It’s not just the West Lothian question


This made me laugh, Vernon Bogdanor, one of Britiain’s foremost constitutional scholars writes about Cameron’s proposals for English Votes for English Laws. He points out that Ulster Unionist votes deprived Labour of Commons majorities in 1946 and 1964, he neglects to point out that they also voted with the Tories in the confidence vote that brought down the Callaghan Government. Interestingly short memories the Tories and their press supporters have. It adds to the evidence that the Tories aren’t interested in democracy; this is about entrenching Tory power.  … » Read more …


Redbrick on borrowing to build houses


It seems that Balls’ promise not to borrow includes not excluding local authority housing borrowing from the national debt. This is the common OECD practice; the UK is the only country in the OECD that includes public sector housing borrowing as national debt. (Housing debt is paid for by housing rent, not taxation and thus can/should be excluded.) The Redbrick blog comments here.

Alice Perry, one of the London National Policy Forum representatives, reported that Labour’s National Policy Forum has agreed to write the debt out of the National Debt, which would allow local authorities to borrow to build. (I reported on the NPF here.) This is important for those local authorities where the constraint is money, not land. The NPF policy statement says,

We will reform the Housing Revenue Account system to better enable councils to build new homes to their maximum potential, and to improve existing homes.

Yet again one needs to read the tea leaves to understand what this means? However Alice, although only Alice thought the commitment had been made. It’s now clear what Labour’s Treasury team think. For the record I disagree, and I am pretty certain I am not alone. I also don’t think that Labour’s policy should be made up by the front bench, even if the Leader has an individual mandate, the rest of the Shadow Cabinet do not!


I read the blog on the 24th, wrote the article in October and backdated it to the day of publication.

The quote is on page 58. If anyone can find a more certain statement, can you mail me, or track back.  … » Read more …


Two sides to the coin


I decided to go for a drink at the creative unions reception. On my way over, I saw the ‘free cash’ sign. I think it was an advert for an ATM without charges rather than a campaign statement. When choosing a search engine, or curating a social network list it’s important to ensure you don’t only mix with those with whom one agrees. The reception consisted of a mix of speeches and sets. The speeches were by John Smith, Harriet Harman and Tony Burke. Smith, or was it Harman,   … » Read more …


Say No to TTIP


So off to a meeting on TTIP, chaired by Larry Elliot, one of Britain’s foremost economic journalists introducing a panel consisting of Polly Jones of the WDM, Judith Kirton-Darling, one of Labour’s new MEPs and a member of the EP Trade Committee, Dave Prentiss, (UNISON) , Gary Smith (GMB) and one of the national officers from the University & Colleges Union who was standing in for their General Secretary, Sally Hunt. (Was it Greg Barnett?). The meeting was kicked off by Polly Jones of the WDM.   … » Read more …


Booze & Borrowing

google search, from trip advisor, cropped

Had a swift pint in the Nag’s Head, and the TV reported Ed Ball’s speech, in which he promised no more borrowing. Just have to wonder where the Bloomberg man has gone. Though Cowards Flinch reported it here, however, Jon Lansman, I think is more accurate in this article. When writing my thoughts about the NPF I withheld much of what I thought the impact on the Party would be but this speech is the natural corollary of the victory of Labour’s “Right Keynesians”. I think we all know if the National Policy Forum, the Conference or the Party were to vote, this isn’t what we would decide. The leadership, or parts of it are still triangulating, and don’t realise that the deficit does not matter as much as jobs and wages, which are more important. People need hope, and we can’t undo the damage the Tories are doing without growth. My fear is it’s too late to change the politics of the election.  … » Read more …


The struggle of the class

from wikipedia

I stayed up the People’s History Museum after the meeting and had a quick wander round the standing exhibition. Since it’s a museum of the working class, it’s stronger on the period after the industrial revolution and focuses on the coming of the franchise, the foundation of the trade unions and the Labour Party and the suffragettes. I did however stop at their exhibitions on Thomas Paine and even earlier the Levellers. It opens with two panels on corruption of power and the secret societies which were the precursors of the trade unions, both of which are becoming more accurate by the day.   … » Read more …


Song, Stage, Subsidy and Copyright (of course)


I walked down to the People’s Museum where Unions 21 were hosting a series of meetings, the one I was planning to attend was about policy for the encouragement of SMEs in the creative industries and had been convened by the entertainment unions, the Musicians Union, Equity and BECTU, (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union) each represented by their General Secretaries. The meeting was opened by Helen Goodman, Labour’s shadow spokesperson on Culture Media and Sport.She opened with the mandatory eulogy to the attendees, that we have the most successful creative industry in the world.   … » Read more …


My old man said “follow the line”


I walked down to the conference centre and having been prompted by Chi Onawaruh picked up the National Policy Forum report. It’s huge and makes you wonder why they haven’t distributed it electronically. Doh! Of course, they have, they posted it on the membersnet site; they haven’t told anyone. Since they’ve also put it up YourBritain, [ the NPF Annual Report hosting page ] to thank all those non-members that contributed to the policy formation process, you’d think they might have pushed it out to the contributors, but they’ve all been busy.  … » Read more …


Data, democracy & power


On to an early morning meeting called “Data, democracy & power”, hosted by the Fabian Society. This was chaired by Jemima Kiss of the Guardian who alluded to the pervasive nature of modern ICT. Chi Onawaruh MP spoke combining a statement of inclusive values with insight into the nature of progressive change; how only a movement informed by visions of socialist equality can ensure that the internet act as a tool for freedom and empowerment. Digital Government needs to continue, and she spoke of the feelings of frustration raised by her constituents  … » Read more …


#dontspyonus at #lab14

found on google, copyright unknown

Off to the International Anthony Burgess Museum for the Don’t Spy on Us fringe meeting on Privacy. The speakers were Ewan Macaskill of the Guardian, Carley Nyst of Privacy International, Claude Moraes MEP, Jim Killock of the ORG and chaired by Mike Harris of #dontspyonus. The first speaker was Ewan Macaskill who started by saying he’s glad they i.e. the spooks are there, but like me in fact, supposed that they were targeting maybe 5-15% of the population which would be say 400,000 people. What is shocking is the ambition, to spy on everyone who uses the internet. The fact they’re aiming at everyone, including lawyers and doctors is worrying to say the least.  … » Read more …