Manipulation

Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus explore the latest in Election winning software as sold by Cambridge Analytica and used by the Republican Party in the US General Election. It was also seemingly used by the Brexit campaigners in the UK. Their article explores the evolution of the pyschograph model and data collection techniques developed by academics and then looks at its more sinister uses via Facebook profiling data and big data analytics.

There are two lessons from this. The first, easier and personal one is to seriously consider how one uses Facebook, if at all. I feel it harder to give up now that messenger has E2E encryption but I shan’t be doing any more quizzes, not even what D&D class would you be;  I suppose especially not what D&D class are you, (Wizard by the way). Even the fact that I did an ABBA quiz yesterday and not Lady Gaga seems to give these nosy bastards data that they use.

The second lesson is for the Labour Party and relates to the fact that Trump’s campaign (and to some extent the Brexit and UK GE 2015) have updated the IT playbook. Up until then Obama’s 2012 campaign was the model to match and beat. To compare with this, in 2015, Labour spent more on the “Ed Stone” detailing the infamous five pledges than on Facebook and while some message prototyping, where messages are tested for effectiveness and then targeted and a tiny amount of crowd sourced message design occurred, we have to do better.

In the run up to the election, both Labour and the Tories brought in consultants from the Obama campaign, Labour brought in David Axelrod, and the Tories brought in Jim Messina. Messina would seem to have been the big data champion in Obama’s campaign and with the help of Cambridge Analytica they rewrote the political IT playbook.

The Electoral Commission are now looking into the legality of the Tories expenditure; micro-targeting and message customisation has been shown to cause campaign accounting problems since local and national expenses need to be accounted for separately and have separate limits.

And this is all before the authorities consider the data protection and privacy implications.

There are dangers from micro-targeting as promises made to some groups can be used against the authors. The Motherboard article highlights Clinton’s problem over relief in Haiti and in the UK, Ed Miliband’s mansion tax did not play well in London and the way the British deal with racism in politics has always given hostages to fortune, as we can see on some of the attacks on Ken Livingstone and aspects of the 2016 London Mayoral campaign.

The use of pyschographs and the messages it creates is a reinforcement of the the move from a transactional politics to perception based campaign; it’s one of the reasons that Ed Miliband failed and Labour’s new left, but aged leadership can’t break through to the electorate and one of the reasons why May can adopt elements of Miliband’s programme on energy and the minimum wage. Programmes and promises don’t count as much as they used to.

How to change perception is hard. I have been struggling with “Perception is reality” for many years because it isn’t. There are facts beyond perception and ignorance is ignorance.

Fixing Labour’s IT is easier, and the answer isn’t PHP and an updated voter ID system, it needs a modern applications architecture, a big data platform and it would seem they need to resurrect the once famed rapid rebuttal system. The excuse we can’t afford it no longer holds true. Did you know Labour is debt free?

ooOOOoo

This is a longer comment based on what I said facebook yesterday, I have made a story @ storify which has some further sources. This article was published on ello.davelevy.info, it has tool tips and should probably have been posted on the blog.

Manipulation

This House (again)

I went to see “This House” last weekend, it’s the second time. Last time was before the Euro-referendum, and with Mrs. L who like me had lived through the period; this time I was with my boys, one of whom said it was a poor history lesson. 😣  ( I still think it’s better than that.)

Firstly, the lines on the last EU referendum are both funnier and sadder than last time.

Secondly, I felt that their treatment of the Northern Irish politics and vote was a trivialisation and also inaccurate. This time, perhaps because of the re-opening of the issues around the Union as a result of the EU referendum, despite an attempt to tell a different story the crucial importance of devolution to that government is in the spotlight.

The play tells the story of the steady erosion of the Wilson/Callaghan government’s four vote majority for various reasons, including several deaths, a fake suicide and crossing the floor (Prentice) and the defection of Sillars and Robertson to the Scottish Labour Party, a name unused by Labour at the time.

The vote of confidence was held after Labour had failed to get an Act on Devolution through Parliament. This was partly due the opposition of large parts of the Scottish PLP, a conversation well represented in the play. Less well represented was the politics of Northern Ireland leading to the abstention of both non-Unionist Northern Irish MPs, one of whom came to London to abstain in person.  The vote of confidence was lost by one vote.

The Government fell due to its inability to command a majority on Devolution and a failure of vision on how to keep the UK together; the policies on Northern Ireland split their polity with the Unionists voting against the Government and the nationalists abstaining.

These centripetal forces are being uncaged today. It’s not going to be fun.

ooOOOoo

The play is almost silent about the September election that didn’t happen and the Winter of Discontent. But it’s telling a different story

Oh yeah. Ed Miliband was sitting next to me, but didn’t ask for my advice, and I didn’t offer it.

This House (again)

Taking back control

Lewisham’s local government workers are calling for an end of the system of an executive, directly elected mayor in Lewisham and are calling a meeting to discuss this later in the month.

Add to my Calendar 30/03/2017 07:00 PM 30/03/2017 09:00 PM Europe/London Unite the Union: The future of local government in Lewisham Come along and take part in a conversation regarding the structure of local government in the borough. Unite are calling for a return to a traditional committee & leader and abolition of the Mayoral and Cabinet system – especially in light of the Millwall CPO debacle.
Venue Catford Constitutional Club, Catford Broadway, London SE6 4SP
Date 30th March 2017 7pm.
Speakers Dr Peter Latham –leading expert on local government. Author “The State & Local Government”, Guardian Sports investigative journalist - Barney Ronay
Chair of meeting: - Nick Long Lewisham Town Hall Unite branch chair m 07515113390
Catford Constitutional Club, Catford Broadway, London SE6 4SP, UK Nick Long N/A false DD/MM/YYYY aHNypeIjCzZMhgHEImya26521

 

Taking back control

Sanctuary

This article in the Jacobin, despite having a picture of Trump, is about those Cities and Mayors in the US who reject Trump’s plans to deport so-called illegal immigrants. While municipalities in the US have much stronger legal existence and powers than the case in the UK, is this a route that UK Councils should be taking? I have voted for two Mayors recently, and if Sadiq Kahn were to take measures to declare London a Sanctuary that would be a tremendous beacon of hope for the EU citizen residents of London.

Sanctuary

Disgusting

Labour’s Peers in debating the Article 50 bill have voted down an amendment to stay in the single market, because it seems they want to prioritise immigration controls and the “will of the people”.

Adam Bienkov writing in Business Insider, says Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Baroness Hayter said that voting otherwise would have defied the will of the people on immigration. She told the House that accepting the single market amendment would be acting,

… as if the referendum had not happened and the result was not for leaving.

Also

We cannot simply airbrush free movement from the referendum decision,

NB I have not checked the accuracy of the quotes in Hansard, but I agree this is shameful.

 

Disgusting

One All

Not really. Labour beat UKIP in Stoke and lost to the Tories in Copeland in Cumbria. While I have been known to say that one’s enough when it comes to majorities, neither of these results are good. Obviously Stoke is better result than Copeland. I was unable to visit either seat although local comrades did. The expected blamefest has started.

Personally, I’d like to start with this,

I have pointed at work publicised  at the LSE and now reinforced by John Curtice in the New Statesman and the Guardian that Labour’s best chance of electoral victory (or best chance to avoid oblivion) is to court the Remainer vote. This is sort of picked up by Paul Mason in his blog,

Mason makes the point that it was Jamie Reed, the retiring MP that lost the seat, but the Labour vote in Copland (and the whole of the country) has been in decline since 1997. The New Labour governments lost 5m vote between 1997 and 2010, much of this one can assume based on the strategy of ignoring the organised working class. The assumption was they have no where to go; contemporary history suggests that they do. I originally thought that the 3m votes lost between 1997 and 2004 were Tories and LibDems returning to their natural home, it seems now that it was the working class on a route somewhere else via originally abstention. Any way, here’s the numbers from Copeland over time….

There can be also little doubt that Labour’s indecision or lack of clarity on both the EU and Nuclear power must have caused problems in Copeland. Mason is interesting and clear on Brexit, pointing out that the price of Shadow Cabinet unity has been dodging the question as to what to do if the terms offered aren’t good enough.

One All

Choice

I have just written to Jeremy Corbyn stating that despite having voted for him twice, I am exceedingly disappointed that he, or his closest advisors seem to think that there are acceptable terms under which we might leave the EU. I think the leadership’s tactics over the article 50 bill in the Commons let us down, and I reminded him that Labour policy is to seek a second mandate if the terms negotiated by the Tories are unacceptable to us. I predict that he’ll lose support in the Party if he gets this wrong, and that not only right wingers or moderates as they seem to like to be called will leave the party or switch to other parties over this. Continue reading “Choice”

Choice

They’re leaving

I spoke to a friend yesterday. [S]he is an economic migrant, probably would have been a refugee if they hadn’t found work, has been here for decades, is not a citizen of the European Union, in the delightful language of immigration law, they are an Alien, but they are married to someone who is i.e. a citizen of an EU member state ! [S]he said they’re going home i.e. to their spouse’s home;  they now feel unwelcome in the UK. What have we become?

They’re leaving

Groundrush

I have also thought about, researched and looked up the Labour Party’s rules as they pertain to emergency motions. I believe that delegate based GCs may not consider motions sponsored by delegates without the support of their nominating organisation. I have said why in a comment on my article, “Show me a motion”. I also believe that in a true emergency, such as recently when the Lewisham Deptford GC debated the Millwall CPO, it is necessary that individually drafted/submitted motions should be considered as emergencies. The Party and its membership are protected by the chair’s judgement and the affirmative vote required of Rule 15.I.H.i; which mandates that the chair rules the motion as a bone fide emergency and that this is confirmed by the meeting. Another reason for codifying the local rules.

Groundrush