The mould has been broken in Spain. Yesterday, in Spain’s general election, yesterday, the two Parties that have dominated Spain’s post fascist democracy both lost seats and votes. The new parliament has no natural majority. The PSOE, in particular, has some interesting challenges in front of it and the next few weeks and months may act as a signpost for the politics of Europe.
Yearly Archives: 2015
I was invited to attend Tom Watson’s speech building on much of his campaigning work and presented in the New Statesman as reclaiming civil liberty for the Left, although sub titled by him as “David Cameron is governing from the shadows”. In this article I review the speech; I try to report on it and to comment by adding some personal views and insights, in some cases new ideas provoked by Tom’s speech. It was quite a long speech and it takes a diverse route to get to its polemical heart which is that Democracy is the choice by an informed citizenry of a government, subject to the rule of law and that the Freedom of Information Act is one of the pillars of this contract and should not be diminished or repealed.
In this blog, Hopi Sen, allegedly a Labour Party member argues to fight Corbyn and the party until the day of the election and to resign from it for the election so as not to breach the rule prohibiting campaigning against it. This could only be suggested by one of the majority of LP members who only read the rules they want, or more accurately only quote the rules they like.
There’s no such things as unintended consequences, just poor planning. Last Wednesday the House of Commons voted to authorise RAF bombing of Syria. In the following hours, RAF jets attacked civilian oil installations in Syria. This was reported as using high level free fall bombs. Were there reports of civilian casualties? The government announce an increase in security for the Queen. The government of Syria announces that the RAF attacks are illegal acts of war. Seventy two hours after the vote, Londoners were attacked on the tube, albeit in only one incident with a knife. At the time of writing, there has been no fatal casualties from the London incident.
Last month the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled the US Safe Harbour treaty to be insufficient for European data protection law purposes. How important this is, is subject to debate. One of the principles of European Data Protection law is that personal and confidential data must be “adequately protected”. The CJEU has stated that the US Safe Harbour agreement offers insufficient and uncertain protection to European personal data.
I attended my first South London Fabian Society earlier tonight. This is part of my search for a place to think and refresh my enthusiasm for ideas and electoral politics. The speaker was a man called
Richard Brooks, who had worked as a senior policy adviser to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. He is the author of the award wining for his Fabian booklet, Out of Sight, “How we lost track of thousands of NEETS, and how we can transform their prospects”.
So Parliament is to debate if it should authorise the government to use the RAF to bomb ISIS in Syria. What we must keep in our mind is that we i.e. the British state must only act under the rule of law. While the UN resolution (SC 2249) last week makes military action more likely to be legal, the legality still depends upon the actions to be taken. Many argue that the UN security council resolution changes nothing, because it does not authorise the use of military force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
Any actions need to remain an effective act of self-defence.
Solidarity with the people of Paris & France.
Ann Black reports on the September, pre-conference National Executive Committee at Left Futures. These are clearly hard things to write since getting a balance between hope for the future and a description of what’s happening can be hard. I felt the need to comment. on the running of the election where the point needs to be made that barely legal is not good enough. The coming exclusion of registered supporters is a mistake, and the party has changed; most MPs mandate to speak for the Labour Party has expired as has the utility of the National Policy Forum.
What a week-end. Jeremy Corbyn is elected Leader of the Labour Party and just as the first thing he did after nomination was to go on a demo, he immediately went to speak to the “Refugees Welcome” demo in Parliament Square. The German suspension of its European borders is a sad reaction to those who won’t pull their weight, which includes the British Government acting in our name. Even after the Government’s belated reaction to the popular will of the masses, we are still below the UN recommended quotas and as with nearly everything done by the Cameron Government, they’re tone deaf, in that they announce a five year commitment and plan to fund the refugee programs with the International Aid budget.
These news events have buried Cameron’s acquiescence in using military action to kill two British citizens who were allegedly ISIS fighters. This will come back to bite him, possibly as badly as new Labour’s decision to go to war in Iraq. I have done a storify sharing my views on the (il)legality of the act. Make no mistake, it’s a massive escalation in the militarisation of the state. In Britain, we suffered and fought a terrorism/counter terrorism campaign for over 30 years while maintaining civil primacy and ensuring that the rule of law was paramount and that the police and courts were our primary defence.
A day or two ago, Alex Little, published a blog post called ‘Lessons for Corbyn in “Lerner’s Law”’. Lerner’s law suggests that using your opponents language limits your ability to make the argument. Little quotes Bill Mitchell, the inventor of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as to how Labour’s leadership in articulating the Darling Plan and its successors talk about balancing the budget and fixing the deficit concede the argument to the Tories. Little’s article also points at Lerner’s economic theories, described as “functional finance” and points at the wikipedia article on it. He argues that by describing the proposed pump priming as PQE, and accepting that when growth takes off, the government may transition to bond financing, by even accepting that we need to live within our means, the theory and benefits from the a more overt radical financing will be lost.
In the dying days of Labour’s Leadership selection, the key issues remain those of economics & strategy, but also unfortunately now one of mandate.
The debate on economics has come to be between Cooper and Corbyn. Demanding credibility is not an economic policy and so we can ignore Kendall & Burnham. I summarise the other’s two positions below and conclude that Corbyn’s economic manifesto is not just a shopping list of desirable reforms, they are a single set of reinforcing measures to fix and rebuild the economy so it works in the interests of the majority of people.
This was meant to be a short blog, emphasising the economy and virtuously circular, self reinforcing nature of Corbyn’s programme, but I also take the opportunity to look at the defence and foreign policy debate and conclude with some comments on the election process itself and Labour’s future.
I am glad I voted for Jeremy Corbyn, but I am not a Corbynista, I am Real Labour.
Finally, Vote for Diane Abbott for Mayor and give Sadiq Kahn your second preference. This is an odd one, there’s little to choose between the candidates on policy, although Gareth Thomas is for Heathrow Runway 3 and all the others oppose it. Jobs vs. Air Quality. I like Sadiq Kahn’s commitment to planting trees and buying up London’s Hospital’s debt, although there may be issues of ultra vires and I like Abbot’s bravery in pursuing rent controls, which should be Labour policy. With few exceptions, I expect each of the candidates to nick the best policies from each other, so it’s important to hear from them using their own words. Certainly at the South London hustings, Christian Wolmar was congratulated by several of the candidates for his transport policy initiatives and there’s little doubt that many of his ideas will make it into the manifesto.
The issue here is heart and commitment and I am supporting Dianne. She has a record of getting the big questions right.