Thursday, November 14, 2019

Not Just Brexit: Let's put public services first: register to vote

"One month from now, we'll be going to the polls. We'll elect a new parliament and maybe even a government that will be there until May 2025. While we're still going for growth in November to make our voice stronger, we're also starting to gear up for the election.

So we’ve produced an activists' guide to campaigning in the general election, which can be downloaded below. Two printed versions are also being sent to each branch. There’s also a general election poster for members (pdf only) and a postcard for members – 10,000 copies of the postcard are being sent to each region in England and Wales and more can be ordered from"

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Marginals and ultra-marginals

The normal working definition for a marginal seat is one where the majority is under 10%, which usually means under about 5,000 votes - although that does depend on turnout and the size of the constituency.
Then, within that group of seats, there are the ultra-marginals: places where the majority is under 2% - about 1,000 votes.
In 2017 there were 51 of these ultra-marginals - considerably more than in previous elections. In fact there were eight seats with a majority under 50.
All those will be hotly contested. The Conservatives will be hoping to win back some of the seats they lost last time - like CanterburyKeighley and Kensington - while Labour will try to take seats where it got within a whisker - such as ArfonPudsey and Southampton Itchen.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Labour and Capital - A Left Platform

Hat tip post Tom P (I picked image Capital and labour, by Henry Stacy Marks)

"It's election time. I'll have a look through party manifestos when they're out to pull together policy commitments that are relevant to this blog. In the meantime, here are a few rehashed thoughts about what I'd like to see as a Left platform.

1. Employee representation at board level.

The Conservatives' botched reform in this area has left the door open to further reform. As the failure of most companies to appoint employee directors shows, this is not going to be achieved through 'comply or explain', especially when some asset managers will likely lobby against. So legislate for it. Minimum of two on each board.

2. Redefine directors' duties.

This is straightforward, but important. As I saw someone comment recently, Section 172 as it stands actually made shareholder primacy explicit, even as it was pitched as 'enlightened shareholder value'. Check out the previous version (which put employees on a par with shareholders) to see how it changed. I am comfortable with the idea that the duty it simply to promote the success of the company, taking account of all stakeholder interests. If you don't think the current version is a problem, have a read of some justifications for exec pay and tax avoidance that prey Section 172 in aid.

3. Pre-distribution.

Pretty obvious that the big battle over the future of the firm is about different claims on resources. Pre-distribution got a bad press when Ed Miliband floated the term back in 2010-2015 parliament, but the idea is a sound one. Ensuring that labour gets a fairer share up front, rather than relying heavily on transfers, is likely to be much more politically durable. This suggests enhanced bargaining power (so let's make it easier for workers to form unions, and easier for unions to gain recognition and bargain).

But we also need to look at other mechanisms for ensuring a greater share of wealth goes to working people at the point it is created. Labour's Inclusive Ownership Funds provide one interesting model, and would create a who new class of investors which could have some interesting corpgov outcomes (for example in takeover situations). I see a lot of people speak positively about greater employee ownership in theory, so this idea ought to be popular. Those who criticise it should come up with alternatives. And if an IOF style scheme isn't applicable there should be mandatory profit-sharing.

4. Radical executive pay simplification.

Everyone in corpgov these days says they support pay simplification, but in practice most companies still have several incentive schemes. Nor am I convinced that deferred share awards get us anywhere because I don't think they will have much of a motivational effect (and I'm impressed by Sandy Pepper's work in this area). I'd scrap as much variable pay as possible. If we can't get rid of it all restrict the variable bit to small short-term cash bonuses with clawback and malus provisions. Much easier for all to understand, and hopefully easier to reclaim if something goes wrong.

5. Rebuild democratic control of capital.

Several trends in UK pension provision have served to less or remove democratic control of pension assets. The 'professionalisation' of governance is a good thing in general, but if it serves to cause the link with beneficiary interests to be broken we have a problem. In the ESG world I worry that this has led to priorities being adopted that are more aligned with the interests of those running money than those of whose money it is. So I would like to see reinvigorated member/beneficiary involvement in all types of pension provision.

6. Democratise shareholder voting

I can't see any good reason why asset managers can't find a fintech solution that allows asset owners, or retail investors, to vote in pooled funds. The current situation is ridiculous, especially in a world where more and more money is managed passively. If I'm only employing you to hold the index, not pick stocks, why should I be forced to adopt your views views on corporate governance? It makes no sense.

7. Radical disintermediation.

One for a decade ahead. Will we actually need asset managers in the future as they exist in their current form? Could passive management be a utility? Could we do it ourselves?

Posted by Tom Powdrill at 21:50

Monday, November 11, 2019

Dave Prentis: "This election is the fight of our lives"

Hat tip UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis blog: "Election day is less than five weeks away – and this election is the fight of our lives. After a decade of Tory austerity, public service workers know better than anyone the terrible toll that austerity has had on our communities, the services you provide and on your own lives.
That’s why I’ve been getting out on the doorstep and campaigning for public services – and for a Labour government. So far I’ve been supporting Labour candidates, and UNISON members, Bambos Charalambous and Emma Whysall, and I’ll be out campaigning across the country in the weeks ahead. It really is vital that everyone who wants to see a Labour government gets out on the doorstep and campaigns for Labour – and tells their friends, family and colleagues why they’re voting Labour too. Whilst Boris Johnson may have the money and the media on his side, Labour has something stronger – people.
There’s something else Labour has though – common sense ideas that can changes our country – and the lives of UNISON members – for the better. So it was great to see Labour announcing plans to extend maternity leave, offer real help on childcare and rebuild vital sure start centres. The same goes for giving every family the chance to have a warm home and an affordable energy bill. We have the oldest and most poorly insulated houses in Europe and we need practical measures to address this. Again – this is just the sort of change our country needs.
I know that in the days and weeks ahead, Labour can win this election where it counts – both on the streets, and by showing it has the best plans for working people. I promise you our union will be playing our part – and so will I".

Canvass Training: "Persuasive Conversations"

"Thirty percent of people are undecided about who to vote for or do not think that voting is worthwhile.

Having a persuasive conversation with them about Labour Party policies can make all the difference. Marginal seats are often won or lost by just a few votes.

Would you like to join a training session to learn how to canvass or to learn some useful techniques? I attended a training session on Persuasive Conversations and found it really useful. 

I would like to pass on those notes and tips to any interested members and supporters.

Please email tinamjgATicloudDOTcom to register or to find out more".


Thursday 14th November, 7.15pm – 8.15pm
St. Lukes Community Centre, 89 Tarling Rd, E16 1HN
All members and friends welcome"

(Many thanks to Tina our political education officer for organising this)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

West Ham Parish Church (All Saints) Remembrance Sunday 10th November 2019

This morning I attended yet another beautiful Remembrance Sunday service at the historic 12th Century West Ham Parish Church. I am a local West Ham Ward Councillor but I was there today to represent Newham Council as Deputy Mayor together with Deputy Cabinet lead for Children Service's, Cllr Carleene Lee-Phakoe (who had brought her delightful 11 year old daughter) and our Council's Chief Legal Officer, Daniel Fenwick.

There was soldiers from our local regiment 7 Rifles present and other voluntary groups with a number of former military veterans proudly wearing their medals including Cllr Winston Vaughan,  who served in the British Army during the Aden Emergency.

The Rev’d Canon Alex Summers conducted the service and gave a moving sermon during which he mentioned how he and his young family had visited the graves of his relatives who died in battle during the first world war. He made an important point that will future generations with the passage of time forget what has happened in these Wars?

We all hope not. If we forget how horrible and wasteful war is then it is more likely to occur again (and again).

Saturday, November 09, 2019

West Ham on tour: Peterborough, Hull, Cities & Westminster and Chipping Barnet

This morning West Ham Labour members met up outside Stratford Station to go to the launch rally of Labour candidate, Gordon Nardell QC, in the Cities and Westminster seat. This was a packed rally with guest speakers, Shami Chakrabarti and Kier Starmer.

The Labour Party has asked West Ham to support Cities and Westminster in the General election and our Chair of West Ham CLP estimates that we had about 25 of our members attending the rally and the canvass afterwards.

After the canvass I went to the "Big Unions Campaign" launch with West Hammer UNISON member Mumtaz Khan, in Chipping Barnet, of trade union lawyer, Emma Whysall, who only lost out by just over 300 votes in the 2017 General election.

Our UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, was there as well as London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. After this rally I went on a UNISON canvass team with our General secretary, Assistant General Secretary, National Labour officers and National Chair of Young Labour, Miriam Mirwitch. We got absolutely soaked but had a successful canvass in (believe it or not) "Union Street"!

My last call was to a resident who was a traditional Labour supporter who felt very torn about who to support this time. However, she was so impressed that the Party had turned up on her doorstep on such a wet and horrible day that she was willing to give us the benefit of doubt and vote for Emma.


Our West Ham Labour Candidate, Lyn Brown, had also been out "on the knocker" supporting Labour candidates in Hull and Peterborough.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Launch of Cities & Westminster & Big Unions Campaign in Chipping Barnet (we must win marginals to form Government)

Tomorrow (Saturday 9 November) West Ham Labour members are going to support our key marginal Cities & Westminster campaign launch. Meet at STRATFORD STATION (outside main ticket barrier in concourse) at 9.30 to travel to together to Westminster Napier Hall, Hide Place, London SW1P 4NJ, UK for 10.30am. Followed by canvassing.

Shami Chakrabarti and Kier Starmer will be supporting new candidate Gordon Nardell at the launch,

Later that day there is a "Big Unions Campaign" in Chipping Barnet starting at 1.30pm. Meet at Chipping Barnet Library, 3 Stapylton Road, EN5 4QT. Trade union lawyer Emma Whysall is the candidate who only lost out by just over 300 votes in 2017

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis will be present in Chipping Barnet, as will London Mayor Sadiq Khan

As you can see from images both Cities and Westminster/Chipping Barnet are winnable marginals. We need to win all our marginals to elect Jeremy as our Prime Minister and form a Labour Government. Some marginals will be won or lost by a handful of votes. Do not allow Boris Johnson to win by failing to campaign in our marginal seats.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Happy Birthday Bolshevik Revolution, Trotsky &... Grayee!

Today is the 102nd anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution (also known as the October Revolution due to the Russian Gregorian Calendar ) and it is also Leon Trotsky's 140th birthday as well.

This morning at the start of a 5 hour budget meeting the elected representatives of the Peoples Republic of Newham also offered Grayee birthday best wishes (in return for cream cakes)

Hat tip Red Army Choir. Echelon's song (Song for Voroshilov). A civil war classic.