University funding

The Guardian, New Statesman and their followers are restarting the argument that free University tuition is a subsidy to the middle class, again. As if progressive taxation and free tuition were exclusive. They’re not and tertiary education is an investment in Human Capital; it’s a social good. We should pay for our children’s education! After all, we expect them to pay for our pensions!

University funding


This is a long diatribe at Hacker Noon about the Bitcoin bubble and the blockchain hype. I had been considering writing something similar although my focus was on the excessive use  & cost of electricity to “mine” coins and the demonstrable industrialisation and economic consolidation of the mining operations.

Bitcoin, in particular, has a shrinking use as a means of exchange, as identified by this business insider preview of a Morgan Stanley opinion. This is compounded by the fact that the transaction fees are now too high for small or micro payments, and that it is not real time, (it can take minutes to clear) and thus cannot be used for transactions that require simultaneous exchange, be it a cup of coffee or a house.

The block chain does not scale well, despite the massively distributed architecture. If its performance is matched with say Visa or other significant global payment processors, VISA is rated at 60,000 transactions/sec (TPS) where as the Bitcoin maxes out at 7 TPS. So not only is it expensive, but it can’t cope with real world volume; it’s just as well that small transactions are deserting the platform.

What started me thinking this time round, was the realisation that the amount of power required to “mine” the currency grows and is now significant. While the compensation for the miners is scrip/free, the real cost in electricity and thus carbon pollution is significant. This adds to the cost, both internal but more importantly the external cost. The planet cannot afford the electricity power and the carbon footprint to virtualise global capitalism’s money supply.

Kai Stinchcombe argues that the lack of regulation is also a disincentive to use crypto currencies and examines the Etherium/DAO hack and draws the conclusion that on the whole society needs contracts to be interpreted by people, not by software.

Money must be a means of exchange, and a store of wealth, block-chain crypto-currencies are struggling and increasingly failing  to be the former and it’s current price peaks , historic volatility and lack of regulator suggests it’s weak as the latter. Is it just a con?


Chairing of AGMs

Have I done this before? On chairing AGMs in the Labour Party

Chapter 15.I.F.iii At the annual meeting the chair shall preside until a successor is elected, except where the chair is not a duly appointed delegate to the meeting; in which case the election of chair shall be taken as the first item on the agenda. The new chair shall take over the conduct of the meeting forthwith and proceed to the election of other officers and further business.

Chairing of AGMs


More Labour Party Rules, a reconvened AGM cannot be packed.

Chapter 15.I.E.i [Both:] When an annual or special meeting is not held for any reason or is abandoned without completing the business on the agenda, such meeting must be reconvened as soon as practicable in order for any necessary outstanding business to be transacted. Only those eligible to participate in the meeting as first convened, whether or not held, shall be entitled to participate in any further reconvened meeting.

My emphasis



Over the weekend, Theresa May tried to square the Irish border circle, by agreeing that Northern Ireland would remain in the EU’s customs union and single market while the rest of Great Britain pursued her loony’s hard brexit project. This means that the border between the EU and Great Britain would be the Irish Sea. It was hardly surprising that the DUP torpedoed this idea, in a humiliating fashion for the Government.

It’s unsurprising that both the Scottish First Minister and the Mayor of London spoke out for me too deal; if Northern Ireland gets to stay in the single market, then why not other areas that voted remain.

Of course one answer is that the whole of the UK stays within the customs union and single market



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.



The press have launched an attack on London Labour’s Left for having the temerity to attempt to get their supporters selected as candidates for next year’s council elections. The bulk of the words talks of Haringey where a debate about housing finance and gentrification has polarised the Party, but of course, Ealing, Enfield and Lewisham are mentioned, with good old Crofton Park’s decision to place Cllr Lord Roy Kennedy on an open short list is mentioned as a “losing his trigger ballot”, which while true does not mean that he was replaced as a candidate. It should be noted that in Ealing and Lewisham, the Left are not making gains.

This quote from the Standard,

Others believe the involvement is more direct. “There’s no way local members are doing this on their own. They’re getting assistance to stir things up in a way they didn’t think of,” said one MP.

just shows that the anger at the manipulation and manoeuvring, the refusal to welcome new members and the refusal to listen. is completely underestimated and the aggressive use of the complaints process, rules and  legacy bureaucratic power merely reinforces this anger, the sense of unfairness and the will to change the Party!

For the record, there is no national committee nor caucus in the Leader’s office, nor the Momentum office, not even in Unite, TSSA nor CWU planning this. They are winning in Haringey because of the issue and in other places, where they are, because these people no longer represent the membership

The swawkbox covers Haringey with an article written by a recent joiner who has not joined Momentum. I am grateful for them both, for reminding me that this gets quite nasty, and deeply undemocratic … the freedom to associate is a fundamental right and those who organise to drive new members out through boredom, complaint or bureaucratic manoeuvre are serving the Labour Party and democracy poorly.

The skwakbox quotes its anonymous correspondent as follows,

… I met members from the other Haringey CLP, Tottenham and some of the new members from my own CLP who had been excluded from participating.

It struck me that they were really nice people; they came from a mixture of backgrounds. … They were a mix of ages, ethnic backgrounds and ranged from having manual and highly professional jobs. What surprised me the most was they were members who had been members for decades and some just a few months.

They told me they did not care how long people had been members, they were all made to feel welcomed. Some were already on the executive committee and one had already became a councillor in a by-election. New members were being fully engaged and there was not a nasty atmosphere as there was in my CLP. Over the snap election the Tottenham members were campaigning all over the country, they were focused on getting a Labour government. They were all seemed to get along. I was jealous.