Labour Leak – Closing the Stable Door

Labour Leak – Closing the Stable Door

This blog article is one of several albeit the first published on the labourleak. It focuses on fixing the problems identified and implied in the #labourleak in a holistic way. It looks at the controls, briefly on why they failed, how the private sector manages, the question of Union collusion, IT standards & controls, the disciplinary process, the NEC and if genuine professionalism can possibly improve the quality and honesty of the decisions taken by the Labour Party; it concludes by proposing that the rules be changed to place a duty on all role holders to conform to the Nolan Principles, and that whistle blowers have better protection, but on the way recommends that the Labour Party use a series of external certifications, ask the Auditors to to inspect that payments and receipts are handled according to the Party's financial control rules, increase the professionalism of the staff and NEC committees, all of this to guarantee to its members and staff that good practice and not arbitrary actions are the guiding principles of judgement and decision.

Employee self-defence

Employee self-defence

I have been meaning to write an “employee self defence” manual for a while now, and something came across my desk today to remind me of this ambition. Here’s mine off the top of my head.

  • Always reply to management in writing and in good time.
  • Know where your contract is, make a good .pdf copy of it and keep a copy of any variations particularly if you work for a business unit that has been subject to a TUPE agreement, you’d be surprised how careless some managements can be in keeping good records. If you opt out of the working time directive or refuse to, keep a record. If seconded, or asked to cover other duties get the instruction in writing together with the commitment to end the change in duties.
  • While contracts can be varied unilaterally i.e. imposed, it depends on the wording of the original contract, if you object to the changes, let management know in writing, it can’t stop it but it may be relevant for future grievances or disciplinary processes.
  • Keep a contemporaneous diary and keep it off your employer’s IT; they can deny it to you when you need it or worse, amend the record.
  • See your Doctor when needed and take their advice, don’t make them look a fool. If signed off sick, make sure your appropriate management know and they have the appropriate documentation.
  • Tell your management if you are disabled or chronically sick, they won’t make reasonable adjustments unless they do.
  • If you want flexible working arrangements, you have a legal right for this to be considered, understand the management process, they may mandate a specific form and make sure your application and their reply is in writing.
  • Know your grievance and whistle blowing policy so you know who to talk to when you need it.
  • If you think it’s a grievance, lodge it, the least that will happen is that your case is in writing, actually shit managements might retaliate but your case is in writing and if they’re bad, it’ll only get worse anyway.
  • Know the IT use and record management policy of your employer; don’t break them and complain if others try and get you to do so too, by for instance, using personal phones or emails and whatsapp or twitter to discuss work matters. If an employee, don’t use your own phone for any work business; they have a duty to provide one if you need it for work.

That’s it for the moment but I know there’s more. …

Ideas, alliances and promises

Ideas, alliances and promises

I was pointed at, “If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars” by Rory McQueen who compares the state of the UK’s Left today with that in 1983, arguably the last time Labour was in this situation; he conducts a balance sheet on the balance of class forces, and then explores the issues of alliances and programme. He takes “The future of the Left”, an anthology written after the 1983 election as his historic benchmark.

I think this is incredibly well written and beyond my ability to summarise. i.e. you should read it. He provokes some thoughts in me, which is why you should read the rest of this. I talk, briefly, about the power of the Left in the country, it’s much weaker today, the need for and paradox of political alliances, and the failure of Labour’s policy & manifesto development programmes. I conclude by repeating the question, what’s the point for socialists in restricting alliances to exclusively to Labour’s right and how can Labour build a policy development process that delivers a realistic, popular and transformational programme for government. For more, see below/overleaf …  …

Blair’s Shadow

Blair’s Shadow

We in the Labour Party need to get to grips with Blair’s legacy. His shadow and that of his government still hangs over even this leadership election and it seems I am not the only one to thinks so. Andrew Fisher wrote something similar to this in the Independent. Coming to a consensus and coming to terms with its legacy will be difficult. I feel that it’s best viewed by considering the two full parliamentary terms as separate entities but for many of course the decision to go to war in Iraq will over shadow everything else he did. I have thought this about its record for a while but at least one speech by Zarah Sultana MP, and the adverse reaction to it and Jeremy Gilbert at Open Democracy who wrote Labour should have argued against the last 40 years of economic policy, not just the last ten have made me revisit New Labour’s record. This article reflects my views on the New Labour governments, together with my view that we i.e. Labour have been losing votes for 30 years and that 2017 was the anomaly. In the rest of this article, see below/overleaf, I look at the positive achievements of the first term, the evolution of the 2001 manifesto and the privatisations and war decisions of the second term. I look at the destruction of the Party’s checks and balances, the areas of failure (Trade Union law reform and housing), the power of Government and the seemingly inexorable loss of votes since 1997 aided by doomed and flawed New Labour’s electoral strategy of assuming the working class had nowhere else to go. … …

Reasons to Remain (again)

Reasons to Remain (again)

I am arguing again with comrades in the Labour Party about Brexit and have looked at two pieces of evidence calling for Labour to become a full on Remain Party. Paul Mason has written another piece, this time in the New Statesman, “Without a transformation on Brexit, Labour’s election chances are dead”, and on statsforlefties, who writes a blog mainly on psephology. They have both changed their mind and argue that Labour must now  support Remain. Mason deals with the politics of Remain and Party unity, calls out the fractures in the Labour Parties internal coalition and the short and long-term electoral issues. statsforlefties argues about short term electoral issues. (I might write a review on Mason’s article, but it’s not long, so I suggest you read it in full; I have mirrored it here.)

I present my argument below, it was in reply to someone who had used deaths in refugee camps and the proposed appointment of Von der Leyden as President of Commission as reasons for sticking with a Leave position. I attempt as I have usually done to distinguish between true believers and those who just think ambiguity is electorally expedient.

We all accept that the EU is not perfect; if we’d done better last month, it’s possible that Timmermans would be candidate for President of the Commission and not Von der Leyen. For those for whom triangulation and winning towns in the North is key, it is getting to the position where neither Leave nor Constructive Ambiguity can enable Labour to win and that pursuing Leave seriously jeopardises our ability to be single largest party. The Party has a choice of pissing off Leavers or Remainers, and we can’t win without the Remainers, in fact it would seem that we can’t be the largest party without the Remainers.

I assume you will vote to Leave in the next referendum dreaming for the ability to build socialism in one country, thus leaving the refugees in Libya and Lesbos to the mercy of an organisation you despise and will no longer be able to influence.

I can think of nothing more I might say that will persuade you of the overwhelming justice and solidarity in the case for Remain. Leaving is a right wing project, there’s no socialism at the end of Johnson & Farage’s project and being seen to support leave looks like it will kill us before the 31st Oct, but if we are seen to facilitate it, it will kill the Labour Party and the Left in this country for a generation.

I am so tired of it, as a Party we must unite to build a better world; I am tired of the dishonesty and fantasy of true believer Lexiters. (I distinguish between those and the triangulators, but they need to make their mind up too.)

There is no economic benefit to leaving, the EU’s democracy and rule of law is superior to ours and citizenship rights inc. freedom of movement are better within the EU and this is all before we talk of building a peaceful and democratic ever closer union of peoples. But whenever we discuss this with you, you counter democracy with economics, you counter the economics with allegations of being anti-refugee, you ignore freedom of movement and migrants’ rights or even argue that migration is not in the interests of the British working class and you ignore the allegation that you are supporting the worst of the right in our country. (I have never accused you or any Lexiters of being Putin’s fools & puppets, but it’s beginning to look that way.) This is not the behaviour of comrades.

Von der Leyden is not appointed the President yet, but if she gets it, it’ll because the racists and enemies of democracy in Eastern Europe & Italy got their revenge on the man and movement that called out their racism and autocracy. He and they/we stood by the first rule of the EU, to belong you must be a democracy, with an independent rule of law. This is a fight that everyone who ignored and subverted our appeal in the European Elections (and I would include those whose behaviour corrupted the selection process) is on the wrong side of history.

  …

E-Voting

E-Voting

At my last Union branch meeting, we heard from Gemma Short of the right to strike campaign. As one part of her presentation she mentioned that one of the Unions’ response to the recent Trade Union laws is to demand that they can run strike ballots (and the mandatory political levy and elections) using e-voting technology. I have been thinking about this for a while and its fans need to take stock; there’s some inconvenient truths. …

Labour’s New Brexit

Labour’s New Brexit

Today, Labour Conference debated the International Report of the National Policy Forum and a statement on Brexit from the National Executive Committee. I believe the NEC statement was issued to delegates only, on the morning of the debate, which while not unusual is unacceptable. A campaigning comrade, Sacha Ismail posted the words to his Facebook timeline, and I have posted them below. Kier Starmer summed up the debate, and I have posted a video of his speech, which I then comment on. It was a weak speech, which disguises the weakening of Labour’s policy and moves it towards a pro-Brexit position. …

The single market, it’s the State that’s the problem

The single market, it’s the State that’s the problem

Over the summer, most Brexit/Remain players have been on manoeuvres and Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance on the Marr show together with various clarifications have ensured for Labour at least membership of the single market has become a focus for what a post-brexit relationship would look like. In my opinion, if we were to stay in the single market via the European Economic Area, we might as well stay in and keep our MEPs, Council Seat (& Veto), Commissioner, Judges, the rebate, our opt-out from common borders (Schengen) and our indefinite opt-out in joining the Euro. I support these things, and staying in, I understand why Brexiters have now come to oppose the single market. …. …

The Digital Economy Act (again)

The Digital Economy Act (again)

The Digital Economy Act 2010 showed the long term goal of the entertainment industry, they want to criminalise file sharing. At the time, individual acts of copyright infringement were civil acts and the copyright owners had to pursue them through the courts, one at a time. This is expensive, slow, uncertain and most importantly expensive, compared with the cover price of a CD or DVD. The DE Act did that, it also sought to automate the justice system and in order to do that it weakened innocent until proven guilty, by prescribing defences and also placed a charge on going to court to argue not guilty. It really was a shit piece of legislation. However, the Law stated that the costs of surveillance and discovery had to be shared by the copyright owners and the internet service providers. The Courts struck down this part of the Law, (see here … for more)  …

Sovereignty

Sovereignty

I don’t think the facts around Human Rights and Sovereignty are being well exercised. I have just seen a post on Facebook where someone claimed that Britain was being ruled by the ECHR in Strasbourg. In the words of Captain Blackadder, there’s only one problem with this theory. I thought I’d put this right …