a need to better involve social partners and the local and regional authorities in the implementation of the European Semester in order to improve its application and accountability;  

COFOE Final Report

Having to down select to only one reform, is tricky, as I say, in there’s a lot of great proposals involving extending competency into Education, Health and Energy, as well as other great . Good luck in getting it right, meanwhile it seems us Brits are changing our minds, I know you i.e. she will welcome us back, and it would help if we sought to do so with some respect and humility. …

The Empire strikes back, Labour & Immigration 2022.

The Empire strikes back, Labour & Immigration 2022.

History repeats itself; I remember that Enoch Powell told his supporters to vote Labour to stop the EU, but then neither Wilson nor the 70’s left, were pandering to racism. This time, the difference is that Labour are courting that vote. Starmer in his speech to the CBI states that,

But our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency to start investing more in training workers who are already here.

Kier Starmer at the CBI ’22

Farage climbs out of his coffin to say, that Labour are to the right of the Tories on immigration. I can no longer forgive this sort of language, pouring over the text of speeches looking for good news is something I promised to stop during Ed Miliband’s leadership. It’s a language designed for the headlines he wants. It’s part of the speech where he is mainly talking about training, and training provided by business. There is absolutely no need to use this sort of language.

A campaigning colleague of mine, Zoe Gardner, called the counter-logic of the policy out on twitter, as did Jonathan Portes

This approach was trialled by Rachel Reeves in a Sky interview, immediately after Labour Party Conference. My disgust and anger led to me proposing and winning the following motion at my Constituency Labour Party and Union branch.

This branch notes the appointment of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister and the re-appointment of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary with responsibility for immigration and Border Force.

This Branch believes that the Tory immigration policy is cruel and illegal, that Labour should stand for legal routes to enter and stay in the country, that recognises the right to work, a right of family reunification and uncompromising support for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

This Branch notes Labour Conference Composites 20/2019 and Composite 14/2021  on immigration, asylum seekers and refugees. or and

Labour stands for the repeal of the ‘hostile environment’.

This Branch further notes Rachel Reeves’ reply on Sky News on the 4th Oct, in which she said,

“They need to process claims faster, get people out of the country if they’ve got no right to be here and get a grip of their failed immigration system which is not working for British people and it’s not working for genuine asylum seekers either.”

“Well the problem is the Government are not deporting people today even when their claims have failed.

“What the Government need to do is get a grip of the system, process claims quicker, ensure that people have not got a right to be here are sent home, but that’s not happening today and that is 12 years of Tory failure.’

This branch believes that calling for more deportations weakens Labour’s ability to develop, propose and defend its immigration and asylum policies, including our complete opposition to the Rwanda scheme and opposition to the ‘hostile environment’.

This Branch calls on the Labour Party and the PLP to confirm its 2019/21 policy and disassociate itself from these remarks as contrary to our agreed policy and to fight the racist Tory immigration policies.

In moving it at the CLP, I said,

It is disappointing that this motion had to be delayed; it probably turns it into something it wouldn’t have been last month. (I was wrong, this is obviously planned and deliberate).

The comments made by Reeves and now Starmer are pandering to racism at best.

Competing with the Tories on the basis of competence on this issue is a moral mistake.

Labour Conference policy on immigration is sound and decent and this CLP has played an important part in developing it with Conference motions and speeches on Grenfell, Detention Centres and Asylum policy.

The Labour front-bench in their vision of a redwall full of frothing racists is playing a dangerous and unacceptable game.

Because of this CLP’s historic campaigning work, on issues such as NRPF where we campaigned for the Council and other councils t\in London to reject co-operation with the Home Office who were among other things seeking to charge pregnant women for maternity care.

Both Lewisham and Deptford have massive BAME community, I find it hard to understand how any councillors who want to win re-election can stand by this! And this is why it’s important that we say it’s unacceptable, as has Reeve’s own CLP.

I will finish by paraphrasing Tony Blair who said, 

“Let me make my position clear: I wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it. Even if you did [win] it wouldn’t be right because it wouldn’t take the country forward, it would take it backwards. That’s why it’s not the right thing to do.”

That’s how I feel about racism, and the hostile environment and how you should too.

I want really to finish by appealing to those with whom I often disagree. This really is a line too far, a united statement, from a CLP like Lewisham Deptford because of the communities we seek to represent, might make them think twice about this sink hole which they are approaching.

Dave Levy – Notes for a Speech at Lewisham Deptford CLP General Committee

My appeal to hard-line Starmer supporters in the CLP fell on deaf ears, the vote was close, but the motion was carried.

In the context of economics what they argue is nonsense, but in the context of an immigration policy it’s morally vacant, not even guaranteed to be popular, and jeopardises support across the country. Their i.e, the front bench silence confirms Labour’s, if only tacit, support for a continuation of the Tory’s racist and cruel “hostile environment”.

Talking of the hostile environment, I thought I noted that at Conference, there was no mention of the it; I checked Yvette Cooper’s speech. She commits to ending the Rwanda scheme because it costs too much;  actually the quote is,

… cancelling the deeply damaging, extortionately expensive, unworkable and unethical Rwanda plan.

Yvette Cooper – #LAB22

And she plans to use the savings to fund a new Anglo-French police unit to crack down on gangs exploiting the Calais refugees. I suppose that complaining about order of the adjectives is a bit puerile but I am sick of how hard I have to work to extract good news from Labour front bench speeches.Neither Cooper, nor Starmer made any promises on the hostile environment.

Attempting to differentiate from the Tories on competence will fail both in winning the election and making things better. Labour needs to offer hope and needs a movement to sustain it through the inevitable push backs that will occur. Pandering to racism won’t do that. …

Trade Friction and free movement.

I co-authored this, published at Brexit Spotlight by Another Europe.

It is little wonder then that the Conservatives are under acute pressure to revise their trading arrangements with the EU in order to re-open access the European single market. But it seems likely that – at least for the time being – Brexit ideology will not allow any serious recognition of the economic reality.    …

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

The Times broke a story (£) on Sunday that the UK would start to seek to improve relations with the EU and seek a “Swiss style” deal with the EU. This has caused some bad reactions in the parliamentary Tory party and the detritus of the Leave campaigns, with even that political zombie, Nigel Farage, offered us his advice.

A number of so-called experts add their voices on the impracticality of a “Swiss” style deals for reasons  of the size of UK economy, the absolute lack of will by the EU to repeat the Swiss treaty model and, for some, the democratic deficit that single market membership without the right to appoint CJEU judges, MEPs, commissioners and having a seat (and veto) at the Council would entail.

Opinion both expert and popular is now of the view that the UK must rejoin the single market; even some previously silent Remainers are finding their voices.

The Government spooked by the reaction from some of their backbenchers and Brexit supporters are trying to calm the political seas. The fact is that the language of a Swiss style deal is an attempt to linguistically soften the blow to the Brexit project. The idea, based on some truth, that the Swiss have more say than the rest of the EEA countries on sovereign issues is something that the Tory advocates of the single market are seeking to persuade rump Brexiters as acceptable.

Any road to change will be via the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation agreement. We will have a single agreement, unlike the Swiss, which will be developed to include the customs union, single market and CJEU supervision of regulatory compliance.

Image Credit: from wikipedia, cropped and passed through an ‘inks’ filter originally by John Fielding CC 2012 BY-SA …

Trebles all round!

Trebles all round!

This week, the Labour front bench, in a trinity of acts, supported the autumn statement and thus austerity in principle, criticised Tory immigration policy on the grounds of competence and repeated their promise to not join the EU, its single market, or adopt the EU’s freedom of movement in the next parliament (if they win).

The inconvenient truth is that the UK economy needs unskilled EU workers to do the work, It’s not the net fiscal impact that’s the issue. We have a massive labour shortage, we need migrants to do the work, it’s about the output. It’s not all highly skilled work as we define it either, it’s hospitality, agriculture, and health care. And today we define highly skilled as highly paid; even if only the highly skilled were desirable, they are not synonymous.

I have thought long and hard to find a way of compromising with those who want to pander to racists on free movement, and I can’t find a way of doing it while solving both the macro-economic problems and remaining true to our internationalist principles. All this “control immigration” or a fair “points based” immigration policy which involves stopping people is just pandering to racism.

Differentiating from the Tories on competence is morally vacant.

Accepting the debt fetishism at the heart of the Tories “New Economic Policy” is also morally vacant, and self defeating, you can’t cut your way to growth and austerity causes poverty, homelessness and is killing the NHS. Labour’s next manifesto and government must offer hope. They will lose votes from Corbyn’s voting coalition, and as far as I can see it’s deliberate.

You’d think they’d learn that voters always have somewhere else to go! Some demographics, historically Labour voters, are choosing to vote Tory.  …

On Musk and Twitter

On Musk and Twitter

Elon Musk has taken over twitter; I wrote a short piece on LinkedIn on the deal, its funding, and the technology. Since then some, including the FT (£) have commented on its funding, not the least the bank loans and thus collateral required. The linkedin article has some interesting links commenting on the deal, or at least I think so.

I also like this theory, that it is/was all a big mistake which Musk’s ego cannot permit him to admit,

The first thing Musk did was fire senior managers but the second is to fire half the work force. Advertisers are having second thoughts, based on wild comments made by Musk, not helped by the fact that many of the job cuts are aimed at content moderation teams and that programmers being let go are those who released the least lines of code, as many have commented, this is unlikely to end well. Another threat to a platform like twitter is that of regulatory intervention; in the UK, the Online Harms Bill is going through Parliament and the EU will also legislate on fake information and cyberbullying. Since politicians are so often the targets of such bad behaviour, there’s little support for Musk’s free speech line. Furthermore, the way in which the ‘reduction in force’ is being conducted would seem to be in breach of both Californian and UK Law, and both Prospect and GMB have commented on the UK downsizings, and in Europe, I wonder if twitter has established a European Workers Council.

Many of twitters users are talking of leaving but as Maria Farrel comments, on Crooked Timber,

There are now tens of thousands of journalists, policymakers, academics and various other thought-leader types who viscerally get what it is to be trapped inside a monopolistic tech platform, and for it to be costly and painful to leave.

Maria Farrel

Richard Murphy and the ORG (and others) are asking questions about the private ownership of the digital world’s town square. The ORG and most others point at mastodon as an alternative, which is designed as impossible to capture.

What users need is pretty clear. They need greater control over what content they receive, how it is prioritised and how it is presented. The way this is done, in a digital world, is to create more “open” systems that allow third parties to repurpose, filter and represent content in ways that users want. This can and should include better ways to moderate content.

The Open Rights Group

The social networking system lock-in, is the audience and social graph. It’s not been possible, without coding skills to extract the social graph or even the message feed from twitter for a while and linkedin now require one to know the email address of your proposed new linkedin correspondent. i.e. I am looking at transferring my tweet followers to linkedin so that I have a means of contacting them if they decide to quit twitter. In terms of personal twitter hygiene I have been using tweet delete to remove old and unwanted tweets and likes. I have a mastodon account on, but don’t read it every day and neither the big news sites nor my preferred commentators are there.  (I may change my habits, the quality of my mastodon home feed is immeasurably better today, than it was last week.) I should add that my mastodon postings have been more dilatory and personal than those on twitter, and of course, many of my twitter posts are retweets, probably more than posts which may make twitter easier to leave. For those worrying about the complexity of federation, or the fediverse, don’t worry, these are for developers and service engineers.

One user response already in progress is to adopt alternative short messaging products, mastodon is the obvious choice; another response for content authors would be to return to blogging, and encourage people to use a feed reader such as feedly! At least then their readers can get the content as they choose. , and some excessively long threads don’t get read.

For my European readers, although if reading my blogs, they don’t need the help,

Ich frage mich, ob Twitter einen Europäischen Betriebsrat hat
Mi chiedo se Tweitter abbia un Consiglio europeo dei lavoratori
Je me demande si Twitter a un comité d'entreprise européen

The luck and fate of post-war premiers

We have a new Prime Minister and ex-Prime Minister. Every time we change PM without an election there is a call for an election, but, rightly that’s not how we do things. However I have revised my history chart.

Prime Ministers, duration of office, means of becoming PM and reasons for departure

The chart was originally designed to help understand if those that inherited the office were more successful electorally than those that became PM by winning a general election. Our recent history skews the data towards the idea that it is not the case. although some might consider me generous in saying that May is a successful inheritor; she remained Prime Minister. With Truss’s resignation, I have to introduce a new category of a PM that didn’t fight an election but I have classified her as ‘couped’.

For Labour we can safely say, that it acquires the premiership through elections and it is unsuccessful in sustaining its inheritors, Callaghan and Brown. The Tory case is more complex, and skewed by its recent post Brexit referendum history, but only Douglas-Hume inherited the office and failed to win an election, but he was set up.

On first examination this is not so easy to read, and maybe I should consider the colour coding of the categories but, Up means that they became PM by winning a general election and all the up bars are solid colours, with blue and red being obvious to non US readers. Bars going down represent administrations that came into being mid-parliament, and a dark hatching is because the PM successfully won re-election, and the light hatching that they did not. Truss is actually a purple, as uniquely she did not fight an election.

The data file (in excel) is here. Feel free to copy it and see if you can find out more. Let me know if you do.  …

Will CoFoE make a difference?

I had hoped to have my views on the progressive nature of the CoFoE published elsewhere, but I doubt it’ll happen. I have put it out on this blog, as at the date I submitted it, 21 Sep 2022. It reflects the demand for better, more inclusive policies, on macro-economics, climate change, health and education.

The demand for more citizen’s assemblies seems to have been adopted, but the need for treaty revision is more controversial.  …