Antisemitism (in the Labour Party)

I have just written a blog article on one of the rule changes likely to come up at #lab17. Stories have been circulating about how the Labour Party might change its rules to ensure that racists are excluded and that racism is eliminated from the Party.

  1. The new rule proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement makes racists acts liable to disciplinary action and It removes the free speech defence from racists acts. It may also define holding beliefs as a racist act.
  2. Other policies of the Labour Party, the [potential?] adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism would make criticism of Israel an antisemitic act; the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in it its report Antisemitism recognised this in its proposal to explicitly create a free speech defence for debate about Israel.
  3. I wonder where the rule changes proposed by the Chakrabarti Inquiry have gone. They would be a better basis on which to eliminate racism from the Labour Party.
Antisemitism (in the Labour Party)


Boris has written in the Telegraph about the state of the Brexit negotiations, and this is commented in at the FT. The FT leads with the timing, as Mrs. May is planning a big speech in Florence on the EU shortly. Many Tories are also drawn into commenting on loyalty and timing.

On the issue of substance, Boris repeats his usual drivel including contradicting Government policy and re-committing to the £350m/week on the NHS from saved fees. It worries me that the Tories are still looking at avoiding payment of our outstanding fees.

Of the three issues that EU insist are initially dealt with, citizenship rights, outstanding dues and the border with Eire. It’s the money that’s the easiest to comprise on. I believe that short of single market/customs union membership there is no good answer to the border question, but if the Tories want a deal, then they’ll have to compromise on the money even if only to get some room to be awful on citizenship.



I have just been using Whatsapp for a medium sized chatroom for a month or so.

I’d summarise my views in the table below.

Pro Con
Encrypted on the wire
Distributed Admin
No threading, no pinning, no tagging
No rules based archiving/deletion
Tight integration with user’s address book.
High storage usage if using calls, video and images

The good is that it’s encrypted on the wire but not one the device. It’s real time, so better than SMS. You can use a laptop with it’s superior cut & paste to use whatsapp. I’d add as a comment than its user interface can be a bit idiosyncratic. Chatrooms can have multiple admins, which can be good, but can also be misused. (Is this the same as Facebook, which can lead to groups being hijacked.)

The lack of threading, pinning, and tagging, makes conversations hard to follow. (I suppose we could create our own tags and then search on them as text strings, but messages can’t be tagged this way be the recipients, although they can be “starred”.) This can make threads very difficult to track as there will be often a couple of threads concurrent at any one time and once rooms get big the conversations become a bit unmanageable.

The inability to delete messages on the basis of time periods would be useful. I tried Snapchat and found that deletion on reading was a bit too aggressive for my needs.

Your correspondents need to be in your address book, which is reasonable in a 121 conversation, but in a multi-admin chatroom it’s harder to manage and everyone has to do it; it’s a high admin. cost.

Whatsapp stores its messages received on the phone, this includes any real-time voice messages, store and forward voice messages, videos and images, It’s why URLs may be better; I am not sure if the thumbnails are stored locally. People with old phones, large picture and/or music stores may find access to storage constrained. (It reminds me of the old usenet netiquette rules about respecting bandwidth and other people’s devices and costs.

I wonder if slack or google groups are better although Google Groups uses SMTP which is v.hard to encrypt in any usable fashion.



Here’s a little diary on last nights Labour Party General Committee for Lewisham Deptford, its main purpose was to prepare for Conference by submitting a “Contemporary Motion”and hopefully to begin to clear the motions backlog. There were seven motions waiting to be debated, some having being proposed last year. (It’s one of the contentions between the current CLP leadership and its opposition that their poor management of time is deliberate and designed to frustrate members making and developing policy. There hasn’t been a single ordinary motion debated this year ) .

Youth Violence

One classic trick to is to ask a guest speaker, and yet again, this was done. It was a pleasant surprise to here Jonathan Toy speak on youth violence. He has published a book “Silent Voices”, several years ago it would seem. He started by arguing that the central problem is trauma and he had stories to back this up. One sound bite, that I tweeted due to its resonance was that,

Kids carry knives because they’re scared.

Toy spoke of the discrimination, the loss of hope and the turn to criminality, mainly drugs and the inappropriate policing strategies focused solely, or largely, on enforcement. He told stories about the way in which ‘decapitating’ the gangs merely creates an updraught.

The presentation was interesting and the clearly based on deep experience and knowledge, some of it gained by his own admission on failure. Delegates to the meeting in a Question & Answer session contributed their knowledge on cuts in programmes exacerbating the problems, and reducing the care young people need. Bill Jefferies, said

…the good work of individuals can ameliorate the circumstances of other individuals, but those good works are not a solution to the problem. As the problem is not individual but social and so needs a social, collective solution.

In questioning, he was asked about the political will in the electorate for more understanding and less punishment, suggesting that strong enforcement is not just based on weak will and police management doing what they know. Toy is hopeful that the Lammy Review will be a starting point for change in programmes and approach. My concern is that this will take money and that is unlikely to be forthcoming under this government.

5 minutes about Parliament

The decision to invite a guest speaker meant that Vicky’s MP Report was truncated to 5 minutes. This is unfortunate as it was the first GC after the summer break and the 2nd Reading of the “EU Withdrawal Bill” had taken place earlier in the week with a small Labour rebellion leading to a comfortable Tory majority, as had the Tory stitch up of the parliamentary committee seats and Angela Rayner’s successful motion to stop the increase in Tuition fees.  MPs reports, where a CLP is lucky enough to have one, are important parts of the agenda and a critical piece of relationship building between the MP and their party. Five minutes is not enough time. I should add that Youth Violence is an issue of great concern to the constituency and its neighbours and one that Vicky has invested time and effort in.


Three motions were proposed, one opposing military exports to Saudi Arabia, to work to improve human rights in Saudi Arabia and that Labour establish a shadow Defence Diversification Agency to plan for the civilian reuse of Britain’s military engineering capabilities. A motion supporting the UK’s remaining in the single market & customs union, written in response to Corbyn’s Marr interview was also put to the meeting. There are some who believe that arguments for Labour to support the single market are designed by the Blairite rump in the PLP to weaken the leadership; I am of the view that what’s right is right and that the UK should remain in both and that if the Leadership have doubts then they should be told by the membership what it thinks. The final of the three motions was based on the Labour Campaign for Free Movement’s model motion . The mover of the last of these motions concentrated on the Government’s squeeze and tightening of the no recourse to funds and Lewisham Council’s role in immigration raids and deportations. These three motions were all carried with very heavy majorities.

The meeting then voted,  by a very small majority, to send the motion on the single market/customs union to Conference, as we are only permitted one.

Talking to first time attenders who had been warned about the bad atmosphere that can occur, they said it had been a good and interesting meeting and the warnings unwarranted. I wonder if that was due to the absence of Dromey, Cooper and Lord Roy Kennedy.



I was pointed at this article in the Washington Post on password security. It’s quite long and so I summarise:

  1. Length is better than complexity (More than 12 bytes)
  2. Simple transformations are no help (Don’t use 1st letter Caps and last character as 1 or !, mutt5nut5 is considered very easy.)
  3. Don’t reuse passwords for accounts that you care about! (A corollary is to delete the accounts on services you no longer use.)
  4. Write the passwords down in a secure place if you have too many, or use a password manager. (They are in favour, I am not so sure.)
  5. Don’t use personal facts about yourself (Bdays, Place of Birth, Pet’s names)

They have conducted some volume research by cracking and survey which they reference in the article and built a password checker based on these lessons but using it breaches one or maybe two of the rules I set myself in my Linkedin blog article “Password Vaults”. It’s on the internet, and we can’t read the code; that’s not to say it’s not a useful training tool.


Best Universities

A friend pointed me the THES world’s best Universities scores for 2018, and the fact that Oxford & Cambridge are now considered 1st & 2nd. Last time I looked at this, David Blanchflower criticised the report and its results. Ranking institutions would seem to be hard and the methodologies remain controversial.

What’s interesting apart from the UK taking places one & two is that Harvard & Princeton have been overtaken by CalTech and Stanford, representing a move from East to West Coast and with the addition of MIT at 5th, a switch to science (if not IT) dominated institutions. Also It remains the case that this with the exception of 11th place Zurich, the top 10 (sic) are all English language institutions.

I researched University ranking in 2009; for a full list of my blog articles on University Ranking see here….

Best Universities

Closing the Waldron

At the Momentum meeting last night, it was pointed out the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group are consulting on closing the Waldron Centre, the Deptford/New Cross located NHS medical walk-in centre. It would seem that they propose that walk-ins are dealt with at Lewisham Hospital A&E or at local GP surgeries; it’s just as well we managed to keep the hospital open really, although this could be seen as the accountant’s revenge.

The consultation document justifying the proposal, and the online survey are at this page.,-New-Cross.aspx

The consultation document characterises the centre’s users by nature of complaint, reason for use of the walk-in centre, and likely alternatives to be pursued. (A not so popular alternative is to look for another walk-in centre; there are none in South London.)

It documents the fact that 43% of its visitors do not have Lewisham GPs and that 23% have no GPs at all. It puts these statistics in the context of cost. Lewisham CCG do not get a capitation fee for these visitors and despite the service orientated arguments, it is likely to the real motivation.

It argues that walk-in centres are not good for treatments, in particular for mental health treatment and then show that the top six complaints are highly physical with the top one being wound care.

No figures are presented about waiting time for GP appointments.

This is a cut in service, you might like to read the document and complete the survey.

A short URL has been created at

Closing the Waldron