Tower Hamlets judgement

Buried deep in the General Election campaign, the election court ruling to overturn the election of the Tower Hamlets Forum’s elected executive mayor is a big decision.
A new election is already underway.
Interesting that the decision was triggered by a petition by four (check) citizens – a procedure that I understand is not risk free for the petitioners.
A celebration of the judgement is available – A blogger writes –
excerpts from the astonishing and damning judgment against Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets in East London, who has had his election voided by a judge, Richard Mawrey QC, who sits as the election commissioner. As the very first excerpt explains, there is in British law a provision that allegations of electoral malpractice go up to a special court where the judge can overthrow the results of an election. This may seem unsatisfactory, but what other solution can there be to a problem of democratic corruption?
An alternative view is available.
“37,000 people voted for Lutfur Rahman in a record turnout. He has now been deposed – not by an election, not by arrest and not by a jury trial, but by four local politicians who took him to court. Sitting in judgment was one man only – not a qualified judge, only a barrister … This man found Lutfur Rahman guilty of multiple offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983. This article goes over what they were.”
A concern is how well that legislation, and the judgements, sits with the modern interpretation of institutional racism.
A colleague, Christine Shawcroft gave evidence in the court case for the deposed Mayor but the judge’s findings read like she campaigned against the Labour Party, when she did not.
Labour are again supporting John Biggs for Mayor in the fresh election and you can find his web-site here.
Screenshot (518)b0539h John Biggs for Tower Hamlets

Liz Kendall has worked out her left from her right

IMG_5002a0249h Labourlist Liz Kendall pledge
I can only assume Liz Kendall expected the attack on her policy statements, knew they were out of step with a large part of Labour thinking and has therefore in some way sought the reaction.
Albeit, some of the reaction is manipulated – there is a broader way to interpret the ideas than the graphic that Labourlist web-site has published above.
IMG_5001c0501h BBC newsnight Liz Kendall Screenshot (517)b0340h Gdn Liz Kendall and the left
More troubling to me is the narrow left vs right analysis (more than – after 8 days she gave up any idea of being on the left of the party) and that the kind of policies reviewed contributed significantly to the defeat (defence spending didn’t come up that often, nor did free schools).
(There’s also a view that people in Scotland and Wales were attracted to a more left wing policy – which I find hard to equate with nationalism – which tries to say the country matters more than forms of political division.)
The real point should be – what’s right for the people? If economic insecurity is the driver at the moment, what do we do to show how we get economic activity in a secure and sustainable way (financially, environmentally and socially).

Cuts will pose a risk to the quality of neighbourhood policing

The Guardian reports ‘spending on the police has to face further cuts but it “is perfectly possible” to do it without affecting the quality of neighbourhood policing, the home secretary, Theresa May, has told officers.’
Screenshot (516)b0418h Gdn May tells Police to stop scaremongering
‘Scaremongering’. ‘Crying wolf’.
So, no point me complaining about potential cuts to the local neighbourhood policing.
Except, there must be some kind of way of saying that there is a risk, and of assessing that risk.

Broadmarsh car park on Notts TV

Screenshot (514)b0205h Notts TV Broadmarsh car park Screenshot (513)b0205h Notts TV Broadmarsh car park MME
Nottingham City Council is spending £77,000 on checking out the foundations, utilities and structural soundness of the car park before moving on to a further stage of considering how we update its appearance.
Cos we need it to look better if it is to support a renewed Broadmarsh shopping centre and a pedestrianised Collin Street – 300m by 22m of new public space.
Notts TV ran a story and found a shop worker depressed by having to work near it, a man who thought it had been an eye sore for 40 years and needed to be brought down and a shopper who agreed it needed a new look.
We can’t justify demolition. It’s as functional inside as it can be, and we have got lots of others things that need big capital investment throughout the city.
So lots to consider.

Conviction

We need to be more direct; to argue for success for all; to explain why today’s economy and public services under-achieve.
Our last three general election defeats have all featured leaders unable to say what they wanted and needed to say.
Create a movement based on values rather than trying to protect a leader from the public.


Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but drawing from my training in science, I thought I should put my conclusions at the top.

A political defeat should be a time for a re-assessment, and I’ve blogged references to a range of opinions on what happened and what Labour should do, now that we lost the General Election in such an unexpected way (Alan Johnson, Alan Simpson and John Prescott, a view from a candidate and Progress supporter; even Roisin Conalty).
The challenge at the moment is understanding just what went wrong. It’s plain from phoning people (who’d previously answered that they would indeed vote Labour) on Election day, that a very high rate of them hadn’t or didn’t intend to. Much higher in the marginal seats than in The Meadows, in Nottingham.
Now there are things that Nottingham Labour got right, but given there was so little opposition on the ground, we also need to understand whether the rate of registration, turnout and support was actually that high. (Yep, my share of the vote fell – I will have to be nicer to people.)
Silent Tories is the mooted explanation for 1992, or indeed the Sheffield rally, but 1992, 2010 and 2015 all had incidents a week before the day whereby interactions with members of the public, arguably hostile, found Labour leaders not saying what they really wanted to – Kinnock on PR in 1992, Brown on immigration in 2010 and Miliband on public spending in 2015. People laughed at us.
Meanwhile, nationalists (with a different kind of conviction) did relatively well in 2015, in part cos they could show conviction. Addressing issues in a primary way, rather than qualifying what’s said cos of secondary impacts.
Conviction, and arguing a case on what’s deemed to be an opponent’s territory gives gravitas, a sense that someone could actually be in charge.
Convictions can also lead to movements that are less vulnerable to a media that through ownership is often hostile, or to journalists (seeking or claiming credibility) who are often cynical.
Now there are lots of other factors to include in an assessment of defeat beyond the media – social change, demographics, labour markets, economic welfare and so on.
All much more interesting than tedious reductions of complexity to left and centre-left.
Although I remember Dennis Skinner telling me at the 2010 party conference, that in the absence of a genuine left-winger, we should choose David Miliband as leader because he was the one the Conservatives were afraid of. Put another way, the biggest criteria for a Leader is the ability and determination to argue the case for change (radical change) for the people and the country, including when under pressure.
Credibility as part of package that you need to win an election. You might also consider hegemony, or reducing an opponent’s ability to speak, as part of a package (although this again can draw you into second-order politics).
Credibility was lost most significantly in Gordon Brown’s era – claims of abolition of boom and bust, (arguably increasing public spending during an up cycle of economy, but it is arguable), failure there and then to point out the crisis that came was caused by the financial sector (although he had by then praised them and not re-introduced some of the controls that could have prevented a crisis), and emphatically the abolition of the 10p tax rate (despite big warnings from his own side; along with the complex nature of tax credits). A failed technocrat.
Late on in the last leadership campaign, David Miliband said to me that he thought we ought to do more about explaining our aims in the context of our party aims – (the new) clause 4, part 4.
And that’s where I end up too. Your aims (or as Bernard Crick would put it, your dogma) reflect your fundamental understanding of the economy, society and environment. And you need to keep getting that across.
That’s the basis for inspiration and a movement (and more helpers). Something that can resist bigger things like mass media and smaller things like problems at work. Provide conviction and soul.
You still might need a key seats strategy, although I’m alarmed at how often people talking about mega individual contact work being able to deliver a victory in a mechanical manner – when it’s obvious 7 million contacts absolutely didn’t in 2015.
There’s too much to say on issues as big as this.
But we need character at the top, and a movement, which means an emphasis on values and arguing the analysis that comes from those values especially on what is presumed to be others’ territory.

The Labour Party’s clause 4 part 4 says –
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

Dolly Parton likes small steps, big changes

Screenshot (503)b0535h Dolly Parton small steps big changes
N Post hosts the video made by Dolly Parton to promote her child literacy campaign which Nottingham City Council now supports.
She got “Ay Up me Duck” wrong, said Not-ing-ham but liked “small steps, big changes” – she thinks it’s a good idea for a song.
IMG_7131b1473h TCH CllrDM CllrMS CllrJM dolly parton tribute BEST
As David Mellen introduced the report, the civics and chief officers joined in by wearing cowboy hats.
The video was then played to the council chamber.

Stop wasting public money

A number of questions Labour asked at full council were actually designed to show how the Conservatives in government waste money.
The DWP, which was described by the Conservative candidate for Nottingham South as “wonderful”, has spent billions on the introduction of Universal Credit, and after some years is not delivered.
Schemes to find people work have been less effective than doing nothing.
Electoral registration has got more complicated and led to chaos and a heavy work load for civil servants. How much simpler to find ways of putting people in and then allowing them to opt out.
Elsewhere, we’re spending tens of billions to clean up nuclear power stations and future nuclear power has been commissioned with purchase prices being much higher than current energy prices.
Free schools are driving costs up and introducing new risks on capital expenditure due to lack of public oversight.
Trite to say how these issues were no explored during the General Election. More, that they don’t get traction.
But they are the kind of concerns that bear scrutiny by MPs, most importantly in this early stage of a new Parliament by focussing on setting targets and milestones for these projects.