Novara Media hosted a session called “Technology and Post Capitalism” at #lab17’s The World Transformed, unfortunately it clashed with the CLPD intro and I couldn’t make it, but they video’d it and posted it on YouTube.

I have watched it now, and here are my notes.

It’s not obvious from this, but from Mason’s Post Capitalism, he believes the correct exchange value for software is free. It’s a long argument which I need to re-read but it’s obvious that using classical theory of the firm and marginal utility theory this is the case, but Mason argues under a Labour Theory of Value model it should also be free, as he argues in his book and on the video quoting Marx’s Grundrisse and the fragment on machines, software is social knowledge. (I need to reread the chapter on LTV to better articulate how it sees software as free).

Later in the panel, they raise the question of platforms as business and the ease by which they could be co-operativised. It starts from a rant from Mason about Uber, who have just lost their licence to trade in London. But if the moral , legal, true/optimal economic price for software is free, then Uber could be nationalised with compensation for pennies and the real wealth creators (and in Uber’s case capital stake holders) allowed to own the company and retain the surplus value.

What’s of course interesting is that if there is an overwhelming moral case and even a welfare optimisation case for the public ownership of platform co-ops, then we need to recognise that banks are platform companies. The real stake holders are the savers, its hard to see what stake shareholders have in a modern bank.

They rightly spoke about climate change and the energy industry. Mason repeated his argument that, possibly, only a centrally planned solution of the energy markets will be able to reduce temperature growth to 2%. Alice Bell spoke of the small starts being made at instrumenting and digitalising the power grid and the conversation moved on to smart meters and smart home controllers. The questions were asked about who controls/owns the data. The benefits of automating power distribution are clear in that it’ll help reduce the demand. But who owns the data, in the case of the datenkraken’s home IT controllers, the data will be available to the device vendor. We should recognise that the smart meters, being rolled out today were designed to minimise cost and designed several years ago, they are going to run out of capability and will become insecure.

Bell pointed out the macro governance regime that generators have to sell to the grid and consumers buy from it. She remarked on the difference in the Brighton’s sea horizon view, with its new windmills. This all raises question of democratic control of the energy industry. One feature not explored, which to me is important is that basically energy can’t be stored and its wasteful to transmit it. 30% of power generated is lost in transmission. This it would seem suggests that a decentralised power generation scheme would serve society better; our problem at the moment is that we are commissioning nuclear power stations to reduce carbon consumption which requires large amounts of capital; this implies funding via government bonds or shares. I am definitely of the view that we need to re-engineer the grid and consumer units to reduce the wastage.

Another unmentioned fact is that 7% of the UK power consumption is driving IT. This all converts to heat; experiments on reusing this heat have not proved successful and the concentration of IT into data centres caused by the relatively slow speeds of even the fastest system interconnections are also physical centralising tendencies. Mason even argued that data is a public good and should be centrally stored. I don’t think this is going to happen; it completely ignores the gravitational attributes of data (and its volume).

The issue of data ownership and even market efficiency raised the issue of ownership models. Labour’s white papers on new co-operative models were briefly noted but as above, we need to review ownership models and capital funding models.

In a world where finance capital is no longer scarce, we no longer need the joint stock company, limited liability and fiduciary duty. The time for consumer/worker co-ops has come.


The presenters are introduced at the beginning of the video, David Harvey, Paul Mason, Alice Bell and James Medway.


Stuffed parrots…

I picked this up on my way out of Labour Conference, it’s an interesting review, from a 1st time delegate, a supporter of the Labour Party Marxists. The author talks about the use of late notice and secrecy to manipulate delegates, the lottery of speaker selection, just as well he didn’t see the speaker called in 2014, for waving a baby, and the opacity (and again luck) of reference back on the Policy Forums reports. He talks of the pressure on CLPs to remit their rule changes despite their importance. Worth reading; the platform’s power is no less than it was, we have some way to go.

Stuffed parrots…


I picked up this morning’s Yellow Pages and spied an article by Hassan Ahmed, the original Vice Chair of Labour’s Black Sections, an unofficial organisation which was a precursor to Labour’s BAME organisations. Hassan was suspended and then expelled for organising a BAME section; he was at the time a city Councillor in Nottingham. Fortunately, although in his words reluctantly, he took the Labour Party to court and won. They had to pay £100,000 in court fee and that was in 1994. He finishes the article,

… Those were the bad old days. Under Jeremy’s enlightened leadership the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.

Let’s hope he’s right!



This was written by a conference attendee and shared to me by a friend, I can’t find it on the web, and so can’t link to it. It looks like it was ublished on Wednesday a.m. and I think it reflects Conference quite well.

Wednesday greetings to all in the 5.38 club…well the answer to yesterday’s question is that Tom Watson mentioned Jeremy eleven times in his speech.Anyone who guessed correctly contact Tom who has offered to share his Glastonbury tent next year.

The standing ovation for Watson shows again that more than half the Conference are attending for the first time,possibly are unaware of Watson’s lifelong history as a right wing fixer ,and are desperate to show the media we are united.The same delegates gave an even bigger ovation to Naomi Klein’s guest speech which ripped into Trump and ended with her declaring that the Labour Party is inspiring socialists around the world .

My prize for speech of the day went to Portia from Kensington CLP who movingly roll called friends she had lost at Grenfell and simply told Conference the Tories were responsible and had to go.

Comrades angry at the suspension and expulsion of socialists from the Party forced a card vote when the NEC refused to accept the motion for discussion ,CLPs voted (63%) to refer this back but were defeated by trade union votes .Still the excellent chair Claudia Webbe who is on the Party review promised that this issue and another of Labour Council groups  being held to account by local members would be reported on by the review .

The former MP rebels against Corbyn were reduced to watching from the sidelines ..with one or two MPs disgracefully behaving badly to stewards who rightly did not let them into the delegate zone.The right wing,despite the bitter daily briefing sheets from Labour First,were rarely seen on the rostrum.They have not gone away but there was much speculation that some may split from the Party.

Encouragingly the claim of the right wing Jewish Labour Movement to speak for Jewish Party members has been comprehensively challenged by the new Jewish Voices for Labour and several delegates spoke passionately that the ‘weaponising ‘ of anti- semitism by the JLM has to stop .Claims will no doubt continue but Conference made clear ,supporting the oppressed Palestinians and describing Israel as an apartheid state are legitimate points and are not anti-Semitic.

On the fringe events John McDonnell made the key point that trade union members must work for simultaneous strike action against the pay cap as a means to challenge the Tories and he called on every socialist to campaign for that and join the picket lines .

Conference has throbbed with the passion of new delegates and the overwhelming support for Jeremy and John.Greetings to the Edinburgh delegates I met last night who assured me the Blairite Sarwar will be defeated in the Scottish leadership election ,I hope that is right for a Corbyn supporter leading the Scottish Labour Party is a nightmare of the SNP.

A great week of cementing a socialist hold on the Party and a very strong belief the Tories are there for the taking



I went to Stand Up for Labour tonight, who need money; it was very funny and very right on. Jim Jefferies, not performing, in his stand-up routine on abstinence uses the phrase “a hint of a boo”. Ian Stern, who is very funny, he made me laugh, with the help of my neighbour who was laughing throughout, raised a “hint of a boo” by mentioning Progress. He raised a cheer when slagging off Brexit. There were a couple of hundred people present. The Labour Party’s membership, its new membership, opposes Brexit, and so do the majority of its voters. The old left are playing with fire.


Officer Class

Some comrades, mainly it would seem from Brighton, where suspensions and expulsions are still in place protested about McNicol’s continued employment calling on him to resign.

mcnicol must go

Joanna Baxter, an ex member of the NEC, raised a point of order complaining that it was abusing staff.

He isn’t staff, he is an Officer of the Party and holds office “at the satisfaction of the NEC and Conference”. This is an important distinction. There’s no recall, no means of subjecting him to the rules and there’s no term limit.

Officer Class


Labour Conference starts on Saturday! I thought I’d document my experience and lessons from the compositing meeting that I attended last year. I was badly stitched up last year and here are some lessons.

The motions to be included in the composite motion will be issued in a CAC report. Read them all, it will be a clue as to the dividing lines between the organisations. Some of them will be identical.

Work out who’s on your side and then make sure they’re represented by someone who cares. In my meeting last year, delegates were voting to exclude words in their own motion.

Take some words into the meeting, the front bench will. In our case, they used five words from our motion, one of which was “the”. Once in the meeting its too late to recover if they propose egregious surgery.

Speaking rights are valuable; you may be able to swap words for speaking rights, it was tried in our meeting but it’s not easy; you can only buy one vote in this way. (Two actually since there’s mover and seconder).

Understand the meeting procedure, Citrine is no help. The Chair, a member of the Conference Arrangements Committee, wasted time, took no amendment motions to re include excluded words and didn;t ask for votes against, since he knew that the majority of the meeting had voted in favour.

The Chair is not neutral, you need to understand their agenda and the new CAC doesn’t take over ’till the end of Conference.

However, and I wish I had known this last year, the meeting can agree to put more than one motion through. You might need to be a large Trade Union to get away with it but at least one of last year’s meetings put through two motions.