CAC

The ballot for Labour’s Conference arrangements committee have opened, emails with unique passwords are being sent this week. There are two slates, one supporting the current Leadership, and one representing New Labour continuity. I have voted for Seema Chandwani & Billy Hayes. I suggest you do too.

 

CAC

Too hard to leave

I wish I could make this a haiku, it was written for and published on twitter.

On #Brexit #lab16 Labour’s Conference is right; redlines on citizen rights or No!

It’s too hard to leave, people with good will, if limited intellect, towards #Brexit are failing to agree satisfactory terms.

On the sanctity of the referendum’s democratic will, we now already have a second mandate, the general election 2017.

Also Parliament can’t guarantee anything, it can always change its mind.

Too hard to leave

Counting

I am considering some issues relating to the conduct of elections in the UK. In Lewisham Labour we are selecting a candidate for Mayor and the election will be conducted using a simple eliminating ballot, sometimes referred to as an Alternative Voting scheme. This, it can be argued is a special case of a more proportionate voting system; the special nature being that there is only one winner and thus the result is not so proportionate. The rest of this article is a technical description of an alternative vote election, a single transferable vote election and a closed list proportional representation election using the D’Hondt counting system. Continue reading “Counting”

Counting

Franchise

While considering the desirability of Executive Mayors, it’s occurred to me that the Miliband reforms, the creation and empowerment of affiliated members and registered supporters have not been implemented in the selection of the Executive Mayor candidates, even in Manchester and certainly not in the London boroughs. Why not?

Franchise

Policy

I wrote a piece on my essay blog trying to resurrect my thoughts on the #digitalliberty agenda just before the election. The thoughts were formed and committed to writing in 2014 and I said in the article that I thought they’d stood the test of time.

On second thoughts I think it’s weak on

  1. the right to privacy being a right to use encryption
  2. a failure to recognise that access to records created for fighting serious crime may have unacceptably low thresholds of access i.e. no-one is checking that the use is about serious crime
  3. justice must be public and require human judgement; algorithms can’t be judges (although it does cover that!)

Third thoughts would be that the Digital Economy Act 2016 widens the definition of criminal file sharing beyond reasonable and proportionate.

Policy

Fragments

I am reading Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism. He examines Marx’s “the Fragment on Machines” in a section called the general intellect on pages 133 – 138.

Mason argues that Marx predicted the transformation of Labour from animal energy to that of organising and applying knowledge and expertise. He also forecast the potentially primary importance of knowledge in the productive process. He also observed that once the machines and their encapsulation of knowledge become significant, then knowledge locked inside the machines is ‘social’.

Improving productivity through improving knowledge use is better i.e. cheaper and limitless, than improving Labour productivity; there’s only so much labour power available but It requires an investment in people.

It’s not possible to value the knowledge inputs of the productive process because it’s independent of the Labour inputs. The price mechanism is undermined as is the means of the appropriation of surplus value.

The development or level of technology is the extent to which social knowledge is a force of production.

This is important, maybe crucial to Mason, as there is now a knowledge based route out of capitalism’s inherent crises. Mason argues that Marx suggested that capitalism cannot co-exist with shared knowledge.

 

Fragments

Adele

I have just watched the movie, “Woman in Gold”. I remember seeing the gap on the wall in the Belvedere when I visited it, which led me to read up on how it got to the USA.

The film may be refelcting the truth in depicting the motives of Maria Altman as requiring an act of contrition by the Austrian state for the crimes committed by the Nazis, the Austrian State and Viennese people in the thirties, compounded by the heavy handed reaction of the Austrian Ministry of Culture.

The depiction of the anschluss and the victimisation of the Viennese Jews is powerful and made me think of the growth of casual racism in the UK; we always need to be on guard. Would I have joined in? (Apart from being a designated victim that is.)

The film starts with the anschluss and so the true ownership of the pictures is unclear and becomes part of the story. (A crucial part of the case is that the pictures were owned by Adele Bloch Baur’s husband and not by Klimt nor by Adele.) Also due to the story’s start point, the question of the full relationship between the artist, his muse and her husband is not explored. There is no doubt that the pictures were stolen by the Nazis during the 2nd World War. The film neglects to state that the post-war peace treaties made Austria a victim state. I was also surprised to discover that it was an Austrian arbitration panel that finally awarded the pictures to Maria Altman.

The film finishes with a scene between the young Maria and her uncle and aunt where they entreat her to remember them. I took the opportunity to remember mine.

Adele

Dictatorship?

In reply to a Momentum tweet, which points at  Paul Bell’s Labour Mayoral facebook page, and highlights his commitment to be the last Mayor of Lewisham. [ See also  here…], Councillor Joe Dromey, a Lewisham Council cabinet member posts on twitter, supporting Executive Mayors

I say,

  1. As a matter of record, Labour members seem to only get to choose a mayoral candidate once every 20 years or so.
  2. A Mayor’s exclusive and entrenched powers of initiative and patronage are anti-democratic, weaken collective decision making and are sink for corruption. (In Lewisham we’ve been lucky).
  3. A Mayor cannot be recalled, a Leader of a Group can be.
  4. A Mayor’s decision requires a ⅔ majority to overrule them
  5. A Mayor’s powers of initiative and patronage juvenilises the majority backbench councillors, opposition councillors and ultimately even cabinet members.
  6. Labour Councillors are accountable to the Party every four years, Mayors are not, perhaps the Councillors should have more say.
  7. Labour Group’s internal processes are not good enough to hold a rogue executive mayor to account.
  8. The greater accountability of councillors to their Party and electorate, together with collective decision making should deliver better government. For instance, if the Lewisham Cabinet had asked the Labour Group about whether to issue the Millwall CPO, it wouldn’t have happened.
  9. Executive Mayors have always been established in the interests of incumbent leaderships. They are about party power, not citizenship empowerment.
  10. I’d add that support for the current system would come better from people other than candidates, cabinet members and councillors.

 

Dictatorship?

Transparency

There’s a tragedy happening in Venezuela. I am trying to discover the truth but one part of the story struck me as interesting and odd. Venezuela, it would seems use an e-voting system. This is supplied by Smartmatic, a British based company and their CEO, quoted in the Guardian, has announced that he believes that

 … results recorded by the company’s systems show “without any doubt” that the official turnout figure was tampered with

This is the problem with e-voting systems. How can he know and how can anyone know the truth?

Transparency