Racism in the Labour Party (again)

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. As is usual this is being conducted in secret. It is reported that the Jewish Labour Movement have submitted a Rules amendment designed to make suspending or expelling racists easier. The NEC is considering forwarding the motion to Conference.

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Search Prominence in Politics

In 2011, Andrew Rhodes wrote a paper entitled, Can Prominence Matter Even in an Almost Frictionless Market? He models consumer behaviour in frictionless markets and the role of search engines and their paid placement on the search results page. I have had a look at the article because I am the target of one of Lewisham Labour’s candidates for Mayor’s google ad-campaign. I look at what Rhodes did, and ask a couple of questions about how applicable his model and assumptions are.

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Sunset, finally?

Simon Phipps comments on Oracle’s decision to close down the SPARC and Solaris business units. He  was close to the politics of Sun’s “Dash to Open” in the mid noughties. My feeling is that Sun had failed before Schwartz was appointed; there was no longer room for differentiated hardware company; Oracle’s failure to monetise the SPARC product line may have been caused by management hubris, but the long term economics

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Paul Bell for Labour Mayor

I am supporting Paul Bell to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Lewisham.

I urge you to vote for him here, his manifesto is here, or otherwise available via his campaign website.

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Paul Bell on Education

Paul Bell, one of the people seeking to be Labour’s candidate for Lewisham Mayor has announced his education policy and promises.

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Fair Votes

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has produced a report on the general election. It’s subtitled, “Volatile Voting, random results.”  First Past the Post (FPTP) claims to be designed to deliver Governmental stability, but in the last three elections, it has failed to do this twice. Furthermore it exaggerates local & regional differences, e.g. Scotland, Wales and the SE, where the leading parties margin of victory in terms of seats is higher than it’s vote warrants and the losers are under-represented. In this article, I have summarised what I see as the main themes and illustrated what ERS believe to be the impact of implementing a fairer voting system. I also make the point that different systems will cause different behaviour and I finish with a look at Germany’s PR system and a call for smaller constituencies in the belief that it will lead to a better relationship between MPs and their electors.

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The single market, it’s the State that’s the problem

Over the summer, most Brexit/Remain players have been on manoeuvres and Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance on the Marr show together with various clarifications have ensured for Labour at least membership of the single market has become a focus for what a post-brexit relationship would look like. In my opinion, if we were to stay in the single market via the European Economic Area, we might as well stay in and keep our MEPs, Council Seat (& Veto), Commissioner, Judges, the rebate, our opt-out from common borders (Schengen) and our indefinite opt-out in joining the Euro. I support these things, and staying in, I understand why Brexiters have now come to oppose the single market.

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More on Forest Hill School

Supporters of Forest Hill School took a motion calling on Councillor Maslin to resign as Cabinet Member for Children & Young People to the Lewisham Deptford Labour’s General Committee.  I wrote about the funding crisis and the campaigns to save the school last month. The school is actually outside the constituency but both workers and parents do live in the constituency. The motion was defeated.

The proponents of the motion argued that the Party had policy to support the school, that the Council had failed to take any of the measures proposed by the Party and Union, measures which have been taken in Greenwich: negotiating for relief on the PFI loans, extending the loan period, and giving them money. Cllr Maslin had refused to meet with parents until after the motion had been published and scab labour had been used to break the strike, although everyone now claims it was an accident.

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Strike Breaking in Lewisham

This is a circular I received from a supporter of the Forest Hill School anti-cuts campaign.


Many of you will have heard of the ongoing dispute at Forest Hill School, Lewisham over cuts and the impact on teacher workload. NUT members have taken 9 days of strike action in total and yet the council or School management are still unwilling to engage seriously with the union or parents to solve this dispute.

On Tuesday 20th June, the school showed outright contempt for staff and broke the law by bringing in agency Supply teachers to cover during the strike.

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We have a choice

The events of the weekend have led me to the conclusion that my review of the manifestos as they relate to the internet and civil liberties were too factual and too dry. Over the weekend, three islamist terrorists attacked London with a white van and knives. It is now believed that at least one of them has been radicalised by Al-Muhajiroun a banned group and had been, yet again, notified to the security services and police. I suspect we’ll learn more over the next couple of days. This was a week after an attack in Manchester on a concert. Overnight the political parties agreed to suspend the campaign for the following day, but one of the parties broke that agreement. I look at the responses of May and Corbyn, linking to their speeches and analyse the meaning of the promise to deny the terrorists a safe space on the internet, to increase prison sentences together with the impact of the cuts to the police and intelligence service staff numbers. 

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Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

I have had a look  at the manifestos and see what they have to say on the internet and Digital Liberty. I have been very influenced by the EDRi voting exchange and summarise the issues of Digital Liberty as e-citizenship, equality before the law, privacy and copyright reform, to which for this election we must add internet governance and industrial & innovation policy. I have created a table summarising the positions of the Tories, Labour, LibDems and Greens. Possibly I should have analysed the SNP manifesto since much of this is Westmister reserved powers. I was hoping to write something easy and quick to read. I don’t think I have succeeded. My super summary is in the figure immediately below, and here is the table I built to help me write this article. (I lost the excel file, so this will have to do!)  My main source was the ORG pages but I have been reading the Labour Manifesto also. I feel that the opposition parties have suffered from the surprise; they probably expected more time to develop their promises. All three opposition parties 2015 manifestos covered these issues in more depth. 

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Digital Liberty, a baseline

I am preparing to write a blog on Digital Liberty and the Parties’ manifesto positions. I was looking to see how I categorised the issues so I could create a summary view and I found the motion that was the basis for my previous submission on policy. This text has been recovered from a Labour Party motion carried at the Lewisham Deptford GC at their April ’14 meeting. I used it as the basis for a submission to the LP’s New Britain site which they have, of course shit canned; it was their policy development site. I think the motion stands the test of time. 

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Tax Fairness

Over the weekend, John McDonnell promised that Income Tax would not rise for most of the country but that a higher rate would be levied on those earning more than £80,000. Tax reform can be pretty technical; and so one needs to look at one or two things without losing sight of the idea that the richer should pay their share. Each tax payer has a personal allowance of £11,500 i.e. the first £11,500 of earnings is not taxed; this is clawed back if one’s income is £100,00 or more by levying a 60% marginal rate on those earning between £100,000 and £121,200. There is probably enough room for a new additional rate between the 40% levied at £42,000 and 60% levied at £100,000 and £80,000 p.a. is a lot of money; only 3% of income earners get that much. It will remain necessary to increase the amount paid by those earning more than £145,000 and redress the regressive nature of National Insurance, which negates much of the 20% band, converting it into a 32% tax burden. Labour’s promise is also that there will be no increase in employee NICs nor in VAT, although again that’s not enough … VAT has to come down from 20%.

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